Legion of Leia contributor Melissa Molina is recapping and reviewing Constantine for us this season. Follow her on Twitter @Meli_Molina!
There’s one too many shows out there on television right now that more or less romanticizes the idea of supernatural beings walking around the Earth. Then DC Entertainment and NBC joined forces to finally pull a particular occult detective off the pages of comic books and onto television sets across the nation. And now here we are, existing in a world where Constantine is now a show.
The episode begins with our anti-hero voluntarily receiving shock therapy in order to numb him of the ongoing pain that beats through his brain every second of the day. What that is doesn’t remain a mystery for much longer, when the exposition therapist lays it out in neat lettering to the viewers that John Constantine lost a young girl’s soul to hell. Now, that’s a big no-no in Constantine’s book, especially since it cost him his immortal soul and now he’s damned to hell. And boy does Matt Ryan instantly own the character and just absorbs himself into the role. In a very short span of time he turns from some random actor into the living embodiment of John Constantine.
Poor Constantine has barely been in the mental institution and already he’s being called upon to expel a demon from a random patient. The act of exorcism is very quick, but involves the lady in question floating and twitching with a small whiff of Evil Dead homage lingering in the air. When the possessed lady literally spells out who Constantine needs to track down, he storms out of the institution and is on the hunt for the mysterious lady.
Now there was a flurry of mixed reception coming out of the initial Constantine screenings at Comic-Con, and a lot of the negative reaction leaning more towards our female protagonist Liv Aberdine (played by Lucy Griffiths). She’s not an awful actress, but her talents aren’t incredibly spectacular at the same time. The introduction to the car salesperson longing for a little bit of adventure in her life is weak, but her blank fortune cookie hinted that perhaps she would be offed rather soon. Her car goes a little haywire and almost runs her over, but alas, no such luck. Shortly after her scare, Liv finds herself face-to-face with the smoking-less Constantine.
Immediately he invokes several harsh truths onto the super naive Liv, informing her that she’s got a gift for seeing the world of the supernatural. And believe me, it’s not a pretty sight to see. Liv is glimpsing into another plane where the lost souls aren’t exactly happy to still be roaming around the Earth. It’s up to our almost grumpy hero to make sure that this doe-eyed young thing doesn’t get scooped up by the forces of evil on his watch. Because it’s almost beaten into every viewer’s head that if he doesn’t save Liv, especially after his mishap with Astra, then he’s a failure on all fronts.
While he’s doing his investigation as to what demon could be stalking Liv, he gets regular visits from the angel Manny (played by Harold Perrineau). There’s not much for audiences to cling onto with his character, but his presence is somewhat menacing and annoying to Constantine which makes for entertaining banter between the two. He wants Constantine to track down and figure out what these demons are up to, so now here he is stuck doing a lot of the heavy lifting for this random angel. You think life is hard; try being John Constantine.
After a couple of failed attempts on Liv’s life, Constantine decides it’s time to just go ahead and do a bit of additional research with the help of his friend Ritchie (played by Jeremy Davies). After some slight hesitation, and a reveal that he too took part in losing Astra’s soul, he hesitantly agrees to help him out. They manage to track down the demon, and after some cool pyrotechnics and trickery from the demon’s behalf, Constantine is able to vanquish it without any deaths.
Once the big climax scene between Constantine and the demon is finished, the character Liv becomes a fleeting thought. The character never really held that much ground in the pilot, and for her to be used as a weak voyeur into the supernatural world of Constantine was already proving to be tiring rather fast. The character is shoved to the side as quickly as she’s brought in, and that’s partially for the better of the show. If we had stuck around with her for another episode, she could easily have transitioned into whiny damsel-in-distress mode, and that’s the last thing anybody wants to see on this show.
The special effects in this show were top notch, as expected from a major network show. Any less and it would’ve been embarrassing to watch. Matt Ryan’s performance, the cool source material the story is stemming from and the out-ofthis-world special effects are what really makes Constantine a show to watch this fall. Sure it has some bumps on the road with pacing, along with the female lead, but those can be easily remedied in it’s first season.