To coincide with the airing of Swamp Thing on the CW, we are re-broadcasting our reviews of the series from its original airing on the DC Universe platform. If there are any differences in the episodes aired on the CW (edits for time or content, for example), those changes will not be reflected in our reviews.
Fire up your engines kid! We’re about to “Drive All Night” into the Swamp for another recap of DC Universe‘s Swamp Thing. Buckle up!
1. Mama Bears
In “Drive All Night” we get a couple of really good look at the way Swamp Thing‘s mama bears step up for their children. First up there is Sheriff Lucilia Cable, fresh off a tryst with Avery Sunderland, heading out to talk with the fellow working the docks the night that Alec Holland’s boat blew up. It seems that this fellow, a down-on-his-luck sort of fellow named Remy Dubois, told intrepid town reporter, Liz, he saw another boat go out into the Swamp after Alec that night. When Sheriff Cable interrogates him over his rat rotisserie, Dubois suggests that she look a little closer to home for a suspect, because the other boater that night was none other than hunky Sheriff’s deputy Matt Cable. Who just happens to be the Sheriff’s son. Obviously sensing the danger of threatening the Sheriff’s son, Dubois pulls a shotgun on the Sheriff, but she manages to talk him down before putting two shots into his chest. She finishes the job with a calculated bullet to the head before calling in a shots fired report. It was rather shocking how swiftly Sheriff Cable resorted to violence when her family is under threat.
The other mother that comes to bear in this episode is Maria Sunderland who has been associating with the spirit of her dead daughter, Shawna. Shawna’s manifestations have been increasing and drawing Maria more into her darkness. This reaches a tipping point when the Sunderlands bring Susie Coyle into their home. We have already seen that little Susie is psychically active through her connection with Swamp Thing, and this proves to be an irresistible lure for Shawna who possesses the poor girl. Shawna takes advantage of her new corporeal presence and under the guise of Susie calls Abby to confront her about her responsibility in Shawna’s death. When Abby refuses to be cowed by the spirit, Shawna instead latches onto her poor mother and lures her out to the Swamp to join her in death. A fate that is narrowly avoided through the intervention of Abby and Swamp Thing. But it showed that Maria would do almost anything she could to be reunited with her lost daughter, despite how twisted she’s become by the darkness in the Swamp.
2. Abby and Shawna
This episode also finally gives us some answers to Abby’s past in Marais and what happened with her and Shawna on the bridge. Swamp Thing, with the help of a mysterious figure, discovers that the Swamp has been storing the memories of everything that happens in the trees and plants and he is able to tap into those memories. He is instantly drawn to the memory of what happened with Abby and Shawna so many years before. At first it appears that Abby may have been responsible for Shawna’s death, as she believes, and the show does a good job leading us on with this thought, until we find that Shawna was playing a trick on poor Abby. The new information we learn is that there is something that dragged Shawna down and Abby did try to save her to no avail. It seems that the darkness in the Swamp has been laying in wait for a long while and there is a lot centered around Abby and her presence in Marais.
3. Other Players on the Board
While much of the main game is being played and people are investigating or covering up crimes, there are a couple other game pieces making their moves. First we see our poor friend Daniel Cassidy desperately wishing that he had completed whatever mission he had in Marais. He’s driving pell-mell for the town limits and we find out that there is a very real supernatural force keeping him in the town. When he extends his hand past the town sign it ignites in blue fire which burns him badly. He then shouts and swears at the Blue Devil costume in his trunk, but when he walks away we see the costume’s eyes fill with blue light. There is a lot of weird shit going on with poor Daniel. Later in the episode he comes to Liz’s rescue (quite unneeded as it appears) and gets clocked badly across the back of the head. We’ll have to see if he survives.Continued below
Swamp Thing also gets a visitor in this episode, a man that refuses to introduce himself beyond being a stranger or a phantom traveler. He is Swamp Thing‘s version of the Phantom Stranger, a supernatural character with a venerable history in DC lore (from what I’ve read). The Phantom Stranger seems like he is acting as sort of a mentor to Swamp Thing, aiding him in understanding the messages the Swamp (or the Green) is trying to share. So far it is unclear about whether the Phantom Stranger is going to turn up again, or it was a one time visitation.
4. Poor Susie
Poor little Susie Coyle. That kid has had quite a rough time of things in the past 5 episodes. Her father dies and she contracts the Green Flu, collapsing in front of all her classmates. Through the Flu she’s gained some sort of psychic connection with the Swamp and Swamp Thing, leading to nightmares and journeys out into the Swamp where she is attacked by murderous henchmen. She has been essentially bought by the richest man in town and taken into his home. This leads her to being possessed by a vengeful ghost and used as a tool to try and attack Abby and Maria. Can this poor girl get a break? Maybe Abby or Liz can bring her a puppy and take her out for an ice cream. She certainly deserves it. All kidding aside though, many compliments to the young actress, Elle Graham, for doing a great job with this character.
5. Turtle Soup
I finally just wanted to talk about Avery Sunderland breaking into Delroy’s kitchen (though is it really breaking in when he owns the land?) to make turtle soup of all things. We get a very close and gory look at Avery butchering a turtle and adding it to the soup he has cooking. Though I think he is supposed to skin the turtle leg/foot before throwing it into the soup and absolutely should not have thrown those entrails in. Also, he probably shouldn’t be trying to serve it to folks right after he throws in the bloody meat bits. Those take a little time to cook (and most recipes call for them to be browned before adding it to the soup).
This scene did send me down a little bit of a rabbit hole on turtle soup though. At one point in the early 20th century it was an immensely popular dish that had its origins in the bayous of Louisiana and Mississippi, though there are versions from the Midwest as well. It was one of President Taft’s favorite dishes and was commonly served in railroad dining cars that crisscrossed the nations. It fell out of favor in the middle of the century as prepackaged foods rose to ascendancy and other meats became easier to acquire and use. It, and its close culinary companion mock turtle soup, are still available in some finer dining restaurants in the South, particularly in New Orleans. Apparently the classic cook book, The Joy of Cooking, had a bit of a controversy in the mid-90s when the edition it printed still contained a recipe for turtle soup that called for sea turtle meat. Here is a recipe I found for turtle soup, in case you were interested in trying yourself: Creole Turtle Soup.
– When Liz got threatened by two thugs (probably hired by Sunderland), she proved herself quite capable of defending herself. You go Liz!
– I’ve mentioned Abby’s courage before and we get another example of it here as she faces down the ghost of Shawna.
Alright fellow Swamp Dwellers, we’re halfway through this journey and it’s about time to take a pit stop until next week. Before we hit the road again to drive all night, remember to stock up on snacks and use the bathroom.