This review contains spoilers.
1.9 The Saint Of Last Resorts (Part 2)
After a six-week break, Constantine jumps right back into action with a fast-paced episode in which our heroes race against the clock to save Constantine from permanent demonic possession. The episode is simpler than the last, with less lore and less gadgets but plenty of drama. That makes for a smoother and more entertaining, if not particularly challenging, offering.
We last left Constantine bleeding in a sewer, shot by Anne-Marie and left to distract the approaching Invunche while she escapes with a baby. Constantine saves himself by allowing the demon Pazuzu to possess him. He must get rid of the demon before it takes over his body, forcing his soul into hell and brining famine and other disasters to the world. Chas, Zed, and eventually Anne-Marie all join the struggle; Manny gets pissed at John and refuses to help.
Matt Ryan is a true artist when it comes to growling, convulsing, and foaming at the mouth. Equally fabulous are the moments when he is free of the demon’s influence and facing his impending descent into hell. Mortal peril brings the typically cocky Constantine’s flaws and weaknesses to the forefront, and that’s when he becomes not just an entertainer but something far more complex and real. I was reminded a bit of the terminally ill Constantine we see in the “Dangerous Habits” Hellblazer arc (which, sadly, I don’t think we will ever get to see on this show).
In the end, Anne-Marie is the hero of the week. As a person of faith, she is the one with the power to exorcise the demon. During the exorcism, the demon makes vehement verbal attacks on Constantine’s friends. Chas lost his family; Zed, aka “Mary,” is a runaway who will eventually return to her dreaded father; and Anne-Marie is guilt-ridden over Newcastle. Anne-Marie must forgive herself before she can gain the strength to exorcise the demon. It’s a nice climax, drawing on both literal and personal demons to create suspense.
Throughout the episode, the audience is repeatedly reminded of the Rising Darkness, presumably in preparation for the finale coming in four weeks. It feels a bit like we’re being knocked over the head with it, perhaps because it’s not terribly interesting. The “demonic powers will overrun the world” storyline has been done a thousand times before, and better. It’s a grand threat, but I’d prefer to focus on personal losses that may be incurred by Constantine and his friends, rather than on some threat to humanity as an abstraction.
Ratings dropped by two tenths this week, but that may be due in part to the show’s poorly publicized time change. It moved two hours earlier to what is considered a better slot. NBC still isn’t talking about the future of the show, but there’s a lot of speculation about cancellation going around.
Next week, Chas’ daughter is endangered by supernatural forces, and Chas and Constantine clash over how to save her. It’s a non-Hellblazer story again, and I’ve yet to find a satisfying answer to the question of why they aren’t putting more use to their incredible source material. Still, Constantine continues to be entertaining and has undergone significant improvement over time, so here’s hoping it sticks around.
In weirder news, DC has released a fourth wall-breaking noir Constantine webisode (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjw4Goo8i-4)…done in claymation. Give it a look while you wait for next Friday.
Follow our Twitter feed for faster news and bad jokes right here. And be our Facebook chum here.