Everything is getting worse and worse in Swamp Thing, which means the show is getting better and better. Yup, it’s one of those series, in which the downward spiral the characters find themselves in is where the pleasure lies.
In my review of last week’s episode, I expressed my discomfort with the way that Swamp Thing seemed to know so much about his current condition, without giving the viewer a chance to see him learn. That gets addressed in this week’s installment, which gives more screen time to Swamp Thing than, I believe, any previous episode has.
The Phantom Stranger makes his live action debut in the episode, played very much against type by Macon Blair. To a degree, he is taking the role John Constantine had in the comics, a sort of mentor to the monster, leading him to understand what is going on, and what the swamp is trying to tell him. He’s less manipulative than Constantine, and hugely different than the way the Stranger has been shown in the comics. But that’s all par for the course with this show. Still, I do hope to see this character interact with Madame Xanadu (Jeryl Prescott) at some point, to see what sort of relationship they have in this world.
Of course, that would probably require another season. Which this show must have. It must. This is far too good a show to end in another five episodes.
The long standing bitterness that Maria Sunderland (Virginia Madsen) has for Abby (Crystal Reed) gets to come to the fore this week, as Maria’s dead daughter finds a new host. But is it truly her daughter, or is the mysterious darkness infecting the swamp taking advantage of the dead girl to push it’s own dark desires onto the characters?
To be honest, I am not sure. I also don’t mind not knowing. I am enjoying the ride so very much.
Jennifer Beals is getting some great stuff to do as Lucilla Cable, the sheriff of Marais. She has already been somewhat “tainted” by her affair with Avery Sunderland (Will Patton), but we get to see just how far Cable will go to protect her son.
The supporting cast are all dealt with very well in this episode, with their plots advancing nicely. Daniel Cassidy (Ian Ziering)’s frustration with his inability to leave Marais is pushing him to desperate actions, and we get to see the Blue Devil costume. Jason Woodrue (Kevin Durand) is obsessing over the tendrils of Swamp Thing’s body that he has managed to examine, and can barely contain his desire to get hold the creature and see how he can exploit the plant-animal fusion. I smell an Anatomy Lesson coming up!
Overall, I just really love the dark mood that permeates this series. The way the relationships between the characters keep getting worse, and old hatreds, and bloody secrets, just keep mounting. It feels like not one single person is going to emerge from this season unscathed, and that’s exactly how it should be.