1.02 Constantine – the Darkness Beneath

Second episode and we see the show starting to work through its growing pains. Not great or flawless, but not a bad show either. We’ll start with the missteps so we can end on a positive note.

Things that bugged me this episode:

  • I did like the title screen, if they had cut out the “hell close up” and left just the symbol, name, and flames backed by a pretty kick ass score. In some ways the title is indicative of the episode. When it’s being subtle and letting you do the work of noticing, it’s good. When it acts a bit afraid that the viewer won’t catch something cool/neat, it stumbles a bit and overplays its hand.
  • One thing about these shows is that you do have to be sure that everything makes sense once the mystery is finished and the audience thinks back over it (because you should want the audience to remember and think about what you’ve done. While part of my problem could be that I have hearing difficulties and missed some things in the dialog (which is very easy when people are speaking with accents AND saying made-up words), I never grasped why the villain of the weak summoned the things she did or targeted who she did. Much less why there was the “ghost” kind of thing in the church. Other than being a generally bitter, angry woman [insert hackneyed gender joke here], her motivation wasn’t well established.
  • Another TV show tries to deal with faith. *sigh* Which it never does well except in a very generic, hallmark-card style that’s either insulting or boring to those of us that are actually religious. There was enough going on in this episode (establishing the world, new character, etc) that they didn’t need to tack on a deeper, more complex topic on top of it. Though one does have to wonder what kind of priest gets their faith back after playing with explosives…
  • Some of the scenes between Zed & Constantine reeked of “trying to hard”. Guys, it’s your second episode. Don’t worry about romantic tension and will they/won’t they until you get your characters established.

Things I liked this episode:

  • We got to see more of that magical cabin interior which is still one of my favorite interior sets.
  • In fact, though one can tell this was a bit of a “bottle show” after a budget-breaking premiere, the set designers and practical effect guys did a really great job. The small, mining town house actually felt and looked like a real, small house and not the overly-large domiciles that sometimes populate these things. I also enjoyed the moment of filling the car with liquid. The effect looked practical so kudos and suitably freaky-creepy.
  • Matt Ryan (who was born the same year as me) seems to be settling into his role a lot more now and his earnest/snarky behavior mix felt much more natural. I especially enjoyed the scenes where he’s trying to give a cover story, wishes he didn’t have to, and half calls people out on making him do so when they know the truth too. Heck if this guy showed up and told me MY workplace was haunted, I’d believe him (and not just because my workplace is in one of the city’s oldest buildings).
    Side Note: Going back to my complaint about the rules of magic in my first episode review, I must admit I’m torn over Constantine’s solution at the climax of this episode. Seems rather… too easy that one could call up a ghost without even the slightest Latin. On the other hand, [actor] is so forceful in his delivery one can believe ANY ghost would show up after being called by him. Heck if he told me to give him my pizza I probably would.
  • EXPLOSIONS! Yeah, I like explosions. So what?
  • It was a nice twist that the beings themselves weren’t evil, but being forced to do evil things by an outsider. It’s not often in these shows that we see a peaceful solution where one just has to remind the monsters of who they really are.
  • They maintain the running gag of “master of the dark arts” from the premiere but keep it just subtle enough that it doesn’t become annoying.

So all in all, the show still has some bumps it needs to smooth over but I’m digging it so far and looking forward to the next episode.

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One thought on “1.02 Constantine – the Darkness Beneath

  1. I haven’t watched this show yet, though I might at some point. I’ve honestly never been a fan of Hellblazer and was probably one of the few people who actually enjoyed the 2005 “Constantine” movie with Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz.

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