The fourth episode of Swamp Thing is a bit different from the previous three. Many plot threads are still advanced during the course of the episode, and Abby (Crystal Reed) is still firmly the central character of the show, rather than the titular marsh monster. But this episode is framed around one specific threat, a hallucinatory virus that spreads from person to person, making them experience their greatest fears.
It makes for a very good episode. Tidier than the earlier ones, with a strong through line that comes to a solid resolution.
The director, Sarafian, uses this basis, but does not confine himself to it. So we still get good moments for the characters that are not directly involved, Jason Woodrue (Kevin Durand), Daniel Cassidy (Ian Ziering), and Madame Xanadu (Jeryl Precott).
Liz Tremayne (Maria Sten) is given a larger role than she has in earlier instalments, and we get to learn a bit more about her family and their life in Marais.
And while Maria Sunderland (Virginia Madsen) doesn’t get an awful lot to, this episode is very good for detaling how her husband, Avery (Will Patton), masterfully manipulates people, all the while giving justifications to make himself look caring and benevolent, while he ruthlessly goes after what he wants.
The visual effects are also very strong in this one. Abby heads out to the swamps, and Swamp Thing pulls her boat towards him with tendrils, and later sends others out so that she can get a tissue sample from him. This all looks far more natural and real than one has a right to expect.
The only problem I had with the episode is how comfortable Swamp Thing (Derek Mears) has become in his body already. He seems to know more about the swamp and the dark entities within it than he should, although this does get touched on. Still, it left me feeling like I had missed an episode in which he comes to these realizations. As well, he speaks with no difficulty at all. In the comics, Swamp Thing began pretty close to mute, and his speech was later characterized as being very slow. I understand that such a thing would not work terribly well on television, but I would have appreciated some difficulty in his speech in the earliest episodes, with it getting closer to normal pace as the series went on.
But those are small points. Yet again the show delivered an excellent horror story, while building fascinating characters, all heading down paths likely to lead them to terrible outcomes.
So here we are, almost halfway through the run, and I still see no justification for cancelling this show at all.