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'Swamp Thing' 1.08 Review: Long Walk Home

Will Patton gives his all in this character driven episode that at its best feels more like theater than television.

Swamp Thing looms over the shadow of Avery Sunderland in a wooden cabin
(Image: © The CW)

Our Verdict

Can Will Patton still be nominated for this show? He really should be.

For

  • 🌿 Did we mention Will Patton is great?
  • 🌿 Psychologically thrilling in a way superhero shows rarely are.
  • 🌿 The icon Adrienne Barbeau arrives.
  • 🌿 Derek Mears is magic as Swamp Thing!
  • 🌿 We're getting very close to a very big bad.

Against

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

Avery Sutton (Will Patton) lives! Although that may be bad news for the inhabitants of Marais, it's great news for us. Patton is stunning this episode as Sunderland struggles through the swamp, barely able to walk after his run-in with Matt (Henderson Wade) and Lucilia (Jennifer Beals). His son and lover decided to kill him, but he's made of stronger stuff. Also, maybe the swamp has plans for him? Otherwise wouldn't it have let him drown? Whatever the reason, Avery has a second chance despite hardly being imbued with any kind of grateful spirit. In fact, the only thing driving him through the dense forest is a desperation for revenge.

While Marais' monster tries to make his way home, Abby (Crystal Reed) is back in Atlanta. And things aren't looking good. Her research is mocked and rejected, and a new CDC Assistant Director, Dr. Palomar (Adrienne Barbeau), has taken power and might be up to no good. It's amazing to see Barbeau back in the swamp as she was the star of the original Swamp Thing movie. Here she's a purely shady--and potentially compromised--villain, though, and she's got a glare that can kill. Abby's new nemesis might be scary but not half as scary as Avery's long walk home. As he falters and falls, he begins to have hallucinations featuring the people he's betrayed, hurt, and loved. It's a dark and twisted journey for Avery, one that seems to be fueled and manipulated by the swamp and the forces within it.

Avery has been at the rotting heart of this season, his bad decisions and cruelty seeping through the episodes like the disease tearing through Marais. Making a compelling villain is hard but Patton delivers every week. What's most interesting about "Long Walk Home" is that the creative team crafts a way to illustrate a little of what might have made him this way without flashbacks or exposition. Wandering through the trees he stumbles upon his own past. Father and son burying something in the woods. It suddenly becomes clear where Avery learnt his abusive, toxic tendencies from. And it's revealed that Avery might have seen the magic of the swamp decades before Alec Holland (Andy Bean) came to town and became Swamp Thing (Derek Mears). Patton writhes and whines through his hallucinatory family reunion in a way that feels uncomfortably raw. There's no pity to be given to this terrible man, but we at least see that he's a terrible person informed by trauma and terror just like so many of the people in Marais. 

Avery's journey eventually takes him to a cabin in the woods, which we all know is never a good thing. It's particularly bad for the tripped-out patriarch, who finds himself face to face with Swamp Thing himself. It's the showdown that viewers have been waiting for, and both Mears and Patton do it justice. It's a chance to learn more about the swamp and the magic of the Green. As the pair verbally duel, Alec explains his new place as the protector of the land and water. Even in the face of the horrific acts that Avery has committed against both Alec and the Swamp, Swamp Thing heals his wounds and helps him find his way out of the maze of the forest. In exchange, Avery promises to help heal Swamp Thing and turn him back into Alec Holland, though we all know he is far from trustworthy. And as soon as he returns to Marais, he's back to his old ways. 

Back in Atlanta, Abby reconnects with Harlan (Leonardo Nam). After the pair share a couple of drinks, she ends up revealing the truth about Alec and his transformation. Whether it was the right choice is still to be seen as things are changing at the CDC and they seem to be connected to the new benefactor Jason Woodrue (Kevin Durand) has found in Nathan Ellery (Michael Beach), the leader of the mysterious government-funded organization that's very interested in what Woodrue and Sunderland have been doing in the swamp. After all, which terrible government wouldn't want to take advantage of a serum that can apparently make comatose people come back to life? Seemingly the US government wants it so much they're willing to kidnap Harlan straight off the streets, who just found out that Swamp Thing exists and likely doesn't have much of a tolerance for torture. 

Suspiciously, when Abby asks about Harlan the next day she's told he's been reassigned to Bangladesh by Dr. Palomar--we told you she was dodgy--and Abby can no longer access the sample that she traveled all the way to Atlanta to research. So it shouldn't surprise anyone that Nathan Ellery (Michael Beach) turns up in Atlanta on behalf of the CDC, trying to get Abby to betray Alec and hand him over to them. It's here that Abby realizes she's made a terrible, terrible mistake. Now not only are Avery and Dr. Woodrue after Swampy but so are the CDC and Ellery's shadowy organization. In trying to help the man that she loves, she's likely doomed him to end his life as a scientific experiment, or at least that is if she cannot help him herself. 

Sadly, she doesn't make it back to Marais in time and instead we see Swamp Thing ambushed by a militarized group of soldiers complete with big guns and body armor. As much as he tries to fight, he's eventually beaten by the smarts of Dr. Woodrue who has realized they can freeze Swamp Thing as a way to incapacitate him and take him into their nefarious custody. As the next episode is called "The Anatomy Lesson," we can assume that it's not going to end particularly well for Alec. But in better news it is an exciting nod to the Alan Moore and Steve Bisette comic book issue that reinvented the Swamp Thing series and heavily influenced this adaptation. So as they say: swings and roundabouts. We get a cool comic book reference and Swampy gets potentially dissected. Sorry, bud!