06 “Rage of Caliban” (Constantine season 1) [SPOILERS]


constantine title

There has, I will admit, been some worrying news coming out around Constantine.

I make no secret if the fact that I have been enjoying it, so I’m disappointed to read that NMC have stalled production of the show. It is, they insist, not a cancellation, but I am worried nonetheless. New TV series are birthed into a cut-throat world, and the networks’ axes don’t always fall fairly. Just ask Farscape and Firefly.

So, if Constantine ever needed to pull an A+ episode out of its pocket..

This week, we’re heading into the realms of the possession. After a family is brutally butchered by an unknown force, leaving their only child unharmed, John and Chas investigate. They conclude that some ghostly force has been possessing a spate of children, leading up to the parents’ deaths, and set out to stop the cycle before more people die.

Bit by bit, we are plumbing closer to the root of John’s damage. The oft-referenced exorcism-gone-wrong known chiefly as “Newcastle”. The fact that children are the key piece proves a real point of difficulty for John, who flat out refuses to perform an exorcism on the young boy Henry, even when the mother insists.

And here it does seem to have tapped something deeper than previous episodes. Children are easy fodder when it comes to horror, but they do tend to be damned effective. The moment where young Henry, having defeated the terror of the open closet, turns to see a silhouetted child at the window. There was a slight jump there.

It also managed to put some meat on the bones that is Manny the Angel. Granted it’s only adding more questions to the pile, but the rules seem to emerging. Angels can‘t interfere directly, but they can advise (Only in cryptic terms, seemingly -Ed), but can’t interfere. Something to do with free will, and all that gubbins.

I do note that this is ghosts again. We seem to be having as many of the recently deceased as demonic in this show, which is a bit of a surprise. And the actual nature of the haunting/possession is pretty dark as well. The abused child, who murdered his abusive parents, and went into a life-long catatonia whilst his soul went walkabout reliving the crime over and over.

And the resolution; that’s plenty dark enough too. The angry ghost soul goes back to the body, to rage at the walls of the mental facility. Hardly seems fair, but Constantine isn’t about fair.

One thing which struck me as an off note, though, was the narration at the end. I don’t know why it suddenly fell into voiceover, and actually it made it feel like it had some sort of season-ending significance. It just didn’t fit with the rest of the episode.

Overall though, I enjoyed the episode a lot. Partly that’s why I am really hoping that Constantine gets a second season. Is it the best show on TV at the moment? No, but it is better than most, and shows real potential to grow into something bigger. I am indeed biased, as I love the Hellblazer comics, but that’s no longer why I’m tuning in. Which is an achievement, I think.

Closing thoughts:

  • Hate to say it Constantine, but you missed Halloween. By quite a way.
  • Henry’s dad is a bit of a dick, no?
  • Does John Constantine seem largely modelled on the Doctor to anyone else, or is it just me?
  • I miss Papa Midnite.
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