Swamp Thing: Darkness on the Edge of Town Review
In this week’s episode of Swamp Thing, Darkness on the Edge of Town, we get more developments about character relationships in Marais as well as a small virus that introduces some hallucinatory horror and another popular villain from the comics.
Darkness on the Edge of Town doesn’t necessarily present new info or have big reveals, but it does present an interesting new foe that’s similar to The Rot. Rather than being a physical threat or even a physical being, Abby (Crystal Reed) and Swamp Thing (Derek Mears) must stop an unearthed threat that causes those that encounter it to see nightmarish hallucinations that make them a threat to anyone around them. The hallucination sequences are great, for the most part, and the way it shifts back and forth between what the inflicted are seeing and what’s actually happening are great and pretty suspenseful. From Tony (Andrew Yackel), a civilian who encounters the disease from a mummified corpse in the swamp, stabbing at his arm to kill a snake that he thinks is wrapped around it to Delroy (Al Mitchell) shooting the killers of his mother that he thinks is surrounding his bar, there’s a lot of variety in the horrors that Swamp Thing brings.
While Delroy and Lucilia (Jennifer Beals) have sequences that are great because of their more practical looks and feels, Tony’s sequence was a little disappointing to watch as the CGI is very bad here. The idea of Tony freaking out over an imaginary snake wrapping over his arm is great and made very believable thanks to Yackel’s great performance, but the blood and gore effects are distractingly bad. I feel like a broken record saying that the CGI is definitely the weakest area of Swamp Thing, but here feels like a low point for the series so far. Again, the concept is truly horrifying but seeing it action completely took me out of the moment because of much it clearly looked fake.
More importantly, though, we get a small glimpse into Abby’s past once the disease makes it way to her and it leads to more of her and Swamp Thing working together as well as a glimpse into one of his earliest enemies in the comic, Anton Arcane. Once Abby treads back into the swamp to get help from Swamp Thing, her hallucination brings a dark and shadowy figure that she recognizes from past nightmares. While she doesn’t specifically name the figure and the character is only listed as the Man with No Face, there’s definitely some clues that connect this figure to iconic Swamp Thing villain. Anton is actually one of Swamp Thing’s biggest and earliest foes in the comics and with the figure mentioning things about Abby’s past with her mother, its appearance is definitely some form of foreshadowing to the iconic character.
Frankly, I’m a little mixed on introducing more villains as most of these threads probably won’t get explored much because of the show’s cancellation. Now, this is clearly more of retrospective opinion since I probably wouldn’t be saying this if we already didn’t know that the show is clearly going to be just one season. However, its worth mentioning that you can definitely tell there were plans for so much more with the series that likely might not be fully developed. It’s not necessarily a critique against Anton’s appearance as I actually love how much the series is delving into the Swamp Thing mythos, but it’s hard not to be a little mixed on introducing more characters that we might not get any conclusions for.
Speaking of villains, this episode also presents some new developments for Daniel Cassidy (Ian Ziering) and Woodrue (Kevin Durand). With Woodrue, we see his growing interest with the sample that Abby brings from the swamp and that he will have a deeper connection with Abby as he helps her uncover what’s happening with Alec. With Cassidy, we see him have another conversation with Madame Xanadu (Jeryl Prescott), where she says that something evil is on its way to Marais, and him trying to get closer to Abby to figure out this “change” that is coming for him. We also see Maria (Virginia Madsen) attempt to sort of “adopt” Susie (Elle Graham) as a bit of a replacement for Shawna and it’ll be interesting to see where this goes with her visions of Shawna.
There’s also some more time given to seeing Abby and Swamp Thing together and further develop their relationship. First of all, just seeing more of Mears as Swamp Thing is a plus in itself as we get to hear him talk more and he’s easily one of the best parts of the series. We also get to see Swamp Thing’s more protective personality towards Abby and the swamp and how this makes him closer to Abby. Whether it’s romantic or not, it’s nice to see their great chemistry continue and there being more time given to develop their relationship. Not to mention, the grim warning that Swamp Thing delivers to Abby at the end of the episode perfectly sets up that they are going to need each other for the evil that seems to be on its way.
Darkness on the Edge of Town is just another example of why it’s so disappointing that Swamp Thing will likely get cut short as it’s so damn good. The more the series takes a deeper dive into horror and the Swamp Thing mythos, the better it gets. If the series can deliver its warning of a darker evil still lurking in Marais and that’s more horrors to be uncovered, we’re in for one hell of a ride.