Warning: Spoiler Alert
Tonight, we pick up in the middle of “The Saint of Last Resorts” two-part episode. Last time we were here talking Constantine, John had been shot as a sacrifice allowing this once so-called friend turned nun to shoot him in the stomach. We pick up with her apologizing to Chas and running away.
John is in the process of bleeding out with no one to help except the Priest style vampire demon who seems to have the scent of John’s blood. John raises an amulet and begins an incantation. The creature attacks John’s leg, but John is able to fight it off. Now the amulet is glowing red. He presses it to forearm. John reels in pain, then suddenly his eyes go red. He stares down this creature, and like an alpha dog, establishes his dominance. Or the demon inside him did.
Manny appears spouting off bible verses in typical Manny condescension. John invited a demon into his ‘meat-suit’ as a last-ditch effort to heal his ‘meat-suit’ so that he might not die. Manny’s problem is that he chose in his final moments to reach out to a demon and not someone on the other team. While that makes sense, it’s not like the angelic side has helped when John has called in the past. Manny does give credit to John finding the source of the rising darkness, but cannot get past John’s chosen method of self-preservation.
Manny: It’s not that I can’t help you John, I won’t.
Zed wakes up in the back of a van with no back seats. The driver goes on about how pleased her father will be that she still has visions. Zed is able to eventually free herself, subdue the driver and steal his van.
Chas comes down into the sewer to retrieve John. After a little small talk, John shows Chas the brand on his forearm. Chas understands immediately. The first step in demonic possession, he explains, is healing the host. As John sees it, he should have a few days before his body is completely possessed. Then he makes the mistake of laying out his plan or “gamble” to Chas. If it gets too far along, John will attempt a self exorcism. The demon did not like that in the least. John turns to keep walking and stops dead in this tracks. He’s even drooling as if he were comatose. The demon inside has a message.
The Demon inside of John: I WILL NOT BE CAST OUT!
John ran off like he really had somewhere to be. Chas calls Zed and gets her up to speed. John wakes up on the ground, his chest stained with blood. He stands up and looks around. It’s a five person massacre. Torn off limbs, blood, and even an arm holding a gun far from its body. The scene is surrounded by cops. John is instantly detained by Mexican cops. In jail, he is met by a representative of the British Consulate. John wants out, Consulate cannot make that happen just yet, and John flips on him.
Zed arrives in town and Chas fills her in. The nun was able to spirit walk her way to John’s location previously and Zed thinks she should do it again. Chas informs her that the nun is the one that shot him. Zed doesn’t seem deterred.
In the prison yard, John notices an average sized man selling cigarettes like the “Red” of the prison. That’s a Shawshank Redemption reference if you were wondering. Here’s the funny part, the inmate peddling his goods is none other than Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite. His name is Julio not Pedro. They turn the corner down an alley between buildings and Manny has taken Julio’s place.
John (holding a cigarette): You gotta light?
Manny: Those things will kill you.
John: I thought you washed your hands of me?
Manny: I’ve got to admit, I never thought you’d do anything THIS stupid.
John: I’m John Constantine, I do stupid in spades.
The important part to take from this scene is the witty wordplay from John (i.e. “you cloud huggers”) and that these two basically did the verbal equivalent of ‘hugging it out’. John is not worried about his fate in hell, but still has work to do. Which apparently is good enough for Manny.
Chas opens the doors to the church where Anne Marie praying. She speaks to Chas without turning around. And she speaks with a slight tone of pride in her voice until Chas relays the information that ‘John isn’t dead’. The name of Bazuzu (the demon in question) sends her into another condescending tone. Bazuzu is not just a demon, he’s demon king. Then she utters the word selfish under her breath. Cue Zed.
Anne Marie: They know right from wrong. We all serve a higher power, but John…
Zed: John speaks to an angel.
Anne Marie: What did you say?
Zed: You kneel here night after night, hoping against hope that heaven hears your words. Well guess what? John has heaven on speed dial. Someone up there thinks he’s worth a damn and now he’s dying because of you.
