“I protected you, that’s what I did. The same as you’ve always done for me.”
Intrigue abounds in this week’s Swamp Thing as flashbacks of the deal Daniel Cassidy struck with a stranger in black play out, Matt discovers the unbelievable truth about Alec Holland, and the shine of the Cable family representing law and order is eradicated during a tension-filled confrontation between mother and son.
“The Price You Pay” picks up the baton from last week’s subpar “Drive All Night”, running with some of the plot threads introduced, while offering a much better structure to the episode as a whole. Things aren’t looking good for Daniel Cassidy after he took a tire iron to the head, thanks to the thugs Avery Sunderland hired to scare Liz off the story she’s chasing. After Liz tells Abby about their attackers, Abby confronts Avery about the attack. The “aw shucks, I’m a decent southern fella” façade evaporates when he realizes Abby won’t be curtailed by his soothing tones. It’s a dangerous play for Abby, knowing the lengths Avery will go to get his way and keep his secrets safe.
Speaking of secrets, it was a pleasant surprise to get the details on how Dan Cassidy ended up trapped in Marais. Frustrated at being seen as nothing more than a stuntman, Cassidy’s career aspirations and the deal with the mystery man on set (along with the burning sensation he feels when trying to leave Marais) suggests that this was indeed a Faustian bargain. Madame Xanadu’s words to the sedated Cassidy at the end suggest that the worst is yet to come for Daniel and, combining his flashback with Swamp Thing’s mention to Abby of the darkness all but confirms that the supernatural forces hiding in the background (the same one that tried claiming Maria Sunderland as its prize) is slowly putting the pieces in place, ready to make its move.
While “Drive All Night” was the weakest offering of the season, the expanding story line for Sheriff Cable saved it from being an even more forgettable episode. That narrative is picked up this week with Lucilia confronting Matt about his involvement in the murder of Alec Holland. Two supposed pillars of the community, mother and son are far from the upstanding citizens the town folk of Marais see them as, especially now that the pair are thoroughly trapped under the greasy, blood-stained thumb of Avery Sunderland. Lucilia’s own transgressions extend beyond her affair Avery or even Remy’s murder.
While neither of those actions can be dismissed, one could almost see the reasoning behind her choices. But if Matt’s information on the dirt she’s done expands nearly three decades, it changes the fundamental nature of her character into being far worse than someone who’s made a few terrible choices. It also calls into question the makeup of Marais itself and the human darkness hiding not only in the corners and shadows but right out in the open.
“The Price You Pay” is an apt title for the sixth episode of Swamp Thing as several characters are realizing the consequences their decisions reap. Dan Cassidy’s Faustian bargain is the most obvious example of this, but every single character—from Abby to Liz to the Cables…even Dr. Woodrue—have their own sort of realization that every action we take–good, bad, or indifferent—has an equal and opposite reaction. And though we can never fully predict the outcome of any action, it’s fair to say that, the darker the deed, the harsher karma responds to us in turn.
Root and Stem
- For a man who’s supposedly on top of things, Avery Sunderland’s becoming sloppier and sloppier. Maybe this is one of the reasons I’m not impressed with him as an antagonist; not only is he a typical business guy villain but even that he can’t perform adequately. He’s becoming more of an irritant, taking up time from the real threat that the show has done a remarkable job teasing over the past few weeks.
- Though he didn’t have to pay the piper this week, it’s only a matter of time before Matt’s actions come back to haunt him. Not only will Abby completely dissociate from him when she finds out he killed Alec, but a much bigger problem will be when Alec/Swamp Thing pieces that particular memory together. We are continually learning just how far Swamp Thing’s powers extend and how he’s not always in control of said powers. Will he be able to tame that wildness the next time he and Matt face off and Swamp Thing recognizes the face of his killer?
- One thing that wasn’t 100% clear is how much of Dan’s condition was due to the curse/darkness binding him to Marais versus what is the side effect from Dr. Woodrue having him injected by the synthesized mutagen from the sample Abby had of Swamp Thing. Though Dr. Woodrue assumed it had to do with the administered mutagen, he’s also unaware of Cassidy’s more supernatural constraints. Also, now that he has the mutagen coursing through him, does that mean the dark force that has recruited him has a bit more ammunition when it faces Swamp Thing or will it somehow free Cassidy from his pact with the stranger?