08 “The Saint of Last Resorts” (Constantine season 1) [SPOILERS]

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It struck me watching this week’s episode of Constantine, that I don’t actually know how many episodes of the series there are. To my knowledge it hasn’t been renewed for a second series, and reports had said that there would be 13 episodes. If so, that means that there are another five episodes to go.

Which makes the pacing of the series seem a little odd.

The rising dark has been simmering away in the background throughout, and presumably is going to be a big part of the season climax. So a little more detail being fleshed out might be about due. Just saying.

John and Chas travel to Mexico to help an old friend, now a nun, stop a creature which is stealing babies. Tracking down the culprit, they delve deeper into the events which have been plaguing them recently. The nun in question is an old flame, and another of the Newcastle crew. Meanwhile Zed stays home, and the shadowy figures after her grow closer.

This episode gave me exactly the plot acceleration I wanted. It took an engaging episodic story, worked in some forward movement on Zed’s story, and a big unexpected hint on the rising darkness. It was also an excellent episode in itself.

Newcastle remains elusive, but we now know at least another person who was there. And in the same way as Gary Lester was damaged, Anne-Marie has apparently become a nun to repent for what happened. Or perhaps for leading John into magic and the supernatural in the first place. The John of the TV series seems to have turned to magic in his dark times, to fill a void.

As with “The Rage of Caliban” the other week, this episode uses children effectively as a tool of horror. The kidnapping of babies is something which hits at the deep fears, and the nasties which are lurking in the dark places, waiting to come out, are damn near universal. With a healthy dose of catholic apocrypha (Eve’s sisters? Is that a thing?) covering some vampiric fun, it turns into a monster hunt.

And despite having been warned not to leave base by John, Zed does so anyway. For a date with the life model from last week. To her credit, she does manage to suss out that it’s a trap, when touching him gives her a vision of a locked room. Apparently Zed’s family locked her away through her childhood. For her own safety. Huh.

Luring Nudey McNudepants and the Kidnap Crew back to the cottage, she tried to use the model as a hostage, until the cultists shoot him. Zed tricks one of them through a room into an infinite drop (“What is this thing?” -Ed), but the other, of course, captures her.

John, though, is a little busy fending off nasties of his own. After tricking Eve’s sister with a chicken full of blood — no, I’m not kidding — he gleans from her that a powerful prehistoric sect of magic users is back, and they are behind the rising darkness, a plot to merge heaven and hell.

What I really did like, though, is that when the chips are down at the end, and the frankly horrific creature which Zed sketched at the beginning of the episode, an “invunch” appears, the looseness of John’s friendships are exposed. Anne-Marie, quoting John that nothing is too much to save a child, shoots him and leaves him to the invunche as she escapes with the freed infant.

It’s the sort of brutal logic which John employed with Gary, and sets up a nice double cliffhanger. Both John and Zed are in trouble, and it’s not apparent who will pull the other out of it. The stakes have taken a sudden surge, and the caustic dark humour that the series robes itself in has been pulled back a bit. Let’s hope the next episode pulls the curtain back a little further.

Closing thoughts:

  • Bloody hell, did you see that creature? That’s some damn nice design.
  • The vampire could use a little work, though.
  • Zed is an idiot. I know it’s to move the plot along, but if John tells you to stay in the cottage, you stay in the damn cottage.
  • That said, John leaving her behind is purely so that she can get captured. It would have made complete sense for the Spanish speaker to go to Mexico, and making an in joke of it doesn’t wipe it out.
  • But still. That invunche…

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