Episode 1 – “Pilot”
First aired 31 May 2019.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 1: In the swamp, three men travel by boat to a spot where they have been instructed to dump some metal cases. After arriving, the boat is attacked by an unseen force and one of the men falls overboard and is dragged underwater. Plants move quickly towards the boat and another of the men is impaled. The final man (Eddie Coyle) swims to the bank.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 2: 48 hours later, a young girl (Susie Coyle) gets a nosebleed and collapses while at school.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 3: In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a woman takes off her protective suit and convinces a sick family to accompany her for treatment.
NOTES: Though not yet named, the woman is Abigail Arcane. She first appeared in Swamp Thing #3 (Feb/Mar. 1973) and is typically depicted as having white hair with black streaks. In the comics, she was introduced as a medic working in the Carpathian Mountains, where she grew up with her evil uncle Anton (who Swampy fought and defeated in the previous issue). She is portrayed by Heather Locklear in the film ‘The Return of Swamp Thing’ (1989).
EPISODE 1, SCENE 4: Later, still in the Congo, Abby talks with her colleague Harlan who informs her that there is an emergency situation in the United States and hands her a file.
NOTES: Harlan does not appear in the comics.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 5: Abby and Harlan drive through Marais, Louisiana where Abby once grew up. As they cross a bridge, Abby sees a roadside memorial. She sees a vision of two teenage girls on the bridge, and then sees one of them standing on the edge of the bridge ready to jump.
NOTES: Marais is a fictional town and is named for the French word for ‘swamp’. In the comics, Swamp Thing and Abby’s adventures take place in and around the real town of Houma, Louisiana.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 6: Abby and Harlan speak to another doctor at the hospital and learn that there are four infected people in the town. Abby introduces herself to the hospital staff and explains that she works for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Epidemic Intelligence Service. She instructs everyone to collect blood samples to help identify the disease.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 7: Abby inspects Susie in a quarantined hospital bed and notices a mucus-covered twig on the pillow next to her.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 8: Abby later shows this to another doctor and then notices a man reading Susie’s medical notes. He begins to offer some advice but security escorts him out of the hospital.
NOTES: Though not yet named, the man is Alec Holland, who first appears in Swamp Thing #1 (Oct/Nov. 1972), where he is transformed into the title character. In the 1982 ‘Swamp Thing’ film, he is portrayed by Ray Wise.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 9: Abby travels to the Coyle household to find Susie’s father, Eddie (from SCENE 1). Just after she arrives, police officer Matt Cable appears. While investigating the house, Abby notices that the houseplants have grown wild, and there are gooey vines on many of the walls. In one room, they find Alec, who is collecting a sample of the plants. Alec directs them to the adjacent bathroom where they find Eddie, who is deceased and covered in plants.
NOTES: Matt Cable also first appeared in Swamp Thing #1 (Oct/Nov. 1972), where he is a government agent hired to protect Alec and Linda Holland and their scientific research. Later, he pursues Swamp Thing around the world, believing that Swampy is responsible for the death of the Hollands. Years later he is transformed and is best known as Matthew the Raven in the Sandman comic series.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 10: Outside the Coyle house, another police officer takes a statement from Alec. Alec talks to Abby, explaining that he was hired by Avery Sunderland to collect biological samples. He says he has been noticing unusual biological processes that could be connected to the infection, and convinces Abby to visit his laboratory.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 11: Abby and Alec travel by boat to the lab.
NOTES: The lab is a house on stilts directly on top of the swamp water, and is accessed by driving a boat underneath and then climbing a ladder. In the comics, the lab of the Hollands is in a refurbished barn on solid land.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 12: Alec and Abby enter the lab and are greeted by Alec’s dog Garou. Alec says he is close to identifying a new strand of mutagen after mapping out hotspots where mutagenic activity is the strongest. He shows Abby a chemical liquid he has found in the swamp and introduces the liquid to some Spanish moss. The moss grows instantly and begins smashing through the glass case until Holland introduces a gas that causes it to wither. He believes that that the chemical material is an accelerant that affects mutagens. Abby agrees that is could be what is making people sick, and she asks for a lift back to the hospital.
NOTES: In Swamp Thing #1 (Oct/Nov. 1972), the Hollands are given a dog that has been secretly microchipped by an organisation called the Conclave. I believe the dog remains un-named and appears in several early issues.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 13: At Marais Town Hall, Mayor Riley tries to calm down townspeople who are concerned about the outbreak, and who believe that it has been caused by damaging the swamp. Avery Sunderland addresses the crowd and recounts his history in the town. He explains that his research involves exploiting the swamp’s resources to make the town prosperous again. Alec Holland and Avery’s wife Maria are also in attendance at the meeting.
