So, “Swamp Thing” keeps the momentum. It’s not a breakout episode like last time, with a combination of action and reveals. This episode’s got the reveals and developments—the show’s not taking its time with subplots. Not sure if it’s because their order got cut or if they were just unsteady in the “pilot” episodes, but they’ve found very solid ground.
Apparently, they just needed to up the actual supernatural instead of the mysterious and probably supernatural. Swamp Thing and Blue Devil and the Phantom Stranger and Madame Xanadu—get all those gears working and the rest of the show being a Southern Gothic corruption soap opera shot muddy evens out. “Swamp Thing” needed to escape reality as soon as possible; now, free of it, the show’s character choices work all the better. Human heart in conflict with itself, others, and its (supernatural) environment: just ups the ante.
The show continues to make interesting choices, plotting-wise. This episode, it’s Selena Anduze (as Kevin Durand’s wife, fellow scientist, and moral compass), Jennifer Beals, and Henderson Wade. Wade in particular. He’s revealing a brooding side to the beefcake. And Beals is just great at this point. If the show had opened with her and then transitioned over to Andy Bean and Crystal Reed, it would’ve been awesome. Well, so long as they had the current few episodes’ writers on it. The first couple episodes got rough on the dialogue.
Will Patton and Kevin Durand are delightfully restrained bad guys. Reed confronts Patton about sending thugs to rough up Maria Sten (who’s not as good as last time but better than before), which led to Ian Ziering getting smacked on the head. He’s now comatose with low brain activity and little chance of recovery per Reed.
He does, however, have REM sleep visibly going on, but no one’s paying attention to him, which fits the characters a little better than it should. Everyone in “Swamp Thing” is operating under unimaginable pressures and would constantly be making sleepy, bad choices. The show’s not a lackadaisical anthology of supernatural incidents; traumas hammer. I may be making excuses, but there are a couple of really deft moves in the episode—Tania Lotta gets the writing credit—and I feel like there’s agency behind the show’s better decisions.
Also, Toa Fraser’s direction is good. Not showy, sturdy; funny how the big-time movie director couldn’t find a tone, but the TV directors can; you’ve got to direct for the soap.
And it’s not a particularly soapy episode. Patton and Durand’s machinations are sci-fi, and Ziering’s their guinea pig.
Good episode for Ziering. He’s been likable on the show, but he’s downright charming now. Guess burning him alive in blue flame adds sympathy.
Reed and Swamp Thing Derek Mears have a bit to do—the episode opens with an action scene, then there’s lots of talking before some suspense sequences and chase scenes, but no more Swampy action. There’s some Swampy magic—he’s talking about the Green a lot, and I’m very curious if the show’s going to be able to do it (either in terms of success or of four episodes left). It comes at the end, setting up a precarious next episode.
But the show’s definitely improved—a lot.