Two episodes in and it appears that NBC has found some magic with its new comic book-based show. Despite a major casting change early on, “Constantine” continues to seem assured of itself without the typical growing pains you may expect from a new show.
“Constantine” is filling a very unique space in the comic book TV show realm and it’s providing some welcome diversity from the norm. And star Matt Ryan makes for a compelling and edgy lead who doesn’t have to go through this long process to become a hero, but is perfectly fine being the cheeky bastard he’s always been.
While a Halloween theme episode would probably be a bit obvious, it did seem like a bit of a missed opportunity. Constantine learns of a Pennsylvania miner who was killed in a flash fire — in his shower. Chas (Charles Halford) doesn’t come along for the trip and the angel Manny (Harold Perrineau) doesn’t appear either allowing the episode to focus more on Constantine and less the ensemble.
Upon arriving in Pennsylvania, Constantine encounters the artist (Angelica Celaya) who’s been sketching his image. She wants to know more about their connection, but he blows her off. Constantine travels to the mine after getting a tip from some of the miners and hears ominous knocking, but fortunately no flash fires. Opting to get a closer look at the death scene, Constantine goes to the repast and brings some food to ensure he’s not coming in empty-handed. Unfortunately, it’s a frozen TV dinner. That’s such a funny and nice touch.
The widow spots him scooping up some of the residual (slime? goo?) and he identifies himself as a journalist. I almost think more people would be fine with him saying he’s an occultist than a reporter. The widow doesn’t seem especially broken up and almost appears to becoming on to him, but when he rebuffs her advances, she gets the grieving miners to throw him out. While Constantine may be brilliant at spells and conjuring, he’s no Batman and the president of the mining company bloodies him up, but not before Constantine gets an admission that the president heard the knocking too.
Back at his hotel room, the artist has let herself in and in another fun personality quirk, we learn Constantine always gets the honeymoon suite since there’s more room and “good energy.” Constantine has found out her name is Zed. Right away it’s obvious that Celaya is a marked improvement over Lucy Griffins and her chemistry with Ryan is steaming so while we had to in essence introduce a new female lead for consecutive weeks, the show looks to have vastly improved with the Celaya/Ryan pairing.
Constantine puts some of the goo in Zed’s hand and she taps into her abilities (which we’re still a bit murky on) to envision herself as the victim right down to the flash fire shower and a church with two crosses. The church visit doesn’t lead to much beyond Constantine learning teens use it as a urban legend/hook-up spot. Constantine chants something and sees a vision of a spirit coming towards him. I’m not sure how the show can “fix” this, but the show’s lone weak points are stemming from the actual magic moments as Constantine just sounds like he’s sputtering gibberish. This approach helps in that it’s not dumbed-down for the audience, but conversely, we have no idea what the spells are supposed to accomplish.
Zed comes to her room and finds Constantine crashing among drawings, which is a clever way to work in some of the comic’s actual cover art. Constantine determines the spirits of dead miners are being summoned to kill those associated with the mine. After a minor collapse at the mine, Zed visions a campsite, which happens to be the home of a priest whose son died in the mines. Thankfully, the episode is a little less obvious than the priest with a grudge seeking revenge. After a bit more investigating, Constantine brings the priest to the mine so he can blow it up to forever stop the outbreaks then he goes to the culprit responsible — the widow. While she tries to use the miners against him, Constantine reverses the spell and has them drag her underground instead. Back at his room, Zed says they need each other and they can team up so the show’s new status quo has officially been established.
Friday night ratings are in and the show didn’t have a great performance, possibly because the main audience was out at Halloween parties. Wonder if the show debuting earlier would have helped in terms of building some buzz and making it a Halloween-destination type event?
So far, this has been a very enjoyable show although it’s 10 p.m. Friday slot may hurt it from developing an audience.