For reasons unknown, the DC Universe streaming service canceled their Swamp Thing series before the second episode even went live. What criteria DC uses to renew or cancel a series I don’t know. I’m typing this up a couple days after DC announced the renewal of both Doom Patrol and the animated Young Justice. Something must have happened with Swamp Thing, and this comes after they built an indoor swamp set. Those things ain’t cheap.
Yeah, it was probably expense-related. But hey, we did get one season of the show.
So, the one thing that jumps out as I watched the pilot was simply this: this is a much different show from the other live action series on this service. That fits. Swamp Thing is a horror character more than he is a superhero. And the special effects look a lot more practical than CGI. Heck, they work too. There isn’t much to see of Swamp Thing himself in this episode. We probably see more of Alec Holland than we will in the future. But he’s here, and there are plenty of gory bits of plant-based mayhem.
On top of that, the characters are a lot less wholesome. We mostly spend time with Alec and Abby Arcane for this episode. And even then, it’s mostly Abby. She’s a CDC doctor returning to her hometown of Marais, Lousiana to look into a weird plague. Said plague seems to be plant-based, and possibly the results of something done by the Sunderland Corporation.
Leave it to comics to come up with the least subtle name possible.
But Abby has a dark secret she partially reveals to new pal Alec. Alec works for Sunderland, running experiments deep in the swamp on local plant life. He’s a disgraced scientist since he faked some data once. Abby says she killed her best friend when the two were in high school. That’s all she says, so the context for that murder remains unknown. Oh, and the girl was the daughter of the Sunderlands. Mama Sunderland wants Abby out of Marais once they find a cure for the plague.
How do we know plants are causing the plague? Abby and Alec found one victim dead, vomiting what looked like a tree branch. And that body woke up later. Or the plant life inside him did. It was hard to tell. Again, great practical effects.
So, we have protagonists with dark pasts and tree roots that will impale a man to death in a cold open. The Sunderlands are up to…something. The company is responsible for dropping plant growth accelerant into the swamp. And then, when Alec goes to pull more of that stuff from the swamp, someone shoots him.
Alec falls into the swamp. Swamp Thing comes out of it. Yeah, I know they are the same guy. But Abby doesn’t.
So, creepy atmosphere, good practical effects, and a mystery with shady characters? This could be good.