It’s sometimes hard nowadays to not find out about certain events associated with projects. DC Universe’s fourth original series, Swamp Thing, had a mountain of trouble to face before Alec Holland ever set foot in the swamp. A month before its’ debut on the streaming service, production was shut down on the horror show. Cutting its’ original vision for the season from 13 episodes down to 10. When the premiere finally arrived in late May of this year, the series was abruptly cancelled less than one week after the pilot. Despite the critical and commercial reception to the series, Swampy seemed doomed from the start. Which is a real shame, considering the fact the series comes from the minds behind The Conjuring universe. Despite the issues behind closed doors, though – how are the land legs of Swamp Thing?
Swamp Thing tells the story of Alec Holland, a scientist hired to figure out why a Louisiana swamp is producing a new disease. Upon his research, he crosses paths with a CDC doctor named Abigail Arcane, loses his life and is reborn as an avatar for the swamp. Ultimately the duo come upon a discovery of an impending darkness threatening the small Louisiana town. The duel leads in Andy Bean and Derek Mears are the strongest trees within this forest. Bean delivers a passionate, witty and surprisingly heartfelt performance of the humanity of the character in Alec Holland. Casting brilliant chemistry with lead actress, Crystal Reed. The duo add a weird, yet subtle, Lovecraftian element to the show with a strong romance subplot that evolves as beautifully as the protagonist can produce flowers. Mears delivers brute strength equipped with a deeply sympathetic character arc – proving there is more than muscles to this man’s appearance.
It’s when you start to get into the details of the swamp that the appearance starts to get murky. At first glance, Swamp Thing feels as if it has strong legs to stand on. It brilliantly builds up its’ villain in Will Pattoon’s Avery Sunderland but ultimately he falls victim to the very darkness which he created. When the show reaches its’ halfway point, the narrative largely suffers. Throughout its’ ten episode duration the show has multiple story lines – most of which never get resolved in the finale ironically titled “Loose Ends”. The arcs of Avery and his wife Maria, played by Virginia Madsen, feel resolved by the eighth episode. Only to be undone by the finale. Not to mention, we’re given arcs with Ian Ziering’s Daniel Cassidy (or Blue Devil), the impending “darkness” threat, and Lucilia and Matt Cable – all arcs which bring nothing to the larger narrative. Perhaps, the biggest misfire of this series is the handling of Ziering’s mysterious Blue Devil character. A stuntman turned actor with a larger destiny. The series brilliantly builds him up as to factor into the larger finale of Swampy versus the darkness – only to have the character quite literally leave the series.
Overall, Swamp Thing, is a beautiful theory. It is a visual spectacle – thanks in part to its’ cinematography and chilling score. The dual leads in Andy Bean and Derek Mears make for a deeply sympathetic character journey of identity and ideology. A character piece masked in horror and subtly crafting a Lovecraftian love story with Crystal Reed – the series has much to offer. Perhaps it may have too much to offer as well. The series is not in short supply of unresolved arcs including that of the villain, the larger threat of the show and the fan favorite in Ian Ziering. Largely bringing nothing to the narrative but eye candy. There is something in this swamp that feels choked and suffocated. Bring the CDC to help clear some of the pollution.
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