Constantine

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

We here at NotJustAnotherTVSite.com judge all major decisions on one primary criteria. Does it measure up to our expectation of quality? It seems simple enough. If it’s a show that we’ve decided to preview, promote, and cover episode to episode, you can rest assured the particular show in question maintains a certain level of quality. For the record, there have been shows that we have been over-the-moon excited for and ultimately decided that it’s time to walk away. Why? Because those shows failed to meet our quality expectation. NBC’s Constantine, is absolutely NOT one of those.

NBC’s choice to produce Constantine, and more importantly, this vision of Constantine was brave. NBC should be celebrated for that by the way. Like so many comic book adaptations pre-Marvel Cinematic Universe, were ‘adequate’. They were entertaining, but they were also made with the understanding that they had to be workable for most audiences, not just the comic book underworld. Spawn, Daredevil (2003), etc as comic book adapted movies were nice, but compared to today’s expectations would have fallen flat on their face. The comic book television landscape was even worse.

The point is that today’s audience does not need their show dumbed down or made palatable for all time zones. Constantine has done that. Constantine is born from the same genesis as Marvel’s MCU and recent successes as Netflix’s Daredevil. Do yourself a favor. Google Netflix Daredevil and read just some of the feedback. You’d think it was the highest rated show of the calendar year. The showrunners at NBC working on Constantine kept one very important detail constant. Tell the story from an adapted version of the comic books, Hellblazer. The 2003 Keanu Reeves feature was the product of Hollywood changing all of the incredible details in order to make a production that appeals to as many people and demographics as possible.

Appealing to mass demographics is good. High ratings are good. They help sell ad revenue. When I was in the radio industry, one thing was always made clear. All of it is window dressing if the end product doesn’t bring in ad revenue. Ad revenue was literally what kept the lights on. Not to sound too idealistic, but NBC can make its money from their heavy hitters. I began this article by citing quality. Now anyone who knows anything about TV knows there is a direct and inverse relationship between numbers and quality more often than not. NBC is still going to make a killing from shows like Law and Order and Celebrity Apprentice. Every now and then the two powers of ‘quality’ and ‘are they watching’ converge perfectly. The Blacklist is a great example of that. The Blacklist is an incredible show and people are watching it. In the case of Constantine, it was playing against stacked odds from the beginning.

Courtesy of Vertigo/DC Comics

Courtesy of Vertigo/DC Comics

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Placing a comic book adaptation show that the vast majority of viewers are not familiar with late on a Friday night was borderline criminal. Comic book adaptations draw, period. Maybe this is a ‘strike while the iron’s hot’ situation, but it is true and really not up for debate. Next to no one watches television on a Friday night, and they definitely don’t do it live. Putting them on Friday nights, then graciously moving them up in the time slot but keeping them on Friday nights, put Constantine behind the eight ball and NBC knows that. This is 30 Rock vs Studio 60 all over again. Anyone with an objective eye could look at the first few episodes of Studio 60 and the first few episodes of 30 Rock and know without question, Studio 60 was the better show. Without a good time slot and promotion, better shows are going to continue to fall.

Promotion is another factor that had Constantine playing catch up. Before NBC rolled out The Blacklist, every American knew this show was going to be big. All because of promotion. There were promos and trailer for The Blacklist everywhere. On sports broadcasts, on shows that had no relation or connection at all. Spader was out there. The Blacklist was going to be successful because it had the full weight and support of the network. Constantine was never given that opportunity. You cannot produce a show based on a comic book very few people have any real familiarity with and just let people stumble upon it and hope it takes off. It doesn’t work that way.

The last detail I’ll get into before talking specifics about the show, is audience. Not everyone is going to “Get It”. If the aim is to maximize viewership by making something that will appeal to everyone in the same way, make nothing but what some call “Lowest Common Denominator” television. Keep cranking out Law and Order, Chicago Fire, Parks and Recreation. There is a large and growing audience that wants no part of L.C.D. programming. To some of us, procedural is a four letter word. And in this “DVR Era” we, the viewer, can afford to be more choosy of what we watch and we get to dictate when we watch it. Now I have no idea if the ratings system has accounted for the current television era where the DVR has completely changed the way we watch television. Side note to television networks. I watch and obscene amount of television. Yet, I have not watched a non-sporting event (or game broadcast) live in almost 7 years. I sincerely hope you are taking that into account. Especially when you put a great show on Friday nights.

At the end of the day, you have the audience that will watch Bones, Big Bang Theory, CSI: Whatever, Survivor, Glee, etc and you are going to have the audience that has no interest in predictable, safe television. Serialized, big story arcs, sympathetic characters facing unbelievable trials is just more compelling to some than others. That my friends, is the difference. Ratings can no longer be a race to first. These networks need to start evaluating success and failure by two different groups at the same time. Take a look around the television landscape. It is getting very competitive. We really are experiencing a television and cinematic renaissance. You just have to navigate through the mountains of garbage to find it. If networks like NBC are going to continue to grade shows like Constantine under the same criteria as The Voice or Bad Judge, then another elite show is going to fall by the wayside. It’s not the same type of television and they cannot continue to paint all of these shows with the same brush.

Constantine is great. End of discussion. For anyone who has not yet seen it, take my word for it, Constantine is one of the better shows of the calendar year, regardless of network or time slot. That said, it did not start out that way. A large component in that again goes back to promotion by NBC, or lack thereof. If NBC had titled the show “Hellblazer” or ran far more promotion illustrating that this show was not going to be the story released in 2003 starring Keanu Reeves, then expectation and therefore results might have been different. They made very few attempts to convey that. So, most people went in with a certain expectation, which was not met.

