In the aptly-titled final episode of DC Universe’s Swamp Thing, the show attempts to tie up the various plot threads that are still dangling and to give its viewers (and characters) a satisfying stopping place for their journey. Does this episode accomplish that? Well, yes and no.
While “Loose Ends” isn’t a bad episode by any means, it’s unfortunately saddled with the job of closing out a show that has been prematurely cancelled. As a season finale, it would just be fine. As the final episode of a series that deserved better, it’s hard not to feel bummed out that this episode doesn’t reach the dizzying heights that some previous installments have.
Still, let’s talk about what did and didn’t work in this last visit to the swamps of Marais. As always, beware of spoilers. Major ones, this time.
When we rejoin our characters, everyone is on the losing side of whatever battle they’ve been fighting all along. Swamp Thing has come to realize he’ll never be human, Abby feels like she’s losing the man that she’s come to love and Lucilia is afraid of losing her son. Avery’s project has been taken from him, while his wife’s freedom has been stolen from her. Woodrue is in danger of losing his sanity and his wife.
The only person who seems like they’ve got everything figured out is Daniel Cassidy, who is simultaneously terrified of his newfound power and excited to see what good he can do with it. In a fun sequence, he races out of Marais and off on his own journey. It’s a quick little bow on his storyline, but it’s nice to see something work out for Daniel for once.
In fact, this episode is full of “quick little bows,” almost to the episode’s detriment. At some point, the whole episode feels like a marathon of hasty subplot resolutions, some of which are stronger than others.
While the conclusion of Maria’s storyline is far from satisfying, it does play out in the midst of some fun practical effects. The hands reaching through the wall are wonderfully lo-fi and effective for a show that has featured some truly over-the-top horror. It’s just a shame that Maria is sent away into her own little world while there’s still so little that we understand about the connection that she and Xanadu have to the rising darkness.
Avery Sunderland gives us some of the best dark humor in the season, with Will Patton’s performance becoming more desperate and hopeless as the episode goes on. While his actions in this episode are horrific, there are some clever little touches that actually got a laugh out of me, particularly when Sunderland presses the remote lock button on a submerged car. It’s a wicked little moment of gallows humor that truly surprised me.
The best parts of this episode follow the continued descent of Jason Woodrue into true mad scientist territory. Kevin Durand makes a meal out of Woodrue’s monologues to his catatonic wife, even selling the moments of panic when he seems to be unable to control himself or the people trying to stop him.
Woodrue also features in a post-credits tag after the episode that shows off some of the best makeup effects in the series. It’s a shame that we won’t see the aftermath of these scenes, but I’m glad this sequence didn’t stay on the cutting room floor. It’s dark and tense, with a feeling of quiet suspense that this show hasn’t used to this effect since the pilot. The final moments of Swamp Thing are easily some of the most memorable in the whole run of the series, which is just as it should be.
Back to our main character, though. He spends the majority of the episode slugging it out with Ellery and his mercenaries, but mostly remains off-screen, sending the plants in to do his dirty work. It’s mostly a fun sequence, though it gets a little repetitive with shot after shot of these tough guys flailing their machetes wildly at the vines until Swampy has had enough. One the fight does kick in, though, we’re treated to one of the best gore effects of the series. Oh, and Jake Busey is there.
I promised when I began these reviews that I wouldn’t focus too much on the unfortunate fate of the series and would review these based on what made it to the screen. Unfortunately for this finale, it doesn’t entirely wrap things up in a satisfactory manner. There’s a lot to love here on an emotional level, but it’s hard not to feel cheated out of a much grander tale.
Still, for the ten episodes that we received, Swamp Thing was a smart slow burn of gothic horror and romance, perfectly capturing what makes the character and his world so interesting in the first place.
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