On the D/L – Constantine
Season 1 Episode 12 – “Angels and Ministers of Grace”
John Constantine tethers Manny to a human doctor to help him out when Zed has a seizure and is admitted to hospital with a suspected brain tumour.
Only one more episode of Constantine to go this season and possibly ever. This show has had a lot of problems plaguing it since before it came on the air. First there was the ditching of a character that pretty much formed the basis of the pilot and then there was the season being cut down to 13 episodes. That isn’t even mentioning the awful time slot it was assigned. Despite all that I think it’s been doing remarkably well creatively and managed to cement itself as being a quirky supernaturally themed show that manages to be consistently entertaining.
I won’t labour on with a eulogy for a show that still has the slightest chance of continuing. It missed out on NBC’s latest renewals but I’m not giving up hope until they officially announce cancellation. I just wish there would be an announcement because dangling the hope in front of us viewers is getting tedious.
Anyway, onto the episode itself. In general I liked it but it didn’t quite feel like it was the penultimate episode of a season. I guess that’s because it wasn’t supposed to be but there was a sense of “business as usual” about it in some ways.
I really liked the increased opportunity to spend time with Manny and learn more about him as a character. His dropping in and out at random does work from a narrative standpoint and the show has been teasing more of him as it went on but it is interesting to see him given more screen time.
It completely made sense the way the episode went about this. John has been growing increasingly frustrated with Manny’s unannounced appearances so it seems fitting that he would take control of the situation and tether Manny to the mortal coil. There was a definite sense of resentment from John when he did this and it did seem like a victory on his part.
It presents a bit of an issue with their relationship as Manny seems to be doing everything he can to help John but is limited by some higher power that he’s reluctant to betray. The problem exists on John’s end as he constantly reacts aggressively to Manny’s attempts at help. I can see why because they seem cryptic and at first unhelpful but I’d say Manny is doing all he can at considerable risk to himself.
Manny’s experience of being a human was executed pretty well. He experienced some of what comes with being mortal including a more visceral look at death than he’s used to. His reaction to actually experiencing a dead body the way a human being would was absolutely spot on. His sickness and compassion contrasted with John’s “been there, done that” approach. John knows how it can affect people but he’s seen too much death to have it affect him any more. Manny’s presence showed the contrast effectively.
Having Manny experience the panic that comes with the fear of death as they were being chased was a nice touch as well. It gives Manny an opportunity to be humbled by this experience and perhaps be more sensitive in his dealings with John in the future.
It wasn’t all the serious aspects of humanity though. Manny was given the opportunity to experience having to walk around and do research, general emotions and a sexual encounter with a nurse. Not bad for a day of being human. Harold Perrineau was great at handling the fish out of water stuff and had many funny moments in the way he reacted to things that might seem commonplace for us. It mad me wish there had been more comedic opportunities across the series.
Zed had some great moments this week. It turns out that her psychic abilities might be caused by a tumour. The episode doesn’t give a definitive answer one way or another but simply throws it out there as a possibility. I’m fine with that as it amps up the mystery as well as suggesting that the more she helps people the more at risk from death she will be.
The way that Zed handled it was interesting. She seemed really scared for the most part but it wasn’t death that scared her. Her power has always been something she was curious about and she once thought it was from a dark source but her time helping John has made her feel good about it as she has managed to use it to help so many people. Her fear in this case comes from the potential to lose it. Removing the mass might strip her of her abilities and that’s something that terrifies her.
My favourite scene of the episode was when Manny spoke to Zed directly and told her exactly what she needed to hear. She asked if her abilities came from God and listed the reasons why they might which caused Manny to tell her that she has all the evidence that she needs. It doesn’t matter where they came from, what matters is how they are used. This moment really helps Zed decide that she doesn’t want to risk losing them. Now that Zed can see Manny as well as John it opens up lots of possibilities.
Zed’s predicament is important as an exploration of John’s character. Over the course of the season we have been told time and time again that people who get close to John Constantine wind up dead. The evidence we’ve been given for this has mostly been people from John’s past who have suffered through proximity to him but in the case of Zed we see the relationship right from the beginning so it packs more of a punch when it looks like this might happen to her. Emotional investment in the characters really helps with this. It’s interesting to see the way that John reacts when it looks to be happening again. He is distant, focused and very angry. This shows a great amount of humanity to John and shows that his detached nature is a defense mechanism to hide the fact that he really cares about those around them.
All of the character stuff in this episode was fantastic but the threat of the week didn’t seem all that urgent. It seemed as if there was a lot of time to kill between victims which left plenty of room for fish out of water hijinks. I liked the mythology aspects built up with the Black Diamond and the effect it has on people but it wasn’t developed as much as I would have liked. The resolution felt a little neat as well when it was revealed that John could untether Manny whenever he wanted. It just felt a little too easy.
The penultimate episode of season 1 of Constantine gives the viewer more insight into Manny as well as develops the relationship between John and Zed.
Having Manny become mortal for an episode managed to be both effective and a lot of fun. Seeing how he reacted to things like death and the fear of death proved to be very interesting. It may have a profound effect on how Manny deals with John in the future assuming the show has one.
Naturally Manny’s mortality presented an opportunity to have some fun with the “fish out of water” concept. Having him deal with emotions, having to use human technology and an unexpected sexual encounter was really funny and Harold Perrinneau has great comic timing for the humourous scenes.
Zed was used really well this episode as a possible explanation for the source of her powers is given. I like that the episode doesn’t give a definitive answer and I really liked that she was afraid of losing her abilities rather than being killed by the possible tumour. She had a fantastic scene with Manny who helped her reach a decision without actually giving her any answers.
The threat of the week didn’t feel all that urgent in this episode. There seemed to be a lot of time to kill between attacks and the resolution felt a little neat. At no point did I feel that there was any real jeopardy. I did enjoy the mythology surrounding the Black Diamond though.