Swamp Thing: Worlds Apart

abby

Abby goes poking around and learns things

 

One thing I’ve noticed with Swamp Thing so far, and many scenes in Titans, is that they are very dark. I don’t mean thematically, although there is a lot of that. I mean at times, it’s hard to actually see what’s going on, like some of the much-complained about night battles on the last season of Game of Thrones. Given a good bit of this episode happens at night in a swamp, you can imagine how that went. There are definitely some lighting issues in “Worlds Apart.”

The episode opens with a newly transformed Swamp Thing thrashing his way out of the water and going to hide from the many flashing lights in the area. Abby keeps searching for the missing Alec Holland, despite Matt telling her they’ve covered everywhere more than once at this point. Sheriff Lucilla Cable, Matt’s mother (and played by Jennifer Beals of Flashdance fame) shows up, takes charge, and is not particularly friendly with Abby. Seems like Ms. Arcane managed to get all the powerful citizens of this small town annoyed with her before/as she left. Abby tries to persevere with her warning about what Alec was working on and the strange shape she saw in the swamps, but the Sheriff doesn’t seem very interested in listening.

There’s an interesting scene of Swamp Thing reeling around in the wilds, and Suzy having some strange reactions in her hospital bed. Their movements mirror each other. There’s some strange bond going on here. Abby relaxes at Liz’s place as they share a drink and a fire. Liz’s place seems improbably nice for a part time reporter/bar worker in a small swamp town, but set designers do like doing that kind of thing. Abby and Liz talk about police scanners and the missing Alec Holland.

Doctor Edwards goes to check on lil’ Suzy, concerned that she’s having nightmares. Despite Abby’s instructions first episode, he takes his mask off as soon as he walks into her room, even though the space is haz-mat sealed off. Suzy answers his questions with some statements that unnerve the good doctor. Suzy looks out the window after he leaves, when some foreshadowing makes itself known. In the morning, Avery Sutherland wakes up alone and goes looking for his wife. She’s sleeping in their late daughter’s bed, and they talk about losing her. Maria Sutherland is clearly not dealing well with this.

Abby wakes up to her phone buzzing and a ghost visiting before waking up again, this time for real. Harlan, who I guess doesn’t sleep, updates Abby on Suzy’s “episode” during the night and that they had two more cases come in of whatever is ailing the folks of this town. Abby goes to the kitchen, showing more of Liz’s really kind of stunning home, and gets a surprise when there’s someone else there. It’s a nice, matter of fact way to bring in the fact that Liz is gay, and they don’t make a big deal about it, which I like. Liz herself eventually pops up, and there are some introductions, discussion about what happened to Alec, and Abby wanting to get into Alec’s lab, which the authorities still have closed off. Abby lays out her plan, which Liz thinks is a bad idea, and we get a few more hints about Abby’s past in this town.

Abby goes to the Sutherland’s home and has a talk with Avery (there are a lot of A names hereabouts). We get a lot more about the nature of her relationship with the Sutherlands. Will Paton really does a great job playing Avery. Abby eventually moves on from the personal to the business, and Avery is politely uncooperative. I can’t say I’m terribly surprised. They part on decent terms, which is much better than you can say for when Abby encountered Maria first episode. Speaking of, Maria goes to the bar we saw first episode and has a consultation with the shows’ version of Madame Xanadu. This is a very different take on the character. Whatever was supposed to happen, they both get a surprise as something has “shifted the balance” and Xanadu has a fit, lashing out physically and with some degree of power. While those two are getting themselves together, Harlan goes to check on Suzy and sees she’s gone. For as many monitors as they had hooked up to that little girl, you’d think they’d have noticed when she disconnected them.

