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'Swamp Thing' 1.07 Review: Brilliant Disguise

Alec Holland is (sort of) back, baby!

Alec Holland and Abby Arcane wander through a rotten forest
(Image: © The CW)

Our Verdict

This is truly great horror TV and more people should be watching it, goshdarnit.

For

  • 🌱Andy Bean's Alec Holland is a sweet, thoughtful, and kind king.
  • 🌱Crystal Reed should have been showered with awards for this episode alone.
  • 🌱Virginia Madsen and Jennifer Beals forever!
  • 🌱!They finally smooched!

Against

  • 🌱Andy Bean, come back! I miss you already!

This post contains spoilers for Swamp Thing.
Check out our last review here

Why is tragic romance so enticingly wonderful and, well... romantic? It's something that Swamp Thing examines this week as we open in an unexpected and emotional predicament. Episode six ended with the apparent return of Alec Holland (Andy Bean), and that status quo is where we begin. Alec and Abby (Crystal Reed) are in his lab, reunited at last, and it's just as lovely and sad as you'd expect. Because, of course, Alec isn't really back, but the magical environmental force known as the Green has released a hallucinogenic spore which is allowing her to see Alec in his old form. It's a smart way to reveal that the Green and Alec are intrinsically connected now, and that the power of the plants is at his beck and call even without him realizing or commanding it. He knew that Abby wanted to see him again, and the Green recognized that and simply made it happen. When Abby gets hungry, the Green instantly grows a succulent plum for her. But the pair's happiness doesn't last long as Abby forces Alec to take her out into the swamp so that they can investigate the places where the rot has taken over. 

Of course, the real rot in Marais is Avery Sunderland (Will Patton). Patton has been a highlight of the series, his brutality and coldness shimmering behind every handshake and charming smile. He's the true monster here, in classic Swamp Thing style. Our monstrous hero has never been the villain, and the stories that spawned him have always been more concerned with the horrors that humans wreak under the guise of normality and wealth than the monsters we would usually assume are hiding under the bed. That's something this series understands innately, making it feel so authentic and in the tone of the world that the comics have brought to life. 

If you've been wanting to gain a little more understanding of what exactly the Green is and how it impacted Marais and Alec then you'll be happy to follow them on an idyllic walk through the swamplands. The rot is nowhere to be seen. Flowers, leaves, and plants are in bloom and surround the pair as Alec explains that he's discovered a new world, one that can't be seen by the human eye, a space balanced by forces which are usually in sync but sometimes fall out of balance causing chaos and darkness. Bean sells every moment of Alec's philosophical ramblings and Reed is as consistently wonderful as Abby as ever as she listens lovingly to her friend but doesn't for one moment let his experience stop her trying to get her samples or uncover exactly what this means for the people that she loves. Abby is really the hero 2020 needs but doesn't deserve, and in that way I'm especially happy that Swamp Thing ended up here, being rerun on The CW due to a global pandemic which none of us ever imagined.  

While our star crossed lovers are on their own mission, Avery and Lucilia (Jennifer Beals) are on one of their own. Armed with guns and the knowledge that Alec is still alive in some form, the pair head out to the swamps in the hopes of killing him so he can't uncover the truth about his first death: that it was Matt (Henderson Wade) who shot and killed him at the behest of Avery. It's a dangerous quest but the swamp might get to Alec and Abby before the two corrupt parents of Marais do, as Abby is attacked by the rot, a branch wrapping around her arm Evil Dead style, tearing at the scientist's skin, infecting her with something dark and toxic. As night falls, Avery and Maria make it into the swamp but Lucilia (once again) makes the mistake of trusting her again lover and he pulls a shotgun on her as they wander through the forest. He has no interest in finding Alec but can't wait to kill the woman he fathered a child with. Alas, Avery was also fooled because he's knocked out by Matt before he can go through with it and Lucilia's true scheme is revealed: kill Avery out on the swamp so that she and Matt can finally be free of him. 

While Avery's up to his usual shenanigans, Maria (Virginia Madsen) is doing some scheming of her own. After her ne'er do well husband tried to scam more money out of her, she did some digging and discovered the report that Dr. Woodrue (Kevin Durand) and Avery doctored to claim that they had discovered--via the swamp--a regenerative medicine that would cure all ailments. Sick of being used by Avery, she usurps his meeting with potential investors and Woodrue to try and secure the funding they need as well as a little extra to refill their drained coffers. Good on her, honestly, because Avery is the worst and she's spent most of this season being haunted by her dead daughter. Looks like her husband might be dead too as, after he wakes up and reveals to Matt that he's his father, he stabs his poor lost child and then apparently gets shot into the swamp. But Avery Sunderland is a true leech which means he may well pop back up. Bigger shocks are still yet to come, though, as it's revealed post Maria's meeting that she and Lucilia planned the death of Avery together... truly just an absolutely huge fan of this good revenge thriller twist. 

That dinner also introduced us to a key deep cut Swamp Thing character, Nathan Ellery A.K.A. Mr. E, who turns out to be one of Avery's investors. In the comics he runs a secret criminal organization known as the Conclave. Could he possibly take on that role here too? If so it introduces another vicious antagonist for Swamp Thing, who--speaking of which--has just saved Abby's life utilizing the power of the Green. Reed gives her all as she writhes under the influence of the rot and when she awakes to realize she's been saved by Alec, she has the only proper response: the pair share a kiss. Talk about slowburn! Seven episodes in and this is the first confirmation of the Beauty and the Beast romance at the core of the comics. But just like the rest of the series it feels organic and real, natural (pun intended) and right. It's just sad that the pair know they can't be together or at least not until they cure Alec... but as the episode ends it seems like he might be questioning whether he wants to be cured at all. In fact, he might finally be embracing his role as Swamp Thing and is now planning for his role in the bigger environmental war to come. And that's not all... Abby is heading back to Atlanta in the hopes that she can find a cure. 

And in a shocking final moment twist, Avery crawls out of the swamp that he's put so much money and time into destroying. Will he be himself? Will he survive? Will he be saved by Alec? So many questions to be answered as we head into the final episodes of the season.