Please Keep In Mind That This Article Contains Potential Spoilers For “Drive All Night” and Events That Occurred Prior
That…well that was really good. Let’s start with what impressed me the most: the haunting of Shawna Sunderland. Now, when she first started popping up, I thought that she was no more than mere hallucinations by a grieving mother. But the show took that slow build-up in the previous episodes and paid it in full. We had a full on possession to deal with, and it was fantastic. I legitimately got chills during the scene in Susie’s bedroom—it was all done incredibly well. Furthermore, the whole situation allowed for exploration into the trauma that makes Abbey who she is today. So it was great to see all of that play out, and know (almost) exactly what happened on that tragic day.
Clearly all of this weighed heavily on those involved. With Shawna back stirring things up, Abbey and Maria were at each other’s throats—culminating into an emotional brawl in the swamp. Both Crystal Reed and Virginia Madsen were both excellent in their performances as they dealt with the resurfacing trauma in different ways. While Abbey did her best to fight Shawna’s influences, Maria didn’t fare so well. She has been so broken down by grief that she fell into Shawna’s arms. This gave way to some truly uneasy and eerie scenes that felt right at home.
Another fantastic part of the episode? The visit by the Phantom Stranger. His sudden arrival was eerie as hell, but the dynamic between the two was great and nuanced. Macon Blair did a really good job with the mysterious yet informative air around the him. When it came to Alec Holland, the show seemed to hear my concerns from last week. He seems much more like the former Alec Holland than before—which is very much a good thing. It makes the transition more believable, and allows us to form a better connection to what he’s going through. It was neat hearing The Green be mentioned by name as Alec began to learn about the forces at play around him.
I really liked how this episode gave just enough important screen time to several different secondary characters—and in doing so made their struggles and journeys feel more important. We got to see Liz go toe-to-toe with not only Avery, but also handling herself masterfully against his hired goons. Clearly Liz is a threat to Avery, and a very serious one at that. Avery himself tried desperately to show his upper hand, and by the end of the episode learned that there was a mysterious creature out there that may hold some very important answers for him. That all being said, the man still has time for other things. Namely, the Sheriff herself.
I do feel that their whole affair seems to have come out of nowhere, it makes sense for Avery to be in that possession. Solely for the social reach and power that it gives him. The Sheriff wasn’t left out of the eventful episode though. We got to learn just how far she was willing to go in order to protect her son—and boy was her execution fast, brutal, and swift. Her instincts kicking in was another example within this episode of previous smaller moments receiving their weighty payoff.
Even Daniel got some intriguing screen time—a character who up until this point has been rather dull and forgettable. We learned a little more about his deal at the crossroads, and just what it means that he’s stuck in the town of Marquis. He’s still got a way to go in order to become a highlight of the show, but this is a start. Then there was Mr. Woodrue, who continued to obsess over Abbey’s finding—which ended in success on his part. His motivations clearly are rooted in his wife’s ailments, so I hope we learn more about that soon.
“Drive All Night” was an excellent installment of the show, and really improved upon what has been set-up and introduced in the first four episodes. Not only did we get some real development and movement from plots like Shawna’s haunting, but we got some really intriguing hints at what’s to come. The show even provided some of its best horror inspired moments yet, and made some of its potentially forgettable side characters get more substance. All around, it was a great halfway point for the show, and I can’t wait to see what’s around the next corner.
You can catch new episodes of Swamp Thing when they air on DC Universe streaming network every Friday.