Swamp Thing season 1, episode 3 recap: He Speaks


Now that Swamp Thing is aware of what he is, how will he use his power? Is the swamp trying to create a family of mutagene beings? We’ve got the recap!

“He Speaks” is the best of the three Swamp Thing episodes that have streamed. There’s a monster of the week quality to it. Our characters move forward in their arcs without explaining their every move. And, those arcs are sending our heroes and foes alike towards a great big sadness cliff.

Written by Rob Fresco (Ray Donovan) and directed by Deran Sarafian (The Gifted), the episode sees the birth and death of Bugman. Fresco also wrote the hilarious and ultra gross episode “Booth Three” from season three of Ash vs Evil Dead. “He Speaks” shares an important quality with Ash vs Evil Dead. That series had many monsters of the week, but they always had some kind of impact on our heroes. The kind of impact that would last for the rest of the series. Bugman turns out to be a game changer for Swamp Thing. That’s both the character and the show.

He Looks Like He Might Feel Bad

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When we first see him, Swamp Thing (Derek Mears) is looking at the dismembered body of Munson (Micah Fitzgerald), who he killed in “Worlds Apart” in order to protect Susie Coyle (Elle Graham). He’s not mesmerized or confused. It seems as if he wants to take it back. Swamp Thing doesn’t want Munson to kill anyone, but taking a life has taken a toll on him. Is the swamp listening?

All of a sudden, swamp bugs, most of which are roaches, fill Munson’s body parts and reform him as Bugman. His major mode of killing people is by projectile vomiting bugs into the mouths of live people. That’s gross, effective, and creepy. He eventually targets Abby (Crystal Reed). Swamp Thing protects her but is unable to kill Bugman. Instead, he audibly asks the swamp to release Bugman. At that point, the bugs flee and Munson implodes into a pile of goop.

Swamp Thing — Ep. 103 — “He Speaks“ — Photo Credit: Fred Norris / 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

It’s not clear if the swamp obeys Swamp Thing or if it merely listens to his asks. The way Swamp Thing says “release him” is interesting. His head is down. It’s almost like there is embarrassed recognition. Did his regret over killing a human cause the response of the swamp to reanimate Munson? His regret over one death led to more death.

Swamp Thing’s reunion with Abby is emotional. He’s clearly mournful of the humanity he’s lost. She is scared out of her mind even though she’s fighting it with everything she’s got. Swamp Thing eventually explains that what’s happening with the swamp is not attack, but a defense response against an attack. This gives Abby an idea.

Back at the hospital, no one is getting better. In fact, several cases have gotten worse. And, Harlan (Leonardo Lam) has contracted the swamp disease. Now it’s personal for Abby. To complicate things, the CDC, unconvinced of Abby’s methods, has sent a new team of doctors to Marais. Abby takes a radical approach o treating the disease that nearly gets her arrested. She gives Harlan two shots aimed at crippling his immune system. As Swamp Thing said, the illness is not an attack. It’s a response to an attack. Harlan almost immediately gets better.

Staring is Creepy

Matt (Henderson Wade) professes his crush on Abby. That’s cool. But the way he does it is a little off. He apparently stared at her throughout prom and was surprised that Abby didn’t notice. “Don’t girls always know?” Matt’s a cool guy, but that’s super broey. His mom, Sheriff Cable (Jennifer Beals) warns him to let his crush on Abby fade, but Matt pursues it. As they dance at a bar and grill, Swamp Thing stares from outside. Abby notices him, but doesn’t know how to react. It’s like “Guess I’m Doing Fine by Beck. Swamp Thing longs for the dry warmth of humanity inside, but he knows he’s now part of something completely different.

Swamp Thing — Ep. 103 — “He Speaks“ — Photo Credit: Fred Norris / 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Beals should follow her own advice. When visiting Avery Sunderland (Will Patton) we get a nice shock when we learn that the two are lovers. They hook up whenever Maria Sunderland (Virginia Madsen) is shutting Avery out. This would be one of those times. Her dead daughter Shawna (Given Sharp) is now goading her on to fight with Avery over his cheating ways. This Shawna situation is getting serious rather quickly.

The biggest couple news involves Jason (Kevin Durand) and Caroline Woodrue (Selena Anduze). The couple is both doctors. Selena loves Jason’s creativity with mutagen manipulation. He’s been out of it lately, but the Sunderland project seemed to rekindle his artistry. But we learn that Caroline has what appears to be early onset Alzheimer’s disease. This could be the cause of Jason’s sadness. Maybe Jason is engineering mutagens to try and help regenerate cells in Caroline’s brain. Or, perhaps his work is what hurt Caroline’s brain in the first place.

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That’s what I loved about “He Speaks.” Sure, there is an environmentalist angle to the episode. The swamp has always hated what’s being done to it. But, the addition of the mutagen gave it the agency to take action. But, sometimes the biggest action you can take is to just leave something alone. What a great episode.

Are you enjoying Swamp Thing? What did you think of Bugman? Let’s discuss in the comments!