The pilot episode on its own merits is alright and had the show continued on that trajectory, I would not be writing this piece now. By my expectations, the pilot episode was bad. Bad as in significantly underwhelming. So much so (again just my opinion) that I actually called up a colleague at the website to inform him I would not be posting a recap, but a ‘here’s what’s wrong with it’ piece. Thankfully, the consensus was to do just that, but leave room just in case they right the ship. The second episode is 100% better. By the time we are introduced to Papa Midnite, we’re off to the races and the show is exactly what it was supposed to be. Dark, intriguing, compelling, ever-changing, straddling the line between angels and demons lore and the plot plausibility. This is the problem.

The pilot episode feels like it had NBC’s Standards and Practices grubby little hands all over it. The pilot was bright and warm by comparison to the later episodes. When doing a comic book adaptation, visual texture is key. There is a reason The Dark Knight and Arrow were so wildly successful. You cannot produce a show like Constantine with that bright, bubbly sort of way. Thankfully the showrunners for Constantine were able to come back to their base and it begins with texture. Visual interpretation. Again, never more clear than the first introduction to Papa Midnite. By episode four, Constantine was must see TV. However, not many were watching it because the show stumbled out of the gate. If they were to run the show we came to build a strong affection for and aired it on Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday in primetime the results would have absolutely been different.

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

Constantine may be a show or story about angels, demons, magic and one man in the middle of all of it, but it is very much character driven. Characters are the vehicle to success. Every single significant character is sympathetic and compelling. From there, all they have to do is tell the story. The story from the perspective of the comic book adaptation, not a major networks softer, lighter version of that story.

As it stands now, Constantine ended on a MASSIVE cliffhanger. Probably the biggest season finale reveal I’ve seen in a few years. I remember it clearly. Watching as the clock ticked down, I was certain I knew what would happen next and how the episode and season would conclude. When people say, “I had to pick my jaw up off the floor” it’s always blanketed in hyperbole. Now my jaw may not have been on the floor, but I easily could have caught a family of insects with how wide and long my mouth was open at the final moments of the season finale.

There are still very important details yet to be dealt with. Big, incredible, trajectory altering details. To drop this show now, simply put, would be irresponsible. Look, I understand that NBC is still a business that has to deem a certain show profitable. I don’t think anyone is naive to that concept, but there are three hugely important concepts that I fear NBC is not even considering. 1. They put Constantine in a position to fail before it even began-not the show’s fault, 2. The audience they are trying to reach is not the Law and Order crowd, and 3. Sometimes a show is just flat-out better than others that create more revenue. You could not pay me to watch Celebrity Apprentice or The Slap. Sometimes the better, higher quality show should just win the day. On the merits of quality. Not because it makes more money, but because it is just a better product.

Here’s the kicker. It is my opinion that Constantine has not developed a consistent form of high ratings…YET. Move the show to a more appealing time slot and let people figure it out. One of my favorite quotes in all of television history (ironically from a show cancelled way too soon) is:

“I believe the people who watch television shows are not dumber that the people who make television shows. I believe that quality is not an anathema to profit.” -Jordan McDeere (Studio 60 Live On The Sunset Strip)

American television viewers are not dumb. They have the wherewithal to handle and in fact embrace a wide range of concepts and delivery methods. Despite popular belief, this country is not filled with Honey Boo Boo and Kardashian enthusiasts. We the viewers long for shows that push the envelope. That breach concepts and topics we haven’t embraced before. We want to empathize and build affection for characters. We want to feel like we have ‘experienced’ something from our TV watching time. We are in a different era of modern television. It’s about time NBC and other major networks got on board with this idea. Constantine does not need to be their bread-winner. It only needs to continue being what it is. One of the top 10 best shows on television. I don’t care what the ratings indicate. Give it a better time slot and let the showrunners, cast and crew do their jobs. The numbers will come. You just have to get out-of-the-way and let it happen.

If you’re a fan of Constantine, help spread the word. It is my understanding that showrunner, Mr. Daniel Cerone is set to pitch season 2 to NBC at the end of this month (April) beginning of next (May). And it seems NBC is willing to listen to fan outcry. So let’s do just that. We live in a new world. Utilize it. Access your Twitter account, your Facebook account, email NBC directly. Do whatever you must to explicitly and without any confusion articulate to NBC that they CANNOT let this one go. They cannot walk away from this show. And that it is not in their best interests to let Constantine die. The best shows available still only make up less than 10% of what’s out there. We cannot lose this one. Whether your efforts are here with us at NJATVS, social media or directly on NBC’s lap, take the time to support this effort. Use the established #saveconstantine or the more direct #renewconstantine and show those in charge that this show has a following, it’s larger than they think, and we will continue to support this series.

If you have not yet seen Constantine season 1, or feel you somehow missed out and need to give it another shot, NBC starting today Friday April 24th, will make the entirety of season 1 available to stream on their website for a limited time. Go to NBC.com (or the NBC app) and discover it for the first time or revisit it again. I don’t know if streaming numbers for this limited run is a test balloon or not. What I do know is that it’s worth watching, even if all that does is send NBC a message.

I can count on one hand the number of current shows that I would bang my fist against the table for. Constantine is one of them. The show did not get a fair shake and was judge by unbalanced criteria. Do your part to help the people who put this show together. Save Constantine. Make sure NBC knows they NEED to Renew Constantine.

#saveconstantine #renewconstantine

#saveconstantine #renewconstantine

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

A dark entity in what appears to be human form savagely tosses around an adult woman, ultimately jamming two syringes in her chest.

John follows a string (in the Mill House) that leads to a door. On the other side of the door is a pleasant view as if it were outside. Very similar to the Star Trek Holo-deck. Inside, Zed is meditating. Her facial expression says she’s hiding from something. Could be the effects of the last big vision. John gives her the ‘ol suck it up, we’ve got work to do standard.

