[Hey there Thingalings (I know, but that’s what I’m calling you), are you just joining us? Make sure to visit the Swamp Thing recap page to check out the recaps from the previous episodes. We’re following Swamp Thing in order, and you’ll want to make sure you’re caught up before reading on. We’ll be here when you get back!]
Things were looking up for Abby Arcane and Alec Holland last we left them. At least, they were looking different. A hallucinogenic spore had just ushered out of Swamp Thing‘s body, making Abby see the plant creature as his former, human self. Alec believes that “the Green” to which he is now so connected, is responding to his thoughts. Just now, he wanted to show Abby his old self, so the Green made that happen. When Abby mentions that she’s hungry, the Green sends fruit-bearing vines into the lab. Abby eats a plum as Alec explains that not only does the Green work for him, it talks to him, telling him of a great darkness lurking nearby. This darkness, this Rot, is what’s troubling Marais. Abby insists that Alec tell her more, so the pair get in Abby‘s boat and head to where the Rot is taking over.
As the sun comes up, we find Matt Cable at Delroy’s Roadhouse. Liz Tremayne serves him coffee, noticing that he’s filling out a request to transfer departments. When Liz asks him about it, he levels with her. He knows about the Swamp Thing, and since Liz is Abby‘s closest friend in Marais, he knows she does too. Matt talks briefly about what Abby told him, about the darkness heading to Marais. When Liz asks if he thinks Abby‘s crazy, he says no. “I’m afraid she’s right.”
“[…] episode seven went off the rails, both in character development and story structure. However, it’s the first time I’ve felt really let down by this show, and hopefully, it won’t be a trend.”
Meanwhile, at the Sunderlands, Avery and Maria prepare for a meeting with Nathan Ellery, an investor Avery‘s trying to woo and head of the “Conclave Group.” Avery marvels at how well Maria seems to be doing. She’s in good spirits, owed to a medication she’s been prescribed. Their joy is cut short when Sheriff Lucillia Cable arrives. Away from Maria, Lucillia confronts Avery over blackmailing Matt. She tells him that Alec Holland is deformed but alive and that if he starts talking, they’ll all go down. Lucillia orders Avery to come with her and take care of Alec themselves, so Avery makes up some excuse to Maria and heads out, promising to be back before the meeting with Ellery. As she watches them go, we can tell that Maria is far from actually ok.
Back in the swamp, Alec and Abby stroll through lush greenery, unlike any Abby has ever seen. Alec explains to her that there’s more than science going on in the swamp, that the forces of life and death work there, unseen by humans. He also tells her that there’s a delicate balance, a harmony between the two that holds order in the world. Now, that balance is shifting, and almost on cue, the pair arrives in a desolate and dead wooded area. The Rot is there. Despite Alec‘s protests, Abby goes in to take a sample. We briefly return to Marais, specifically the temporary Woodrue residence. There, Maria Sunderland probes Jason Woodrue for information. She wants to know how confident Woodrue is in his work, especially now that his “miracle patient” Dan Cassidy is back in a coma. Jason reassures Maria of the validity of his findings and she leaves, satisfied.
We return to Lucillia and Avery in the swamp. Avery is unusually candid, explaining why he had to have Alec Holland killed. Alec, according to Avery, was sticking his nose where it didn’t belong. Instead of just running his tests, Alec was fishing around in other areas, coming close to discovering the evidence of Avery‘s many crimes that are hidden in the swamp. We learn that Avery still believes the swamp “owes him” for his father’s death, justifying all the dumping and polluting he’s done there. Across that swamp, Abby and Alec are still walking through dead trees. When Abby tries to collect a sample from a rotting piece of bark, a strand of strange, dead vines grab her arm, cutting into her flesh. She and Alec run as the camera pulls back to reveal The Rot spreading across the swampland.
With the dinner at the Sunderlands‘ approaching, Jason Woodrue puts on his best suit. Caroline ties his tie and, once again, begs him to leave Marais. Believing the cure for her Alzheimer’s to be in the swamp, Jason refuses to leave. He continues getting ready for the dinner as the dinner’s host, Avery, gets ever deeper into the swamp with Lucillia. Seemingly out of nowhere, Avery pulls a gun on the sheriff, accusing her of faking this hunt in order to lure him out to his death. Lucillia looks genuinely surprised by his accusation and then suddenly, Matt appears, disarming and knocking out Avery. The Cables pick up the unconscious businessman and start looking for a place to quietly kill him.
At the same time, Maria greets Nathan Ellery, who has just arrived for dinner. A storm is moving into Marais as the mysterious man and Maria get to talking, and we’re taken abruptly back to Alec‘s lab. There, Abby‘s wound is showing signs of a supernatural disease, a flesh-eating virus that’s crawling up her arm. She writhes in pain as Alec tries to combat the disease. Calling on the Green, Alec produces an exotic Chinese herb that acts as a powerful antiseptic. He gives it to Abby and we watch as a battle rages under her skin between Green and Rot. She screams in pain.
