This review contains spoilers.
1.13 Waiting For The Man
The Constantine team must have been optimistic about getting its back nine episodes picked up, because Waiting For The Man has few of the trappings of a finale. It does bring two major players, Papa Midnite and Jim Corrigan, back on the scene, and it moves the show’s overarching plot forward a bit more than your average episode. But at its core this is another monster-of-the-week offering, without the high drama that gives a finale its… well, finality. This flaw has more to do with the business of making a TV show than it does with the artistic side of things. But it’s a shame, because this could be Constantine’s last episode.
There’s a lot going on this week, and the episode struggles to pack it all into a coherent story. The monster of the week is actually a human—a Satanist called “The Man,” who murders young girls to be his brides. The case is brought to Constantine’s attention by Detective Jim Corrigan, who last appeared in episode 5, Danse Voudou. Zed is in a moral quandary over whether to tell Jim that she keeps seeing visions of him dead (the wisps of glowing green billowing around him don’t seem to bother her, though). Comic fans can guess where this story is going, but for now, we’re still just getting hints.
Meanwhile, someone in hell has put a price on Constantine’s head. News of this is brought to Constantine by a corpse reanimated by the spirit of Gary Lester. This paltry messenger role offers no hint of the trauma and guilt associated with Gary’s death. It’s an inappropriate use of a character who has come to carry a lot of emotional weight.
Papa Midnite takes on the bounty on Constantine, hoping to rescue his sister’s soul from hell. Pape Midnite was an interestingly ambivalent character in episode 5, but this time he’s played straight. He wants to save his sister and will sacrifice Constantine to that end. But Papa Midnite spends most of the episode as a danger lurking in the background, and when he does come forward, he is quickly defeated. It’s arguable whether he’s needed in the episode at all.
The Satanist storyline, though it doesn’t carry lasting stakes for Constantine and co., does have some great creepy moments. The imagery is particularly strong in this episode: dozens of strings of flypaper hanging from the ceiling, corpses branded and pinned to walls, rooms swathed in a sickly haze. The Man and the three girls who claim to be his wives are all wonderfully creepy. Vesta, the living girl who Constantine and co. are trying to rescue, does a fine job acting, but her story is marred by disbelief. Vesta appears to have a stable home; yes, some minor issues are mentioned, but not enough to justify her deciding to go off with three creepy girls to marry an old man in a bloody, fly-infested house. This might happen to a girl who was mentally ill or desperate to escape her home, but I don’t see anything in Vesta’s life to justify her actions. She just comes off as a giant idiot.
Zed manages to hold on to the interest and empathy she built up last week. If there’s a future for this show, it seems her character is about to really bloom. In the end, Constantine spots Jim kissing Zed, and Manny calls him out for being jealous. It’s the first direct mention of the romantic relationship between Constantine and Zed that has been hinted for a while now. The two do seem to be building up a bit of chemistry, but they aren’t at the point where they would make a believable couple quite yet, so holding off is a good course of action.
Manny is back to his old “occasionally pops in to say something cryptic” mode up until the end of the episode, when he frees Papa Midnite from police custody and announces that the Brujería work for him. Does that mean he’s a bad guy? Maybe, but there seems to be more to the story.
There’s a lot more to this story, in fact, but we’ve yet to see whether Constantine will stick around long enough to tell it. If not, we still have a lot to thank this show for. We got to see an excellent John Constantine played by the talented Matt Ryan. We got a Hellblazer screen adaptation that was, in some ways at least, more faithful to its source material than the 2005 film. We got a TV show that gave lots of press to a brilliant comic character, bringing in new readership to Hellblazer. Though by no means perfect, Constantine has been a fun watch and an excellent conversation piece. Constantine has outsmarted death, damnation, and the Devil himself. Here’s hoping he can con his way out of the clutches of cancellation.
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