Manny appears as John sarcastically suggests they all take a holiday. Sarcasm not being a nuanced part of language that Manny cares to indulge in. Manny tells John about a woman who is about to be admitted to a specific hospital and her ‘situation’ is worth paying attention to. John gets smart with Manny and heads towards the scri-map. Then Manny bursts the map into flames. The entire landscape is too big for the scri-map now. When Manny leaves Chas’ meat suit, Chas asks, “how did I get over here?”

At the hospital, John stabs Chas in the thigh with a screwdriver to create a distraction. Within arm’s reach of this woman Manny spoke of, they notice blackness in her veins. Never a good sign. Zed touches her hand which sends her into a full on vision. In the vision the woman in question lunges at her awake and in the distance we see a silhouette that resembles Manny. She snaps out of the vision. A few moments later, Zed falls into a full on seizure.

While John waits for Chas to get out of his hospital gown and into some pants, a very large and intimidating man walks into the ER. He is rude and angry, but clearly a regular. Can’t really place his importance yet, but there’s something there.

John and Chas make their way down to the morgue. The victim lies motionless on a metal table. John starts an incantation. When the spell is complete, the woman appears to be black as paint. Her inner darkness is all-consuming. Normally some humanity will shine bright enough to be noticed. Here, nothing.

A doctor enters Zed’s room. He’s there to deliver an update. Her cat scans came back. She has a small mass on her temporal lobe. First impressions are that it’s a tumor. A diagnosis that John rejects on spec. Zed is concerned. As is John, but he refuses to show it.

A janitor that was sipping from a flask in the morgue is now on the main floor. He makes his way to the supply closet and walks past the fluorescent bulbs he needs to fix a light. Instead he reaches for a large brown bottle and proceeds to drink. Inside the supply closet, another dark form ravages the janitor.

A doctor walks out to the rooftop John is smoking on. He asks to borrow a cigarette. When he hands one over, the doctor is no longer the doctor. Manny flicks the unlit cigarette over the edge. Before Manny can get a word out, John physically attacks him yelling, “FIX IT”. John’s emoting over the prospect of potentially losing Zed in almost any capacity. John told her to push through, ignore the pain. Of course believing that the pain didn’t come from some mortal illness. Manny gets back in his face but in a constructive way. Or so he thought. Manny suggests that John only focus on what he can control. John agrees. Then drops a vile of what looks like red gas (a vile of air from Hades) , then stomps on it. This knocks out Manny cold. John then says a few things (we assume in Enochian) while carving what looks like a bird’s-eye view of the Starship Enterprise into his chest. When Manny wakes up, he is in human form. Whether he like it or not.

For all of our Supernatural viewers, this should play out like an early Castiel situation. For those uninitiated, Castiel is an angel to take control of a willing body. The discovery phase of an angel experiencing life through the lens of a human is much different and takes some getting used to. It’s also generally very entertaining to watch play out.

John follows the flickering light to the supply closet almost pulling Manny along. Inside they find the janitor mauled to death. The smell as opposed to the visual is too much for Manny. The sensations afforded humans is often too much for angels on their first go around. Manny is no different, who pops vomit in the corner. Inside the man’s carcass, John finds a ‘heart of darkness’. The man’s organ is visible but looks out-of-place. Blacks, purples and blues. Manny tells a story that John knew as a myth, Manny knew as actual events that he was present for. A great battle to take down a sorcerer. In the end the evil was contained in a black diamond of evil. The stone’s pieces were intentionally broken so no one man could wield its power. The great flood (yes, Noah, the arc the whole bit) spread the pieces of the black diamond all over the earth.

John goes back to the Mill House where Chas has been looking into Jasper’s research on this very issue. Chas has shown real concern for Zed since early in this episode. He asks John about her and John wants very badly to just ignore his questions. Eventually Chas physically turns John around and demands to know what John knows. As it turns out, John by way of Jasper has a box that contains one of the fragments from the Black Diamond of Evil.

Manny is at a nurse’s station trying to print out files on our to Jane and John Doe’s. The nurse is very pleased to help. Very pleased. So much so that she suggests getting Manny the actual active files, more updated. Manny is ill-equipped to handle or even understand why this nurse is touching him and staring deeply when the situation does not call for it. They walk down the hall and suddenly she throws him into another supply closet, forcefully having her way with him. I’d go into greater detail (as a laugh literally out loud at my television) but for recap purposes, we like to keep it family friendly.

At the Mill House, John’s big plan is to remove the black diamond shard and get Chas to hold it. This will show John just what it does. It will probably kill Chas, but we now know why that’s perfectly acceptable. The only question mark comes between what it does and Chas dying. At first nothing happens. Then the evil surges through Chas’ body. He can’t or won’t let go of the stone. He is endowed with great power. Enough that he throws John across the room. A cattle prod to the abdomen stops him though.

John: You see that there (gestures to Manny), what you’re feeling? That’s embarrassment. Its socialized and it’s not worth it.
Manny: I feel…guilty. The man’s body had all of these feelings and I used a woman to extinguish them.
John: So you made two poor sod’s feel pleasure? A momentary relief from the tragedy of everyday living.
… …
John: All those chemicals, swirling around. Your heart aches, your head hurts, make it hard to concentrate doesn’t it?
Manny: Yeah, I don’t know how you get anything done.

Once they get back on track, Manny goes over the two respective files. Both have addictions. Both had second chances that they squandered. Manny actually gets angry at the notion of throwing away a second chance. Then possibly, the killer feels the same way. Maybe that’s how he chooses victims. Morris, the large man with burnt skin that gives the nurses flack, could be next. Then John suggests that he look into Morris while Manny checks on Zed. Manny then asks, “She’s ill, if you can’t speak to her now, then when can you?”

Manny walks into Zed’s room where her actual doctor is not really getting anywhere putting her at ease. When he leaves, she looks a Manny and asks, “who are you?” Not in a curious way, but in a ‘I can tell you’re not a doctor’ sort of way. Manny explains that John has trapped him in this body and he just wanted to check up on her. She’s disappointed that John didn’t come. But then she charges into question about her ‘gift’. Concerned that they may be evil and not a gift from God. With Manny trapped in the human form, he is disconnected from his angelic powers. But he is able to reassure her based on what she’s said. “It seems to me, you have all the answers you need”.

