Swamp Thing, the new series exclusively streaming on DC Universe based on the DC Comic character of the same name is in it’s second episode. “Worlds Apart” continues some of the exhibition from the previous episode but dials the thrills up quite a few notches. While the horror elements in this episode are not nearly as in your face, the suspense created by the story and setting keep the show engaging.
“Worlds Apart” opens with Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) and the local police department looking for Alec Holland (Andy Bean). In the previous episode, Abby watched from the lab as the boat Alec was on mysterious exploded after the two discovered someone was illegally dumping chemicals into the swamp. While working with the police, more of Abby’s history with the hometown she left years ago slowly floats to the surface as now both Maria Sunderland and the local sheriff have heavily implied she is a murderer.
In the last episode, it was revealed that Abby lost her childhood friend, Shawna, in some sort of accident. Maria took the loss of her daughter Shawna hard. While she previously had a substance problem, Maria is now sober but still lashes out on her husband to cope. Abby also struggles with the loss of her friend. She refused to return to Marais partly because she no longer felt welcome but also because she carries immense guilt from the loss.
At one point in “Worlds Apart,” Abby wakes up from a nightmare where she sees Shawna covered in vines and acting similar to a zombie. Abby later realizes she needs access to Holland’s lab to uncover what he might have found in regards to the virus that is still spreading. To do so though she has to speak to Avery Sunderland, a man who she has successfully avoid for years following the death of Shawna. Avery is up to far more than he lets on as it becomes more clear he has a lot to do with the accelerant being dumped into the swamp.
This episode introduces us to one of Marais’ stranger characters, Madame Xanadu (Jeryl Prescott). Madame Xanadu is introduced as a fortune teller that Maria seeks guidance from when the emotions of her daughter’s death become too much. But seeking aid from Xanadu quickly turns violent as the psychic reveals the force of light and dark are no longer balanced.
“Worlds Apart” finally gives us a good look at the creature lurking in the murky waters. Swamp Thing has quite the presence and his first major scene out of gate finds the character beginning to understand himself. He pulls at the vines coated his body while the scenes are paired with Susie Coyle who is still recovering from the outbreak.
As Swamp Thing pulls on his arms, Susie pulls out her IV. Swamp Thing’s body regenerates itself as vines stitch up the self-inflicted wounds. The scene is uncomfortable as the audience waits for the harm Susie is doing to herself to escalate. Through this scene, Swamp Thing successfully establishes a connection between the victims of the ongoing outbreak and Swamp Thing. Those suffering from the virus are somehow connected to him and can even feel his emotions.
The design of Swamp Thing (Derek Mears) is beautiful. It is no wonder this show’s first season cost an estimated $80 million. The creature looks slimy, the way light reflects off the gunk of the swamp that is stuck to him is haunting. Swamp Thing is as elevated as the show itself. Despite being based off a comic book, the show never feels campy. This is something other DC TV shows and DC Universe shows have struggled with despite their violent and darker themes. Swamp Thing, on the other hand, is a thrilling, well-paced adventure that reads more like a supernatural crime than a show about a superhero.
All of the characters are grounded in the reality of the world. Although this version of Louisiana is heavily fictionalized, it works for the story. The setting is beautiful and still feels alive despite its dreary color palette of grays and greens. Additionally, Reed continues to shine as Abby. Her character is my favorite part of the show as I am deeply invested in her history with this bizarre little town.
Overall, Swamp Thing continues to be excellent which makes the news of its cancellation all the more bitter. None of the violence, language, or horror elements feel overdone. Everything is in service of the narrative. While some of the jump scares didn’t quite land, the show keeps viewers on edge with its chase sequences and ongoing mysteries that have slowly begun to unravel. This shows makes me want to pick up more runs of Swamp Thing in anticipation for next week’s episode.
Swamp Thing‘s second episode is available now on the DC Universe with its next one dropping Friday, June 14, 2019.
Swamp Thing Episode 2, "Worlds Apart"
Overall, Swamp Thing continues to be excellent which makes the news of its cancellation all the more bitter. None of the violence, language, or horror elements feel overdone. Everything is in service of the narrative. While some of the jump scares didn’t quite land, the show keeps viewers on edge with its chase sequences and ongoing mysteries that have slowly begun to unravel.