With this week’s news breaking of this show’s official cancelation, it’s going to be somewhat difficult to keep my weekly reviews from feeling like less of a recap and more of a countdown. However, I promise to do my best to review the show as it is, rather than worrying about the dark cloud hanging over the season’s end. So, with that unpleasantness out of the way, let’s dive into this week’s episode!
In “Worlds Apart,” Abby is still reeling from the apparent death of Alec Holland and her encounter with the Swamp Thing. As she tries to unravel the mystery of Alec’s fiery demise and the disease spreading from the swamp, Abby finds herself more and more entrenched in the oddities and darkness of being back in Marais.
We’re introduced to a few more cast members in this episode, most notably Ian Ziering as Daniel Cassidy and Jeryl Prescott as Madame Xanadu. Ziering’s take on Cassidy is just right for this version of the character, an out-of-work stunt man who has opened a video store in Marais. There’s a genuine sweetness to his portrayal, showing concern regarding Alec’s “accident” and a real fondness for his claim to fame as Hollywood’s Blue Devil. However, he also seems to be hiding something. Who was he really shouting at in the back room? Where DID he disappear to last Sunday night? Is it possible that he knew where to follow Alec, considering Alec was renting a room from him?
Xanadu is another character that could so easily become a cliché, but Jeryl Prescott’s performance here keeps her just right at the edge, and it’s terribly compelling. There are some subtle nuances to the performance that really stuck out to me, such as the moment when we first see her arranging her tarot cards. She’s feeling around the edges of each card. Having lost her eyesight, she’s memorized the different cards based on their specific corner dents and creases. It’s a wonderful minute detail that makes the character and her world feel so much more lived in.
Then, of course, there’s Kevin Durand as Dr. Jason Woodrue, the plant-fixated scientist who helped create the mutagen accelerators that Sunderland’s men have been dispersing through the swamp. Woodrue and his wife(!) are shown arriving in Marais in this week’s episode (which may shoot down my theory that he was behind Alec’s accident), with Jason instantly making an impression.
Though his screen time is limited in this episode, Durand’s Jason Woodrue immediately makes it clear to the audience that he is not to be trusted. His every line is delivered with a smile that contradicts the venomous things he’s saying. He’s the kind of man who will warmly wave at someone while sizing them up in every little detail. It remains to be seen whether or not this show’s Woodrue will eventually become the Floronic Man, but his human form is already slimy enough to put viewers at unease.
In addition to the new character introductions, this episode also reveals more facets of the folks we met last week, with particular attention paid to Will Patton as Avery Sunderland. While he came across as something of a good ol’ boy last week, this episode shows that it’s likely all an act, that there’s a manipulative and greedy soul behind Avery’s warm smile. Patton handles these pivots wonderfully, simultaneously making Abby feel welcome and letting her know that he’s only looking out for his own flesh and blood. His turn on Woodrue is chilling, if only because it’s the first time we’ve seen him completely drop the “kind old fella” routine.
On the action front, this was a bit of a slower burn than last week’s episode, which suited me just fine. After the fiery finale of last week, it’s up to Abby to pick up the pieces for most of this episode. That’s not to say, however, that there aren’t some truly wild moments to be had with “Worlds Apart.”
While there are fewer big effects shots in this episode when compared to last week’s corpse-tossing, boat-crucifying bonanza, the big effects sequences that we do get are fantastically bonkers.
One of the best comes from early in the episode, when Swamp Thing sees his new form reflected in the water. He immediately begins trying to pull the muck from his body, tearing chunks from his arms and head. Not only is the effect impressive — entirely horrific without being gory — it may also give fans of the comics an idea of which elements of the character are being taken from Alan Moore’s run on the character. After removing half of his own head, it certainly appears as though there’s not a human body underneath all of that vegetation, doesn’t it?
The other big effect moment is one that I won’t spoil here. All I’ll say is it involves Swamp Thing and a bad guy and, when it happened, I let out a surprised belly laugh that scared my cat.
On the downside, there was a plot thread in this episode that didn’t quite add up for me. We are shown that Alec kept a video journal of his findings, which he used Daniel Cassidy’s laptop to upload. However, the last entry we see seems to be recorded in the moments before the attack that transformed Dr. Holland. If that is the case, then how is this video on Cassidy’s laptop? Was it uploaded to the cloud? That doesn’t seem to be the case, considering we’re told he used Cassidy’s laptop to make the videos in the first place. It’s not entirely clear and the scene seems to exists only to give Abby a reason to be sad. Then again, maybe it’s confusing on purpose and it will pay off in the future. It just seemed like an oddly clumsy scene, despite the emotional resonance.
On the whole, however, “Worlds Apart” was another excellent episode that moved the central mystery forward, gave us some new questions, and showed us our first taste of Swamp Thing in action. Be sure to join me next week, when “He Speaks!”