Warning: Spoiler Alert
College aged kids conducting a séance, not going to end well. This particular ritual transports each member of this group to a different location. One of which is met by someone not of their group, begging to be hidden while a middle-aged man who is only visible in mirrors stalks one of the ladies involved. A blond lady screams and it snaps everyone out of the trans.
Constantine drinks alone in the mill house. Directly across from him is an enchanted mirror that shows a familiar face, not his own reflection. The person in the mirror is that of Gary Lester. One of those from Newcastle who never got back completely and a person John convinced to sacrifice himself for the greater good.
John (to Gary): Here’s to you old son. Never a dull moment, huh? If I was you, I wouldn’t have much to say to me either.
Ritchie Simpson (Jeremy Davies-best known for his role of Dickie Bennett on Justified) is a former friend and a significant member of the Newcastle crew. Ritchie is a college professor, and a pretty bad one, at a local college. Some students draw back the blinds when his presentation suffer technical difficulties. Setting up nicely, John’s opportunity to ask a question he doesn’t need the answer to. Based on Ritchie’s answer to John’s question, he is displeased with John’s presence.
Carter, one of the kids from the séance, gazes to his right revealing the man in the mirrors from the night before. Carter instantly finds himself somewhere darker and indoors compared to his stroll through campus. In this dark place, the mystery man throws a plastic bag over his head and suffocates Carter. Next shot is of Carter dead lying on a campus walkway. Cause of death? He stopped breathing.
John’s presence near Ritchie is a direct violation of a deal they made earlier. John is able to use the death of Gary to paint the picture that something is “circling” Ritchie and John will not sit by and wait for it to attack. Adam, another kid from the séance, calls Ritchie interrupting the Ritchie/John conversation. They are wheeling out Carter. Adam needs to get out of office hours, assumption is he’s a T.A. A request that Ritchie immediately grants. Adam’s girlfriend opens a locker-like door and in the reflection of the mirror sees that same man again and screams.
John and Ritchie make an appearance at the candle light vigil for Carter. John has some questions for Adam’s girlfriend and Ritchie plays along. The girlfriend gives up the location, but not much else. Ritchie just wants John to get what he needs and leave. John turns and looks at Ritchie before insinuating that the girlfriend and Ritchie are both hiding something.
Manny makes his most angelic and impressive entrance to date, wings stretching tv’s edge to tv’s edge. We get a little background on who Ritchie used to be. He used to be John’s first lieutenant. The right hand man. More colleague and less follower. Newcastle changed all of that. Ritchie fell particularly hard. Manny suggests that John recruit Ritchie to help in further endeavors. Then leaves abruptly while John is in mid sentence.
John (back to Manny): I’m not exactly a guiding light…(wistful sound effect)…aww bollocks.
Inside a building on the cemetery grounds, John sees something of interest. He immediately charges into an incantation. This incantation reveals a series of symbols and those symbols seem to spell out something intriguing to John.
The blonde girl from the séance, makes the largest mistake to this point. Consider the only thing critical at this point. The man in the mirrors only appears in mirrors. One person has already died and other claims they saw the man in a mirror. So why on earth is ‘blondie’ attempting to get her ballet workout in? If you’re not picking up what I’m putting down, every dance studio maybe on the planet utilizes one wall as a massive mirror. Left to right, floor to ceiling. Also, they never turn the lights on, just an observation.
John explains what he found at the cemetery while Ritchie tries to find a journal that has gone missing. The journal belonged to a man named Jacob Shaw, who believed he could travel to alternative realms. Man in the Mirrors? The story of this Jacob Shaw seems like just the thing that might catch the attention of one Teaching Assistant. John believes Adam will try this again.
He and Ritchie head out to look for Adam, who is in fact considering attempting to travel again. Earlier, Ritchie mentioned that he “shut his whole program down”, we didn’t get much clarity on what that means, but John knew. Separately, the project Adam was working on would utilize Shaw’s research to create a practical application where a person’s consciousness could be harnessed and placed onto a hard drive. Or as John puts it, “a bomb shelter for your brain.” Then Ritchie reveals that he knows more than he previously led on to, pertaining to the big picture issue.
Ritchie: The Darkness is almost here, John. If we don’t find Adam and close that portal now, who knows how many more are going to fall through. And I just…can’t have that on my hands, John.
