"The Price You Pay" is a little strange compared to the last five episodes of Swamp Thing. For one thing, it eschews the horror element of the previous episodes. We get some good ole fashioned "swamp creature on the rampage" in the opening when Avery's hunters shoot Swamp Thing with tranq darts. Why ketamine would cause Swamp Thing to stagger isn't clear: I guess he still has some fleshy parts. He also has to jam his hand against a tree to make other trees shoot splinters at the hunters. That's weak sauce for the comic book Swamp Thing, who can control plants with his mind. But baby steps.
The other odd feature is that the story focuses a lot on Daniel Cassidy as he transforms into a literal Blue Devil after Jason slips him some of his experimental restorative. Daniel is in a coma after getting whacked over the head with a crowbar last week. He must have a hard skull because we get to see the blow again in the "Previouslies" and it looks like it should split his skull open like a melon.
After getting a shot of the restorative, Daniel glows blue with heat and wanders around for a while. He also has a dream flashback or two to the bargain he made with... the Phantom Stranger. Or the Phantom Night Fisherman. Now he's the Phantom Studio Guy. Never mind how the creative team has screwed up the comic book character. Now they're having PS maneuver Daniel into staying in Marais, presumably to do something to help Abby, or Swamp Thing, or both. What Blue Devil has to do with any of this, or what PS is up to, isn't at all clear.
Much of the episode is Daniel's exploits. After he comes out of his coma with steam coming from his skin, he tracks down Jason and confronts him at the scientist's home. Jason apologizes for the "side effects", but Daniel isn't having any part of that. Fortunately, Carolina injects Daniel with a sedative and they take him back to the hospital. Madame Xanadu shows up to sooth Daniel's pain.
On other fronts, Jason asks Avery for time to prove his theories. Which is why he's in a rush to test the restorative on Daniel. Avery wants reports and results ASAP.
Caroline overhears Jason and Avery talking and wants to leave Marais before her husband loses what he used to be. Too late, methinks.
Lucilia reveals that she knows Matt killed Alec. Matt explains that Avery bought him off by promising to keep Lucilia's many indiscretions, like bribery, a secret. Lucilia insists she did it all for Matt, but Matt isn't having that and threatens to transfer out of Marais.
Abby confronts Avery over being a bad dude after Liz tells her Avery sending the thugs after her was a message for her to stop her investigation into his finances. Avery subtly threatens Abby. Abby also wants to cure Swamp Thing, turning him back into Alec. That takes her to the swamp, and Matt goes out there as well. He meets Swamp Thing, and fortunately Swampy doesn't remember Matt killing him. Abby spills the beans about Swampy and Alec being one and the same. Matt tells Lucilia they need to talk. Given he left her on hostile terms, I don't know why he'd want to share any secrets with her: his, Abby's, or Swampy's.
At the end, Abby talks to Swampy at Alec's old lab. A flower sprouts from Swampy's hand and sprays pollen like a leaky balloon, and Abby sees Swampy as Alec. The end.
Overall, "The Price You Pay" was a relatively quiet, sedate, stop-and-catch-your-breath episode of Swamp Thing. Marie wasn't present, being off-screen in a hospital bed after last week's drowning incident. But for once, it feels like everyone got equal time. Avery is menacing, we get a bit of the Cable drama, Liz is worried about the fallout from her pursuing Avery. Jason and his wife are at odds over his human experimentation. Ian Ziering doesn't have much to do except moan in pain a lot, but that's not a stretch for his Sharknado-honed talents.
You'd think that a show titled Swamp Thing would be about... well, Swamp Thing. And his love interest. And his nemesis. But this is 2019, and ensemble TV is big. So the rest of the cast get a bit more loving this episode. Xanadu gets the aforementioned scene when she admits that she likes Daniel and uses her whatever-the-hell-they-are powers to sooth his pains. Even the Phantom Studio Guy is a bit more tolerable this episode: he works better in a suit and overcoat then overalls and waders.
But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Written by Gislef on Jul 6, 2019