11:16 am EDT, June 8, 2019

‘Swamp Thing’ 1×02 ‘Worlds Apart’ review: The man in the dark

Swamp Thing 1×02 fleshes out its cast of characters and turns up the dial on its supernatural elements.

It also makes me even more upset that this wonderful show won’t be around after this season.

In fact, after Thursday’s news that Swamp Thing had been cancelled, I debated whether or not I wanted to go ahead and do weekly recaps of the season. After all, I reasoned, what would be the point of recapping a show that we knew wasn’t going to continue past this season?

But this show is just so damn good and so worthy of any and everyone’s attention. We’re a mere two episodes in, and I already love it so much.

So I thought, to hell with it — I’m gonna bask in the greatness of Swamp Thing while I have it. When the season ends, you’ll either catch me weeping and lamenting the loss of a truly great genre show or rejoicing that another network (c’mon, HBO, do me a solid) has recognized its greatness and will be giving it a second season.

So with that all said, let’s get to what happened…

This week in Marais

Madame Xanadu in Swamp Thing

Abby teams up with Sheriff Lucilia Cable, handsome cop Matt Cable and best friend/journalist/owner of a truly badass house Liz Tremayne to figure out what happened to Alec Holland out there in the swamplands of Marais.

Along the way, we meet Dan Cassidy and the Doctors Woodrue, see Abby have an emotional reunion/confrontation with Avery Sunderland and get our introduction to Madame Xanadu.

The episode ends with Abby rescuing patient zero Susie Coyle — whose illness has mysteriously allowed her to develop supernatural connections with the swamp — from being potentially killed, which gives Abby her first real look at and interaction with Swamp Thing.

By the numbers

Number of times I…

  • Jumped because I got scared: Six
  • Put my hand over my mouth in shock: Two, especially when the creepy guy got ripped apart by swamp vines
  • Put my hand over my heart because of my shipper feels: Once, when Alec looked off camera and said, “She’s quite lovely.”
  • Was impressed with Derek Mears performance as Swamp Thing: Every single one of his scenes, but especially the cold open where he tears at his own body
  • Cursed WB for its decision to cancel this show: Basically every five minutes or so, and then every moment of those final 15 minutes

Getting to know the people of Marais

Liz Tremayne in Swamp Thing 1x02

Last week was about getting to know Abby, Alec and the swamp — which is a character in its own right before it, you know, actually became a character in its own right.

This week is all about getting to know the rest of the inhabitants of Marais, who are all just as well-acted, complex and complicated as our three main leads. I’m a big fan of female friendships, which we don’t often get on TV shows, so I’m glad to see Liz sticking around and not only supporting Abby as a friend, but helping her in her quest to find out what happened to Alec. Lucky that she listens to that police scanner while she falls asleep, huh?

We also are introduced to quite a few new characters who are part of the Swamp Thing mythos. Ian Ziering’s Dan Cassidy runs what has to be one of the last home video rental stores on the planet and once acted in a movie called Blue Devil, which is the name of the superhero he later becomes.

We likewise meet Doctors Caroline and Jason Woodrue, who are responsible for creating the accelerant that’s caused so much trouble — and who Avery Sunderland now tasks with figuring out what is going on with this virus that’s sweeping through Marais. I’m not familiar with Swamp Thing canon, so it’s only through the power of Google that I learned Jason Woodrue is known for being the supervillain Floronic Man — but Kevin Durand just has a face made for villainy, so I can see it (and can’t wait for it unfold!).

Finally, we have the introduction of Madame Xanadu, one of the more powerful sorceresses in the DC universe and the most interesting new character whom we meet in this second episode. Maria Sunderland goes to her and — I think — asks her to connect her with Shawna, as we can surmise she’s done in the past. However, this time around, the connection is blocked by something dark and dangerous lurking in the swamp — which causes Xanadu to scream in pain and throw Maria across the room, then causes her to vomit up something green and gelatinous.

Oh, and it also makes it so that Maria can sleep next to the long dead corpse of Shawna in her childhood bedroom in a scene that fully freaked me out. I’m so excited for Madame Xanadu’s introduction and can’t wait to see even more supernatural elements folded into the show.

