By Pete Verra
“Drive All Night” is the fifth episode of Swamp Thing and this is the fifth time at the end of an episode I said to myself, “This is better than last week. That could have been pulled right out of Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing.” The show leaves no stone unturned as the mystery of Shawna Sunderland is finally revealed and the Green is officially mentioned by name.
Right off the bat, we got to give credit where it’s due…
How great is Derek Mears Swamp Thing?!
His movement, that suit, the voice, the red eyes, the performance all of it, it’s poetry in motion! This episode gives us our best look at Swamp Thing overall. The scenes were not too dark allowing for great visuals of the title character in action. Swamp Thing moving in and out of the water, interacting with the Green just being Swamp Thing. It is marvelous seeing this so well done in live-action. Just the simple things like water dripping off his arm while trying to remain hidden. Love the attention to detail!
What really impressed me with the show is that Susie Coyle wasn’t just a throwaway character after her battle with the Green Flu. What I didn’t see coming was this beautiful twist between Susie, the Sunderland’s and the swamp. The death of Shawna Sunderland has loomed large over the show and the scenario surrounding her death does not disappoint.
Finally, we learn Abby’s connecting to her best friends death. This show is not afraid to dive deep into the darkness. It’s no surprise since Swamp Thing has been pushing the limits within the horror genre since the Pilot.
Virginia Madsen, for the second week in a row, steals the show as Maria Sunderland. Maria is in the darkest place of anyone in Marais. She is being manipulated by her husband Avery and still mourning her daughter’s death. On top of it all, she is being played by the swamp itself.
The more you get acquainted with the citizens of Marais the more you wonder how screwed up the rest of the town is — Madame Xanadu and Daniel Cassidy are two of those very characters that come to mind.
With all the craziness going on it’s easy for the Blue Devil to get lost in the mix. I feel this will be another huge payoff that is just starting to build.
Now let’s get to the best part of the episode…
Ladies and gentlemen, The Phantom Stranger makes his live-action debut!
Seeing the Stranger guide Swamp Thing, offering advice, teaching Swamp Thing about the Green as only the Phantom Stranger can is remarkable.
The calm nature of the Stranger, while he is playing therapist, was a thing of beauty. Macon Blair was tremendous just floating in on his boat, not afraid or intimidated of Swamp Thing, not one bit. These scenes could not have played out any better.
This show GETS the source material. It knows genre so well as it balances body horror, psychological thriller, and murder mystery with ease.
Alan Moore himself could not hate this and he literally hates all adaptations of his work!
I could easily get frustrated after every episode about the cancelation of the show…an then I think of it as a 10-hour movie I’m going to binge like it’s The Office.
Halfway through this season, this show is the best live action interpretation of the character — the show is just so good. The acting, the writing the FX… all of it. I can’t wait to see what happens next Friday because it is only starting to heat up! – Peter Verra