The Swamp Thing series finale ties up its loose ends, gives us one final monster scare, and reminds us that it’s a love story at its very core.
When it first premiered, I called Swamp Thing DC Universe’s best premiere yet, and I absolutely stand by that.
Now that we’re at the series’ end, I also want to say that it’s now my favorite live-action DC show, ever — and if it had been allowed to continue, I’m sure it would have eventually unseated some of my favorite DC animated series to become my favorite DC show, period.
But I guess we’ll never know for sure.
Even though we’ve known since before the second episode even aired that this would be the one and only season of Swamp Thing because Warner Media doesn’t want us to have nice things, there was a part of me that hoped someone would step in to save the show.
It was a hope that I continued to nurse week after week, as Swamp Thing continued to deliver such a superb quality show — well-written and even better acted, with the production values of a high budget movie. It was a small hope that gave birth to an even smaller, but hardened (and eventually deluded), belief that someone would save Swamp Thing, that someone — anyone, from DC Universe announcing it had made a mistake to a new streaming service stepping in to save the day — had to save Swamp Thing.
Because how could they not?
Swamp Thing is a show which devotes itself wholly to its premise, its characters and its story, and that devotion comes out in the writing, in the acting and in the production. It is a show in which everyone involved — cast, crew and creatives — has spoken on how much they love being part of it.
It is a show that cares about the source material without being slavishly devoted to it; one that cares about its characters, that never forgets to have their journeys mean something, that takes its themes and ideas seriously.
Few shows come out the gate as strong, as steady and as committed as Swamp Thing, which led me to believe that the end that had been promised surely couldn’t come.
But here we are at the end of all things, and no savior has emerged in the final hour.
So here I am writing my last and final review for a show that I have loved so much and ended far, far too soon.
Of course, this is really less a review of the final episode than a eulogy to a show that has come to mean quite a lot to me in so little a time. A review would be better at focusing on the quality of this particular episode in an objective manner.
It would point out that this episode wasn’t Swamp Thing at its best, it would go in depth about how you could feel the show straining to accommodate three episodes of material into one final one. It would discuss how successful the episode had been at that, with the firm understanding that the cast and crew are free of blame here, that the blame for the strain on this episode lays solely on the shoulders of the studio who chose to take away three entire episodes so late in the season.
But, like I said, this isn’t really a true review.
So what I’ll focus on instead is this: The Swamp Thing series finale showcases — more than anything — how much it cares about its characters and how much it respects its fans.
With three fewer episodes, the team behind Swamp Thing decided to wrap up its storylines and give at least an ending to all its characters. There are no real cliffhangers here, no loose ends which will drive the fans into madness. The episode checks in with all the major players and features nearly every cast member we’ve met over the course of the 10-episode run.
Maria ends up happy and deluded, an illusion of Shauna to keep her company. Liz is there to say goodbye to Dan Cassidy, who leaves Marais, driving away and into a world — a better alternate universe — where The Blue Devil gets his own spinoff show. The Cable family doesn’t fare so well, both of them — seemingly, at least — meeting their literal end at the hands of the season’s big bads. Avery ends up alive, but coughing up pieces of the swamp that perhaps hints at the plans the writers had for him in the future.
And Jason? Well, he gets simultaneously one of the most satisfying and frustrating endings of the show.
Nearly every week while reviewing this show, I reserved Jason Woodrue for the last section of my review — the place where I put all my throwaway thoughts and lingering questions.
But that would’ve been impossible to do this weekend.
Following Kevin Durand on any social media, it’s easy to see how much he loved his character and how much he enjoyed being on Swamp Thing, and the show’s series finale is a showcase as to why.
Kevin Durand’s performance — which has been tremendous week by week — absolutely shines in this episode. And given the caliber of talent Swamp Thing has, that’s certainly saying something. He’s able to play Jason just as the most frightening kind of mad scientist energy while also lacing his performance with utter desperation of a loving husband in deep grief.
We are repelled by him and horrified by his actions just as we sympathize with him, and Kevin Durand does a fantastic job both playing frantic husband opposite the trapped version of his wife and as the monstrous Floronic Man glimpsed in the series’ end credits scene.
The monster who was previously Jason Woodrue is a horror film nightmare, making use of Durand’s own imposing 6’6″ build and the VFX’s talents to craft a being we can see as being a truly worthy opponent to Derek Mears’ (himself a cool 6’5″) Swamp Thing.
That he can now only ever be a magnificent Easter egg to top off the series is one of the most frustrating and embittering parts of this experience, one that makes me wish that we at least were able to get back those three episodes even if we never got a second season.
As I’ve mentioned before, when I first started watching Swamp Thing, I had never read any of the comics.
At the end of series, that’s the thing which has changed the most. Because of this show, I’ve now read many of the most popular Swamp Thing comic book runs and Swamp Thing himself now ranks high among my most favorite superheroes.
Which is why I’m so grateful to the fact that Swamp Thing has remained firm on this facet to the character and the series:
Swamp Thing is a love story.
Yes, of course it is also a horror story. It is an ecological warning. It is an allegory of the relationship between man and nature.
But at its heart and at its best, Swamp Thing is a love story. And it speaks to the show’s utter credit that it has always remembered this, and that knowing this also never kept it from including all the other facets and ideas that are part of Swamp Thing’s legacy.
The finale dedicates a solid portion of its time to making sure that the relationship between Alec and Abby gets the care and attention it deserves, and in my more objective, straight review of this episode, I would say that this is the aspect of the finale that really lands in the most satisfying way.
We get to see Swamp Thing accept that he is and isn’t Alec Holland — that he may be a plant who now no longer thinks he’s a man, but he is also a plant with that dead man’s humanity, memories, and feelings. And that makes him more than just a sentient part of The Green, something new and unknown, but still deserving of Abby’s company. Still deserving to be a thing which loves her.
Still deserving to be a thing which is loved by her.
The Swamp Thing series finale gives us the happiest ending it could have imagined for these two at this point in the story: Swamp Thing admitting that all that Abby means to him, and Abby telling Swamp Thing, in no uncertain terms, that she wants to be beside him in whatever comes next — him as he is and not him as he never actually was.
It does not resolve all the darkness in the swamp or in the world. It addresses the loose ends but does not necessarily tie them up in the neatest bow.
In that way, the writers and the show have given us the kindest possible ending they could to the love story — one in which Abby and Swamp Thing are allowed to pause and be united in their feelings for one another, but also an ending that lets their story continue on past what Warner Bros. allowed us to see.
In some better world, one where Swamp Thing continues on for four or five more seasons before being reborn into a full-blown Justice League Dark series, we can imagine that Abby and Swamp Thing go on to fight the coming darkness together.
We can imagine that they build on their connection to one another, that they learn about who they are and what they can do — both as individuals and as a team.
That they build a life together, are happy and in love out there in the deep gloom and in the deep beauty of the swamp.
That’s an ending I can live with, even if it’s the one that can now only exist in my mind.
Thank you, Swamp Thing, and to everyone who brought this show to life and shared this experience with me these last 10 weeks. It’s been an amazing time with you all.