Original Air Date: March 7, 1974
Written By: Ian Martin
Starring: Jack Grimes, Joan Loring, Leon Janney, Robert Dryden, Ian Martin
A "Creature from the Black Lagoon," type story, narratively as murky as a swamp and with an "I Hate the South" kind of vibe.
Larry Drake is a horribly disfigured fish and game warden who lives far from the rest of humanity in a swamp called the Devil's Cauldron (oooo! spooky!). He was burned in a car accident that happened a few days before he was to marry his sweetheart Barbara Jane, whom everyone said was so beautiful, she was going to be the next Miss America (which is just what hicks in Alabama would say about anyone with straight teeth). Ol' Lar was a bit drunk at the time, so the accident was pretty much all his fault, and dear old Barb died, so he's doing penance by sequestering himself from the rest of society.
Larry, while on his usual fish-and-game-warden-walkabout, happens upon a woman who is drowning in quicksand and pulls her out, despite her insistence that she's not worth saving. He takes her back to his cabin to recover, discovers that her name is Yudinay (a takeoff of a mythological elemental spirit). He also finds out that she has a hacking cough, can't stand being left alone, drinks fetid swamp water and smears swamp mud all over herself to relax, and is needy up the ying-yang, constantly telling Larry not to leave her, and that the "Swamp Man" wants to find her and hurt her.
The rest of the piece basically involves Larry ping-ponging back and forth between falling in love with Yudinay (because, after all, what's not to like about a swamp-swilling, mud-covered bottomless pit of need? It's been a while for Larry, is all I'll say), trying to protect her from "The Swamp Man", and reconnecting with humanity in his attempts to lure a doctor out to the swamp to look at her. In his trips to town, he runs into . . . Bubba. Yes, Bubba. That's the "I hate the south" thing. Bubba was apparently Barbara Jane's brother and, to put it mildly, still hasn't quite gotten over Larry's role in her demise.
Back at the cabin, Yudinay continues to moan and beg Larry for swamp water and to not leave her, when they both hear "the Swamp Man" coming. Larry runs out and shoots at the sound, only to find that he's killed . . . Bubba. Who was there trying to put a scare into Larry, because that's what you do in the South when you're an adult with no job and ample free time. Bubba goes to meet his maker, which makes Larry kind of seem like the Angel of Death in that family. One of Bubba's bubbas manages to escape and come back to tell the sherriff, and a bunch of the menfolk ride(?) out to the swamp to find out what's going on with Larry.
The ending doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Yudinay is feverish, but has a temperature of 60 and blood pressure of 60/20, and is rapidly getting worse. So she . . . does . . . something to Larry, puts mud on him or something and then disappears back into the swamp, muttering that "He" will never let she and Larry be together, and what a small price it is for a soul and so forth. When Larry comes to, he finds that all his scarring is gone, and he heads out to find(?) Yudinay or drown in quicksand, or something. When the menfolk from the village come around, they see a body that looks like a manatee slipping under the surface of the swamp.
So, I guess, it seems like Yudinay was the "creature from the sea"? And she took Larry's soul by getting him to fall in love with her? And turned Larry into a manatee? None of it is all that clear, unfortunately.