Adam completes the incantation and is transported right in front of Miranda (ballet girl). Adam lights a match and Miranda immediately blows it out. The camera pull back to reveal a large piece of rebar has pierced her abdomen. John and Ritchie arrive to the cemetery to find Adam in mid trans. On the other side, the man in the mirrors finds them both and begins to slash Adam’s arms with a kitchen knife. Not terribly alarming until John and Ritchie see a slash at his throat. The following morning in the aftermath, Ritchie begins to blame himself. A concept John would rather not hear. Ritchie turns to face John and tells him that he knows John’s secret. How John can pretend not to feel. The good news is, there is still on life they might be able to save. Concluding that both Miranda and Adam have both died.
They arrive at Lily’s dorm (the sole remaining person and Adam’s girlfriend). She desperately needs to contact Adam. John and Ritchie have the unpleasant job of informing her that there is a very final reason why she can’t get a hold of Adam. There is a silver lining for now, that eluded me earlier. The bodies have been declared dead in our reality. And why not? Blood everywhere and the bodies are unresponsive. However, in Shaw’s reality, the consciousness or what have you is still very much alive. Even when faced with the proposition to run in order to be chased, shades of the movie “Surviving the Game”.
John brings Lily and Ritchie back to the mill house. Ritchie is intrigued, almost fascinated by the house and its contents. Lily is shaken but grateful. The house protects her from being subject to any of Shaw’s mirror tricks. That is until she decides to make a call on her smart phone, whose screen is almost completely a mirror. And just like that, Lily is now a part of Shaw’s game.
With Lily in a catatonic state, the only thing left to do is for these two former colleagues to intentionally cross over into Shaw’s world. Ritchie naturally freaks out. After settling a bit, his first concern is potential harm to their bodies in the mill house while their consciousness is elsewhere. Then Manny appears, quietly. John looks up and says, “I think we’ll be alright here”. Moments later the two men assume the position across from each other separated by four candles. Like riding a bike, Ritchie gets loose, like he’s done this hundreds of times before.
Both men arrive safe, Ritchie’s heart rate is elevated but that’s to be expected. They head down one hallway and find a dead-end. That’s when Ritchie claims he can ‘overwrite’ Shaw’s world. And by simply concentrating, uses his mind to draw and create a real functional door where there wasn’t one before. Sounds great, but Shaw saw and heard it. So much for the element of surprise. The two men uncover that random stranger with no hands who frantically asks everyone to hide him. This time, his hands are intact. The lack of fear from our crusaders, causes this random to completely change his tone and retreat, just in time to reveal Shaw.
Shaw is polite but informs them that everything still comes down to “his world, his rules”. Then slashes Ritchie’s wrists with his mind and throws thick nails through John’s hands leaving him ‘crucified’ on the wall. Then John says something that tips us off slightly about Ritchie’s previous strengths and perhaps why his fall was harder than the others.
John: These wounds are received in his reality not yours. You have the greater mind here. You can beat this guy. In this place you…you decide. Ritchie, look at me. I believe in you, old son. Now bloody do it.
(Ritchie looks up at John)
John: DO IT!
Ritchie gradually gets up and moves to the window. Spreads the curtain and looks outside. It’s dark and desolate. And clearly something stands out to Ritchie.
Ritchie: Some God you turned out to be Shaw. You forgot the sun.
(Instantly the sun rises illuminating everything and rapidly creating growth and life)
Ritchie: Oh yes. All this time you spent here, you could have been building worlds. You could have been redefining life and how we live it. The day you gave into your weakness Shaw, that was the day you became obsolete.
Shaw: THIS IS MY WORLD!
Ritchie: Not anymore.
The nails retract from John’s hands and Ritchie implodes Shaw. Ritchie is weak now and tells John they have to get out, now. They run out of the house and through the meadow of now rolling wild flowers. They did however, forget Lily. The other ‘souls’ of the fallen friends escort her to the door. John explains the world is falling apart. The other won’t walk past the doorway. They are there to stay and they know it. Lily, as expected, loses her mind as John attempts to carry her away. The house implodes.
Lily wakes up back at the mill house. John and Ritchie are still in Shaw’s world. As John said not five minutes earlier, “In this place, you decide…” Ritchie is romanticizing staying. Using what he knows to create a good, prosperous world contrary to Shaw’s game of death. John sees right through the b.s. and tells Ritchie that he can stay if he wants, but it won’t be because he wants to build something, it’s because he wants to run from something. Newcastle and the Rising Darkness are two good reasons to run, but reality is reality.
John snaps back into himself at the mill house. Ritchie is still catatonic. His still state begins to grow and grow very slowly as if he were trying to return. He slumps over slightly and we hear to audible sound of relief from John.
Ritchie stands at the podium of his class, sets aside his tape recorder and opts to actually speak to the class. He references back to the previous lesson and proclaims that suffering is unavoidable. Then the rest of that section of his lecture works as a voice over for the images of John alone in the mill house drinking heavily.