[Welcome to the penultimate episode of Swamp Thing, reader. Make sure to visit the Swamp Thing recap page and ensure you’re caught up before reading on. This episode pulled from storylines scattered across the whole series, and you don’t want to miss a single horrific detail.]
Jason Woodrue returns home, telling his wife about finding the Swamp Thing. Caroline tells him of a horrible nightmare she had as scenes of Sunderland HQ flash across the screen. Swamp Thing is in Avery‘s lab, still frozen and now on a dissection table. Caroline ends the description of her nightmare by saying that she thought Jason was in it. But when she looked closer, she says, she saw a monster.
We return to Delroy’s Roadhouse, where Abby Arcane bursts in looking for Liz. Abby reports finding a battle scene in the swamp, suspecting that Woodrue has hunted down and captured Swamp Thing. Liz agrees to help her investigate, and we return to Avery‘s lab. Swamp Thing lies frozen on the table as Avery looks on, when all of a sudden, Woodrue enters. Woodrue explains the eerie green lighting of the lab, saying it will inhibit Swamp Thing‘s strength if he wakes up. Woodrue confirms with a technician that everything’s ready, then asks everyone to leave. He turns down the system keeping Swamp Thing frozen. “I’ll let you thaw a little,” he says, “then I’ll have a look under the hood.”
Much to my surprise, reader, we then return to Dan Cassidy in the hospital. We haven’t seen Dan in a while and I assumed his plot had been dropped, so this was a pleasant development. Dan wakes from his coma (again), to the Phantom Stranger by his bedside. The Stranger shows Dan a vision of Liz and Abby investigating, when all of a sudden they are confronted and gunned down by a SWAT team. The Stranger tells Dan that he is seeing the future, a future only Dan can change.
Back in the present, the real Abby and Liz stop at the Woodrue residence. Inside, they discover a muddy boot print. Abby asks Caroline where Jason is, but her deteriorating mind offers little truth. Still, Caroline warns them before they go. She tries to convince the women that what Jason‘s doing, he’s doing out of love for her. Abby and Liz leave and we return to the Sunderland lab, where Jason dissects Swamp Thing. Gore fans will get a massive kick out of the gross sounds and sights that come along with Woodrue‘s work, but it doesn’t last for long. Cut open and strapped to a table, the Swamp Thing awakes.
Back in town, Liz and Abby deduce where they believe Jason is holding Swamp Thing, but not before learning (by searching through company records) that Maria Sunderland is making a play for sole ownership of the Sunderland company. They race toward Sunderland’s lab as Jason continues his grisly work on the former Alec Holland. As Swamp Thing screams in pain, Jason opens up his chest, revealing something he can’t believe. Swamp Thing has lungs, a heart and more organs. The only thing is, the organs seem to serve no real purpose. Swamp Thing speaks and lives just fine without them. Then, Jason unveils the terrible truth of what this means. Swamp Thing isn’t a man with plant powers at all. He’s a plant with the memories of being a man. Swamp Thing screams as his world crashes around him.
In Marais’s hospital, the Phantom Stranger tells Dan Cassidy that he is free to leave Marais. The Stranger disappears, but not before returning Dan‘s Blue Devil costume. Dan is about to leave, but his conscious gets the better of him. He picks up the suit, and begins to painfully change. Smoke and a blue light erupt from Dan as he begins his transition into the character we knew he’d become. Elsewhere in town, Maria Sunderland is shocked to find her husband, still alive, waiting for her at a restaurant. Even more shocking, Avery‘s brought men from a psych ward, who take the protesting Maria away in a van. Avery looks on, having vanquished his chief rival for power in Marais.
At Delroy’s that night, Matt Cable drinks away his sorrow. Delroy sees him and suggests he call his mother, who Delroy can tell he’s mad at, but Matt refuses. He orders another beer. Meanwhile, Abby and Liz have found Woodrue‘s lab. A fern grows unnaturally in front of them, leading them toward Swamp Thing. Unfortunately, they are discovered, and the future Dan Cassidy saw begins to play out. Armed guards approach their hiding place, ready to kill, when the lights go out. The Blue Devil has arrived.
Dan Cassidy, in full-on demon form, delivers hellish punishment to the armed guards, incinerating them in blue flame shot from his eyes. Horror fans will be pleased to know that the Blue Devil looks a LOT more like a monster than he does a superhero, with a nightmarish bodysuit of rippling blue muscles and clawed features. Elsewhere in the lab, Jason Woodrue stops his work and flees, leaving Swamp Thing. Abby and Liz come out of hiding to find him, stepping over the charred victims of the Blue Devil along the way.
In the lab, Abby and Liz free Swamp Thing. After they turn off the strange green lights, Swamp Thing is able to heal from Woodrue‘s experiments. He gets off the table and heads to the swamp, desperate to know if what Woodrue said about him is true. As they all leave, a naked Dan Cassidy wakes up on the ground, having returned to human form. Abby and Liz make it to the swamp with Swamp Thing, and then we briefly rejoin Matt Cable. Drunk and behind the wheel, Matt smashes into a roadblock. To this viewer, at least, he looks dead.
Back at the Woodrues‘, Jason excitedly bursts through the door, announcing that he’s found a plant capable of regenerating complex human brain patterns. It’s the cure for Caroline, he thinks. Then, to his horror, he finds Caroline in their bedroom. She’s overdosed on her own Alzheimer’s medication. We leave her convulsing as we join the Sunderlands in Maria‘s psych ward. Avery reveals he knows everything. The attempted murder, the company power play, all of it. Avery leaves Maria there, convinced he’s beaten her. But as he closes her padded room’s door, we see a slight smile on Maria‘s face.
Finally, we return to the swamp. Abby has followed Swamp Thing to the area where Alec was shot in the first episode. Begging for answers, Abby watches as Swamp Thing descends into the murky water. Moments later, he comes back up holding a body. Abby reels at the truth he reveals to her then, that he’s holding her friend in his arms as they speak. He speaks four chilling words that end the episode:
“Alec Holland is Dead.”
Color me thrilled, reader. Not only has Swamp Thing returned to a cohesive, thrilling, and clear story, it tied up the loose ends I thought it would have to sacrifice to do so. Seeing Dan in the full Blue Devil form was as surprising as it was satisfying, and his battle scene plus the dissection of Swamp Thing did a great job of reminding me of the show’s horror capabilities. the only problem I had while watching Episode Nine was the knowledge that, after the next episode, Swamp Thing would be over for good. Episode Ten, as you’re probably aware, will be the conclusion of the series.
Still, there’s always reason to hope, right? I mean, I thought for sure we’d seen the last of Blue Devil, and was overjoyed to be proven wrong. Perhaps the series, once fans see just how well its pulling off the ending, will make a miraculous resurrection itself.