This week, Constantine aired what might be the show's final episode, a creepy story about otherworldly polygamous teenagers. But it's the episode's last few moments that ups the stakes and has us hoping that Constantine returns, perhaps with a bit of rebranding.
I will admit, I've been a bit ambivalent about Constantine. Like a lot of shows, it got off to a rocky start, and it's had a hard time distinguishing itself from other horror shows. (It doesn't help that some, like Supernatural, have more than a little Hellblazer in their DNA.) But Matt Ryan has been outstanding all season, and, while they were broken up by that odd philosophical slasher film, the last few episodes have done a lot to clarify the roles of the other core and recurring characters.
And even without Chas, this episode, "Waiting for the Man," made the show feel a bit more like an ensemble, with Zed interacting a great deal with Manny and poor doomed Jim Corrigan, Gary hijacking a corpse to give John a warning, and Papa Midnite trying to collect a bounty La Brujería has placed on John's head. Papa Midnite continues to be brutal, charming, and pragmatic, going after John not out of any sense of vengeance or rivalry, but to free his sister's soul from Hell. And the possibility of Jim Corrigan becoming a host for the Spectre in the course of the show is an intriguing one.
We've seen in earlier episodes that the Rising Darkness means that certain types of magics have become stronger — the Romani woman's power over miners' spirits, Papa Midnite's accidental resurrections, the parent-hating spirit of a dead child. Apparently, magic is turning up to aid those who are not necessarily magical, but merely evil. The Man, our antagonist of the week, is a virgin-obsessed Satanist, one whose devotion to the Devil is finally paying off. Rather than luring young girls into his murder house with his trucker hat and his cajun accent, he's able to send out his trio of "brides," the spirits of the girls he married and killed. The dead girls are strangely devoted to him, and they cloud the mind of young Vesta (what a name for a virgin sacrifice!), seducing her with the promise that she'll never be alone. This is the face of true evil: a man who destroys the innocent for his own sexual pleasure.
There is a lot of genuine creepiness in this episode — the house that smells of rotten meat, with fly traps everywhere, the altar to Satan, the wedding ring maker, the corpses of the dead girls tucked into bed. What's horrifying isn't the supernatural aspect itself; it's that La Brujería's mystical meddling has made it easier for the Man to commit mundane acts of evil. It's apt this particular horrorshow ends not with an exorcism but with gunfire. (Although John does need a small incantation to free the souls of the murdered girls.)
This particularly brutal plotline is just one of the reasons I think that Constantine (rumored to possibly be rebranded as Hellblazer) might be better suited for Syfy than NBC. There are lots of hints here of the dirtier, grittier show that Constantine can be — John's sloppy low magic, where he electrocutes himself to trigger a vision, his invitation to Manny to "hold it for me" — and after the big reveal, the show might be better on a channel where the writers get freer rein. After all the Manny bonding we got last week, this week's final moments revealed the truth about John's annoying angel pal: he's the mastermind behind La Brujería's Rising Darkness. All those saccharine speeches were manipulation, and John and Zed's involvement in the Rising Darkness is more complicated than it seems.
With this revelation comes the potential for a lot more delightful weirdness mixed in with Constantine's horror. We hope we get a chance to see it.