Swamp Thing debuts new episodes every Friday on the DC Universe streaming service.
Swamp Thing stars Crystal Reed, Andy Bean, Derek Mears, Jennifer Beals, Henderson Wade, Will Patton, Virginia Madsen, Jeryl Prescott, Henderson Wade and Kevin Durand.
Haunted by the ghost of her childhood friend who reemerges from the swamp, Abby’s forced to confront both her past with the Sunderlands as well as the dark forces at play in Marais. While she continues to search for a cure for Alec, he struggles to come to terms with his transformation with the help of a mysterious Phantom Stranger (recurring guest star MACON BLAIR). When Abby’s life is threatened, Swamp Thing is able to use his abilities to save her, but it’s Matt, ultimately, who saves the day – further isolating Swamp Thing from the human world. Meanwhile, Sheriff Cable learns some disturbing information about her son, while Jason Woodrue shares a revelation about Swamp Thing with Avery Sunderland.
I’ve got a foreboding feeling that in five weeks time I’m going to be distraught about the end of Swamp Thing. Five episodes in and I think DC Universe has once again excelled itself with its level of production.
At this stage looking back over the first 10 months of the service Titans was good, Doom Patrol was great and Swamp Thing has (so far) been excellent. Watching “Drive All Night” has cemented for me that this level of storytelling is something which should be an industry standard.
“Drive All Night” is another intense tale of Abby Arcane but this time it is heavily focussed on her past. Finally we’re opening the doors to her past and witnessing exactly what happened to Shawna Sunderland. But this being Swamp Thing we are, of course, diving in to her memories via the powers of The Green.
All-in-all this episode opened up some emotional scars for Abby but it also forced her to confront the truth about her past. There is some incredible emotional work in this episode and once again Crystal Reed deserves a huge round of applause for shouldering the weight of most of the goings on this week.
Particular highlights for me include the scene between Abby and Susie in the bedroom when Susie is possessed by Shawna. Seeing Abby realise she’s not talking to child she knows but instead to her dead best friend is exceptionally well played.
It is only topped by the exchange between Abby and Maria Sunderland in the swamp. Abby taking responsibility for Shawna’s death was excruciating. This wasn’t a momentary lapse in judgement for her it was a true admission of the guilt she felt deep down and I could feel her pain in that moment.
“Drive All Night” is also a great episode for the full ensemble cast. There’s plenty going on for both Sunderlands to start with. Whilst Maria dotes on Shawna I was very disappointed to see that Sheriff Lucilla had fallen back in to old habits with Avery. This scene felt slightly at odds with her empowered moment with him previously but it seems she was only waiting to get him away from his wife.
Lucilla also has plenty going on this week too. It’s going to take a second watch to catch up fully on the implications of Matt’s involvement with Alec’s death but if we learned one thing from that scene it’s don’t mess with Lucilla when it comes to her son!
The storyline around Liz also seems to be coming together finally as her presence is becoming a nuisance for Avery Sunderland and Jason Woodrue. Her involvement with the episodes cliffhanger should lead to some interesting scenes in the next episode.
Ultimately Swamp Thing himself is left to the side slightly in this episode. He has an important part to play in learning about The Green and the power of the swamp but it is secondary to Abby’s woes. In a series entitled Swamp Thing that could be problematic for some viewers but the writing is too strong here for it to become an issue.
Ultimately “Drive All Night” is another incredibly well balanced and well produced episode of the show. It shows that DC on its own has the power to create some incredible, if expensive, content without the shackles of a mainstream network or a general audience to entertain.
At the half way mark in its first (and probably only) season Swamp Thing is streets ahead of the competition. This level of production and storytelling is unparalleled in the comic book world and quite frankly I just can’t get enough!