DC Universe’s Swamp Thing‘s first and (only) season flies into its second half with new episode “The Price You Pay,” an action-packed episode that is Swamp Thing‘s most plot-driven yet. Showrunners Gary Dauberman (Annabelle Comes Home) and Mark Verheiden have taken us through six of the series’ 10 hours and managed to cover a surprising amount of territory along the way. Swamp Thing hasn’t disappointed yet, and has in fact surprised each week in the risks it takes. On top of the many different brands of horror the show has thrown our way, “The Price You Pay” cranks up the pace and the action. The episode starts off with Swampy (Derek Mears) brutally maiming two yokels from Marais that Avery Sunderland (Will Patton) has sent into the swamps to retrieve and study him. Easier said than done. This opening sets the action-packed tone and frenetic pace for this week’s episode.
Swamp Thing flexes some serious muscle at the would-be bounty hunters, sending them both scurrying to the hospital riddled with wounds. It’s hard to think that even though it’s great seeing people that try and fuck with the environment of the swamp, or Swamp Thing himself, get their due in the moment, that it’s not going to eventually come back to haunt the former Dr. Holland. At some point, the right combination of people with the right weaponry are going to come into the swamp with torches blazing like villagers from Frankenstein, and Avery and Woodrue’s lab is the last place he wants to end up.
Macon Blair (Blue Sunshine) is back this week but in a slightly different more sinister version. He still seems like a specter of the swamp trying to influence events from behind an invisible curtain, but this time it’s called into question as to whether he’s a force for the green (good) or the rot (evil) of the swamp. His demeanor and dress is totally different as the coma-ridden Daniel Cassidy (Ian Ziering) thinks back to the night where he apparently made a hasty deal with the devil for a quick shot at a lead acting role.
Macon was either there initially or is just in his dream as the presence that kept David from leaving Marais until whatever his mission is has been completed. Instead of the comfort that Macon Blair’s specter provided to Swamp Thing last week, he seems to be the impetus of David’s undoing. Macon Blair’s attire is entirely different than his time spent with Swampy last week, and it’s easy to think that this is perhaps the rot equivalent of that entity that was met last week. Instead of the good old boy flannel and fishing pole, he’s dressed in a black suit, clean shaven, and even wearing black gloves. Only time will tell, but it’s totally possible that the two warring factions of the swamp (green and rot) are each trying to be the ultimate victor in this world between good and evil with the citizens of Marais mostly caught in the middle.
Back at the hospital, Maria Sunderland (Virginia Madsen) sadly sits this episode of Swamp Thing out as she’s still recovering from her ghastly encounter with the poltergeist that almost led her to a very awful death. We hear Avery arguing with her doctor, who says she’s not eating and refusing medication but she’s never seen. That’s a disappointment too because the cancellation of the show means that’s an hour wasted with a fascinating character by an Academy-award winning actress on a comic book adaptation. Not to mention that Swamp Thing was shut down with three episodes left to film in the first season, so it will be a miracle if Dauberman and Verheiden pull off a cohesive ending that’s satisfying.
It’s a testament to just how much gold there is in Swamp Thing to go around that the cracks haven’t really started to show yet. Every time I’ve thought the show was setting up something that wasn’t going to be followed through because of the behind-the-scenes drama, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Woodrue (Kevin Durand) used the metagene from Swamp Thing that he found at Alec Holland’s (Andy Bean) lab for a potion and pumps it into a comatosed Cassidy. It wakes him up from the coma Avery’s thugs left him in last week, but he’s now got the Blue Devil coursing through his veins and almost completely transforms in this episode before being put back into a medically induced coma.
That seemed odd to me that so much of the episode focused (and the season for that matter) on Cassidy/Blue Devil’s transformation, but by the end of the episode he’s right back in a coma with Xanadu (Jeryl Prescott) blabbering about his destiny again over his hospital bed. There’s nothing wrong with how the character has been handled; it’s just something that’s shifted in importance from week to week until front and center. To leave Cassidy back in a coma induced by Woodrue at the end of “The Price You Pay” seems like an odd place if they aren’t going to do anything else with the character, but Swamp Thing consistently surprises, so let’s just hope it continues to do that.
“The Price You Pay” has the most Swamp Thing on screen in Swamp Thing thus far. From the opening showdown between the Sunderland/Woodrue sent bounty hunters forward, there’s a lot more of the big green guy this week than there has been in the first half of the series. He spends a considerable amount of time brooding for Dr. Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) as per usual, but he also gets to kick some ass and start listening to Macon Blair’s specter from last week about getting more in touch with the green itself in order to wield its power for the good of the swamp’s ecosystem.
Swamp Thing‘s best scene in “The Price You Pay” goes to Jennifer Beals (Sheriff Lucille Cable) and Wade Henderson (Deputy Matt Cable). As poor Remy DeBois’s bullet-riddled skull found out last week, nobody fucks with Sheriff Cable’s son. She’s absolutely heartbroken though to find out that her upstanding cop son is just as corrupt as she is…and in bed with the same asshole (Avery) no less (just not in a literal sense like her).
I think I’ve said more than once before that all roads pretty much lead to Avery Sunderland in Marais. The same is true in the family Cable’s troubles. All Avery had to do to get young Matt under his thumb was to show him the file he’d been collecting on all of the dirty deeds he had on Lucille. Add to that Matt’s unrequited love for Abby and, whether he knew or not, it wasn’t that hard then for him to justify murdering Alec himself. It’s pretty hard to hold moral authority over your son as sheriff or anything else when he finally has to pay for his own version of the sins of the father (or in this case, the mother) on Lucille’s end. I do think though if there’s one person at this point who still has the power to hurt Avery not named Abby Arcane, it may just be a Cable. All they may need is an extra little push in the coming weeks ahead.
So a lot happened this week in Marais, Louisiana on Swamp Thing as the show flips over into its B side. The pace seemed a lot faster with more crammed in, but with only four hours left, that’s to be expected. The pieces have been set up extremely well from Dauberman, Verheiden, and executive producer/show developer James Wan (The Conjuring, Aquaman). The only thing left to do is let the game play out and see where the chips fall. It’s hard to believe that everyone is going to still be standing when all is said and done, but with everything still feeling like it’s going full steam ahead, my biggest fear is that Swamp Thing has too sudden of a stop.
“The Price You Pay” ends on yet another cliffhanger, as a flower brings back Alec Holland in human form, standing in front of Abby for the first time since the night of the explosion. What could this possibly mean? Is this the green‘s way of letting Swampy say goodbye to Abby before going to do what he has to do, or is this something else entirely? Is Daniel’s mission in Marais to represent the Swamp in a darker way ala as Blue Devil for the rot or is he just going to stay in that coma? Will Avery Sunderland finally get justice for all of his crimes, and from whom? So many questions left and so little time. Swamp Thing keeps bringing some of the best genre television week after week, so the bigger question should be what will audiences do when it’s gone?