Abby and Liz drive to where Alec was renting a room, a weird shop that seems to be an actual video store. I guess they don’t get cable or satellite or Netflix out in the swamps. The owner of the place proves to be Dan Cassidy (Ian Ziering of Sharknado fame). In the comics, this is the man who becomes Blue Devil, a kind of complicated character to explain. There are several nods to Blue Devil throughout this scene, so the movie at least exists in this world. Dan is friendly, if a bit odd, and tells them they can look at Alec’s room but the police have already been through it. He does mention Alec borrowing his computer so they can try and look at that. Oddly, this is the second time Abby has heard Alec was fired this episode, which I don’t think he ever told her, and she seems completely unphased by it. Abby finds some video logs with Alec talking about his work and her. Abby gets the news Suzy is missing, and doesn’t exactly keep it to herself.

At the Sutherland place, we see two new cast members arriving. The mildly bickering husband and wife turn out to be Dr.s Caroline and Jason Woodrue. Jason, in the comics, has been Floronic Man, Plant Man, Floro, and Seeder among other names, been both hero and villain, and, depending on who is doing the writing, linked to the origins of both Swamp Thing and Poison Ivy. Here, he seems to be the man responsible for the accelerant Alec was finding in the swamps, and Avery isn’t pleased that things are going badly. They argue a bit, with Caroline doing her best to keep the peace. Avery delivers a few threats, Jason is positive, in typical arrogant scientist fashion, that his creation can’t be behind this, and we get to hear Avery call Jason “Mister Doctor,” which was amusing.

Matt and Abby go searching for Suzy (very much his job, not really hers) and get a tip that someone found her hospital bracelet down at the docks. Considering how many boats there seem to be around here, I’m amazed there’s only one “docks.” They figure out Suzy likely hid in the game warden’s boat and is out in the swamps. No one thinks to call the game warden on his radio about this, and the man shuts it off anyway in the midst of a bulletin about the missing girl. Class act, this one. He sees some lights, calls it in (on the radio he just shut off), and finds two local characters he apparently knows. He doesn’t take them seriously enough, and is very surprised when one of them ends up stabbing him viciously. The two were getting some of Sutherland’s cases of accelerant out of the swamp, and both fear Avery a lot, which says something.

The Sheriff isn’t happy Matt is going out searching with Abby, and we hear some more of the backstory there. It’s really nothing all that impressive, apparently more or less an unresolved high school crush. Points to the sheriff, she does seem to be trying to look out for her son. Their search turns into his awkward confession about high school and prom. Elsewhere, possibly motived by the awkwardness of the scene, Swamp Thing lurches up from the last time he fell over (he does that a lot). Suzy makes her escape from the warden’s boat as the killer prepares to deal with the body. She flees, and he hears her (hard to sneak away in a swamp) and chases. Abby, after that speech about high school, might be relieved when they find the game warden’s boat, blood, and body. Matt sees lights, and the two split up, Abby trying to care for the dying man, and Matt needing to pursue the lights he sees.

Suzy hides in some old ruins, the murderer chasing her and stalking her. Swamp Thing runs to the rescue as Abby closes in, led by Suzy’s screams. The thug tries to fight Swamp Thing, which goes really badly for him and shows Swamp Thing’s control of plants. Suzy is rescued, Abby gets there in time  to see the monster, and gets very confused when Suzy says he’s not a monster, he’s confused about what’s happening to him, and his name is Alec. The show wraps with Matt getting Abby and Suzy out of the swamp, and Maria having a creepy slumber party at her place.

What I liked: I was impressed and surprised at some of the names they lined up for this. I thought Will Patton was particularly good as Avery, as were Virginia Madsen (Maria), and the Sheriff (Jennifer Beals). Dan Cassidy was an interesting addition, and a character I never thought I’d see in live action, played amusingly goofily by Ian Zeiring. Overall, this is actually pretty good, and I’m at a loss why it was cancelled just as this episode was released. It was interesting seeing Jason Woodrue show up.

What I didn’t: All the stuff around the game warden was done oddly, from the bits with the radio to his being so blasé about confronting someone in the middle of the swamps. I’m not sure what’s going on with Maria, Xandau, and Shawna’s ghost. The lack of medical protocol and the alarms not sounding were annoying.

I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5. It seems like it got the short end of the stick from the company. I wonder if why will become more clear as the season goes on.

 

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