John does not find Morris, who is out attempting to smoke a cigarette, the thing that ultimately killed his wife and daughter by his own reckless behavior. The lights flicker and the dark man runs towards him. We actually get a decent shot at the killer’s face. Very strange.

During an attempt to get John to open up about his feelings for Zed (and we are not assuming they are of the romantic variety) they have an epiphany. Zed’s doctor is the killer. He served and almost died in Baghdad. The name of the Black Diamond of Evil loosely translates to “Baghdad”. Now the doctor comes into Zed’s room to confront her about rescinding her consent for the tumor removal procedure.

At just the right moment, John and Manny enter the room. At first glance, it almost seems as if the doctor doesn’t know that he is the killer. John removes the black diamond shard and extends it (in the protective case of course) towards the doctor. He feels the effects immediately. He slashes Manny’s arm and throws John before running away. They give chase. Zed gets the vision again. An angelic silhouette and a radiant white light. She tells John it is a divine holy light. They both look at Manny who is momentarily confused.

John: Manny.
Manny: What?
John: You need to open your shirt.
(John rips his shirt open)
John: I’m reversing the spell I cast on you, mate.
Manny: Are you telling me…
John: I could have released you at any time.
(Manny growls at John)

The moment Manny is released the killer (whatever it is) finds them. It knocks John to the floor and John begins begging for Manny’s assistance. Manny appears in all of his angelic majesty. The creature responds and walks slowly toward Manny and his light. Manny assures him that his work here is done and its time to go home. Manny wraps his wings around them creating a ball. Eventually, the light brightens and they disappear leaving only John’s box with a black diamond shard and out of the thin air the doctor’s shard falls to the floor. Then the shards (broken from impact with the floor) levitate and fuse with John’s piece.

John walks into what looks like a church were Zed is praying. John tells her a story that he hasn’t told anyone else. Every morning, John wakes up and spends the first five minutes of his day meditating to the idea that everyone he cares about is dead. Then when that is not how the day ends realistically, it’s a good day.

Then Manny appears. John tells Zed that Manny has arrived, but she didn’t need him to tell her. She can see and hear him as clear as John. His presence answers her question about where her visions come from.

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

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.
Shaw: No.
(Instantly the sun rises illuminating everything and rapidly creating growth and life)
Shaw: NO!
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.

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Last week we saw John returned to himself. No demon driving his meat-suit, but one thing was made abundantly clear. What we had seen to that point may have served as the origin of a bigger story yet to come. And if Chas and Zed were planning on sticking around, they would need to prepare themselves for what is to come. I’m pretty sure that Chas was not prepared for this.

A young girl, older than five but younger than ten, stands in the middle of her room brushing doll hair. While talking to her doll she turns slowly as if she heard something. When she turns all the way around, she discovers that she is surrounded by black smoke. The doll falls to the floor and we all know that means. The girl’s name is Geraldine. And Chas is her father.

At the Mill House, Zed is packing. I’d say frantically packing but let’s not get carried away. John has put a spell on the Mill House that will lead any visitors away from the house. Zed references the last time he put a protection spell on the house. As was pointed out by a viewer of ours (credit to Keiran), the moment she left the house, that protection spell was broken. Anything that came as a result of that, is on Zed, not John. This new spell does little to put her at ease. She does reference ‘them’. Insinuating that if they will always find her. So running is somehow favorable to hanging out at John’s place. Then John inquires further.

John: Look, you kept your cards close about your past and chose not to push, but I am pushing now.
Zed: They call themselves the Resurrection Crusade.
John: And what do they want with you?
Zed: They’re fanatics. Completely bent on their leaders vision. Their leader? He believes I’m crucial to the vision.
John: So, you found yourself in the crosshairs of a cult… … …You have yet to flinch in the face of the Underworld. Why are you so afraid of a man from this one?
Zed: Because he’s my father.

It’s important to note that there have been a handful of vital questions that have gone unanswered. That’s alright. It’s part of the allure to this show and overall product. The Newcastle thing is unfolding layer by slow layer. As seen above, we are starting to see into Zed’s past. The most important question in my opinion and the one we know the least about is Chas. What we know is that he is John’s associate. He can handle himself. He is remarkably loyal (something the mother of his child seems to not appreciate), and he can’t die. Why is that? Hopefully before the conclusion of this season, we will get an answer to that. For now, a flashback will have to suffice.

Two years earlier, Chas is in a bar. From the looks of the table, Chas is between 3 and 7 beer deep. Constantine is drunk and leaving with a lady. John puts a spell (or at least attempts to) on Chas. Moments later a band takes the stage, before they get to the second verse, the stage is on fire. Chas single handedly worked to get people out of the burning building. During this flashback, Chas is driving and listening to “Don’t Fear the Reaper” which cannot be a coincidence.

At the Mill House, John packs for Brooklyn. There are two important references. The first of which is about what looks like the beginnings of a shaving kit that belonged to Aleister Crowley. It wasn’t familiar to me so I did a little research. What I found was intriguing. We don’t have the time tonight to go into that, but if you have any interest Google “Aleister Crowley”. A very interesting person to reference on a show like this at the very least. The second deals with Achilles. A short rope or cord-like tool that was fashioned from Achilles’ heel. The rope when wrapped around a part of a person, renders it numb.

Chas is met with resistance by his daughter’s mother. He ignores it and goes upstairs to give his daughter a gift. He opens the door to discover that she is lying on her back and motionless.

