Swamp Thing: The Price You Pay
July 7, 2019 8:18 PM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

It's an episode of confrontations: Abby vs. Avery, Sheriff Cable vs. Matt, Swampy vs. some hunters, Jason and Avery vs. Dan, Jason vs. his wife and Matt vs. Swampy.
posted by sardonyx (3 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Okay, this episode went in a number of directions I wasn't expecting.

First, I really didn't believe Matt had anything to do with Alec's death and transformation. I thought that was going to be a misdirect when the Sheriff got the call from the guy she shot last episode. I certainly wasn't expecting Matt to have succumbed to blackmail by Avery just so he could protect his mom.

I also would have never expected the Phantom Stranger to have instigated such a devilish bargain with Dan. I don't think that's really something the comic book version would have been guilty of doing. He was more of a let people pick their own destinies and deal with the consequences type of guy. Sure it could be argued that Dan chose his path, but really, he was going into the deal blind, so it's not really fair or his fault. Also, I don't really feel like Dan cemented a bargain with the Stranger. They certainly didn't shake on it or anything.

I can see Liz being guilty about Dan's beating, but I hate to see reporters back down in the face of threats and violence, no matter how realistic it is. That realism, however seemed dashed when all of the sudden Abby marched into battle on behalf of Liz and Dan. That wasn't Abby's place and it goes against Liz's wishes to let things be.

It's nice to see Alec realize that he's moving away from his humanity as he embraces the Green. I'm glad they're getting to that aspect of the story relatively quickly. The porcupine-like tree splinters were an interesting use of his control of the local vegetation.

I don't know where they're going next episode with Abby seeing Alec's human form after Swampy grew that flower, but if this turns out to be sex pollen the fanfic universe is going to go nuts, seeing one of their favourite tropes on-screen (even if nobody is actually watching this, I'm sure word of it will spread like wildfire).
posted by sardonyx at 8:31 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]


That's totally some sex pollen! It seems like the show is going in a less mystical direction vis a vis Abby and Alec's sex life than the comic did; the show isn't that kind of story, and it also just has the latitude to depict sex in a way that the comic (even free from the Comics Code) kind of didn't. Plus, they've been paying the actor who plays Alec to occasionally pop up for flashbacks and not much else, so it makes sense to introduce a scenario where he can make out with Abby and deliver exposition or whatever. Sounds like a sweet gig; he must have taken the cancellation hard.

I don't quite get what they're going for with this version of the Phantom Stranger. I presume Dan will mature into a more heroic figure, so ultimately the bargain he struck (I suppose?) will turn out to be for the good of all involved. Still, there does seem in the Stranger's machinations to be an element of, if not moral ambiguity, then at least indifference to the sufferings of his pawns. This makes him much more like the John Constantine of the Moore series than like any version of the Stranger I remember. (I haven't read the most recent PS book.) That does track, since Constantine is important to Moore's run, and for obvious reasons DC can't use Constantine here.

Speaking of Dan...what? Okay. So in the comics, Dan is much the same character, a fun-loving stuntman/actor who (with a dash of Tony Stark) built a cybernetic "Blue Devil" costume that he used to play the character in B-movies. In the first issue, Dan battles the demon Nebiros, who zaps Dan with some kind of occult energy that is intended to kill him, but instead fuses the costume to his body, making him a real Blue Devil. (As a kid, I didn't really get this; the comic made it sound like Dan just was trapped in the costume, leading me to wonder how he went to the bathroom. In time, though, it was clear the idea was that he'd somehow transformed into the Blue Devil, was probably anatomically correct, and was in no way made of latex and circuitry. Just roll with it.) On the show, the Blue Devil costume is (thus far) a red herring. The real deal is that whatever Woodrue shot Dan up with is changing him into a...Smurf. This is a lot less convoluted than the comic book origin, and it probably ties Dan to the Green, making his appearance in the show slightly less random. I guess we'll see where it goes. Hopefully we'll still get a full-blown Blue Devil by the end of this abbreviated season.

Matt and his mom are way more Neutral Evil than I thought going in, which is intriguing but sadly probably won't pay off in the next four episodes. Too bad. They're a lot more interesting than I expected.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:28 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]


I've been trying to avoid saying too much about Dan because that's where I'm on shaky ground when it comes to my DC history but what you've written jives with my recollections of him and his origin, which is why I couldn't really understand why they brought him into this mythos. He didn't seem to fit, but now, as you said, after Woodrue's tinkering, he's been made part of the Green.

I don't really know what his current status is these days, but I did manage to read a few issues of JL Dark a while ago, and it seems he's much more mystical and magical these days (essentially overseeing the Nightmaster's realm) so I figured he must have been revamped somewhere between the New DC and Rebirth or at some point when I really wasn't paying too much attention to comics.

What you say about the Stranger acting like John makes sense, but I still feel like this kind of bargain for Dan's soul isn't quite the type of scam John would pull on somebody innocent. Get somebody to sacrifice themselves? Sure. Absolutely, but those people tended to be players or dabblers in magic (for the most part). Set them up so they wind up with powers? Not so much. I also like to think John is a bit more direct with his propositions. Sure he'll leave out certain key details but this was just a bit too vague for him. Oh well, it's not as if I need to have everything by the book and Dan's current state should make for an interesting arc.

As for Alec's human half, I kind of figured that by the end of the season, they'd find a way to allow him to transform back, at least for short periods of time, but I based that on the knowledge that this was supposed to be the anchor program for a bunch of spin-offs, and it would be easier for the character to cross over to other properties if he could be human-looking for a while. Of course, since that's not happening now, my speculation is essentially useless.
posted by sardonyx at 7:53 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]


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