On the D/L – Constantine
Season 1 Episode 9 – “The Saint of Last Resorts”
No more Constantine for the year and we’re possibly not too far away from it never coming back. Let’s remain positive and hope for renewal as this show is starting to hit its stride. Also, for anyone who is interested I have appeared on another podcast over at scifipulse.net where we discuss the recent The Flash/Arrow crossover event and the new series The Librarians. There’s even some discussion of Constantine so I would urge you to have a listen here.
John Constantine is contacted by one of his old friends from the oft mentioned Newcastle screw up and drawn into a case involving a baby snatching Demon. Anne-Marie (Claire Van Der Boom) is an interesting character who appears full of guilt over what has happened in the past. She has become a nun in an effort to repent for past sins and generally presents the appearance of a woman tortured by the things she’s seen and done.
I found it interesting that her guilt wasn’t necessarily over the events of Newcastle, she seems to be more guilty over being the one to introduce John to the dark arts in the first place. It seems that she holds herself responsible for John’s life being the way it is and tends to express that regret by taking it out on him by judging him for the way that he lives his life. There’s a lot of complexity to their relationship and it really enhanced the story in some interesting ways. The romantic aspects of their history allows for some really effective sexual tension between Matt Ryan and Claire Van Der Boom.
John Constantine was characterised in an interesting way here. He accepted the judgement from Anne-Marie despite the fact that she had completely the wrong idea about him. There were repeated references to John doing what needs to be done and no price being too high to save an innocent. John has a somewhat practical view of what he does and has accepted the fact that not everybody can be saved. His “save who I can” mentality makes him interesting as he seems to live in a constant denial over how easily he can accept this.
The plot here was more connected to the Rising Darkness than any previous episode. In terms of the episodic threat we have Lamashtu (the scourge of pregnant women) who has a connection to Eve from the Garden of Eden and presents a really cool vampire visual. Her ties are to a cult called the Brujería who seem to be behind this Rising Darkness stuff. John is told that their plan is to collapse the space between Heaven and Hell which doesn’t strictly qualify as a plan. It’s a goal and a fairly obvious one. We may learn who is behind it but we don’t really know why they’re doing it or how they ultimately plan to carry it out.
I will say this, the episode did throw a pleasant surprise into the mix. The last minute appearance of the Invunche when the plot seemed to have been resolved was nicely done but the execution left a lot to be desired. Constantine was clearly terrified by this and has no idea how to deal with it. He knows that there is no escaping it but visually this doesn’t work. The Invunche hadn’t even noticed them yet and they were a few feet away from the ladder to safety so I’m unclear on why the situation was so hopeless. It wouldn’t have taken much to achieve the desired effect so I wonder why this was so clumsily handled here. I did like that Anne-Marie sort of manipulated John into self sacrifice which mirrors what happened to Gary back in “A Feast of Friends”. The difference here is that Constantine knows what he’s getting into and accepts his fate bravely. Obviously he won’t be dead because there would be no show but the moment is poignant all the same despite the poor logistical execution.
Zed doesn’t come along for the adventure here for reasons that are unclear beyond the plot needing her to. There is some interesting stuff here like the revelation of her real name Mary or the fact that she grew up locked in a room. It also seems that she was raised by a cult leader and has some non blood related siblings. There’s lots of darkness associated with her past which explains Zed’s increased levels of compassion in situations as well as her mistrustful and mysterious nature. It all seems informed by a constricted and abused childhood leading her to ensure that nothing like that can happen to others.
I really liked her resourcefulness in her scenes. She completely held her own against her attackers and showed lots of bravery when defending herself. Her investigative techniques and use of her abilities work really well together. She’s a naturally paranoid person and it works really well for her. At no point did I feel she was written too stupidly to move the plot along.
That being said, there were far too many contrivances involved in this plot to move things forward. For instance it takes Zed leaving the safety of the house to buy art supplies to get into that situation in the first place as well as the traps in the house being used too neatly. It just so happens to turn out that the two things Zed discovers come in handy when she’s running for her life later. It would have been far more effective had she discovered them at the same time her attackers did.
It is the first two part story from Constantine so we will have to wait until next year to see how the two cliffhangers resolve themselves. Here’s hoping that we can get a renewal of this show and have many years
A really good first part of a two part story that delves into John Constantine’s past as well as develops the Rising Darkness plot.
Including the Anne-Marie character was a great decision given her history with the character and her personal involvement in the creation of John Constantine as a man who fights evil gives the story great depth. She’s an effective counter for him and really challenges him in unique ways.
The story of the baby stealing demon is done pretty well but there are a few contrivances that exist to move the story along but seem clumsy in execution. An effective cliffhanger is a great example of a fantastic concept vs. sloppy execution.
Zed’s subplot sheds some light on the character while still leaving her mysterious. Her intelligence and resourcefulness are well used and make for an entertaining plot showing her fighting for her life. It is slightly marred by clumsy execution but overall it nicely develops this character and gives us some insight into her past.
We’ll have to wait until next year to find out how everyone gets out of their respective predicament and it’ll be a long wait for sure.