John and Zed meet Chas at the hospital. After hearing about the how, John attempts to conclude the what. He pulls out the Aleister Crowley brush and swipes it along the child’s lips. It reveals celestial burn marks. Which are only present when a soul departs its vessel. The door opens as John turns. He’s facing the child’s mother, and the tension is palpable. This is now the second woman to tell Zed to run away from John.

After brushing off Rene (Geraldine’s mother), Chas wakes up in another flashback. This time it Chas in the hospital bed. The overall tone of the respective relationship between father/daughter and husband/wife is much more loving. The conclusion is that he should have died in that fire (referring back to the previous bar scene flashback).

Our faithful three arrive at an old warehouse full of strange items. Inside is a medium that John hopes will help them. They are met by hostility immediately. John with a shotgun pointed at his chest. This man claims he will never help John Constantine. Then swiftly Chas relieves him of his shotgun, flips it around the other way, and strikes the man in the face with the butt end of his own shotgun.

The ritual works as planned. The medium is able to channel the child’s inner thoughts. John attempts to get Geraldine to look around and convey her surroundings. Before she can comply, the medium’s body goes limp and the connection is lost. The medium’s body ascends until it is looking down on the table. The medium appears to wake but it is no longer him. Whatever is pulling the strings is familiar with John. The figure controlling the medium begins and incantation and burns the medium to death, remotely.

John hands Zed a notepad that has a spell written in it. She uses that to instigate a vision. Cauldrons, books, and a sign. “Haskins Railroad Yard”. A railroad yard that apparently doesn’t exist anymore. At the last second, the image of a cloaked man emerges from the smoke just in time to swipe a knife in Zed’s direction as she snaps out of the vision.

They arrive at the Haskins site to find nothing. Chas is frustrated and Zed is confused. John knocks off a hub cap and throws it like a Frisbee toward the nothingness. There is a ripple and the hub cap is swallowed. John begins reciting an incantation and a massive building reveals itself.

The cloaked man is Felix Faust (played by Mark Margolis, whom I know from Breaking Bad and Oz). A lifelong apprentice and perpetual second fiddle. Now working for himself. Chas tries to assert himself. Assuming that if you end the sorcerer’s life, his spells release their grip. Faust plays with Chas from ten feet away like it was child’s play.

Faust offers a deal. There is a demon circumventing Faust’ efforts. Cyphening power from the stolen souls for his own us. If John casts said demon back to hell, relieving Faust of the headache, he will release Geraldine’s soul. Faust and John extend their hands and recite the same incantation. This opens a gash on either man’s hand. They shake hands to finalize the deal.

Chas returns to the hospital to be with his daughter. He’s too close to this one and it could compromise the task at hand. Chas falls into another flashback. ALAS! we have an answer to one of the big questions (or so I think). This flashback takes us to the day after the fire. Chas informs John that he didn’t leave when John did. He was in that fire. Overnight, and his injuries were healed.

(Chas drops a newspaper that reads, “47 victims of Nightclub Fire Released”)
John (chuckling): It bloody worked.
Chas: What worked?
John: The protection spell I cast on you at the bar.
Chas: You were mumbling. That wasn’t magic, that was…pathetic.
John: You don’t understand. That spell is a myth. A legend. Merlin created it and cast it on the crest of King Arthur. If a Knight of the Round Table were killed by a lesser Knight, he would absorb the lives of those around him.
Chas: What are you saying?
John: The spell not only saved your life, but you gained the lives of all of those lost in the fire as well.
Chas: You’re saying I can’t die?
John: On the contrary, you most certainly can die. 47 times to be precise.

John and Zed don’t have any luck drawing out the demon. Zed volunteers as bait. John will have to put her under a spell, wait for the demon to enter a circle they’ve created, break Zed’s spell and light the circle all before the demon gets wise. It doesn’t go exactly according to plan but John makes it work. When he and Zed return to the hospital, there are more people suffering from Geraldine’s affliction.

John informs Chas that the deed is done and they try to leave. Rene interjects. She knows about this other side that Chas and John operate in. She demands to come. John rejects the idea and slaps John. Hard. She also reveals that John is in some direct or indirect way responsible for Rene and Chas’ divorce. Zed then reassures her the job will get done and that she will need to be here when her daughter wakes up.

John and Chas pay Faust another visit. They think its payment time. Faust chooses to renegotiate the deal. The demon was destroyed not banished to hell. Semantics, but a detail Faust is going to use to further leverage the payout for this particular soul. John reluctantly accepts the new terms. Chas finds this unacceptable. At the point in the conversation where John is open to suggestion, Chas knocks him out cold, puts John in the back seat of the cab, turns and says, “My family’s suffered enough because of you.”

Chas presents himself to Faust offering 32 souls in exchange for his daughter’s. Faust doesn’t believe him. Even threatens to take Chas’ soul right where he stands. Faust can’t see that Chas is carrying more than the standard issue one soul. So Chas tries to prove it to him and slices his own throat.

At the hospital, Zed reveals her abilities to Rene and even offers to attempt to communicate with Geraldine telepathically. It actually works momentarily. Then Zed is instantly thrown into excruciating pain. In the chaos including doctors storming the room, Zed’s purse falls and with it falls the address of Faust.

Chas wakes up from his not quite suicide attempt. As does John from getting knocked out. Inside Chas is willing to sacrifice 31 souls including his own and in return, Geraldine’s soul will be returned to her body and safe until her natural death. John runs in just in time. Chas and Faust shake, but uses the cord from Achilles Heel and wraps it around both of their hands, then pulls the pin on a grenade. Theory being, if Faust is destroyed the souls would be returned.

In the aftermath of the explosion, Rene gets up and is inconsolable. John tries to explain that this is what he does. Her screams reveal only the phrase, “because of you”. Following the break, John apologizes to Rene for what she’s witnesses and tries to explain. Rene’s view is narrow. She only sees what Chas’ role does to her and their daughter. John tries to convey the good Chas does. Then sends her off to be with Geraldine.