NOTES: Avery Sunderland (often referred to as General Sunderland in the comics) was first visually depicted in The Saga of Swamp Thing #6 (Oct. 1982), but his infamous Corporation are behind the events of the first issues of that 1982 series. His main aim in the comics is to capture and exploit Swamp Thing for financial gain.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 14: After the meeting, Alec seeks out Avery, who apparently had already fired him. Alec explains his findings, but Avery wants him to keep it quiet so as not to cause a panic.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 15: At the hospital, Abby conducts an autopsy on Eddie Coyle, and Alec analyses a sample from the body. Alec’s interaction with the sample causes roots to burst out of Eddie on the operating table and, elsewhere, Susie wakes up gasping and pulls the medical sensors off her body. Roots attack Abby and Alec. Susie appears in the autopsy room and screams when she sees her father, then collapses. Abby picks up Susie and flees while Alec sets fire to the root creature, stopping it. Abby saves Susie by performing CPR.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 16: Later, firemen inspect the burned room while Alec and Abby talk.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 17: Abby and Alec arrive at a Delroy’s Roadhouse (a bar on the swamp) to speak with Abby’s friend, Liz. As they enter, they pass Madame Xanadu. They meet Liz Tremayne, who works in her father’s bar and is a reporter for the Marais Echo Weekly. Abby asks her for any further information about recent strange happenings, and Liz reveals that there are rumours of people being hired to go into the swamp. She explains that three fishermen, including Eddie, were heading to Skeeter Cove and the other two men haven’t been seen since. Abby is then confronted by Maria Sunderland who is unhappy that Abby is in town. Maria blames Abby for the death of her daughter Shawna, and this death later drove Maria to alcoholism and almost broke up her marriage. Maria makes Abby promise that Susie won’t die, and that she will leave when Susie is better.
NOTES: Liz Tremayne was first mentioned in The Saga of Swamp Thing #1 (May 1982) and first visually depicted in issue #3. In the comics, she is a journalist who has written a book about Swamp Thing, and later becomes his friend.
Maria Sunderland seems to be a new character, as is Shawna. In the comics, Avery Sunderland has a daughter named Connie who later takes over the company from him. In Swamp Thing #135 (Sept. 1993), Connie’s mother (Avery’s ex-wife) is introduced and killed, but she is only referred to as ‘Bubbles’. Since Nancy Collins (the creator of Bubbles) received royalties from the show, Maria may have been based on this character.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 18: Alec and Abby travel to Skeeter Cove where they find the fishermen’s destroyed boat. They also find a laptop, and a metal box that contains some chemicals and a mechanism that would have released these chemicals into the swamp.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 19: Back at the lab, Alec and Abby talk. Abby confesses that she Googled him and found that he was accused of manipulating scientific data in the past. Alec admits that he did it because he was seeking fame at the time and could not replicate the results of his study. Abby confesses that she was best friends with Shawna Sunderland but killed her. They look at the analysis of the chemical they found in the case and find that it’s a strong growth accelerant. Abby decides to see if she can turn the chemical into a cure for the infection, while Alec is going to follow GPS coordinates he found on the laptop and see if more cases have been dumped.
EPISODE 1, SCENE 20: Alec finds a buoy in the swamp and pulls it up to find another case, but he is then shot by a shadowy figure and his boat is blown up. Abby talks to Harlan on the phone and then hears the explosion and travels into the swamp. The attacker leaves and a heavily injured Alec makes his way towards the bank and is dragged underwater by the roots, which pierce his skin. Abby arrives at the wreckage of the boat and searches for Alec, but her boat is capsized by plants. She swims to the bank and finds one of the dead fisherman. She turns around to see the roots retreating, and then a human-shaped monster emerges from the swamp and she flees.
NOTES: Alec Holland’s death and transformation into Swamp Thing have been depicted many times in the comics. In House of Secrets #92 (June/July 1971), Alex Olsen was killed by a rival who sabotages Alex’s lab. When this story was expanded into a continuing series, the character of Alex was replaced by Alec Holland and, in Swamp Thing #1 (Oct/Nov. 1972), Alec was killed in the same manner by a group called the Conclave. After the ‘New 52’ reboot of the character, the story was changed so that Abigail’s uncle Anton caused the explosion (see Swamp Thing #0, Nov. 2012). In each case, and in the 1982 film, Holland is shown running in flames out of the lab and into the swamp, but this episode doesn’t show Holland on fire. The Swamp Thing creature was portrayed by Dick Durock in both of the feature films, and in the live-action TV series that ran from 1990-1993.