If You See Swamp Thing, Say Swamp Thing
Season Two / Episode Sixteen : Special Request
In which Tressa gets this close to rescuing her abducted son, but then gets distracted by just how hard The Grass Roots rock out.
For the stragglers out there who may not have been following these recaps all along, and for those whose memories rather rightfully have failed to keep every single plot twist and character development in the USA Network's 1990's late night television series Swamp Thing engraved on their immediate memory at all times, let me catch you up.
There used to be a character on the show named Jim Kipp, Tressa's youngest son and a sociopath in short pants who would hassle Arcane and get Swamp Thing into trouble. Arcane arranged to fake the youngster's death, which was carried out by Sheriff Andy Andrews from a plan laid out on the back of a cereal box; make it look like a car ran into Jim's bike, then throw a dead mutant from Arcane's backstock into the middle of the mess, then pour gasoline over all of it and blow it to hell. PS He forgot to put any dead anyone in the driver's seat and I'm not sure how convincing an exploding bicycle was supposed to be in the first place but, anyway, now you're up to speed.
At some point, someone evidently reminded Tressa that her son was dead or kidnapped or something, because she's now traveling the world in a mad effort to save him. Or, actually, she's hanging out in what appears to be the setting for Duran's Duran's Hungry Like A Wolf video except if it were featured on The Muppet Show.
|If you're going by Bengal Barbecue, get me some Tiger Tails, okay?|
Tressa has traveled thousands of miles and spent FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS to arrange a meeting with a mysterious Peruvian benefactor named "Mister Heee-doll-go" -- to trust Tressa's pronunciation -- who might have information about Jim's disappearance. Concerned that she's being played, Tressa promises only to wait a few weeks longer for Hee-doll-go, but then she hears a horny song on the radio and runs right back to Houma.
The song in question is "Midnight Confessions" by The Grass Roots, and please be aware that all that the producers have paid to use from that song is the part that goes from "The sound of your footsteps" and ends right before the chorus. The audience is going to hear that single snippet about fourteen times.
|She pronounces it "Hee-doll-go" and he pronounces "years" as "jeers." It's a mess.|
But it's not the song so much that it's the DJ. Tressa is hearing radio broadcasts straight from "WLBD" (World's Largest Bisexual Dad radio. Welcome Local Bollywood Devotees. Something like that), spun by Rick Swanson (Rob Richards) -- her former lover! Who's dead! And also she goes into the radio station to thoughtfully grope all the equipment and THAT WHOLE PLACE IS DEAD! The studio is overgrown with swamp life, but the electricity still works and nobody took out the equipment. I guess when Rick Swanson dies, you may as well shut down the whole station.
Fearing for her sanity and, worse yet, worrying that she might have to start caring about her missing son again, Tressa seeks solace among her old friends. Old pal Carrie (Elizabeth Fendrick) is now in charge of highway construction projects and old pal Toby (Bill Christie) is now running a construction company that does highway projects, and these guys killed Rick. I spoil because I don't care. Tressa will find out later.
|wikki wikki wikki *scratch*|
This episode is a real showcase for Carrell Myers' acting ability, and that is roundly unfortunate. Especially because the episode swings back and forth from present day to a flashback set in, I think, 1979, which means we get to watch Tressa happen in teenage years. Also, people keep asking after her son and she unflinchingly changes the subject every time. I think what I'm saying is that the writers really sabotaged this one for Myers.
That Tressa keeps hearing Rick's voice and the middle part of Midnight Confessions, while no one else hears nuffin', seems to imply a supernatural edge to the murder mystery. This gives Swamp Thing his single entree into the episode, gabbing with some stumpo he calls "The Elder of the Swamp." Turns out the Elder of the Swamp has SEEN. SOME. SHIT. and guides Swamp Thing directly to Rick Swanson's hastily buried corpse which is ... right where the new highway is gonna get laid down! Except he's literally buried about a foot deep, which means a highway construction project would dig up his corpse, rather than bury it. Anyway, Carrie and Toby not only murdered Rick but also poorly planned this entire construction project.
|Mad Men season 6 would have been a blast.|
Hell, let's not even consider that their murder plan involved waiting twenty years for Carrie to work her way up the bureaucracy of local government and Toby to found and build a construction business, and then arranging a massive project involving hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours to pave over the corpse. That's foresight! They deserve to get away with it.
In the middle of all of this, Tressa's backstory becomes even more unreliably padded. She icily receives a visit from Reverend Willeford (Charles Noel ... waitaminute, Charles--Willeford? Someone on the crew's been reading Miami Blues again), a Catholic busybody with an incomprehensible connection to Tressa in the days of her wild youth.
|Little known fact, but did you know that most people's shadows are actually Catholic priests if you look carefully enough?|
Turns out that the Rev promised Tressa's late mother that he'd keep an eye on her, especially to keep her safe from dudes like Rick Swanson. For those of you joining us late, Tressa's mother died in the pilot episode of this series, two years ago. Rick Swason appears to have been murdered some time in the late Seventies. Tressa goes through a lot of moms.
Anyway, Swamp Thing spends a bit of his increasingly precious screentime messing with Carrie and Toby, leading to more of my favorite thing about this episode -- how often Toby gets yelled at or breaks down shouting. Can't get enough.
|Lyrics to a whole different song written on this demo recording he made ... of The Grass Roots' Midnight Confessions.|
So Carrie reveals that she and Toby murdered Rick because Carrie was in love with Rick and, to be fair, rick was plowing Carrie and like fifty other women. Oh, but he loved Tressa. He was gonna marry Tressa. Everyone in the episode tells her that he clearly didn't mean it and then they really managed to sell the audience on the same conviction. The only people who insist that Rick really loved Tressa are Tressa and the ghostly voice of Rick who, what, he's gonna call her up fifteen years later from beyond the grave just to be all "Actually I didn't feel it was serious..."
The closing shot of the episode has Tressa driving out to the airport so she can get back to Peru and rescue her son who's being tortured in a work camp or something. But she hears Rick on the radio and promptly ditches her flight to go back to the radio station and yells at walls for a while. Anything to stay out of Peru.
|This ticket is all marked up like it would be at a ticket station but she's not at the airport yet.|
Rick's ghostly plan was to keep Tressa off that flight, because it went down and killed everyone. I think that guarantees a good audience for Rick's afterlife call-in request hour. I also don't like this thing where ghosts can (a) communicate with the living and (b) know when planes are going to crash, because I think they could afford to make themselves more useful.
|Oh, and this ring was a key part of the plot. I forgot.|