Claire van der Boom

All posts tagged Claire van der Boom

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

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