Donald Glover is well known at this point for his incredible work in multiple creative fields, including stand-up comedy, acting, writing, and even performing genre-bending music under the alias Childish Gambino. Last year, the highly talented multi-hyphenate released his latest hit series, Swarm, on Amazon Prime Video, which features singer-songwriter Billie Eilish in her screen acting debut, according to IMDb.
Donald Glover stays behind the camera for Swarm, but his casting of Billie Eilish as a cult leader was a stroke of genius.
Swarm is a surrealist horror thriller with elements of black comedy co-created for television by Donald Glover and Janine Nabers, who is best known for her work as a producer on HBO’s Watchmen.
The mini-series stars Judas and the Black Messiah‘s Dominique Fishback as Andrea “Dre” Greene, a young woman whose unhealthy obsession with a famed pop star grows into an unshakable blood lust, sending her on a murderous rampage across the country. Though the series’ brief seven-episode run contains many incredible moments, Billie Eilish’s performance in Episode 4 is widely regarded as a series high-point.
Episode 4 of the Donald Glover written series, “Running Scared,” centers on Dre as she attempts to sneak into the Bonnaroo music festival to see the pop star Ni’Jah, who is the center of Dre’s obsession.
By now, fans have seen Dre brutally and methodically murder multiple targets in a ritualistic fashion, causing audiences to grip their seat in terror as she gets closer and closer to meeting Ni’Jah in person. Before she can make it into the festival, however, Dre is coerced into spending the night with a female empowerment group led by Billie Eilish’s Eva.
Now that Donald Glover and Billie Elish have worked on a series together, might a song be in their future?
Donald Glover had previously explored creepy atmospheric horror in his FX series Atlanta, but never quite to this extent. After ingratiating Dre into the empowerment group, Billie Eilish’s charismatic leader begins to slowly strip down the mental and emotional walls Dre has built to shield herself from the dangers of the outside world and refuse to come to terms with her own tragic upbringing.
Before long, Dre begins to realize that a cult has entrapped her and that Eva’s so-called counseling sessions are simply a method of brainwashing to prevent Dre from attempting to escape.
The episode, which was written by Donald Glover’s brother and frequent collaborator, Stephen Glover, ends in a thrilling and horrifying chase, which sees Dre desperately trying to leave the compound and eventually crashing her car into Billie Eilish’s body, killing Eva immediately on impact. The girls who inhabit the cult then launch into a frenzy, latching onto the car and doing everything they can to prevent Dre’s escape, to no avail.
In addition to Billie Eilish, Donald Glover was able to get Malia Obama, former President Obama’s daughter, to write the fifth episode of Swarm.
Though Donald Glover and Billie Eilish have yet to collaborate with one another in a musical capacity, the episode is a triumph to the talents of both massive stars and a testament to the crossover effect many creative and talented people exhibit.
Swarm also touts a number of big names throughout the brief run, including former first daughter of the United States Malia Obama, who worked as a staff writer on the series, penning the fifth episode. Though the critically underrated series seems to have come and gone without making a major cultural impact, fans of Atlanta should absolutely be sure to stream Swarm on Amazon Prime Video.