In Review: Constantine, Episode 2 “The Darkness Beneath”

If the episodes are like this, Constantine will be around for a very long while.

Constantine, Episode 2 “The Darkness Beneath” Broadcast October 31, 2014

Written by Rockne S. O’Bannon

Directed by Steve Shill

After a brief recap of the pilot episode, the quitting bell sounds at coal town Heddwich, Pennsylvania. A husband arrives home and pours himself several strong drinks. He tells his worried wife that three more men threatened to quit during their shifts. He complains of being put in charge of the new workers, and there’s nothing down in the mine for them to complain about hearing. He steps into the shower to clean himself off and brown liquid comes out of the spigot, followed by flame. The man is burned alive in his shower. Cue opening title card.

In his current headquarters, John waits for Chas to arrive with his winnings from the Daily Double. Once back with the cash, Constantine tells his friend they’re going to Pennsylvania because a drop of blood on their magical map has become wet. Chas can’t go with him because of a past experience with a succubus and a train derailment which have lead to a warrant for his arrest. Unbeknownst to the arriving exorcist, a woman finishes her latest sketch–again of Constantine. Her room is filled with several likenesses of him; in fact, she’s sketching him as he’s watching the coal miner’s funeral procession. She rips the drawing from her tablet and runs outside, bumping into John. Recognizing him, she says, “I dream about you. I started to believe you weren’t real. Who are you?” Thinking he’s being played, John pokes out the eyes in the drawing and holds it up to the sun, telling her, “You want answers. In light I always find mine.” When she looks away from the sun he’s gone, but she’s picked his pocket and has his ID. In the bar where the dead man’s wake is being held, John strikes up a conversation with a patron. He asks if the locals had considered a dragon as an explanation. Another patron chimes in saying it’s not dragons that’s killed all the others. “We dug a little too deep and knocked on the door of Hell. And now Hell is knocking back.” John sneaks into the mine and after listening to a wall, knocks on it slightly with a pick, receives an answer back, and begins to run as a cave in occurs. Cue first commercial break.

This was a tremendous amount of fun and was a huge improvement over the pilot episode. This felt exactly like a Hellblazer comic book. The addition of Angelica Celaya as Zed Martin is a big improvement to the cast, as she brings a terrific lost soul quality to the character as well as some sexuality that was missing. It was great seeing all the renderings she’s made of John since many of them were covers to Hellblazer. John acts entirely in character, going where he shouldn’t, asking what he shouldn’t, and doing what he shouldn’t. He gets beat up the locals, ticks off the grieving widow, and suspects someone of causing all the trouble, and is completely wrong. There’s not a lot of magic cast by him, and that made this episode strong because he had to get by on his wits.

The good: Zed, John’s take to the grieving widow, the terrific surprise and wall decoration at a church, all the Hellblazer covers, a great scene in an SUV, John’s attire after that scene, his confrontation with the true villain, and his final dialogue with Zed.

Fun lines: “Really? In a church?”, “You wish,” and, the infamous proclamation, “Everyone who puts their trust in me dies.”

The bad: John not sticking out more for his accent and clothes and the cliché focus speech he gives to Zed. These are really quibbles, because so much worked well.

The final line: If the episodes are like this, Constantine will be around for a very long while. This is what I want the show to be like. Overall grade: A

 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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