[* Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided a free copy of the Blu-Ray reviewed in this article. The opinions shared are the author’s own. *]
When it takes an infectious disease to drive a person back home again, that says a lot about the place where they grew up. It’s been fourteen years since Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) last stepped foot in Marais, Louisiana. A doctor for the CDC, her job is to treat epidemics and prevent them from spreading. That’s easier to do when you know the disease you’re fighting against.
Since all signs point to the swamp being involved somehow, Abby asks Alec Holland (Andy Bean) for help. A biologist who’s been in the area long enough to study its plant life, but not long enough to stop wearing designer flip flops, Abby and Alec hit it off fairly quickly. But there’s a reason the show’s called Swamp Thing and not Abby and Alec. Speaking as someone who expected the series to start with Swamp Thing (Derek Mears) in the swamp, the realization that this character would be getting an origin story came as a welcome surprise.
He’s not the only character with one of those either. At the same time Swamp Thing’s trying to regain his bearings — and Abby’s enduring uncomfortable reunions — Daniel Cassidy (Ian Ziering) is experiencing his own hero’s journey, by way of a Faustian bargain he made eight years ago.
Kevin Durand joins the cast in episode two as Jason Woodrue, a scientist who becomes an exciting foil for Abby. Both come to believe that they can’t leave Marais, but for completely different reasons. Woodrue also represents a different kind of villain from Will Patton’s Avery Sunderland, whose control over Marais is starting to crack for the first time. There is no line Avery won’t cross, and the more that becomes apparent, the easier it is to lose interest in him. Woodrue is driven by his desire to find a cure for his wife, Caroline (Selena Anduze), who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Everything he does stems from the belief that he’ll find a cure for her, so the ends justify the means. It’s a selfish way of thinking and he’s every inch the villain, but he’s a villain you can understand, while denouncing his actions.
Swamp Thing is a show that fully capitalizes on the advances that have been made in special effects. The make-up and design work on the costume couldn’t be more convincing and, when combined with the color grading and the sound that plays whenever Swamp Thing makes a big entrance, it’s a petrifying sight.
There’s no question that the show was dealt a raw deal. Other series have been unceremoniously cancelled before, but the timing of the announcements on this one (while saving the cast and crew from turning down work) was brutal in terms of curbing potential viewers away. The biggest twist of the knife (and the first sign of trouble) was when it was announced, before the series premiere, that the season would be cut from thirteen episodes to ten. While that would’ve been useful to know before the series had started filming (and the finale works well considering), who knows what restructuring went on and what questions could’ve been answered with three, additional episodes. While that “what if?” pervades over the season, it doesn’t take away from the performances given by the cast or the environmental issues being discussed.
Swamp Thing: The Complete Series is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.