In another flashback we see the moment that Chas presents John with his divorce papers. Chas begs him to reverse the spell, but John can’t (or so he says). John gives him the hard sell on what he could mean for the fight against evil. Chas agrees to his higher calling.

Chas returns to Rene’s house to the warmest welcome he’s had in our exposure to he and Rene. They exchange pleasantries and she hands him what looks like a photo album. Chas smiles, leans in and hugs Rene with one arm and races upstairs. The photo album is filled with the pictures of the 47 people who correspond to the souls he was imparted with. Rene, essentially, gave him permission to tell Geraldine what Dad does and why.

John sits on the hospital bed that now hold Zed. She starts to stir and John softly explains that she blew a fuse. It takes years of training to do what she attempted. She starts to roll over and utters something a very great importance to John.

Zed: One more thing. About your mother.
John: What about my mother.
Zed: She said her death, wasn’t your fault.
(a long pause)
John: You saw my mother?
(John lies down next to Zed in her hospital bed and eventually cracks a smile of relief)

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

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.

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

A glowing new mother has just given birth to a child in a Mexican convent. With her husband by her side and a nun playing midwife, all seems right with the world. Later that night the unsuspecting mother awakes to find a relative humanoid with animal like claws standing over the child. The nun hears screams, but by the time she reaches the woman she has been slain brutally. As you might expect, the child is not in the room.

The nun just appears in John’s lair. She clearly has no soft spot in her heart for John Constantine. She also isn’t exactly in the room. A sort of spirit walk meets hologram situation. There is a history here that will not be a benefit for John .

Ann Marie Flynn (the nun) was not only a previous ‘fling’ but also present at the New Castle fiasco. For those keeping score at home, that’s now two people from New Castle. It’s beginning to feel like they are setting New Castle up as some sort of ground zero.

John discovers what looks like a mouse-hole in the wall. Ann Marie dismisses it as such. John knows better. Before he can perform the test to identify this particular demon, the second nun walks in. This same nun ironically bumped into Ann Marie moments before the murder and abduction. She has a played up annoying innocence that gives her away slightly.

They throw a black cloth over the table anchoring it in each corner with a lit candle. John holds in his hands a number of stones. He grips them tight recites a little something about the earth and drops them on the cloth. Shortly thereafter, they begin to glow. Then they engulf the cloth in flames. Now John needs something that could be tied to the child’s soul. The nun quickly offers up that the placenta is buried in the back yard.

At the site of the buried placenta Ann Marie’s airing of grievances continues. She has a hard time unearthing the placenta when John notices something. He stands up a plucks what looks like a pear from the branches above. It’s a little off-color wise. Ann Marie asks if it’s skin? John punctures it with a knife. The fruit begins to bleed. Then the entire tree begins to bleed. Just then the father bounds out from the house gun drawn.

Father: What is that?
Constantine: A piece of human fruit, mate. Your baby’s alive. And I know who took him.

The long and short of this is that the ‘human fruit’ is a tangible metaphor for the ‘forbidden fruit’. Apparently Eve had sisters who “turned on the proposal before Eve did”. Hugo (the father) gets up to answer the phone. Whoever it is, just took another baby.

Side note. With characters like Ann Marie or anyone else that might take issue with John’s approach or tone, all they have to do is accept that he knows what behind the current. They may have faith or belief one way or the other, but John actually knows the factual truth. Which in and of itself is a burden the uninitiated don’t carry. So pump the brakes sister.

The strange art class model with an agenda that goes far beyond anything Zed can recognize is back. In the last episode a strange man sat in the back of his car when he got stood up by Zed. He invites her out for drinks. She goes to pay for her art supplies. He sends a text. “I got her”. On their impromptu date, Zed accidentally makes contact with this man’s hand. Instant vision. The dark tones of the bar are replaced with their complete opposite. His black leather Members Only jacket is now white and the backdrop that used to be a bar is now the inside of what looks like a padded cell built-in the vein of a bank vault. His intentions are the opposite of what they seem, perhaps? Before John left Zed in the house, he said the house would protect her. So, she offers to continue this drinking contest at her place.

The new victims of this baby snatching demon, if you can believe it, are the son and girlfriend of the first father (and coincidentally police detective). Father #1 is now grandfather #1 in this scenario. The real fun part is that the newest mother is a complete stranger to Detective Grandpa.

John gives Ann Marie the cold shoulder and belittled her faith to be polite, to get her to let him work. Outside there is a fountain in the courtyard. John has laid out a train of earthworms along the edge of the fountain. He begins his incantation when annoying bubbly nun comes by. Her tone evolves from annoyingly innocent to downright rude. John excuses himself to rinse out his bowl, giving him just enough to identify the creature without the incantation.

Believing that this nun is the demonic sister in question, he opts to just flat-out ask. He spouts off four names before the fifth triggers something. Full disclosure, I was not prepared for a Lilith story this soon. Luckily it’s not Lilith. Luckily it turns out to be Lamastu. The very sound of her real name sends her into a rage. Shedding her human appearance, she attacks John submerging his head below the fountain’s water. John struggles long enough to pull his knife and stab her in the abdomen. Blood shoots from her torso, then she flees.

Zed gets back to the house with loverboy in tow. She kisses him to distract him long enough to get him in a compromising position. She demands to know why he is stalking her. His reply was slightly unexpected. Significant enough for Zed to knock him out though.

Zed: Why are you following me?
Loverboy: Your father wants you home.
Zed: What did you say?
Loverboy: We just want to talk to you. Mary.

Lamastu is the younger sister of Eve and a glorified vampire. As the lore goes, she doesn’t kidnap babies. She feeds from them. The fact that she is taking the babies and not just devouring them is peculiar. Especially since it seems Hugo’s family is being targeted. Ann Marie’s idea is to speak to someone who knows the family history. Grandma Pia. Hugo gives a two-line explanation and that’s all it takes. Pia knows clearly what the answer is.

