It is a damned shame this show was knee-capped the way it was.
Swamp Thing ends on such a hopeful note. Sure, it’s filled with dread as so many characters face uncertain futures. But the key relationship between Abby (Crystal Reed) and Swamp Thing (Derek Mears) only strengthened in the face of an existential horror — the now-acknowledged death of Alec Holland (Andy Bean). It opens up the opportunity for a deeper romance between the two in a second season which will never be.
At the same time, you can see some of the short-cuts the show had to take to round out itself much sooner than planned. According to reports, the series had a three-year story to tell with the Sunderlands, the Conclave, Blue Devil (Ian Ziering), and the other denizens of Marais. But as seen in this final episode, some things wound to a conclusion much quicker than even last week’s episode would indicate.
Maria Sunderland (Virginia Madsen) finally found peace in a padded cell thanks to Madame Xanadu (Jeryl Prescott). Being locked inside her own brain, but alongside her daughter Shawna (Given Sharp) seems about as much a reward as she deserves. At the same time, Xanadu’s reference to the dark forces Maria unleashed to find Shawna early in the season suggests a theme for Season 2. Also, did anyone else notice Maria called her Nimue? As a fan of the 2008 Matt Wagner Madame Xanadu series, I couldn’t help but notice that little callback to the character’s Arthurian connection. And considering we lost the fortune teller for so much of the season, the reference to her name and the kindness she pays Maria were good notes to end on.
Similarly, watching Swamp Thing destroy Jake Busey’s toothy grin was the best accent on the conclusion to the Conclave idea we could hope for. We’ll never really know how Ellery (Michael Beach) had a private military contractor at his disposal or what they did to Abby’s pal Harlan (Leonardo Nam), but it’s nice to see that their conventional weapons no longer mean much to Swamp Thing. That said, Swamp Thing’s “mercy” at the last second could only bite him on the vegetable ass once Ellery made his way back to civilization and told the rest of the Conclave about what happened. Imagine them trying to invent a supersolider to take him on in your vault of unrealized Swamp Thing ideas. At least the scene was cool.
Dan finally got out of Marais, Avery (Will Patton) made a fateful choice about Sheriff Cable (Jennifer Beals) and her son witnessed the arrival of the Floronic Man (Kevin Durand) — the Season 2 antagonist we’ll never get to properly know.
At least Liz (Maria Sten) made it out without being transformed, right?
Perhaps the lack of complete finality makes the conclusion of Swamp Thing its least successful episode. Technically, it is still as strong as the nine episodes preceding it, but as we know payoffs will never come, the second season hooks fill us with sadness. Had the show been envisioned as a 10-episode miniseries from the start, one imagines Avery would’ve died and Sheriff Cable would not have been left to die in a swamp of ambiguity. Instead, we are left with the what ifs surrounding her possible drowning, Avery’s sudden Green Fever, and Dan’s first stop on his new destiny.
And just as we’ll never know the outcome of these events, we’ll never know why the plug was pulled on Swamp Thing before it even had a chance to grab viewers’ attention. That may be the biggest mystery the show presented to us. But at least we have these ten episode which illustrate Swamp Thing‘s potential as a prestige television series. Maybe next time, the will and finances to see it through to the end will be there as well.