A Whole World Out There takes Constantine to a new level
Broken record time: Constantine is too much fun to be ending in two more episodes. Don’t stop the ride just yet, NBC! When it’s at its best, Constantine tosses Matt Ryan’s snarky antihero in nightmarish situations that could easily double as the premise for a horror movie. In A Whole World Out There, the writers put Constantine against their version of one of the most iconic horror movie villains leading to another entertaining standout in a season where that’s becoming the norm.
Constantine doesn’t adhere to the normal guidelines for comic book shows allowing the writers to be a lot more adventurous and daring instead of sticking to one particular formula.
Zed’s still recuperating and Chas is with his daughter so Constantine is getting drunk and wallowing in self pity watching a window into the past showing his pal Gary, who sacrificed himself to save him in Atlanta (in the series’ first truly must-see episode A Feast of Friends).
In A Whole World Out There, Ryan continues to capably convey Constantine’s torment of failing those close to him despite his carefree facade. It’s such a random longshot, but I’d love to see Ryan return as Constantine in some other DC shows like Arrow and The Flash or heck, even make an Easter Egg cameo in the Justice League movies.
Manny alerts Constantine that his pal, Ritchie (Jeremy Davies, who we haven’t seen since the premiere episode) is in trouble, but that warning may have come too late. Four of Ritchie’s college students are in a cemetery using an incantation that sends them to another dimension. Only problem is the ruler and controlling force of said dimension is not Walternate, but its demented Freddy Kruger stand-in, Jacob Shaw (William Mapother, another Lost alumni). Shaw learned a means to travel to another dimension and stayed there after ‘accidentally’ killing his research assistance. Now he’s in control of every facet of this realm, embodied in a classic, creepy house.
The students’ journey into Shaw’s dimension allows him to lock into them and taunt them in any reflective surface — horror villain style — before bringing them back to his realm. And like Freddy, anything he does to his victims there affects their bodies in the regular dimension. This episode features one of the more gruesome deaths of the series thus far.
Worse for Ritchie is the realization that the students used a book in his possession on Shaw’s theories to travel to the other dimension. Davies makes Ritchie such a unique character in the Constantine universe as he’s not overly confident or jaded, but more like a veteran dealing with PTSD. He’s not thrilled to see Constantine — like most of his friends — but once the students start getting killed off, Shaw knows only Constantine can help him stop Shaw.
Davies plays off Ryan well giving their interactions a different feel than those Constantine has with Zed, Manny or Chas. Constantine and Ritchie take the surviving student, Lily (Erinn Westbrook) to Jasper’s cabin, but she makes the fatal flaw of attempting to make a call on her cell phone and gets pulled back to Shaw’s realm. It was such a stupid horror movie character move and felt like a winking reference from the writers.
There, Lily learns Shaw is repeatedly killing her friends and bringing them back to life for his perverse pleasure. When you need an actor to make even a smile look creepy, there’s few better than Mataphor.
Constantine knows there’s only one way they can rescue Lily and that’s if they recite the incantation and travel to Shaw’s dimension. With Constantine’s track record, Ritchie is right to be worried about this plan, but he reluctantly agrees.
Through his own research in alternate realms and singularities, Ritchie realizes he can take control of the realm as well. Shaw calmly attacks them, excited at the arrival of two new playthings. After some encouragement from Constantine, Ritchie fights through the pain and asserts control over the realm transforming it into his version of paradise in a colorful special effects showcase. The show never goes too overboard with effects so when they’re used, it feels important. I’m sure some of that is the budget constraints, but it works in the show’s favor in this case.
After snapping Lily back to her proper dimension, Ritchie considers staying behind to further craft his perfect world. Constantine calls him out for not wanting to return for fear of The Rising Darkness and after some hesitancy, Ritchie finally does decide to return much to Constantine’s relief.
Ritchie is renewed while teaching his classes as Lily looks on from her seat while back at the cabin, Constantine is hard drinking and still upset about Gary. The healing process clearly takes a bit longer for some than others even in A Whole World Out There.