Constantine's New Sidekick Is A Vast Improvement—But This Episode Isn't

Illustration for article titled iConstantine/is New Sidekick Is A Vast Improvement—But This Episode Isnt

Constantine traded the rather dull Liv for the mysterious Zed as our hero's mystery-solving pal, and Zed proves a much better match for the sardonic exorcist. Unfortunately, this mining town murder plot doesn't live up to the grotesque tone set up by the pilot.

This week's episode functioned as a sort of second Constantine pilot, changing the story so that it's not just about John Constantine following Liv's bloodspot map, but also about Zed and John trying to solve the mystery of their connection. And that aspect—the relationship between John and Zed—is by far the strongest aspect of this episode.

Just because John is a dabbler in the dark arts, that doesn't mean that he takes the appearance of magic at face value. So when Zed approaches him the street carrying a charcoal portrait of him, John immediately suspects that she's a con artist and uses a simple bit of hypnotism to ditch her. In fairness, she did steal his wallet and she is on the run, so con artist may not be far off.

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Illustration for article titled iConstantine/is New Sidekick Is A Vast Improvement—But This Episode Isnt

Zed's insistence that John take her on as a partner seems born of her frustration with her persistent visions of him—though the final lines of the episode imply that her motives may be more sinister. But if John was hoping to chase her off, his use of her abilities probably would have done it. Speaking of which, we should probably discuss this week's mystery.

We open on a Welsh mining town in Pennsylvania where a mining boss has a tense conversation with his wife (holy L Word, it's Leisha Hailey!) before stepping into the shower, which spits out flames instead of water. It turns out that this isn't the first such death in the town, and in what's actually a nicely creepy scene, John realizes that the mines contain Knockers, the spirits of dead miners who knock on the walls to prevent living miners from digging in dangerous spots.

Illustration for article titled iConstantine/is New Sidekick Is A Vast Improvement—But This Episode Isnt
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Knockers are, however, benevolent spirits, so John suspects that some human being is forcing them to commit these acts of vengeance. Because we need to use Zed's powers for the sake of plot, John completely ignores the most obvious suspect: Leisha Hailey's character. After all, before awkwardly hitting on John and then shrieking him out of her house, she tells him that she is a Romany, which in supernatural media speak means she's a magic user. But no, first we need a red herring in the form of Zed's visions.

I'm almost a little sad that the ex-priest in this episode is a one-off character; I rather enjoyed his interactions with both John and Zed. After John meets the fellow at his campsite and realizes just who is killing the mining bosses, he decides to deal with the Knockers in the simplest way possible: by reminding them that they're the nice guys.

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Illustration for article titled iConstantine/is New Sidekick Is A Vast Improvement—But This Episode Isnt

The climax, in which John confronts Leisha Hailey and takes her out by summoning the Knocker spirit of her dead husband, is satisfying, but after the wonderful possessions and exorcisms we saw last week, I'm struck by how this week's mystery could belong to any supernatural show. But perhaps that's a side effect of this episode needing to focus on Zed and John's relationship. The blood map indicates that, like Supernatural, Constantine is going to be road show, with John and Zed traveling from town to town to deal with wicked magic. I just hope that the show has something else to distinguish itself besides its lead characters.

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DISCUSSION

cosineblue
CoSineBlue

Thank you.

This series is starting to slightly frustrate. The first episode was solid, but I was just largely happy NBC and David S. Goyer didn't dilute the character of Constantine to an unrecognizable level. They seem to (basically) get him.

It just seems they fell overly beholden to the CSI/NCIS/Agents of Sheild model of crime procedural television. Mystery of the week type deal. They seem to want to have an seasonal arc which lends itself to more serialized storytelling, but appear too timid to alienate potential grandmas and grampas hoping to see Gibbs from NCIS with a magic wand. I usally give a show two episode before I make a statement about how good a show is, but I guess I have to wait for next week to see if we're going to see a show about Constantine and his character flaws and his supernatural universe or a typical CBS medical procedural with ghosts.

Either way, Alan Moore "spitting venom" at his TV and canceling his cable and Hulu subscriptions as we speak....