A new director, Deran Sarafian, helms the third episode of Swamp Thing, and the little fears I had after watching the second episode have now been buried deep in the swamps.
Oh, that’s actually probably a bad metaphor, since things buried in the swamps are coming back in really nasty ways.
But whatever, the point is that the latest episode is everything horrible and horrific that one could possibly want out of the show. Sarafian also seems better at handling the large cast, although that might also be the result of not having to introduce any new major characters.
Still, all of the supporting cast do get some development this time around, and everything gets darker, creepier, and a lot more disturbing. The disease from the swamps is spreading, and the tension is mounting in the Sunderland household, where there seems to be an ever increasing number of betrayals and deceptions going on.
Parts of this episode seem drawn out of Alan Moore’s work on the character. Jason Woodrue, whose wife is not doing as well as had seemed in their introduction, performs an autopsy on one of the victims of the murderous entity in the swamps, and his observations seem to be leading him down the trail of “The Anatomy Lesson.”
As well, there are a lot of really active bugs in this one, insects that seem to either have a group mind, or perhaps be under the control of someone else. Were this a closer adaptation, I would tag Anton Arcane as the force behind them, but as yet there is no indication that Abby’s evil uncle will even be a character in this series. Still, when the bugs animate a corpse and send it on a disgusting killing spree, it’s hard not to think of Arcane’s games.
So much of this series centres on Crystal Reed, and she is doing a superb job as Abby. She is in most of the scenes, and has to carry a storyline that can weave from humourous to romantic to sorrowful to shocking all at a breakneck pace, and she does so in such a natural, genuine way that the most absurd things seem believable.
Abby and Swamp Thing have their first discussion in this episode, and there is nothing hokey, nothing Creature from the Black Lagoon about it. Her interactions with Matt, Harlan, and Liz help round her character out, and give her a really solid footing for when things go crazy around her.
I was even impressed with Ian Zierling this time around. I am glad that I was wrong in my last review. Daniel Cassidy is not there for comic relief. He gets a reading from Madame Xanadu, and though the scene isn’t very long, we get much more of a sense of who Daniel is, and why he is in Marais.
Every single one of the actors is doing a great job on this show. Every single scene in the episode was effective. This now feels like a really good season of American Horror Story, and the large cast are reflective of a town where evil permeates everywhere, and no one, no matter how well meaning, can feel safe from what is clearly growing amongst them.
Unless the series takes an abrupt downturn, I will be so upset if the cancellation is not revoked. This is damn good television.