A different kind of battle goes on across the swamp where Avery has awoken, still in the clutches of the Cables. The mother and son attempt to toss Avery off the side of their boat, but Avery protests, claiming that he’s Matt‘s real father. In a moment of distraction, Matt doesn’t notice Avery pull a knife then jump up, stabbing Matt in the shoulder. Lucillia shoots Avery in the leg and the back before he dives off the boat. Lucillia attends to her son, who’s severely bleeding.
Back at the lab, Abby is still attempting to fight off the Rot’s effects. Alec has an idea to strengthen the Chinese herb by calling on the Green, but to do so means he’ll have to temporarily let go of his human form. Alec kills off the rot inside Abby as, before her very eyes, the Swamp Thing returns.
Meanwhile, dinner at the Sunderlands has officially started. Despite Avery‘s absence, Maria proves herself to be a competent host and representative of her husband’s interests. She mentions to Nathan Ellery that she respects his work on the “MOD 4” project, which he remarks is classified. Maria smiles, “Just because I’m a small-town girl doesn’t mean I don’t have friends in high places.” She begins pitching Ellery the value of Woodrue‘s work, explaining what happened to Dan Cassidy and how he came back. She explains the miraculous properties of Woodrue‘s formula and Ellery changes dispositions. He’s interested in what she’s selling.
We check in again at Alec‘s lab, where Abby has made a full recovery. Alec is back again in human form, but he tells her that won’t be for very long. The hallucinogenic spores are wearing off. Abby kisses Alec, perhaps because it’s the last time she’ll ever see him as a human being. Across town, the Woodrues celebrate a very successful dinner. Their work will be fully funded by Ellery and the Conclave moving forward. Caroline seems distant and, when Jason asks what’s wrong, she can’t seem to remember with whom they were eating dinner. Jason‘s face goes pale. His wife’s condition is getting worse.
“Emerging out of the swamp, still very much alive and now hellbent on revenge, is Avery Sunderland.”
As the Woodrues are heading to bed, Lucillia is dragging her injured son out of the swamp. Curiously, she takes him to Maria‘s house. Maria lets them in, along with an off-the-books surgeon Lucillia called. As the surgeon sews up Matt’s wound, we learn a startling truth. Maria and Lucillia had planned the attack on Avery together. Now, with her own name and Ellery‘s signed to the biggest deal the Sunderlands‘ money has ever made, Maria is the official owner of their business. The two women, united by a common enemy, have worked to remove Avery Sunderland from Marais’s highest seat of power and, moreover, from the world in general. Lucillia tells Maria that Avery is dead and that she should file a missing person’s report soon.
Now we’re back in the swamp, and Alec Holland is savoring his last few moments appearing as a human to Abby. He tells Abby not to be sad for him, that perhaps he’s become what he’s become for a greater purpose. There’s a war going on between the Green and the Rot, he says, “perhaps I’m meant to be a warrior.” He tells Abby to leave and not come back. Heading out of the swamp, Abby calls Liz. She says she’s not giving up on Alec/Swamp Thing, though he is giving up on himself. Her best hope now is to use the CDC’s resources to analyze the Rot sample she pulled off the tree earlier. To do so means heading back to Atlanta, so she bids her friend goodbye and drives out of Marais.
Finally, we look out over a marsh deep within the swamplands. The storm that was rolling in earlier is almost to Marais, but that’s far from the worst thing heading into town. Emerging out of the swamp, still very much alive and now hellbent on revenge, is Avery Sunderland.
Sadly, I think this week’s episode of Swamp Thing was the show’s weakest. As you know, I adore the small-town intrigue of Marais, but I thought episode seven tried to fit too much of that in unnaturally. The biggest example is Maria Sunderland‘s sudden change from trauma victim to master manipulator. It was almost the opposite of the twist we saw two episodes ago when we learned Lucillia Cable was capable of murder. That was a surprising development, but it still fit everything we knew about her character thus far, that shE would do anything for her son and that she was ok with lying about her actions. Maria as an evil genius flies in the face of everything we’ve established about her character before. She hates Avery, yes, but never in ways that turn into complicated plots.
I was also disappointed in the lack of Dan Cassidy in this episode. Swamp Thing spent last week’s whole episode (somewhat awkwardly) explaining his origin, and it was weird that he was barely even mentioned in this one. Overall, I thought episode seven went off the rails, both in character development and story structure. However, it’s the first time I’ve felt really let down by this show, and hopefully, it won’t be a trend.