On the D/L – Constantine
Season 1 Episode 7 – “Blessed are the Damned”
John Constantine and Zed go to investigate a faith healer that is very much the real deal and find themselves drawn into a much larger issue.
This week Chas sits out this adventure because he’s apparently away visiting his daughter. We had a similar excuse last week when Zed was away at an art class so I’m wondering if we’re going to get a situation where most episodes alternate Constantine’s companion for that particular adventure.
Interestingly, the lack of Zed last week was actually a production issue. That particular episode was apparently supposed to be the second episode of the show. It was written and filmed before the character existed as part of the show so there was no alternative but to air the episode anyway and add a line explaining where she was. It’s an interesting production tidbit that I felt like sharing with you. It also explains why John Constantine doesn’t seem to be all that bothered about the fabled rising darkness at that point in time.
Back to the episode that I’m actually reviewing. There were lots of very good things about this episode. Chief among them being the development of the Angels. Manny has more to do here than he ever has and it’s great stuff. There was a continuation of Manny being torn between following the rules and helping Constantine out. He does manage to force a compromise when he gives John the clue that tells him where to look but clearly it’s a problem for him to betray the rules.
The question over whether he can actually help and chooses not to is answered here when he takes action to save Zed. It is mentioned that there will be consequences for what he did but we never find out what they are. I’m sure we’ll soon find out but it’s an important piece of development for Manny. I also liked how John managed to manipulate Manny by convincing him that it wasn’t an Earthly problem so it was his duty to intervene.
Some insight into Manny’s character is given through his conversations with his fellow Angel Imogen (Megan West). I really liked how he was curious about pain and how the sun feels on skin. It’s a lot like City of Angels where the Angels could interact with the world but weren’t a part of it. Sensations are an alien concept to them so it’s natural that Manny would be curious.
The most interesting part of this scene is when Manny stops just short of blasphemy against his creator, God. He doesn’t think that humanity deserves Earth or free will and he almost says that he thinks God made a mistake in granting humanity freedom. Something tells me we’re going to get a Castiel style rebellious Angel in this show too. He does seem to have some kind of respect for John Constantine that transcends his dislike for humanity. It’s unclear why that is but it’s an interesting plot thread to be explored.
It was another “case of the week” style tale but it was a lot better handled than some of the previous episodes. It felt like it had more of a connection to the arc of “the rising darkness” and making Angels a huge part of the narrative helped give the story an air of cosmic significance. The twist of Imogen being a fallen Angel like Satan himself and interacting with the mortal realm being part of her plan was a nice surprise and not something that I saw coming. This really helps to flesh out that the “rising darkness” is a major threat that has some massive power behind it.
Megan West is great as Imogen. At first she seems like an Angel cliché by being so pure and having a soft spoken way about her but the transformation when her plan is revealed is excellent. She really feels like a different person when that happens. West also did a great job of drawing out the viewer’s sympathy as it seemed her days were numbered.
Patrick Carroll’s Pastor Zachary is an interesting character despite some limited scope to him. At first he seems very keen to make his sermons more popular and that turns out to be a fatal mistake. For a while we’re led to believe that he’s a greedy opportunist who violated an Angel to steal a feather. This apparently gives him the power to heal others which is a great boost for a man of God as he can literally practice what he preaches. As Zed says his heart is in the right place and has a desire to help others but is definitely ignorant to the consequences as the area around him is dying. The twist reversal of Imogen produces a similar twist with his character. It turns out that he was only a pawn in Imogen’s plan and was on his way to hell due to a sin left on his soul. This reveal comes late in the game but is well timed as gives Constantine the information he needs.
The episode tackles the question of religion which becomes interesting in a show like this. John and Zed both know that all of this stuff is true and that all religions are viable in some way so it does raise the question of what is left to discuss. I’m not sure what Zed was looking to gain from this discussion. I think that the conversation would have been better had it remained on the question of the origin of Zachary’s powers. Zed seemed to be convinced that they came from a place of good but John’s assumption was that it was a front for something dark. It’s probably best to side with his cynical nature as he’s been around and knows the score.
It seems that we’re getting closer to finding out more about Zed. More about her past is being teased and the question has been asked as to the origin of her powers. The mysterious man at the end of the episode clearly has ties to her past so some kind of explanation is definitely on the way.
I have to say that I thought the “Ghouls” were really good henchmen. The fact that they are humans who were healed by Zachary adds a tragic element to them and makes it all the worse when John is forced to kill one of them. Corrupted innocence is always a tragic story and it works really well here. It’s also nice to see Constantine involved in a more physical altercation.
A strong episode of the show that feels closely connected to the main arc of “The Rising Darkness”. The inclusion of another Angel and some exploration of Manny’s character are welcome additions and help to flesh out this world in interesting ways.
The case of the week was handled better in previous weeks and allowed Zed and John to disagree on the nature of these miracles that are happening. Watching these two characters argue over what they feel is right is always great as neither of them seem willing to back down.
A fairly clumsy handling of the religious discussion brings the episode down slightly and some of the procedural investigations can be a little dull. A big problem that Constantine has generally is taking too long for answers to present themselves.