Perhaps I would die for Abby Arcane

Abby Arcane in Swamp Thing 1x02

I never watched Teen Wolf or Gotham, but seeing Crystal Reed in Swamp Thing certainly makes me want to. She is absolutely tremendous in every scene, and in just two episodes has managed to craft a character who is as strong and stubborn as she is wholly vulnerable and soft.

These first two episodes wouldn’t have worked half as well as they do without a strong performance from the lead character, and Crystal Reed confidently and flawlessly takes on that task and completely owns this role.

Her scene opposite Avery Sunderland as she attempts to get him to give her access to Alec’s lab was a masterclass in acting, as she cycled through sorrowful regret with just a tinge of self-loathing, drawn out relief and then steely resolve. There’s nothing melodramatic or overwrought in her performance — all of it is understated and controlled, and you get the impression that Abby is neither controlled by her emotions nor does she run from them.

It makes her engaging to watch on screen and easy to root for. In fact, though the revelation that Matt Cable has long been pining after Abby was kind of awkwardly thrown into the dialogue — as was his weird small talk on the search boat that he used to have a crush on her in high school — I didn’t mind it because, hey, Matt — I get it. I’m a little bit in love with Abby, too, and it’s been two episodes.

Also, her reaction when Susie tells her that Swamp Thing told her his name was Alec? WHEW, y’all.

The man in the dark

Swamp Thing 1x02

I’d never even heard of Andy Bean before watching this show, much less seen him in anything, but I am so very sad we won’t get to see him much — or at all — after these first two episodes.

His Alec Holland was amusing and endearing (and not bad to look at), and his chemistry with Crystal Reed’s Abby Arcane was incredible and managed to make me ship it hard after a mere episode and a half.

That being said, while the lack of Andy Bean is certainly a loss, the inclusion of Derek Mears as Swamp Thing is an amazing and inspired find.

First off, credit to the makers of that Swamp Thing costume for building something that allows Mears to emote while buried under layers of prosthetics and costuming, but also all the awards for Mears himself for making us both clearly see and empathize with the pain, confusion, anger and sadness that Alec-now-Swamp-Thing is feeling in this episode.

Despite the redness of his eyes and the hulking, grotesque body he has, all I really wanted to do in this episode was hug him and tell him it was gonna be okay. In fact, I hope that’s just what Susie Coyle did after he saved her.

I also applaud the show for not keeping Swamp Thing hidden in the shadows or underwater. We get all sorts of looks at Swamp Thing in this episode, as if it’s clear that the creative team are proud of their creation — as they should be! — and want us to see him in all his glory.

And damn, is he glorious. He’s huge, powerful and monstrous, and you can’t really blame Abby for being obviously terrified of him. But seeing as our first real introduction to Swamp Thing at full power is him saving a scared and lost child, it means that him using the swamp vines to literally rip a man apart isn’t as horrifying as it could be.

He isn’t able to verbally communicate past grunt and growls at this point, so I’m curious to see if that changes over the course of the season or if Susie remains his PR person and mouthpiece.

Stray thoughts and lingering questions

Matt Cable in Swamp Thing

  • Hot damn, those final 15 minutes! The sunken house in the swamp, the first good look at Swamp Thing, that dude being ripped apart by vines! That was cinematic level goodness there.
  • Does Liz AirBnB that house of hers? ‘Cause, damn, not only does she have a glass of bourbon waiting for you, she has that sweet guest house on the water as well.
  • Liz is now the second LGBT character on this show — the other being Abby’s fellow doctor, Harlan Edwards. It shouldn’t feel as quietly revolutionary in this day and age, but it is and I’m glad for it.
  • I’m firmly on #teammonsterfuckers, but my goodness is Matt Cable wholesome and handsome.
  • Speaking of #teammonsterfuckers, if you didn’t feel something in your heart clench as Abby watched Alec’s last video diary, do you even have a heart?
  • Also, that last video looked like Alec on the boat right before he went out and got turned into Swamp Thing, so how did it get onto Dan’s computer? I know the cloud exists, but it looked like it was right on the hardrive.
  • I’ve mentioned before that I’m not super familiar with Swamp Thing, so I had to Google the new characters to see who they might be/become, and I have to say I’m impressed with how organically the show included them.
  • So is it only Susie that has a connection with the swamp because she’s patient zero, or will all the other sick people also develop that sort of heightened awareness?

What did you think of ‘Swamp Thing’ 1×02, ‘Worlds Apart’?

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