Season 1, Episode 4
“Darkness on the Edge of Town”
Over the course of watching the first four episodes of Swamp Thing, it’s become fairly obvious mirroring is a key storytelling element. Flashbacks pair with events unfolding in the present, and similar circumstances shared by characters are a nice tease while we wait for the dots to connect. This being said, I’m still fairly surprised, and quite pleased to say, “Darkness on the Edge of Town” could share roots with the original Swamp Thing television series from the 90s.
With the sick townsfolk in Marais showing significant signs of improvement, a new affliction arises within the bayou. Dark forces lay dormant for only so long, and while the effects start more subtle than the swamp flu, the results make for a hallucinogenic horror-fest. Worst nightmares realized as bad trips just might cause you to have a sleepless night.
Abby receives a key piece of data from Alec in the form of a tissue sample. While studying the cell anomaly that makes up Swamp Thing’s monstrous form, an arrogant Jason Woodrue offers her assistance with the analysis. Abby agrees to an uneasy alliance with the mad scientist, which is equally frustrating and intriguing. It’s one of those times you want to yell at your screen, as if you could influence her decision, but also can’t wait to see what his intentions are with this breakthrough she shouldn’t have handed over.
The Sunderland’s sights are set on the recently orphaned, and now healthy Susie Coyle. It’s made clear early in the episode that they intend on taking her into their care, yet it avoids becoming a boring plot point thanks to the individual motives behind the decision. For Maria, Susie would serve as a surrogate daughter, filling a void left in her heart and home since Shawna passed away. Avery however, views her as a science experiment.
Heads up comic book fans, when it’s Abby’s turn to dance with her inner demons, your heart may explode with joy…or terror. Any way you decide to slice it, be prepared to speculate on what an Arcane family reunion might look like.
I noted “Darkness on the Edge of Town” feels like it pays tribute to its 90s predecessor. The reason for this is, while multiple threads add depth to be discovered down the road, there’s a clear resolution to the threat posed here. The story is properly bookended, and I love that. The majority of episodes from the previous series were stand-alone tales. Sometimes, it’s enjoyable to have the ability to watch something without being bogged down by what came before. Nowadays we stream, binge and never miss a beat. But back when the original aired and you forgot to set your VCR for when you weren’t home, better luck next week buddy.
Breaking news, Derek Mears plays one hell of a Swamp Thing. One of my gripes thus far is how little we’ve seen of the title character. He’s still not hogging the screen by any stretch, but what we do see is fantastic. Mears emotes well through the makeup and allows the man inside the monster to shine. I found myself getting lost in the facial expressions on display, and just how amazing Swamp Thing looks.
This is my favorite episode thus far. Swamp Thing didn’t get any action sequences, but they weren’t required. He perfectly serves his purpose in a well-rounded script. Stunning visuals, spooky bits are spectacular, and the acting performances have an emotional edge. Think I got myself a nasty case of swamp scratch fever, and I like it!