We try admirably to get the characters and spellings as close as we can guess or find with a show like this. Especially since the context of this show is wrapped in a lore that not everyone is up to speed on. However, I’m not even going to try to spell this one. The cliff notes are that there is a prehistoric line of Warlocks who have been gone so long, that they belong in the ‘extinct’ section of any reference material that might speak of them. Grandma Pia retorts that they are not gone, only hiding.

Before we continue, let me amend the previous thought. I am not going to attempt the spelling tonight. For reasons you’ll read momentarily, I am compelled to research this for next week and beyond as these ‘warlocks’ just became a critical piece in our season long game of chess.

John: It don’t add up. Brucareu (??) wield a kind of magic that the world hasn’t seen since God turned on the lights. He struck them down. Not even hell would give them asylum. They were annihilated.
Ann Marie: You don’t believe them.
John: I can’t believe them. I don’t have a spell to take down the Brucareu, nobody does. She’s speaking gibberish.
Ann Marie: Then why are you scared.
John: I’m not scared. If the Brucareu were back we’d know it. It wouldn’t be subtle…
Ann Marie: What is it?
John: The ‘Rising Darkness’. The one I checked myself out of an asylum to fight.

Since Lamastu or the Brucareu are looking for a baby that has Hugo’s blood, that’s exactly what they plan to give them. A thawed chicken carcass will be injected with Hugo’s blood, a glamour spell will give it the appearance of an infant. Then, they can just follow the bad thing to the holding cell.
Eddie (loverboy) wakes slowly to find he’s been strapped to the banister. Then there is a cult like tone to his answers. “Our Father” only wants what’s best for you. “We have followers everywhere”. Then we get a small glimpse into Zed’s childhood. Or at least the part that involves being locked in a room against her will. Then two more people enter the house. These two Zed seems to recognize immediately. They both raise a gun and point it at Zed. This is about the time I’m expecting the house to start protecting her.

“Take this child into a dark room and give it eternal life” Ann Marie says just above a whisper. It works. Up to an including the glamour spell. And just as it goes every single time you involve a man/woman who has no perspective for what they are dealing with, Hugo decides that firing bullets at Lamastu seemed like a good idea. Luckily, all is not lost.

Zed is being chased by the recognized man and woman. By the way, the house is doing a very unimpressive job protecting her. Zed leads the woman down a corridor and eventually flings her through the door that John advised against opening back in episode two. The other side of the door seems to be a misty abyss of some sort.

John and Ann Marie successfully find the location of the stolen babies, underground in a sewer like arrangement. They grab them and turn to leave. Just then the blood soaked chicken carcass lands near their feet. Lamastu appears in more of a ‘willingness to talk’ sort of way. Demanding and repulsive to be sure, but at least speaking now. Then we have a standoff. John threatening to kill the thing she is supposed to deliver to the Brucareu intact. While holding the child inches above the water, Lamastu almost gladly hints at the plan. The Brucareu will attempt to fuse all realms together. Imagine a typical hell on earth scenario.

Earlier in an attempt to protect Ann Marie, John puts around her neck a talisman. It has some connection to an entity very familiar to Lamastu. Her once soul mate turned sworn enemy. With the information gathered and the children safe (for now) John takes the talisman lays it down in the mist of the sewer and utters a few words. Then more words. Then louder words. A blue fire engulfs everything in front of John and Ann Marie, including Lamastu.

The pair of assailants after Zed is now down to one. He sneaks up behind Zed and injects her in the neck with something that looks like Pepto. This would be a great time for the house to get off its lazy tookus and do something.

As they attempt to leave the sewer, they hear more baby screams. They turn to consider if they missed one. What they find is almost indescribable. It has flesh and a head. Human like in shape and texture. But the head does not have eyes or really any other recognizable features. It also moves like it’s crawling but it only has three appendages. John cannot believe what he’s seeing. What’s more he has no idea what to do next. Too bad for him, Ann Marie does. For the moment at least, her master plan is the whole “You’re not faster than a bear. No, but I’m faster than you” scheme. If she shoots John, the creature will attack John and not the children.

Wow. And she actually did it. “No price is too expensive to protect the innocent”. Wow are you stupid. Sure, the line has merit. But not if the price you are willing to pay is the only thing preventing complete and all out hell on earth. Awesome, you saved two babies that would be destined to die a painful horrible death in the not distant future without John Constantine. Whom you just shot, because your morality thinks it has everything figured out.

Care of the following week’s promo we get to see exactly what cost will have to be paid to get John Constantine passed Ann Marie’s stupidity. Even if this wasn’t a two parter episode, I would still strongly suggest you check back here at NJATVS. The stakes just got raised.

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

A preacher of a small church and an even smaller congregation goes to the ‘God will protect me as I handle these venomous snakes’ bit in an effort to increase popularity and attendance. Yep, never ends well. The preacher gets hit one time and is out for the count in about 20 seconds flat. Then his sister attempts CPR on a poison victim. He dies. Then something in his left hand (looks a little like a maple leaf) illuminates and life is shot back into the preacher. He quickly hides the trinket in his pocket. Then a young man who has lost a portion of his right leg approaches. For he feels the spirit of the Lord. The preacher puts his palm to the man’s chest. The remained of the man’s leg appears.

In an art class, Zed gets a vision that she is standing in snakes. Avoids a potential date with the model and races to Constantine. She charges right in so to match her, Constantine does the same. Both spewing all kinds of drivel at the same time. Until John catches the word ‘snakes’.

Once in this one light town, Zed is skeptical that this preacher is anything more than someone taking advantage of those searching for something to believe in. Having a man remove his sunglasses and proclaiming that he can now see is one thing. Watching a preacher’s hand remove signs of disease from a man’s flesh is something else entirely.

We have our first Enochian reference of the series. The preacher falls to his knees and begins chanting or reciting something in Enochian and John recognizes it immediately.

