Constantine: Angels and Ministers of Grace Review

If Constantine’s going out, it ain’t going out with a whimper. Here's our review...

With only one episode to go in the first (and hopefully not last) season of Constantine, we got to see the angel Manny finally get the spotlight. Now, before tonight’s episode, Manny was kind of always used as a sometimes foil sometimes ally to Constantine and company. But mostly, Manny was just used as an exposition dump to give prescient warnings about the Rising Darkness. This week, Manny took on a pivotal and surprisingly human role in solving the death of a drug addict. 

Manny, thanks to some magical chicanery from Constantine, became human. The results were funny and the results were poignant. And most importantly, the results made Manny more than just a plot device in an episode that used the angelic character better than all the previous episodes combined. You see, Constantine was sick of Manny’s dire warnings followed by utter inaction so to teach his angelic pal a lesson. John made him human. Now, Manny got to be angry, frightened and horny. Yes, fans, we got to witness Manny experience angelic oral sex. Now, if that won’t save the series, nothing will. Manny also destroyed the map this week as the series jettisoned the last remnant of the pilot.

Zed also had to undergo some startling changes this week as, while Manny was experiencing the joy of human genitals, Zed had to endure another, harsher reality of biology. Zed developed a brain tumor. Now, we’re not sure if the tumor is causing the visions or the visions are causing the tumor, but the mass forced Zed to face a crossroads. Should she have the mass removed and risk losing the visions that could help so many (especially now that the blood map was conveniently destroyed) or does she keep the tumor and risk death? 

The medical drama was a big part of this week’s episode as all the action was set inside a hospital. Zed was dealing with the tumor, Manny was dealing with mortality and John was trying to solve the case of the addict’s death. And it wasn’t just any old creature of the week that killed the addict, oh, no DC fans; it was none other than DC big bad Eclipso! Or a reasonable facsimile of Eclipso.

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This Eclipso possessed a once innocent spirit, in this case an army veteran turned doctor who had a fragment of Eclipso’s Black Diamond wedged in his heart. This Eclipso killed people who turned their back on life, people who had second chance and blew it, like an addict, an alcoholic, and a smoker who already burnt his house down and killed his wife and kid after falling asleep with a lit butt in his mouth. So the shrapnel riddled doc would become possessed by Eclipso and take out these folks.

When Zed refused treatment for her tumor, Doc Eclipso saw that refusal as her pissing away a chance at life, and boom, full Eclipso. This Eclipso looked very different than the moon faced creep from the classic DC comics; this version looked very Jason Voorhees. It wasn’t a version DC fans would be used to, but it was scary in its primal rage. John took Eclipso out rather easy but there was talk of the sorcerer who created the Eclipso Diamond in ancient times, so like the Spectre, Dr. Fate, and so many other magical DC mainstays, we have had the full Eclipso teased as well. Just another reason to pray to the Dark Ones for a second season.

It’s also worth further discussing the destruction of the map. When the pilot hit, it was clear that the map and discarded character Liv Aberdine’s ability to read it was going to be the show’s story engine. When Liv got 86ed in favor of Zed, the map became extraneous. One of the show’s issues was the inconsistency of a story engine. In the past, Constantine has received his missions from Zed’s visions, from the map, from his own instincts, and from Manny. Now the map is gone and Zed became more important which made her situation with the tumor seem much direr.

In addition to Zed’s renewed importance and plight, the big take away from this week was the performance of Harold Perrineau as the now mortal Manny. Perrineau was able to pull off the most confused BJ in the history of television as he sold the heck out of Manny’s wideeyed reactions tohuman pleasure and pain as every sensation and human emotion was alien to the divine being. Now, maybe after this episode, Manny won’t be so one note moving forward. 

So Eclipso was teased, Manny took some steps forward as a character, Zed showed herself to be a true hero by willingly sacrificing her health for her visions, and Zed got stabbed in the leg and possessed by the Black Diamond. All in all, a good episode that moved some formerly flat characters forward and provided a welcome bit of DC lore to Friday night television.

If Constantine’s going out, it ain’t going out with a whimper. 

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Those Magic Moments

Eclipso first appeared in House of Secrets #61 (1963) and was created by Bob Haney and Lee Elias. After carrying his own strip for awhile, Eclipso became a recurring villain throughout the DC Universe. This was the entity’s first live action appearance. The comic Eclipso paralleled the one that debuted this week as the original Eclipso possessed well meaning but hapless scientist Bruce Gordon while TV’s Eclipso possessed a well meaning but hapless doctor. The New 52 version of Eclipso was most recently seen in Justice League Dark and was also taken down by John Constantine. 

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3.5 out of 5