Swamp Thing: Long Walk Home


Let’s go for a nature walk. What could possibly go wrong? 

One of the things I really enjoy about DC Comics’ various video adaptations is their sense of history. They are, as a rule, very good about acknowledging what came before. The CW DC shows have been a great example of this over their various runs, and the upcoming Crisis looks like it’s going to be amazing on that front. Even an obscure character like Swamp Thing has a history, and they do a nice nod to it in “Long Walk Home.”

Avery Sunderland had a rough episode last time out, and things aren’t looking great for him at the start of this one. He’s been shot, is bleeding badly, dunked in the swamp with all the questionable things in the water (many of which he put there in the first place), and is now off on his own. He’s a determined man, whatever else you want to say about him, and he patches himself up as best he can before staggering off. The basic woodcraft he’s using to not get lost isn’t going to work as well out here, which they demonstrate for us as he leaves something behind.

Abby Arcane has returned to Atlanta (because we needed more A’s in that sentence), hoping to find a way to cure Alec Holland. She reunites with Harlan, drops off the sample she found, and tries to catch up with what’s been going on while she was away. She gets confronted with the consequences of missing so much work, something that almost never happens on these shows, in the person of Dr. Palomar, the new assistant director and Abby’s displeased boss. Palomar is played by Adrienne Barbeau, who was the female lead in the barely remembered 1982 Swamp Thing movie. The encounter doesn’t go well for Abby.

While Avery has some hallucinations, possibly helped out by the weirdness in the swamps these days, Matt is contemplating a sick day, since they don’t really have “Shot the guy you just found out was your father” days. His mother the sheriff isn’t pleased at his absence. Back at the CDC, Abby also isn’t happy, in this case laying in to Harlan for not backing her up with Palomar. Harlan makes several excellent points about why he didn’t, and I have to say I come down on his side of this one. Abby goes home to sort things out, while Nathan Ellery drops in on Dr. Jason Woodrue. Ellery is good at what he does, and knows just which buttons to push to get the eccentric scientist doing just what he wants. They both agree the work is being held up by not having the sample they need.

Under a full moon, because of course it is, Avery staggers around some more before he has a vision or hallucination or something about him and his father. If this is how Avery’s father actually died, I can understand some of Avery’s feelings about the swamps. As the vision ends, someone else finds Avery. Finally home, Abby goes through a box of old memories instead of resting like she’s supposed to be. Further making rest unlikely, Harlan comes by with pizza and booze, and the two friends catch up. It was nice to see two people of different genders actually being friends without either sexual tension or announcing one of them is gay so they don’t have to get involved. Abby shares some memories and starts filling in Harlan in about what’s going on back in Marias.

A very confused Avery wakes up somewhere different from where he passed out. He’s been treated, but he doesn’t like how it’s been done, understandably. This becomes Avery’s first real meeting with Swamp Thing, and he’s stunned, but curiosity rapidly overcomes fear. They almost have a decent conversation before Avery starts ranting about the swamps being for the taking, which the transformed Dr. Holland doesn’t care for. Matt finally gets to work, but is in such a rotten mood I’m sure his coworkers wish he hadn’t. His mother pulls him into the office for a talk, which doesn’t go well as be brings up some old grievances. As an aside, his supposed parentage doesn’t really work out. Avery Sunderland is very white. Lucilia Cable sure looks white. Matt is very African American. Something in here doesn’t add up.

Sharing pizza, Abby tells Harlan more about what happened to Alec. He seems interested, instead of any of the various negative emotions I could see spinning out of this. Harlan vows to have her back, which is really ironic given the next scene that Abby misses after he leaves. The argument continues between the changed scientist and swamp rat Boss Hogg. Avery has lots of self-justifications, and spits out enough of the right words that Alec is at least somewhat interested. The big fish in a small pond does what he does best, making promises and guessing what people want. Swamp Thing finally tells him to get going, and the way the scene ends is interesting to watch as Avery seems to have an almost childish delight at one manifestation of Swampy/the Green’s powers.

The next morning, Abby is back at work and starts the day off on several bad notes. Dr. Palomar has made some changes Abby doesn’t like at all, gives her some bad news about Harlan, and then leads to her a conference room. In my world, an unscheduled meeting with a supervisor is never a good thing, and that seems to hold true here, as well. Palomar leaves almost as soon as they get there, and Abby’s day takes a turn for the unexpected as she deals with some offers from a powerful man.

Taking a rare day off, or maybe working from home, Jason Woodrue gets a surprise as Avery drops by, looking decidedly battered. Avery says he doesn’t want questions, and assumes a scientist of Jason’s skill can finish treating his wounds. Their discussion gets interesting as it goes along. It really sounds like Avery planned on honoring his deal with Holland, acknowledging the debt he owed for his life. Woodrue plays tempter, playing on Avery’s greed, and by the end of it, has changed Avery’s mind. Caroline isn’t happy about any of this, not that I blame her.

The episode ends with the inevitable betrayal, to quote a certain pilot. Avery and Woodrue go looking for Swamp Thing, but they don’t go alone. It’s an ugly fight with some brilliant ideas, and, while the bad guys take some losses, it doesn’t go well for our titular hero. Boy is Abby gonna be pissed when she finds out about all this. Well, more pissed, since she’s been in a bad mood most of this episode.

What I liked: As I mentioned above, I liked the scene with Harlan and Abby. I’m glad they did that. Whatever else he may be now, Alec Holland is a good man, and he does something good even knowing it’ll probably come back and bite him. I actually believe Avery was going to help him before Woodrue stepped in. Giving Adriene Barbeau the cameo role was a nice touch, and a little nod that they didn’t have to do.

What I didn’t: I saw it coming, and I still don’t like what happened to Swamp Thing at the end. I’m worried about Harlan. I mentioned above the issues with Matt’s supposed parentage, and find it really odd no one has even mentioned this in passing.

It was a solid episode in a good series. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5.