Enochian: n. A language consisting of less than 1,000 words thought to be literally the language of the Angels.

The man with the regenerated leg is in a doctor’s exam room. To the doctor it is a miracle. Fully functional, tissue and all. Then the patient complained of the warmth in the room. He begins to sweat and eventually the iris of his eye goes blood-red. Then he assaults the doctor, eventually killing him.

John and Zed stand outside waiting to be blessed with the healing hand. Which is kind of an issue. The moment Zed touches his hands, she’s going to see what’s behind his new-found power. The images in her vision suggest something that John is not going to like. He may actually have the power of the angels. For now.

The once amputee is now walking down a country road, looking very different. The kind of different that suggest a slow demonic transformation. Or something to that effect. A police officer circles back but he’s gone. Just long enough to get the drop on the officer and beat him to death.

Zed believes that the preachers intentions are sincere. If there’s darkness behind this, it’s not of the preachers doing. John leads her to a pond. Where all of the fish are dead floating on the surface. This power has a trade-off and apparently, the toll of this trade-off will be seen in the surrounding lands first. John calls on Manny to get some ‘guidance’ on what exactly this is. Manny doesn’t show. Which is annoying since Zed just now found out that John knows an angel. The humorous irony comes when Manny does arrive. Taking over Zed, so she couldn’t see him anyway.

When John told Manny that this ‘creature’ was speaking in Enochian, it got his attention. You must face the sun to hear it. Zed (sans Manny) faces the sun and hums. Shortly thereafter, the same melody is heard from a different location in the woods. The arrive at the source of the song. A woman lays making essentially a snow angel in leaves. She stands to reveal massive angel wings.

The angel’s name is Imogen. When transporting a dying soul, a single feather was plucked from her wing, trapping her on the mortal plane. Once that information was uncovered, Manny appeared. Visible to only Imogen and John, much to Zed’s chagrin. They need to recover the feather that undoubtedly is in Zachary’s (the preacher) possession before Imogen’s soul is extinguished.

John attempts to reason with Zachary by telling him he knows about the angel feather. John reaches for it and a ‘power’ accompanied by a white light threw him across the room. He heads outside to find Zed being lifted and strangled by the amputee. After a bit of a struggle, John takes him out for good. The eye reverts back and the presence of whatever it was dissipates.

With John out of the direct picture, the preacher would see him coming, we turn to Zed. Playing up the ‘wanting to believe’ card, she goes in. Including accepting a baptism. Which is just a cover for her to snatch the feather. She does, but at the moment she does other ‘gouled’ people begin to advance. John fights them off with a club, shades of Captain Caveman.

They barricade the preacher inside the church in order to keep the ‘goules’ out while Zed runs the feather back to Imogen. While they wait, Manny asks Imogen what it’s like to feel pain. There has always been a fascination (in shows and movies like this) to relate human sensations in a way that is understandable to an Angel that doesn’t feel. This conversation between Manny and Imogen would probably lead to a second date if that was even a thing.

I’m getting a Gabriel vibe from Imogen that anyone who has seen the movie (Keanu Reeves) will find familiar. The conversation always comes back to how imperfect humans are and how they never learn from their mistakes. Which leads into a jealousy of the angels. Imogen begins to talk in a way that is no longer just chewing the fat. Manny recognizes it, and takes a step back.

While John holds the door shut, the preacher has an admission. It wasn’t a deer he hit, it was a man. Don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything. Apparently the ‘deer’ predates this episode. So if the preacher had a mortal sin on his soul at the time of death, he wasn’t headed to heaven. He was headed to hell. And if that is when he stole the feather from the angel, then Imogen is not in good standing. Imogen very well could have been a fallen angel which would explain a lot.

The door breaks through about the time John realizes Zed cannot give the feather back to Imogen. She does, and that immediately reverts the goules back to their human form. Good short-term, really bad long-term. Imogen’s wings and clothes transform back into black as she says, “it worked…beautifully”. She hovers above Zed and Manny in her evil darkness.

Manny: You’re fallen.

Imogen attempts to fly out of the barn, but gets knocked to the ground inside the barn. The spell that John put around the barn to keep evil out, is in fact, keeping evil in. Imogen gets to her feet and holds Zed by the throat. This is a predictable but juicy Tarantino moment. If John doesn’t lift the spell, Imogen will kill Zed. John can’t do that and permit Imogen to escape or Zed to die. And Manny can’t do anything. Or at least he is compelled to maintain the balance.

John (pleading with Manny): You’re the only one who can stop this.
Manny: You know I can’t.
John: You mean you won’t. HELP HER! You’re either in the bloody fight with me or you’re not.
Manny: You know the rules.
(a loud thud)
John: MANNY!!!
(Manny has disappeared)
Imogen: Guess you’re on your own…Your angel did what they always do, NOTHING.
Manny (takes over Zed’s form): LIKE HELL…
(Manny punches through Imogen’s torso and rips out her heart)

Manny gives a stern stare to John. John in turn gives Manny a stare of absolute thanks. Manny disappears, leaving Zed holding an almost not beating black heart in her hand.

Back at home John and Manny have a level-headed, sincere, devoid of any attempt to out quip each other type of conversation. It’s refreshing. For the Supernatural fans, I was hoping that this was the arrival of Castiel type of episode. Something that redefines the parameters of our ‘team’. I’m afraid that is still a ways off. However, Manny and John both, seem more than content to accept that at the very least, they are fighting the same fight, with the same intensity.

We find Zed taking a bath. Again. Not complaining, just an observation. Her phone rings. It’s the model from the art class. They had a date, and it slipped her mind. She politely explains that she would not be good company tonight. He hangs up and there is a large man in a white suit with cross around his neck sitting in the back seat who is not pleased that Zed cancelled. The Zed story line may come into focus sooner rather than later.