Wednesday, February 1, 2017


With superhero television programs blowing up in the last few years, recaps of superhero television shows have become all the internet rage. Other sites, however, are hobbled by the need to cover shows which have been "recently broadcast" or which are "any good at all." But who covers the uncoverable? That's why Gone&Forgotten chooses to cover the 1991-1993 USA Network live-action Swamp Thing television series in a feature I used to like to call a dumb pun kind of title, but I've run out of those, so I just call it ...

If You See Swamp Thing, Say Swamp Thing
Season Two / Episode Thirteen (sort of) : Sonata

"Sonata" presents an interesting challenge and a question I've been postponing having to address before now.

There's apparently some controversy as to the actual running order of the Swamp Thing episodes. I haven't really considered it illuminating to figure out all the details -- these recaps eat up enough of my limited time on Planet Earth, god forbid I should research it too. Still, this is what I've picked up by osmosis or some other process by which molecules of a solvent tend to pass through a semipermeable membrane from a less concentrated solution into a more concentrated one, thus equalizing the concentrations on each side of the membrane*:

*Merriam-Webster literally defines "osmosis" as ...

Anton Arcane, creepy peepin' in the swamp
The individual episodes of Swamp Thing were originally broadcast in a certain order ... which is true of all TV shows, now that I think about it. However, this lineup does not jibe with the actual numbering of the episodes. More to the point, neither of these fit the chronology of the series. So, basically, there are three different ways that the second and third seasons of the show can be viewed. For my part -- not wanting to try to figure it out, frankly -- I've been sticking with the order of the shows as presented on the DVD (which I believe is the original broadcast order).

What that has gotten me is Sonata: The second episode of a four-part arc, none of the other three episodes of which have yet been broadcast at this point in our run of the show.

They use this restaurant for every restaurant scene in the show, and I have to assume it's a cafe on the Universal Studios lot
So this episode is the audience's introduction to the character of Ann Fisk (Janet Julian), who has had some sort of relationship with Swamp Thing/Alec Holland in the past. It also includes flashbacks to scenes we haven't seen yet. On the plus side, there are no Kipps in it and Arcane is finally back.

Do I go out of the DVD order and write-up the episode which precedes this one chronologically? Or do I forge ahead and cover this one, out of order and everything? I say I'm gonna stick to the DVD running order, because I want you to share my jarring experience, so here we go...

Swamp Thing has done fuck-all for the last two episodes, but his seeming purposelessness actually pays off in the narrative! I know, I'm fuckin' astonished too!

Woo, take it off!
Reflecting on what a useless sack of compost he'd been for the last forty minutes of consecutive programming, Swamp Thing muses that his voluntary swamp celibacy -- by which I mean that he hasn't been using his awesome swamp powers for an extended period of time -- is turning him human. At the very least, he's developed some sort of swamp pattern baldness, revealing that his right arm has mutated back into pink meat! Progress!

While he ponders that, two sub-plots pop up simultaneously. First off, the avenging hick Caleb brothers (Bill Luhrs and Mark McCracken) meet in a Houma diner to plot their vengeance on Anton Arcane, for having turned their brother into a vegetable. Figuratively speaking, I believe. Simultaneously, Dr.Ann Fisk shows up, in that fashion that actresses show up on these sort of demented tragic monster TV dramas just to fall in perfect love with the hero despite the fact that it can never be fully consummated. See, Swamp Thing IS volcel, I knew it! How's the arm coming along?

Guest-starring evil Louis CK
Much of the episode is given over to lengthy flashback sequences, the first of which would do the job of reminding the audience who Ann Fisk is, providing they had seen her first appearance in the damn first place. They haven't, so it takes forever and just sounds like when you're at one of those parties when you only know a small group of people and they spend most of their time sharing anecdotes about other people whom you don't know. Just lost in a sea of strangers whose native language is incomprehensible and exclusive to you. That's our Swamp Thing.

The other flashback recounts Swamp Thing's origin, which is only useful to the degree that it creates a connection between Arcane and Swamp Thing. Which we know it does, we've been here before.

This scene directed by guest director Andres Serrano
The result of the flashbacks is that Ann launches a plot to seduce her way into Arcane's secret lab, where she'll work on a cure for Swamp Thing's condition (i.e. plant-mandated impotence). It's an act of course, and she blows her cover by bringing a boombox in to the swamp and dancing romantically by herself for Swamp Thing because she's fallen in love with him and wants to make it as weird as possible. Literally, when she showed up with the boombox (playing Moonlight Sonata, thus the episode's massively banal title), I was all DO NOT MAKE THIS A SCENE WHERE THEY HAVE A CREEPY SO-CALLED ROMANTIC DANCE WHERE THEY DON'T TOUCH and they did it anyway so God is fake, basically, is my conclusion.

The inane, swirling gyrations of Nancy Drew, y'all.
Arcane catches all of this via binoculars, and then the Caleb brothers catch Arcane via grabbing him. Arcane gets his own back at Ann by finking her out to the Calebs and they snatch her too. I don't really gather why, but I assume they were just caught up in the moment.

The rescue of the duo depends entirely on Swamp Thing overcoming his dumb human arm, which is -- according to his own dialogue -- preventing him from "knowing what to do." This problem is theoretically solved by Swamp Thing taking a huge, novelty scalpel to his human arm. It'd be gross, but it turns out to be meat wrapping on a salad arm anyway, so he's back in the game now.

Oh yeah, and Graham is back, too.
It all wraps up with Swamp Thing using his renewed swamp powers to make the bog water bubble around the Calebs, and drowns them, and they are eaten by alligators. Way to come out of retirement, big guy.

The wrap-up involves Arcane fucking right off and Ann Fisk having a tender moment, pressed up against Swamp Thing's chest and coming away smelling like the garden center at Home Depot, I'm sure. The end.
I add this screenshot because they considered this shot important enough to spend like half a minute on it.

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