Swamp Thing: The Anatomy Lesson Review
In the penultimate episode of Swamp Thing, The Anatomy Lesson, we finally dig into what Swamp Thing (Derek Mears) actually is as Woodrue (Kevin Durand) literally digs into him, Avery (Will Patton) gets some revenge on Maria (Virginia Madsen), and the Blue Devil (Ian Ziering) finally arises.
With our titular hero finally meeting Woodrue face to face, we not only get some incredible practical gore as Woodrue performs an autopsy on a fully conscious Swamp Thing. Yeah, that’s right, imagine your worst nightmare of waking up while a surgery is occurring and that’s exactly what Swamp Thing goes through. It’s probably one of the most horrifying sequences of the series and I love that it comes right towards the series’ end to set up a finale that’s hopefully going to be great. The practical organs and suit look amazing and even the effects of things growing back look pretty cool too. This sequence also sets up some great banter between Woodrue and Swamp Thing about what he exactly is. The revelation of Swamp Thing actually not being Alec is actually quite surprising, as someone who doesn’t fully know the comic, and was interesting to see play out with Abby’s reaction. To be fair, Abby doesn’t do a whole lot in the episode, other than search for where the Conclave has taken Swamp Thing, but her reaction to the reveal that Swamp Thing isn’t really Alec and is actually just plants that resembles his consciousness, is great and resembles her love for Alec. The image of Swamp Thing carrying Alec’s corpse out of the water is also just perfect and this realization is definitely a great turn for the series.
We also get to see what will likely be the reason that Woodrue turns into the Floronic man with Caroline’s Alzheimer’s reaching a crippling point. We’ve seen her condition worsen throughout the series, but The Anatomy Lesson is clearly at its worst point. When she talks to Abby, you can feel how out of it she really is and when Woodrue returns to see that she has overmedicated herself and is basically over-dosing, it’s definitely a little heart-breaking. With Woodrue having basically lost his love and his obsession with the mutagen being at an all-time high, all the pieces are finally in place for Woodrue to make his horrifying turn.
The episode also brings the Blue Devil to life and we get to see him in action as he takes down members of the Conclave to save Abby and Liz (Maria Sten). With Cassidy finally awaking from his coma and having a conversation about his future with the Phantom Stranger (Macon Blair), he finally decides to give into the power of the Blue Devil. Now, while he’s mostly kept in the shadows as the Blue Devil, from what I was able to see, the character looks pretty rad. The transformation scene is great and built up very well and we do get to see that he’s quite the formidable foe. Well, foe is a strong term as this series seems to make him more of an anti-hero, which I’m cool with because I think Cassidy is more like an anti-hero than a straight-up villain. The blue flame effects that come with him I am a little mixed on as they don’t necessarily look the best, but from seeing him pretty much torch henchmen with flames that radiate from his face to one of the henchmen saying that they saw the devil, his transformation was well worth the wait and it’ll be interesting to see where he stands in the series finale.
Some loose ends get tied up between Avery and Maria as he gets his revenge on her by admitting her to a psych ward. I’ll say I’m not the biggest fan of how this plot thread has wrapped and I think that it’s one of the things that makes the series ending an unfortunate error on DC’s part. There’s just something about it that feels rushed and not as satisfying as I would want it to be. I’m at least happy they acknowledged it here and, to be fair, there’re more important things happening in Marais to focus on. Even the scenes of Matt (Henderson Wade) are a little thrown in and are so much less compelling that everything else that’s happening here. The series just hasn’t made him as strong of character and while him crashing into the cement column provides a solid jump scare, there’s such little emotional connection I have for him that I didn’t really feel much towards it.
The Anatomy Lesson is definitely a lesson in great finale setup as it sets the stage for a horrifying and hopefully satisfying finale for a series that is gone too soon. It not only starts to fulfill the promises it set up at the start of the season with the Blue Devil and the Floronic Man, but it gives great character development for Abby and Swamp Thing. If this episode says anything about the series, it’s that it’s high quality of storytelling and characters are a sign that Swamp Thing deserves more credit.