SWARM on Prime Video is a new series with seven half-hour episodes. And make no mistake, this is a serial killer story. A wild and violent ride with a breathtaking and brutal performance by Dominique Fishback in the all-important lead role. Read our full Swarm series review here!
SWARM is a new Prime Video series about a young woman obsessed with a pop star and unable to really fit in anywhere. It might be labeled as drama and comedy on IMDb, but make no mistake, this is a serial killer story. It’s a wild, violent, and very bloody story.
There are seven half-hour episodes in this series, and it is very binge-worthy. The meta layers are one thing (and a thing that I definitely enjoy), while the serial killer story is another. And yet, all of this is overshadowed by the brilliant and breathtaking performance by Dominique Fishback. She is the absolute star of this series!
Continue reading our full Swarm series review below. You can find the series on Prime Video from March 17, 2023.
Holding on to obsession
The story in Swarm plays out between 2016 and 2018. Every episode begins by telling us when and where the next chapter of the story plays out. We follow Dre (Dominique Fishback), who is an obsessed fan of the world’s biggest pop star. Not only is she a very intense fan, but she’s also someone who has been dealt a rather bad hand in life.
Furthermore, she’s a person who clearly has mental issues that she needs help with. But – as it’s too often the case – she doesn’t get help. In Swarm, this directly results in her setting off on an unexpected murder spree cross-country. At first, she sets out to kill certain individuals. But if someone gets in her way, they could easily get thrown under the proverbial bus, as well.
Dre had one thing – aside from her Queen, the pop star Ni’Jah – holding her up in life. That was her sister, Marissa (Chloe Bailey), so when she loses her, she loses everything that held her tethered to something resembling a normal life. Whatever that is. In this case, a life where you don’t go around killing people.
So very meta that it’s virtually a spoof
Yes, the pop star in Swarm is very clearly based on Beyoncé. Just like the Swarm refers to Beyhive. The spoof includes so many details, covering her no-good-husband who cheats, has his own music career, surprise-released album, and generally over-priced concert tickets. The kind that any normal person can’t afford, so the hardcore fans forego paying rent to buy them.
The spoof even includes surveillance video from an infamous fight in an elevator between the married couple. The number of children (including twins), a sister who also sings, and a lot of familiar imagery from outfits to dance moves and even songs and lyrics that feel like they could belong to Beyoncé and not Ni’jah.
This is a very interesting meta layer (one of several, I might add), and all of these meta elements do include elements of dark humor. What works the best for me, is always the portrayal of the main character, which Dominque Fishback simply nails.
Dominque Fishback shines – as do the many cameos
I cannot praise Dominique Fishback enough for her performance in Swarm. It is scary, sad, funny, brutal, and just so very intense. Also, she isn’t just one person in this. On her new path as a serial killer, Dre changes her name, look, and personality (though only to a point) to match whatever situation, she’s in.
Dre, as portrayed by Dominique Fishback, could’ve been the most amazing spy or assassin. Though you could argue that this is exactly what she is at several times in Swarm.
And then there are the many, many cameos. Obviously, they are playing supporting roles and are guest stars, but a short stint in 30-minute episodes feels more like a cameo. Brilliant ones, though!
The many guest stars in Swarm
In episode 1, there are Damson Idris and Rory Culkin, who are both brilliant. But, also, I’ll never look at a bowl of strawberries the same way again thanks to Rory Culkin. Oh, you’ll see why! Episode 2 has Paris Jackson, who was really awesome, among several others you’ll get to enjoy.
Byron Bowers becomes the key character for Dre in episode 3. However, the big final moment of the episode is yet another obvious Beyoncé-related incident reference. That particular real-life moment involved someone you’ll recognize from Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone reboot.
For horror fans, it may also seem familiar due to what happened to Norman Reedus during a The Walking Dead fan event. And that’s all I’ll say about that to stay away from direct spoilers.
And then in episode 4, things switch up a bit again (this happens in virtually every episode), when the meta layer isn’t focused on Beyoncé and toxic fandom. Instead, episode 4 of Swarm seems to be about the NXIVM cult – complete with physically branding people and “paying” with secrets. None other than Billie Eilish is leading the group and is perfect in this role!
For me, episode 5 was truly heartbreaking in many ways, but it’s also one where you have to read between the lines a lot. However, then comes episode 6 of Swarm which is another meta-angle.
That one plays out as a true crime documentary titled “Fallin’ Through the Cracks” about the events we’ve witnessed so far. Also adding a bit of context to Dre’s life before episode 1. Episode 6 even ends with Donald Glover being interviewed on a red carpet and saying that he’s developing a series about this true crime.
The ending of Swarm on Prime Video
And then, finally, comes episode 7, which shows yet another side of Dre. The primary guest star is Kiersey Clemons and you almost feel like Dre’s story could end on a better note. A happier and more positive note, where people give her a chance and Dre gives other people a chance.
However, the episode title is “Only God Makes Happy Ending” which is shown at the end of the episode instead of the beginning. People will probably dislike the rather abrupt ending of Swarm. There is a lot to analyze and process, as we’ve been given hints throughout all seven episodes.
I still feel like it isn’t a complete story. Like I’m missing out on really getting to know what made Dre the person she became. On the other hand, I also feel like this is the point with the ending of Swarm being made this way. Personally, I feel like episodes 6 and 7 should’ve been shown in reverse order to close the series better.
Watch Swarm on Prime Video
The Swarm series was co-created by and executive produced by Janine Nabers and Donald Glover. Janine Nabers is also the showrunner of the Amazon Studios series. I can imagine Beyoncé fans will dislike it for the obvious reason that this does not paint her in a very flattering light. I wouldn’t either. Then again, it does just state well-known facts about a pop star.
Also, there are many other meta layers (such as the NXIVM and world of cults story), so this isn’t all about toxic fan culture. It’s also about other obsessive and hurtful things people create and does to one another.
Regardless of your feeling about both Beyoncé and fan culture, the amazing performance by Dominique Fishback is more than enough reason to check out Swarm on Prime Video. Actually, the entire production and story is enough reason, even if I wasn’t thrilled with the ending.
Swarm is an Amazon Studios series and it premieres on Prime Video on March 17, 2023.
Showrunner: Janine Nabers
Writer: Janine Nabers
Cast: Dominique Fishback, Chloë Bailey, Damson Idris
From co-creators and executive producers Janine Nabers and Donald Glover, Swarm, set between 2016-2018, follows Dre (Dominique Fishback), an obsessed fan of the world’s biggest pop star who sets off on an unexpected cross-country journey.