Previously on Swamp Thing, Sherriff Lucilia Cable (Jennifer Beals) admitted to killing a man in order to protect her son, Matt Cable (Henderson Wade), who revealed he helped Avery Sunderland (Will Patton) get rid of Alec Holland (Andy Bean). Meanwhile, Dr. Jason Woodrue (Kevin Durand) attempted to save Daniel Cassidy (Ian Ziering) with the mixture Dr. Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) found in the swamp but instead, it has some nasty side-effects.
At the very end of the last episode, we saw Swamp Thing (Derek Mears) change back into Alec Holland in front of Abby. “Brilliant Disguise” picks up immediately where the two left off as Abby is questioning how Alec was suddenly able to change back. However, he informs her he is still very much Swamp Thing and the spore she inhaled – which seemed to change him back – is a hallucinogen. I forgot how much I enjoyed seeing Bean as Alec. While Mears plays an incredible Swamp Thing, it is nice to be reminded who the beast is under the foliage.
The way Swamp Thing and Alec are able to articulate themselves is wildly different and while Abby is still with Swamp Thing, despite seeing Alec, he is more open to expressing himself. While this creates a slight dissonance and reminds viewers Alec and Swamp Thing are clearly played by two different actors, it also works to remind us how uncomfortable and insecure Swamp Thing is. It isn’t until he looks like himself again that he is able to open up to Abby.
Abby and Alec explore the edges of the Swamp, which is littered with breathtaking foliage that is hardly natural to Mairis’ climate and environment. Alec explains this foliage doesn’t have a scientific answer once again proving the darkness taking over the area and the swamp itself have some type of supernatural properties. Often within the show, the swamp has been treated as its own character and Alec’s admission that he can hear it and the plants within it speaking furthers that narrative.
As Abby and Alec explore further they see the part of the swamp that is dead, trees are rotted and the color palette changes from the bright springy colors to an unsettling gray. Alec explains the swamp is lashing out and all the damage is from a combination of human interference with nature, cutting down trees and the accelerant placed within the swamp, and the swamp fighting back. Overall, this show is usually incredibly dark -both in themes and its color palate – so the moment of brightness was an interesting way to break up the visuals and help the narrative.
While Abby is attempting to find a plant that can cure Alec, at his behest, Matt on the other side of town fills out a transfer request form in hopes, at the request of his mother, to leave Marias behind as well as the dark secret that was revealed previously. While filling out the form and sulking in Delroy’s, Matt speaks to Liz Tremayne (Maria Sten) about what has become of Alec, something he learned in the last episode.
With Matt planning to run, Sheriff Cable confronts Avery about Alec’s death and Matt’s involvement. She also informs Avery that Alec Holland is alive which puts nearly everyone with skeletons in the closet at risk. Sheriff Cable is clearly as entangled in Avery’s web of deception, as is her son and Dr. Woodrue, and she knows shit is about to hit the fan. Now in a “Brilliant Disguise,” the two leave as Maria Sunderland (Virginia Madsen) is busy preparing dinner to hunt down Alec Holland.
This episode shows just how interwoven everyone’s storyline in the show is. It reminds us brings to light just how much information the audience knows has been a secret and as those secrets begin to unravel, the characters are forced to face the unsettling truth. The alliances between a lot of these characters – like Sheriff Cable and Sunderland – have always been on shaky ground and “Brilliant Disguise” successfully creates a further rift.
Additionally, while the episode doesn’t contain a lot of horror elements, outside some moments of body horror, the tension keeps audiences on the edge of their seat. The second half of the episode is a whirlwind and without going into spoilers it feels like a biological accelerant was dropped on the show itself.
Overall, Swamp Thing‘s “Brilliant Disguise” is an excellent episode and the hopeless romantic in me is downright obsessed with the moments between Abby and Alec. The pacing and designs of the sets, the swamp, and especially Swamp Thing continue to set this show apart visually. However, the compelling narrative is truly what keeps me tuning in and excited for what is to come. I worry how loose ends will be tied up before the series finale, episode 10.
The cancellation of Swamp Thing still leaves a sour taste in my mouth and as we go on and the episodes continue to exceed the last in quality, the news remains just as bitter as the day I learned of it.
Swamp Thing is streaming now on HBO Max.
Swamp Thing, Episode 7 - Brilliant Disguise
Overall, Swamp Thing‘s “Brilliant Disguise” is an excellent episode and the hopeless romantic in me is downright obsessed with the moments between Abby and Alec. The pacing and designs of the sets, the swamp, and especially Swamp Thing continue to set this show apart visually.