Swamp Thing season 1, episode 4 recap: Darkness on the Edge of Town


Swamp Thing’s fourth episode, “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” is a major step backward from the storytelling of “He Speaks.” We’ve got the recap.

“Darkness on the Edge of Town” functions like a low-budget horror movie from the mid-1980s. This might have worked then, but storytelling has grown more complex since the 80s. Audiences expect more out of Swamp Thing. There’s beauty in keeping things simple. But, that beauty makes it hard to cover up mistakes. When the main character solves the big puzzle of the story and disregards it for a few scenes in order to serve the plot or editing, you have a less than impressive mess.

The Darkness

Many years ago in Marais, there was a dark entity that attached itself to a host. It made the host experience lucid hallucinations of their worst nightmares. That could lead to people being hurt or killed. The darkness was passed on when the host scratched someone. After much handwringing and bloodshed, one nobleman figured it out. He became the host, made it to the swamp, and self-immolated himself. This would end the cycle of darkness. It would no longer spread.

Related Story. Swamp Thing season 1, episode 3 recap: He Speaks. light

More from Show Snob

Except, the swamp, infused with mutagens courtesy of Avery (Will Patton) and Woodrue (Kevin Durand) is now fighting back and bringing things back to life. We saw this in the simple, gory, and fantastic “He Speaks.” This week’s teaser is promising. Two opportunists have come to cut down some valuable cypress trees that Big Lumber had not found. The swamp, tired of this, reanimates the nobleman who self-immolated and sends him after the men.

Todd (Andrew Yackel) is scratched by the burned corpse before it is subdued. The two men think they’ve gotten away. Swamp Thing (Derek Mears) comes out of the shadows and releases the immolated man so he may once again rest. And that’s the last of the solid storytelling for the week.

Rule of Three’s

We see Todd, Delroy (Al Mitchell), and Sheriff Cable (Jennifer Beals) all become hosts to the darkness and lucidly hallucinate their own personal horrors. Todd’s is the most gory. He believes he sees a snake in a sink. The audience isn’t sure if it’s real or not for a few frames. Todd scrapes at his own arm. He stabs himself with a knife. And, he jams his hand into a garbage disposal in order to get rid of the snake. Yikes.

Swamp Thing — Ep. 104 — “Darkness on the Edge of Town” — Photo Credit: Fred Norris / 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Todd scratches Delroy before he succumbs to the darkness. We’ve seen the mechanism of the transfer twice now. We know what’s coming. Delroy transcends into the robbery from a years ago that left his mom dead. Of course, we can’t tell that’s what happening from the hallucination. It’s explained to Abby (Crystal Reed) by Liz (Maria Sten) because exposition is the real mayor of Marais.

Abby and Liz work out the mechanics of the virus for everyone who might have fast forwarded twenty minutes into the episode. It’s mostly via narration over clips from the scenes we’ve just watched. The way they play the clips made me feel like each part was a recollection and realization from Abby. So, she knew the Sheriff would be next.

Except, Abby doesn’t realize this for a few, confusing scenes. I guess the sole purpose of this was to give the Sheriff the chance to live out her worst nightmare: watching her son, Officer Matt Cable (Henderson Wade) die in the line of duty. This is effective due to the concept. But, had the characters been set-up better over the last couple of weeks, this would have packed a massive punch.

Abby is able to get the darkness transferred to her. She gets it to the swamp where Swamp Thing takes it. He then gives it back to the immolated man and ends the cycle. It’s fairly simple. There are some convoluted aspects to the episode. Abby repeatedly claims she’s not going to leave Swamp Thing alone, but every time she visits him, which is a lot, she stays for less than five minutes.

Sunderland Blues

Avery has a pointless flashback to his childhood early in the episode. We’ve seen these kind of flashbacks countless times. Here, there is no connection to Avery’s dad or kid Avery to make this real. We already know that Avery is duplicitous and dangerous. There doesn’t need to be an explanation. We can see who he is.

Swamp Thing — Ep. 104 — “Darkness on the Edge of Town” — Photo Credit: Fred Norris / 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Maria (Virginia Madsen) is great as the cold, shade throwing counterpart to Avery. She’s almost as scary as he is. Here, it would be nice to continue her backstory because it’s part of the show. Her grief is so strong that she brought a manifestation of her dead daughter back to our world. But there’s none of that. It was just dropped this week. Instead, we get Avery bargaining to get custody of Susie Coyle (Elle Graham). It’s a move to bring some motherly joy back into Maria’s life. She’s happy. Why? Is Susie a replacement for Shawna (Given Sharp) or just meant to be a vessel for Shawna to posses?

dark. Next. Chernobyl: Breaking down fact vs. fiction in the HBO series

Also, we were promised more information on Daniel “The Blue Devil” Cassidy (Ian Ziering) in this episode. He came to Marais years ago and made a bargain to never leave until he found his calling. Daniel now believes that his calling may be to help Abby. But why? And how? That’s the totality of what we got. At this point, Swamp Thing is hit or miss from week to week. So far, it’s been mostly miss.

Are you enjoying Swamp Thing? Has the story gotten too out of control? Let’s discuss in the comments!