"Loose Ends" – Swamp Thing S01E10

Never was a title like "Loose Ends" more apropos. Swamp Thing is over after an aborted ten episodes, initially planned to be thirteen. And it shows. There are a lot of loose ends plot-wise. And one is left with a sense of puzzlement: where was the creative team taking the show, and what was the point of it all?

Will Patton, Jennifer Beals, Swamp Thing S01E10

After this episode, Lucilia and Matt are apparently dead. Maria is locked up in an insane asylum with what is either the spirit of her dead daughter, or her hallucination of same. The Conclave has been driven back but not defeated. Everything is coming up roses for Avery: Maria is gone, Lucilia is (seemingly) dead. Jason has lost his wife but gained plant powers of his own. Swamp Thing has kind of come to terms with the fact that he isn't Alec Holland, thanks to a visit by the spirit of Alec Holland (Andy Bean). Abby is cool with having a big green non-Alec because he's shown her the Green.

Daniel has left Marais, and what he and Blue Devil had to do with anything, who knows? Apparently, the Phantom Night Fisherman placed him in Marais many years ago so that... Blue Devil could save Abby's life. Now that Daniel has done that, he's free to leave Marais and hit the road.

Madame Xanadu displays whatever the hell her powers are by uniting Maria with Shawna's ghost. Although "Shawna" whispers to Maria they'll be together forever and ever. Which doesn't sound ominous at all.

Jake Busey, Swamp Thing S01E10

And to fill the running time, we get Jake Busey as a Conclave hunter, Shaw. One suspects his name is an in-joke reference to Robert Shaw, who was the great white shark hunter in Jaws. After all, one of the other hunters is named Romero. Shaw and the other hunters head out into the swamp to kill ST. Nathan Ellery (Michael Beach) goes with them. Romero gets crucified, and Shaw gets his jaw ripped off. ST spares Nathan to tell the Conclave not to come looking for him. And that's the end of this week's extended action sequence.

As for the rest of the episode? Jason cooks up ST's plant organs he harvested last week, and tries to feed them to his wife Caroline. Abby comes calling and with the aid of a helpful deputy, stops Jason from doing so. But not before Jason ate some of his organ stew to make sure there were no side effects before feeding it to Caroline.

Lucilia checks in on Matt, who is in the hospital after last week's drunken car crash. No indication he got a visit from a creepy fly demon, which is what happened to the comic book version of Matt after his car crash. Avery comes visiting, and Lucilia is having none of his attempts at reapproachment. So Avery literally stabs her in the back, dumps her in the trunk of her squad car, and sinks it in the swamp. He goes back to his SUV and spits up a piece of moving plant matter.

Crystal Reed, Swamp Thing S01E10

After killing most of the hunters and letting Nathan go, ST sits out in the swamp and sulks. The ghost of Alec visits him and asks what ST wants to be. So ST goes back to Alec's swamp lab where Abby is. They chat and Abby wants to see more of the Green Alec showed her and help him fight against the darkness, or the Black, or the Grey, or the Rot, or whatever it is.

And in the end tag, Matt goes to the police station to get his things and finds poor Deputy Tyler (Justice Leak, who was Deena's scummy partner on Powers) dead and the place overgrown with vines. The vines have ripped open a cell door, and a transformed-into-a-plant-guy Jason is inside. Jason lunges at Matt and presumably kills him.

So lots of things happen in the series finale. But not much gets resolved. Avery is free, Abby is okay with being with the non-Alec ST. What's going on with Xanadu and Daniel, who knows? Maria, Lucilia, and Matt are off the board for the time being. Which, since the series has ended, means they're gone for good. But they were all gone for good anyway unless they pop up in a future DC Universe show. That's hard to imagine, though. Blue Devil and Xanadu could show up in some version of Justice League Dark, but without John Constantine, whose character is tied up on DC's Legends of Tomorrow, it seems a somewhat fruitless endeavor. I wouldn't mind seeing Willoughby Kipling from Doom Patrol fill in for him, but I doubt if DC would see it that way.

Ian Ziering, Swamp Thing S01E10

With all of the above, we the viewer are left with a bunch of... loose ends. Why was Daniel in Marias? Is Shawna a manifestation of the Darkness? What was the Darkness? Are the Darkness and the Black the same? Why was Abby so important? And if she was so important, why did the Darkness make such half-hearted attempts to kill her? What was the Conclave up to, and do they still wanted to be involved after Swamp Thing murdered their team of hunters and Avery has gone around a few bends?

When the show focused on ST, it was good. But the creative team wanted to do Blue Devil, and they wanted to do Jason Woodrue. Yes, both of those characters, and Ian Ziering and Kevin Durand, were arguably the best parts of the show outside of ST. Sometimes better. But I didn't sign on to watch Floronic Man or Blue Devil: I wanted to watch Swamp Thing, damn it! We got about a third of ST, a third of Jason, and a third of Daniel/Blue Devil

When it was good, why was Swamp Thing good? An expressive performance by Derek Mears, a good performance by Andy Bean, and Crystal Reed sold the ties between her character and both Alec and ST. And Reed had to, because there wasn't much onscreen to indicate why Abby was so smitten at the end with ST. Initially, she thought he was Alec, and it was barely conceivable she had feelings for Alec. Why she had feelings for ST was never really shown. At the end, Abby says Swamp Thing showed her the wonders of the world via the Green. But she didn't see much of them, and it didn't seem like enough to keep her with ST.

Derek Mears, Swamp Thing S01E10

The idea of ST not being Alec, and whether Alec is still "alive" in ST because ST has Alec's memories, are interesting issues. They don't make for exciting TV, and that's part of the problem. Swamp Thing didn't seem to know what it wanted to be. A horror show, or an exciting action adventure show (with ST fighting and killing the Conclave hunters), or a Louisiana version of Dallas, or a romantic drama with Abby and ST. When the show settled down and focused on one or the other, it was good. When it tried to split its focus and juggle all four elements in one episode, not so much.

I'd rate Swamp Thing as the worse of the three DC Universe "new" live action shows to date. The preemptive cancellation didn't help, and doesn't bode well for the future of other DC Universe shows. Yes, Doom Patrol and Titans have been renewed. But if the Powers That Be were willing to cut Swamp Thing loose so quickly, what will happen with the upcoming Stargirl? Is Stargirl more of a marketable property than ST? ST has Alan Moore, and two TV shows, and two movies, and a dedicated cult following. Stargirl has none of those. Granted, neither did Doom Patrol and it still survived and prospered.

But Doom Patrol had a message or three. Swamp Thing didn't seem to be about anything, or represent anything other than what it was. It ran on the momentum of horror trappings, even if the horror didn't have much context. Swamps are creepy and horrifying, and Swamp Thing lives in a swamp. So he must be connected with creepiness and horror. That, and the occasional ramblings about the Darkness, were the only justification for that horror. The creepiness and horror of Titans was just as creepy and horrible as on Swamp Thing.

And that to me was why Swamp Thing is number three on the list of three DC Universe live-action shows. It wasn't as creepy and insightful as Titans, and Doom Patrol had stuff to say. The Swamp Thing creative team wanted to recreate the Alan Moore/Rick Veitch eras of the comics. But it didn't shape them to any kind of vision of their own. Either that, or Louisiana Dallas and one-shot creepiness was their vision. In which case, it was pretty short-sighted.

Also, I'm not a fan of Stargirl the way that I am of Titans or Doom Patrol or Swamp Thing. So I'll be going into that show "cold" as it were. Maybe that will affect my view.

But that's all just my opinion, and I get paid the big bucks to write it. What do you think?

Written by Gislef on Aug 3, 2019

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