Legion contributor Melissa Molina is recapping and reviewing Constantine for us this season. Follow her on Twitter @Meli_Molina!
It was a little odd to find that an up and coming show based off a popular DC comic property would be getting it’s big debut so late in the fall season. Apparently those behind Constantine must’ve been surprised as well, which is why ‘Rage of Caliban’ feels a little out of place as everyone rings in the start of the Christmas season. It’s dripping with Halloween charm, complete with a couple obvious jump scares, but it’s still an engaging episode which has to tip it’s hat off to Game of Thrones director Neil Marshall.
The episode opens up at the tail end of a brutal double murder. There’s some crazy supernatural stuff happening in this scene as the viewers are immediately brought into a blood-soaked room complete with a father begging for his life. His cries of mercy are ignored as he meets his quick demise, leaving a young girl scared and alone in front of her parents’ corpses. This looks like a job for John Constantine (Matt Ryan), but this time around he’s not really willing to go back out on the job. He’s dealt with some serious supernatural entities within the past couple weeks, so it’s no surprise that the dark arts dabbler isn’t jumping for joy with the opportunity to take on yet another evil spirit. Instead he was running around getting lucky with a random girl, edging in some additional personality traits/flaws of the character from the source material, which surely fans will dig.
Chas (Charles Halford) is trying to snap Constantine back into the right mindset to fight off these baddies. It’s a little difficult to get his mind back into the game, especially since Zed (Angélica Celaya) was absent for this adventure, but Chas manages to drag his friend out to Alabama to see what’s going on with this strange little girl.
While Constantine is investigating what’s going on with the murders, he gets a friendly visit from his wonderfully angelic friend Manny (Harold Perrineau). Constantine immediately gets annoyed, knowing that his friend won’t provide any sort of help but will do nothing more than watch. That’s no way for one friend to help another, but Constantine is more or less used to these random visits from Manny. This time around he’s lying down more talk about the rising darkness that’s coming to this world, and how our hero really needs to step up his game if he wants to even think of fighting off this being. Well, that’s easy for Manny to say, but Constantine really needs to have his head and heart in the right place in order to get the job done. At this point in the story, he’s definitely not there.
Let’s trail off a minute to talk about Neil Marshall’s overall direction which feels a lot more cinematic and large compared to previous episodes. Marshall really keeps a tight lock on the dangers that surround the characters as his almost claustrophobic camera movements keep the viewers almost trapped in this topsy-turvy world that Constantine resides in. The gradual zoom is sprinkled in throughout the episode which really adds into that general claustrophobic feeling that really heightens the mood.
In the other end of town, there’s a little boy named Henry (Max Charles) who’s next on the possession list. Henry’s having some big conflicts with his parents, which leaves the window wide open for the demon to come in and claim his soul. The search is on to find exactly where the demon will strike next, but Constantine is taking a little longer to piece together what ties this all together. After a little bit of help from a random friend, he finds out that there’s been several killings made over the past 35 years. Most of the young children from these terrible murders can’t be reached except for the first one, who happens to be completely catatonic. That doesn’t really help out Constantine at all.
Chas and Constantine begin to figure out where these murders are happening, and a lot of that has to do with the location. They’re also able to spend a scene alone where Chas speaks a little bit about his feelings. He ends up opening up a little too much of his heart in front of Constantine at one point, but that was because hew as holding a sword of truth. It happens. Chas is a character that’s been interesting to see develop over the episodes, so to have a Constantine-Chas episode is pretty fun to see.
They finally pinpoint that Henry is most likely the latest possession victim, but he’s already been running around and hurting other people. Sometimes the angry faces that kids make come off as almost comedic, so it was hard to take this little boy seriously at times when he made his “angry face.” It just looks too cute.
Constantine’s first attempt to infiltrate the family in order to get the demon out leaves him with a black eye and a trip to jail. It’s looking incredibly grim for our hero, that is until Manny pops on in and gives Constantine some advice that’ll help him get back on track. Thankfully the mother (Laura Regan) started to see the obvious possession signs in her sweet little boy and recruits Constantine to help her.
It’s time for a seance, but Constantine and company have to find the right location in order to get it done right. Now that they know that the first victim’s house is at the start of this bloody trail, they decide to use that as their location. Unfortunately the seance doesn’t work out well for them at all, and the mother’s sedative quickly wears off the kid, but Constantine is hell-bent to get this demon out. He’s just terribly afraid that if he tries to exorcise the demon out that Henry will suffer the same fate as Astra. The last thing Constantine needs is another innocent soul damned forever thanks to him, and Ryan does a great job continually showing that tortured soul of this character as he continually seeps out of every pore.
The demon didn’t appreciate that his human host was drugged for a couple hours and goes out to seek vengeance. Constantine is hot on his tail, following him into a haunted maze out of all things. It’s a little cheesy but we’ll go with it. He ends up in a slightly lackluster fight with the demon as he expels it out of Henry’s system, but our hero is able to save the boy’s soul after all. He comes to the conclusion that he needs to stop backing off from his duties and get stronger for the upcoming battle with who knows what. The viewers could have done without the ending monologue though. The whole hero’s journey bookend of it all made the episode ending feel a pinch tacky, like it was the pilot all over again. Despite that, ‘Rage of Caliban’ is a very well executed episode that fans will love.
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