It’s a real shame we won’t spend more time with Maria Sunderland (Virginia Madsen).
Episodes 6 and 7 of Swamp Thing picked up the pace, likely as they were reformatted to set-up ideas meant to play out across a 13-episode season when the show’s order was cut by three episodes. Swamp Thing (Derek Mears) and Abby’s (Crystal Reed) exploration of the Green, the rot in the swamp, and the extent of his powers all happened very quickly. For a comic reader, it is something of a relief as we’re well-versed in these concepts. And in terms of pacing television, it gives the show more momentum than it might have had the series retained all 13 episodes. Look at The Punisher‘s tendency to pad around Episode 9 in both of its 13-episode season for a comparison.
Another example of the increased momentum is Daniel’s (Ian Ziering) flashback to the deal, revealing the Phantom Stranger (Macon Blair) was behind his stay in Marais. Looking more like his tradition self during his visit to the Blue Devil set, Blair’s performance left us wondering if someone is masquerading as the Stranger or if he’s chosen to become more directly involved because of the rot. Swamp Thing’s suggestion to Abby that he was was changed to fight in this war corroborates this. Sadly, we’ll likely never know the extent of the Stranger’s plan as the series was cancelled before the second episode streamed.
We’ll also never know the real reason for killing the series so soon, but Andy Bean’s appearance throughout Episode 7 as a hallucinatory Alec Holland for Abby’s benefit suggests the Swamp Thing suit itself may have been more of a technical and financial limitation than anyone realized. That said, Bean and Reed are a dynamite couple on screen and it strengthens Abby’s bond with Swamp Thing. So much so that his attempt to drive her away at the end of Episode 7 stings all the more.
But getting back to Maria Sunderland, she’s proving to be a great villain. As we guessed two weeks ago, Avery’s (Will Patton) decision to chat with Woodrue (Kevin Durand) before visiting her hospital room was the last straw. While in recovery, she hatched a plan to take him out and assume the position he was attempting to get with the Conclave Group. She even recruited Avery’s long-time mistress Lucilia Cable (Jennifer Beals) into the scheme. Of course, by this point, Lucilia was more than happy to help as it would clean up part of the mess Avery got Matt (Henderson Wade) into.
It is interesting to note how the series transferred a lot of comic book Matt’s darker impulses into his Lucilia. It leaves him oddly pure while she seems more in line to become Morpheus’s next raven. Then again, it is possible his jealousy of Swamp Thing would’ve consumed him in a second season. Alternatively, the knowledge that he is Avery and Lucilia’s love child might send him over the edge in the remaining episodes.
Meanwhile, Maria proved to be a master negotiator as she took over Avery’s meeting with Conclave head Nathan Ellery (Micheal Beach). From diffusing his anger at Avery’s absence, to slipping in her knowledge of MOD-4, to knowing a homemade pecan pie would go over well, she’s everything we want in Swamp Thing villain. She even knew how to bring Woodrue into line. Since we’re still presuming the series will end with its take on “The Body,” it is possible she’ll face the horror Swamp Thing unleashes instead of Avery. Which would be a fine twist on the tale, indeed.
That said, Avery did survive Cables’ attempt on his life, so he may have one or two cards left to play before the end.
Swamp Thing streams Fridays on DC Universe.