Is this the first time an episode of Constantine has started, without someone being killed? Technically, a man does just about die in the beginning of “Blessed Are the Damned,” but he bounces right back. And therein lies the trouble for the Constantine Crew.
After last week’s “Rage of the Caliban,” which I called pretty easily the best episode of NBC’s Constantine thusfar, the show comes back down to Earth a bit this week. Also coming down to Earth, as it turns out—angels. And not just Harold Perrineau, either.
Not coincidental in the quality dip is the fact that this week is Zed-centric. Angelica Ceylaya tries, but when your every acting expression boils down to “frustrated confusion,” it wears thin quickly. Week by week, one can’t help but be reminded of Gary Larson’s The Far Side cartoon detailing “the many moods of the Irish Setter.
This week’s city is somewhere in Kentucky, which for whatever reason seems quite a lot more “southerny” than Constantine’s home base in Atlanta. A small-town preacher of the tent revival, snake-handling persuasion survives a brush with death and comes back with a curious boon—the literal feather of an angel. The feather grants him the power to perform miraculous wonders for his congregation, up to and including regrowing an amputee’s leg. I’m not kidding. The leg simply springs into existence, and onlookers are like “I’m pretty sure it’s not entirely normal for this to happen.”
However, as is a theme in Constantine, one never gets something for nothing when it comes to magic. The feather, as it turns out, was forcibly plucked from an angel named Imogen, who is now kept trapped on Earth, where she’s incomplete and wasting away. It’s up to Constantine and Zed to retrieve the Macguffin of the Week before all the “healed” people inevitably transform into psycho murderers, for reasons that are never really explained.
That may sound pretty silly, but hey—this is Constantine. It’s actually fairly interesting to see a bit more of the heavenly bureaucracy in this episode, and quite a bit of Manny the Angel, who seemingly has no idea of what’s going on. One would think that angels would be better informed, but he’s very much in the dark about Imogen the Angel’s situation, which actually leads to some compelling dialog between the two regarding the nature of celestial beings, and their inability to experience both human strengths and failings. It’s easily the most revealing episode about Harold Perrineau’s angel character in this respect, even if the third act twist shows us just how stupid angels can be.
Once again, a weakness is the lack of a believably threatening antagonist, as the central conflict is resolved fairly easily and wrapped up by the end of the episode. Would it be so awful for this show to have a persistent antagonist who can’t be dealt with within the span of an episode? How can you truly root for a good guy if they don’t have a proper villain to face off against, besides “The Rising Darkness”?
Thankfully, we do finally get a hint at a plot that will drive the show forward, as the final scene reveals what appears to be a sinister plot revolving around Zed (oh boy). The show could not have been more ham-handed thus far in implying that she will be the one to eventually betray Constantine and usher in the apocalypse. We’ve already been told it’s someone “close to him,” and the only other character close to Constantine who the show has bothered to introduce, is Chas. And if he somehow is the one who is destined to betray John, it will be without any kind of foreshadowing or motivation; a swerve for the sake of faking out the viewership. In a sense, the show has written itself into a corner, but it’s somehow remained mildly entertaining, in a purely pulpy sense.
It was announced this past week that Constantine’s first season would be capped at 13 episodes, with a second season still in jeopardy. One can only hope that if this adaptation of a great comics series is to wrap up with only one season under its belt, it does so in a way that actually brings the meager story to a satisfactory conclusion.
Jim Vorel is News Editor at Paste and a long-time Hellblazer reader. He hopes they’ll eventually adapt the storyline where Constantine convinces the devil to drink some holy water.