We find the British Consulate guy in a strange office. He gives the pale man what information he has. A folder and the assurance that John will not be leaving the prison anytime soon. The pale man refers to John as an impediment in the inevitable path of the rising darkness. He then assaults the man. His jaw seems to break so that it could expand to eat the man. Like a large snake before feeding. Or for our Supernatural faithful, just like the Leviathans. Matter of fact, I’m going to stop calling it the Brucareu and start calling it the Leviathans until the prove to be otherwise.
In what barely passes as a prison chapel, John looks for something, we assume to begin the self exorcism. Then the door opens. John turns slowly to discover three gang members. Of the same gang that attacked John the night before. Gang members attack a possessed man, possessed man eliminates all five gang members, and gang members in prison feel they can exact revenge. One of the worst thought processes that actually exists in real life. Which is right about the time Julio (Pedro) runs off.
John warns the trio that he is hosting a monster that doesn’t take kindly to threats. Also warns them that if they poke it they will suffer the same fate as their fallen brothers. Yet they persist. As the demon takes over, you can hear John’s voice say, “you are setting it loose”. Then a shot of the front of the door as a pool of blood emerges from under the door.
John wakes up back in the yard. Surrounded by everyone. He stands up then demands to see Julio. The convicts in the yard part like the Red Sea. John makes a b-line for Julio.
Julio: I had to. It’s the only way to stay alive. They run this place.
(John lets him go and turns to face everyone else)
John (yelling in a deep tone): NOW I RUN THIS PLACE!
While John demands Julio’s loyalty, Anne Marie’s image appears. She is condescending as usual. Takes a shot at Zed. And believes John is pulling another con when he says he will be ready to pay for his sins if he can’t get the demon out.
Chas and Zed arrive at the prison. She notices a line of women getting in. Then starts to ‘modify her attire’. Loses a couple of layers, bra included. She plays the part (better than any of the other women in line) and gets through with only a little bribery for the guard. Chas attempts to get in behind her, but his Spanish is bad. He eventually slugs the guard.
Julio informs John that his conjugal visit has arrived. John enters a room to find Zed. He is in full “my fight” when Anne Marie walks in announcing that it is “their fight”. Then when John goes to change his clothes, Anne Marie strongly suggests to Zed that she run if they get out of this alive. Completely turn on John and never look back.
In what must have been a gym Zed, Anne Marie and Chas strap John to a weight lifting bench. Shackling him to the bench press bar like a crucifix. Anne Marie says a prayer and spreads holy water on the foreheads of Chas and Zed while a hand-held recorder recites a foreign incantation. The splash of holy water on John, does nothing. Then a body is flung down the hallway. Enter the Leviathan from before (the pale man).
As it turns out, this Leviathan is the original ‘tempter’. When the bible speaks of a serpent that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, this is the serpent they are referring to. Or so the Constantine lore would have us believe. Which probably means the Brucareu and Leviathans are not one in the same. The Pale Man is there to end John’s life, but notices the mark of the demon. John demands they stab him before the demon completely takes over. Instead Anne Marie spins and stabs the Leviathan in the back.
John and Chas wake up in the prison infirmary. A new plan is needed. Anne Marie looks for a sedative to slow the demon’s progress. John claims, “right idea, wrong dosage”. He then instructs Chas to locate a man named Julio.
Chas and Julio return. Upon hearing that it was for John, all the prisoners came off their stash. John plans to shoot heroin to subdue the demon. The theory is that the demon needs his body alive.
Anne Marie: And if you’re wrong?
John: Well, then I’ll go out riding the world’s greatest high. With my first love at my side. There are worse ways to meet your maker, eh.
The heroin’s effect is two-fold. The high will slow down the demon. And the amount he’s on will make him in no uncertain terms, seem dead. Thus, easy to smuggle out. That is until they realize the guard at the gate is the same guy that Chas punched earlier. So using her spirit walking ability, Anne Marie projects an image of herself across the street. Wearing only ‘some’ underwear as a distraction. “Hello Anne Marie.” -Chas.
Safely out of the Mexican prison system and in the Lake house, John begins to wake. “It has to be you” he said to Anne. The demon inside him is too strong to be scared off by a recording of his host’s voice. Despite Anne Marie’s novice experience level, she has seen the evidence of a heaven and a hell. More specifically what went down in New Castle.
