A little slower than the previous episodes "The Price You Pay" still packs a punch.
- 🌳 Getting to spend more time with that good green boy.
- 🌳 Macon Blair is back, baby!
- 🌳 Give Jennifer Beals all the awards please.
- 🌳 Henderson Wade gives great broken hero.
- 🌳 We lose a little momentum from the powerhouse first half of the season.
- 🌳 Macon Blair's the Phantom Stranger should be a main character.
This post contains spoilers for Swamp Thing.
Check out our last review here.
Ah, the inevitable militarization of a superhero story. Swamp Thing seems to be heading down that overdone road this week. But in perhaps a little swipe at the military messaging of the MCU we begin this episode with the good green boy demolishing the militia-hunters that Avery Sunderland (Will Patton) has sent to the swamp. It's an auspicious start to "The Price You Pay" which sees Swampy come to terms with his new monstrous life as well as his ever-growing disregard for humanity. And who can blame him? Humans have done nothing but hurt Alec Holland (Andy Bean) and the place that saved him. I'm always a little taken aback that we're never encouraged to empathize with the human threat in Marais. It's refreshing to be allowed to be angry, cynical, and jaded, which puts us in exactly the same place as Swamp Thing himself.
But Swamp Thing isn't the only one coming to terms with a new status quo as Daniel Cassidy (Ian Ziering) is in a coma after being beaten by Avery's thugs last week. Ziering's Blue Devil is one of the most interesting and so far underdeveloped characters on the show, but this week we get some insight into his backstory in some coma-induced flashbacks that also reintroduce the wonderful Macon Blair as the enigmatic and dangerous Phantom Stranger. Turns out that the reason Cassidy is stuck in Marais is that he made a--honestly ridiculously vague--deal with the Stranger who promised him a "very important role" in return for sticking around. As soon as he shook the Stranger's hand, the man vanished and Daniel was handed the leading role as the Blue Devil that would make his name and trap him in the small town until Abby's arrival.
Haunting and organic, the brief sequences with Danny and the Stranger are a great example at just how good Swamp Thing is at naturally building out the lore of the series. Even though Daniel is awake--after getting a strange infusion from a mysterious nurse--and wandering around the hospital before we know it, all I wanted to know was more about how the Stranger and Danny's deal connects to Swampy, the Green, and Abby. These quiet moments are often where Swamp Thing excels and that was very much the case this week. Jennifer Beals and Wade Henderson offer up another shining example as Lucilia and her son came clean about their connections to Avery. Turns out that the reason Matt killed Alec Holland was that Lucilia's lover Avery had a huge file of blackmail material on his good ol' mom. Beals is killing it this season with a performance steeped in desperation and strife, power and compromise. She's electric in every scene and cuts a rare empathetic figure in the dark waters of Marais.
Just like the rot infecting the swamps, Avery is slowly degrading and destroying everything around him. It's not only Danny, Liz (Maria Sten), Alec, Lucilia, and Matt who are feeling the impact of his corruption this week. Our ever wonderful heroine Abby (Crystal Reed) is also feeling the pain of being connected to the man who was once her surrogate father. On discovering that he was behind the attack on her friends she lets Avery know exactly what she thinks of him and he's less than happy. Which means when Dr. Jason Woodrue (the ever creepy Kevin Durand) reveals that it was him who woke Danny out of his coma with the help of Abby's samples from Swamp Thing, Avery is ready to sacrifice his adopted charge to make money.
Luckily she's got a protector, though, which Matt finds out the hard way when he heads into the swamp to investigate what happened to the hunters Avery sent after Swamp Thing. All he finds though is his one time childhood crush and her slimy green beau. Matt can barely believe his luck when he realizes that he didn't actually kill Holland, but still can't get his head around the fact the man he shot and blew up somehow survived. There's also the fact that the plant elemental creature who seems to have the hots for Abby could potentially remember that Matt tried to murder him... but so far Swamp Thing hasn't regained that part of his memory. Abby manages to convince Matt to keep quiet about Alec's new life as a swamp monster, but this seems like it'll likely blow up in everyone's faces sooner rather than later.
As we head to the final moments, Durand pulls out a brutally emotional final act that offers a little context to Woodrue's near evangelical pursuit of Swamp Thing and Abby's research. Though we know that his wife is ill, it becomes clear that he will do anything to cure her degenerative illness. But the other Dr. Woodrue (Selena Anduze) has no interest in benefitting off the suffering of others, after overhearing her husband telling Avery he tested the formula on Daniel. It's a heart wrenching scene that plays into the possessive nature of Woodrue and the lack of control that we often feel at our loved ones getting ill. Alas, like so many other obsessive men he should have listened to his wife because the pair get an unexpected guest in the form of none other than Daniel Cassidy who is literally burning up, becoming the devil he once played.
Surprising no one, Avery and Jason decide to cover up the truth of what's happened to Daniel in order to gain capital from their investors. As for what happens to the stunt man turned video store owner, his fate is in Sunderland's hands which is unlikely to end well. He does have a friend in Madame Xanadu, though, who finds him in hospital and physically offers him a little peace. Back in the swamp, Matt tries to convince Abby to abandon Alec and return with him to Marais, but she refuses. This establishes a classic comic book conflict, as in the original source material Abby and Matt were married until Swamp Thing came between them. While we only have a few episodes left we can assume that this cursed love triangle will come into play as we head towards the finale, especially as we leave Matt about to tell his mom everything about his new discovery while Abby and Alec reconnect in the former's old lab. It's clear that Alec is torn between his role as the protector of the swamp and the woman that he's falling for. But just as we leave them, Alec seems to return to his human form with the aid of a strange flower...
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