In the pilot episode for DC Universe’s Swamp Thing, an investigation into a peculiar outbreak at the town of Marais Parish, Lousiana, leads to a mystery involving plant life and the wealthy Sunderland family. As not everything is what it seems. And something sinister lies beneath the depths of the swamp.
We talk about the ‘Swamp Thing’ pilot in TV Talk episode 12. Available on iTunes and GooglePlay. First 5 minutes of this podcast are spoiler-free.
Swamp Thing has been a longstanding favorite for DC that really stood out in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s an essential character to the DC mythos, though is often overlooked in popularity for the modern superhero era – as the creature is unsightly, and the stories, are very mature and gritty in terms of its content.
Created by Len Wein, writing about the titular hero has become almost a rite-of-passage for some of the best creators in comic book history. Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Brian K. Vaughan, Scott Snyder, and Mark Millar – had all worked on Swamp Thing at different points in time in their careers.
All four creators had gone onto work on some of the most memorable groundbreaking classics that people are familiar with. Titles such as Watchmen, Batman’s The Killing Joke, Doom Patrol, The Invisibles, Kick-Ass, Marvel’s Civil War, Y the Last Man, and Saga.
So, I can’t stress enough that Swamp Thing is loaded with a history of fantastic comic book writers. Which is why this series is primed for TV given the number of stories they could potentially tap into.
Fans of the comics should be happy with this pilot as it sets up a potentially great story. To those new to the series, what I can say for you is that the episode is a mix of body horror, murder mystery, and environmentalism – through the environmentalism part will come later most likely.
The series takes on a mostly dramatic tone, as there is a lot of death and mystery to figure out about this town. The acting is mostly on point and straightforward, with major kudos to Crystal Reed, Andy Bean, and Virginia Madsen.
Where the show really stands out, however, is its blend of special and practical effects. Especially, in its usage of body horror. This show will make your stomach churn, though not out of gratuitous moments of grossness – but rather, because the blend feels too strangely real at times, as body parts and limber trees do unspeakable things you’ll be surprised about.
Overall, an engaging series for fans of horror and comics. I’d watch it if you like mysteries and shows like The Walking Dead’s early seasons in regards to the body horror.
SPOILERS AHEAD. Recap below.
In the swamps outside Marais Parish, Louisiana, a small boat is traveling the waters in the evening, ordered to drop off packages of seemingly harmful dynamite into the waters of the swamp. But something is wrong, and we understand this right from the beginning. It’s not the gators or the mysterious creatures of the dark at night… It’s the swamp itself.
Soon after, Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) an investigator for the CDC is called into look at this strange outbreak of vegetation that’s getting people sick in her hometown of Marais Parish. There, she meets a girl who’s coughing up strange gunk – the kind you’d find at a swamp. Abby then runs into a scientist who snuck into the ICU, later revealed to be Alec Holland (Andy Bean).
Looking into the incident where the same material was found near a local’s house, Abby visits with her old friend, sheriff’s deputy Matt Cable (Henderson Wade), where they discover the little girl’s father – revealed to be the man on the boat in the opening – completely turned into a plant. Coincidentally, Abby finds Alec here investigating as well, which raises their suspicions.
Alec reveals that he was a researcher and biologist originally looking into the odd plant material for Avery Sunderland (Will Patton), the town’s richest man who virtually owns everything. Alec was fired by Avery once he’d discovered how he was being used. How fast and infectious the plants he experimented on for Avery were growing once a chemical was added.
Alec also suspects the same chemical has been dumped into the swamps and that it is what’s causing this outbreak.
Abby recruits Alec into helping and he shows her his lab in the swamps. The two work together throughout the episode and get to know each other well. We even see subtle hints at an attraction and similar tragic backstories.
Their investigation leads to a meetup with Liz Tremayne (Maria Sten), a reporter who shares that people had been going out in the boats at night by the plants. IT’s also there where Maria Sunderland (Virginia Madsen), scorns Abby about her daughter’s death – whom she deems murdered her.
This leads to a moment where Abby and Alec share with each other about their mutual histories. When Alec goes to look for a lead, however; he is shot several times, right by a boat filled with the mysterious chemicals – which soon explodes, as he falls into the water. He crawls as he is dying in the swamps, surrounded by muck and swamp water goop.
When Abby looks for him she finds a monster cover in moss, which she flees from, and no signs of Alec.
You can Watch Swamp Thing on DC Universe