The saga of the 2019 “Swamp Thing” ends with a reasonably good season finale. It’s not a series finale; the episode’s oddly reductive by the end, low-key revealing they never really had the budget. It’s a “who will survive, and what will be left of them” type of finish, clearing out all the old business.
Well, all the old business except Maria Sten’s disappearing live-in girlfriend and job at the town newspaper. Unfortunately, Sten lost character development after “Swamp Thing” finished its first act. Besides Derek Mears’s lengthy battle against intruders (led by Michael Beach and apparent stunt cast Jake Busey), the episode’s all about Kevin Durand’s zucchini sliding off its cracker as he races to save wife Selena Anduze.
The episode opens with a resolution for Ian Ziering’s story arc (including an odd farewell with Sten, two characters with a scant relationship), then heads over to Virginia Madsen. Sonuvabitch husband Will Patton had her committed last episode, which seemed like a lousy finish for Madsen, given she’d just done a big character development arc.
This episode doesn’t make it any better. It doesn’t make it any worse, just doesn’t make it any better.
Plus, it gives Jeryl Prescott a scene in the last episode. Everyone comes back for the finale—well, okay, Prescott and Andy Bean. Bean’s got a tough scene, and it works better than I’d have thought. It’s a too little, too late bit, but pretty much everything’s too little, too late at this point.
Being a streaming show and being a season finale, the episode works its way through the various cast members who definitely won’t be back and the ones who may. The only two who get any actual conclusion are Crystal Reed and Mears. Reed’s got shockingly little to do for a show where she’s top-billed, but she and Mears sell the premise going forward. It’s not perfect, it’s not the comics, but it’s okay. The show stabilized what it needed to stabilize.
Good performances from Jennifer Beals, Patton, Durand, Anduze, Mears. The show cops out of Reed’s early freak-out about potentially crushing on a vegetable, which is bad, but director Deran Sarafian clearly couldn’t handle it.
The rest of the direction’s fine, just the immediate follow-up to last episode’s cliffhanger reveal.
Speaking of cliffhanger reveals, the episode ends with a tease for next season and another cast change or two. It’s a bad end for at least one character’s season arc, which is unfortunate. Even Mears and Reed get something of a lackluster finish (theirs is budgetary), so it fits. There’s only so much you can do with a cut season order.
But as a proof of concept, “Swamp Thing” shows the special effects for a successful adaptation have arrived; it’s just being able to afford enough of them. Doing it on the cheaper “Swamp Thing” does surprisingly well.
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