1.03, 1.04, & 1.05 Constantine – the Devil’s Vinyl, a Feast of Friends, & Danse Vaudou

the Devil’s Vinyl

Not bad but then it’s hard to mess up a story revolving around the hell-bound musician.  One thing I was very pleased with was after the faulty explanation on faith in the previous episode, this one was accurate to the Christian view on the Devil (and that he doesn’t mess with people or traffic in souls because he needs them or anything, but because it’s a means to hurt God).  By far my largest complaint is that we’re still in the dark on a lot of basics with Constantine where we really shouldn’t.  Especially: how the heck does he pay for anything?  I know the show makers created the map (with the blood drops) to give the show a hook for episodes week after week, but was it needed?  If there’s a “rising darkness” about, why not just have people calling Constantine for help week after week?  That could have even been a bit humor in this episode where he talks with the woman who sold her soul:

“I’ll help you out of this contract.”
“At what price?  Last guy that helped me wanted my soul.”
“Nah, I just want some cold hard cash, love.  You can keep your soul.”

I mean he has and passes out sometimes business cards, so why doesn’t he function like a private detective… magic wise?

Zed grew more into her own character too and I enjoyed her presence much more than in the 2nd episode where the show was almost blatant in its shipping efforts.

Papa Midnight (which I hear is a character from the comics) was also fascinating and hits that blend of smarmy charm that isn’t great on a main character, but is perfect for a on-again-off-again antagonist that can both work against and ally with the protagonist.

Much stronger episode and far better outing.

a Feast of Friends

 

At times I wonder if this show was to air on Saturday nights, if we’d see an uptick in church attendance the following morning.  Let’s face it, from Buffy to Supernatural, demons have taken a bit of a “hit” in popular culture when it comes to being terrifying.  So props to Constantine for making a demon that’s scary and terrifying.

I also heard from a friend that this is more translated from the comic as Constantine is “more of a bastard” and less good-hearted, like selling out a friend.  Still, the show softened the impact of that by letting Constantine inform his friend and get consent.  That moment did much to keep the main character human.  Just like the visit from the angel later contributed greatly to showing us that they’re not 2-dimensional antagonists.  I’m somewhat curious how the show will explain why Constantine isn’t like… Catholic when he pals around with heavenly hosts regularly, but it will probably be some answer like “angels are just a different flavor of assholes”.  Which is a shame, I kind of wish some stories would seriously examine the “they are like a-bombs” angle of angels (i.e. “We had to intervene once to stop a menace.  You want to ask Pompeii how that went?”).

All in all a great episode, though it did highlight 2 problems not in itself, but the show’s greater set up.

  1. While better established, magic is still awfully vague.  Why does Constantine’s friend have to host the demon and not his immortal partner?  I mean I don’t want anything to happen to Chas (he seems cool) but he seems like the obvious choice for a demon possession that would otherwise kill.  That could even be an explanation for how he’s immortal (maybe he’s legion, or some kind of walking containment jar).  The episode didn’t need to slow down and spell out the answer, but I wish earlier episodes had said or hinted at what the rules for things like Chas are so when episodes like this one comes around, we can work out the answer for ourselves.
  2. The “what happened with Astra” should have been kept more vague.  For one, when Zed is trying to find out about what happened, while we the audience already knows, it gets tedious.  Second the impact of watching Constantine and Gary talking about what happened would be much greater if we had only a vague notion of it and was learning more about the ordeal from their discussion.

Strongest episode thus far.  If I understand correctly, fans of the source feel that this Constantine is toned down a lot (he doesn’t even smoke).  While I can understand their frustration, let me gently remind everybody that this is a network show.  While Hellblazer may be immensely popular by comic book standards, you have to have much, MUCH wider appeal in order to fund a TV show.  To do that, you have to adjust the character so that enough people don’t mind watching him for an hour week after week (also keep in mind that in comic form, you only got a dose of him every month).  So it can’t be a perfect translation and that’s ok.

Danse Vaudou

Papa Midnight returns!  And there’s another shout out to a DC comic book character!

Actually that got some of us at the comic shop joking.  For those who don’t know, DC comics has this multiple universe idea that it toys with off and on.  With Arrow/Flash sharing continuity on the CW, this using its own continuity on NBC, it’s like we, the audience get to watch the birth of the DC multiverse in real time!  Earth-CW has the traditional superheroes, Earth-NBC has the magical ones (and then there’s Earth-Cinema which… we’ll see) and it’s kind of awesome to savor it all.

Story and all on this one was decent, a good baseline to judge the quality of other episodes.  We are confirmed that buddy Chas operates under the Highlander rules of immortality (though no word yet on decapitation) instead of any kind of time or copy shenanigans that are used to “keep him alive”.  I quite enjoyed him staving off the one ghost by playing the Who’s Line is it Anyway? question game.  That guy seems set to become the ensemble darkhorse of this show. (maybe that was the way it was in the comics too?)

We’re seeing a lot of potential in these early episodes, but nothing really reaching it yet.  Hopefully the main arc will kick in soon and we’ll get to see what the show can do.

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