Brief Thoughts On Swamp Thing, Episode 5
by Erik Amaya
And at the halfway mark, Swamp Thing finally declares the existence of the supernatural.
Readers of the comic book over the years knew this was coming, but previous Swamp Thing adaptations made the title character a creature of pseudo-science. This series appeared to be doing the same thing — certainly the marketing leaned into more realistic tropes of swamp-bourne viruses and Woodrue’s (Kevin Durand) bio-accelerant — so the twist which binds all of Episode 5’s story strands together is both surprising and satisfying.
Even if they’ve been teasing this the whole time.
For Daniel (Ian Ziering), the deal he made appears to be with Blue Devil itself. The compact: stay in Marais until he serves some purpose and see his Hollywood career restored. We’re still holding onto the idea that he is a proxy of sorts for John Constantine, but his inability to deal with the supernatural blue flame keeping him in Marias may see him become a very different sort of proxy. Hell, the knock he took the head while helping Liz (Maria Sten) will certainly mean he’ll be a different person next week. At the same time, his key scene at the city limit was the declarative sentence we’ve been waiting for: supernatural forces exist and are playing some sort of game in the swamps.
Which brings us to the Phantom Stranger (Macon Blair). The character has always been enigmatic, but with his far-away eyes, cloak, and hat, he’s always been an unsettling presence. The interesting choice here was to take all of that away and make him look like tourist trying to find the best fishing hole. Also, Blair’s calm and open performance gave the Stranger a new dimension. Instead of an aloof presence helping the DC heroes for ambiguous reasons, the Stranger here is genuinely concerned with helping Swamp Thing (Derek Mears) contact the Green and learn the truth about Abby (Crystal Reed) and Shawna’s (Given Sharp) jump from the bridge. He also hints at an older evil in the swamp which feels like the show laying more track for Anton Arcane’s eventual debut. Or, at least, an aborted plan to feature him in the second season. Overall, though, the Stranger further cemented the existence of the supernatural: something Swamp Thing is still coming to terms with even if he is, ultimately, supernatural himself. Also, we’re excited to hear the Green get name-checked at last.
But the person most in need of understanding these forces beyond science is Abby. And her plot this week — saving the always in trouble Suzie Coyle (Elle Graham) from the unquiet ghost of Shawna — definitely made her confront the possibility that there are things at work beyond the physical realm. She even starts to suspect this is the case while dictating notes to herself regarding Swamp Thing’s unique cell structure. Of course, she reverts back to her training when “Suzie” starts talking about things only Shawna could know and digs her heals in when Madame Xanadu (Jeryl Prescott) tells her she opened the door for Shawna to come back. It is unclear if Abby’s convinced now, but presumably she’ll be willing to accept whatever impossible nightmare the swamp serves up next week.
Also, Graham deserves heaps of praise for her performance this week. She embodied an angry teenage spirit perfectly in a way which felt distinct from Suzie’s implacable survivor instinct. Some show should book her now as she is a great child actor.
The plot also finally revealed what really happened on the bridge all those years ago, and now Abby must face the truth that something dragged Shawna down into the depths. That changes a lot for her, but will it change her relationship to Maria Sunderland (Virginia Madsen)? It is unclear if she’s seen the natural of the evil in the water, but it is possible she may become more sympathetic to Abby after surviving this. One thing is clear though, Avery (Will Patton) made a huge mistake talking to Woodrue before visiting her in the hospital. Whatever plans he may have are about to lose their only source of funding.
Then again, Avery has to get desperate before he finally sees “the body.” Which brings us to one last question: who is he bringing on to hunt Swamp Thing? Will it be a well-known DC name? We certainly hope so. Even if the show is well and truly dead, it continues to surprise us with its use of these characters and the world they inhabit. An appearance by, say, B’Wana Beast would not be out of the realm of reality for this show.
Swamp Thing streams Fridays on DC Universe.