After two weeks spent introducing two different female leads, tonight’s episode offers up a better glimpse of the future of DC’s occult-based hero’s TV adventures will play out on a weekly basis. And with the arrival of a true nemesis for Constantine and tighter establishment of the supporting characters, the show is proving it still has a few more tricks left up its sleeve.
In Chicago, a woman goes into an abandoned record studio that now is home to animal carcass strewn along doorways and the floor. Although the decorations would scare off most people, the woman is focused on her task and opens a hidden shaft in the wall to pull out a Bible with a record in it.
She goes to her friend, Bernie, another radio producer, and asks him to verify the album plays although she warns him repeatedly not to listen to it. So of course, Bernie pops on the headphones and gives it a listen, then proceeds to take an ice pick to his ear. Well, she did kinda warn you, Bernie.
Zed has arrived at Cabin Constantine, where she’s greeted by Chas. Constantine is home, albeit naked and covered in what looks like blood as he learns a new chant. It’s a different way of introducing him for the episode. Constantine wants Zed to use her visioning abilities to offer some insight on Bernie’s death. Bernie was the producer for Constantine’s old punk rock band, Mucous Membrane. The show is doing an outstanding job of peppering in little details of Constantine’s past and Matt Ryan keeps Constantine so unpredictable that nothing seems out of character.
Back in Chicago, the woman puts the album on her home shelf right in front of her too young to not be curious daughter. Constantine and Zed have tracked down the old studio owner, who’s on his death bed in a hospital. He tells them about a blues singer who sold his soul and one night while he was recording, the demon came to collect. The album captured that encounter and now possesses anyone who listens to kill and maim anyone around them.
The owner says he spots an angel, which surprisingly doesn’t immediately tip Constantine off that Manny has returned. Again, Manny freezes time pausing everything save Constantine. He’s come for the studio owner.
Predictably, the daughter pulls the album off the shelf so she can listen to it and KILL EVERYONE. BTW, how many young girls even know how to use a record player these days?
Constantine and Zed find a rock singer the studio owner mentioned and break into his house. Ian Fell went from loser to overnight rock icon and Constantine thinks he sold his soul to attain stardom. Turns out Jasmine Fell, his wife/the woman from earlier, sold hers to stop his terminal cancer from killing him.
Jasmine negotiated her soul-selling deal with Anton, a “soul broker,” who promises to give her soul back in exchange for the album, but when Constantine goes to handle the arrangement, he runs into his old rival/voodoo practitioner Papa Midnite (played with a commanding presence by Michael James Shaw).
Midnite is not happy to see Constantine and ties him up while his men get the album. Zed has to make the save (a nice twist from the norm where the guy has to save the helpless girl), but Midnite’s men are possessed and looking to play the album at the largest setting possible — a college campus radio station. I’m really wondering if a college station has CD players, let alone record players, but we’ll go with it.
To avoid being possessed when he hears it, Constantine earphones up and listens to the Sex Pistols. From my cursory familiarity with Constantine, the show seems to be fairly faithful to the comic in his earliest portrayal. Before Constantine can fight through the mob of possessed students, his earbud falls out. This time he’s saved thanks to the arrival of Papa Midnite. Constantine chants a spell to trap Midnite’s men in the sound booth and conjures a demon to swallow them (and the album) back down to hell.
Midnite isn’t happy and back at his lair, whips up a Constantine voodoo doll. Constantine and Chas have Anton swallow Jasmine’s soul sale so Ian’s cancer will return. He’s ok as he’s confident the new technology will help him beat cancer since his past decade diagnosis.
Maybe it’s the feeling of Constantine battling yet another body-inhabiting demon, but tonight’s episode felt a bit too familiar. We shouldn’t be at the point where we feel like we’ve already seen everything the show has to offer by the third show. The addition of Midnite should help if for no other reason than to give Constantine a recurring villain character who isn’t a demon or easily dispatched demon.