This is where the exorcism is done. 20 seconds in and I knew that there would be no earthly way for me to convey the artistry of this scene. I’ll say this. This particular exorcism not only puts to shame the two performed by Keanu Reeves in the theatrical version, but also makes that of the Exorcist movie look like a stroll down Sesame Street.
Anne Marie without question looks as if this is way over her pay grade. She is ready to give up when Zed steps in. Zed tells her amidst the chaos in the room of a vision. Anne Marie must forgive herself for what’s happened in the past before she can see clearly to save John. And just like that, Anne Marie jumps back into the fold. She expels the demon in short order. The mark and the demon are gone. Then Manny appears on the catwalk above John. A simple glance is all that is required.
As Anne Marie prepares to depart for Mexico, she suggests to Zed that she come clean to John about her past. At the 57 minute mark I’m not holding my breath that we’ll even scratch that surface. Then there is a rare and honest moment from John. He makes a very sincere apology to Anne Marie for what her put her through. She disarms the moment by suggesting that John Constantine doesn’t do sorry.
Left with our main three (John, Chas and Zed) John gives the hard sell on what’s around the corner. This exorcism and what they faced in Mexico is just the beginning.
Editorial Note: The moment previously mentioned is a bit of a big deal for fans of this show. During what is loosely referred to as the “Winter” or “Holiday Hiatus” we all discovered the unnerving news that NBC had halted production on Constantine. Anyone who follows this sort of thing closely or has ever worked in the broadcast industry know all too well that a hiatus or halt in production is generally the nail in the coffin for a show. During that time and even a little beforehand a movement was started on twitter using the hashtag #saveconstantine. A hashtag I myself have used repeatedly in my own social media circles. I don’t know for sure if continuing production and moving Constantine up in time slots is the assurance we may have hoped for. I will continue to drop the hashtag #saveconstantine until I am certain that NBC knows what the rest of us already do.
This is an incredible show, especially considering the television landscape. It started off lousy, circled the wagons and righted the ship. So much so that by the introduction of Papa Midnite, this onlooker was absolutely sold on this show’s ability to make a long run. The problem that occurs with network television is that networks get in their own way. A really great story needs time to be told. And anyone who has affection for the fantasy genre not to mention comic book subject matter understand how that works.
We are now in the DVR era. The old way of measuring ratings is antiquated and needs to be revised. We now have services like Netflix and Hulu that allow a viewer the opportunity to wait until a show has run its course and then binge watch it. I don’t know a single person in my life that watches television live, unless its to write for this website. The technology is making our television experience more convenient. Networks need to understand that the instant gratification they are used to is slowly but surely fading away. Quality television is still quality television. Whether we’re talking about Firefly or Studio 60, there are great shows that got cancelled prematurely due to the impatience of big business networks. Do not let Constantine be the next Firefly.
The only real saving grace at this point can be found within tonight’s episode. Whether it was the intention of halt in production or not, there seems to be a quality, an aspect in tonight’s episode that wasn’t there even as recently as “Saint of Last Resorts part one”. Without changing anything in the way the show is presented, there is a new edge to the dialogue. I could be barking up the wrong tree, but it feels like new attention has been given to the writing of the show. The overall writing in the way the show is presented was always good, but this is something different. Not the nuts and bolts of the writing, but in the nuanced dialogue.
In addition to that, the last lines of this episode speak to me. If the long-term viability of this show in NBC’s eyes is still in question, why have those last lines from John? “If either of you are sticking around for the ride, you better buckle up. What we turned out in Mexico is just the start.” Now that may not mean much to someone else, but if I were trying to stake the claim that Constantine has the support of its network, that’s how I would do it. The first 45 minutes of this episode could have served as the series’ short lived conclusion. By saying that all of this was just the beginning, it insinuates that the first 9 episodes serve more as an origin story than ‘the story’. If it were to take off from here, advance the narrative and add layers, they could be setting this show up for a significant run. Which they absolutely should be doing. Constantine is at worst the 3rd best scripted show on NBC. This show has earned the full weight and support of its network. It’s about time NBC understood that.