12 “Angels and Ministers of Grace” (Constantine season 1) [SPOILERS]

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This is the second to last episode of Constantine‘s first and, as it stands, only season. There’s no news yet, that I’ve seen — at least not official news. The rumour mill has been in overdrive. Some are saying that it’s been cancelled, which is not surprising, but not yet verified.

One of the more interesting rumours is a potential move to SyFy, and a rebranding as “Hellblazer”. Which, again, is unverified, but I’d happily take that as a solution.

I’m still not sure what will happen, but another network adopting it can’t surely be ruled out. I do think that NBC would be making a mistake to axe it prematurely though. Perhaps I should write to the BBC… They could return it to its proper, British setting.

Chas and Zed are back with John this week, as Manny steers him towards a hospital where people are dying in a particularly unusual way. John and his Angel investigate the supernatural killer, whilst Zed’s visions are investigated by the doctors.

It’s nice to see more of Manny this episode. The last time we saw him play more than a fringe role was with the angel trapped on earth. Here, after John grows frustrated with the tampering and manipulation, he uses a spell to bind Manny into the body he’s inhabiting. Watching the angel stagger around in the flesh of the doctor he was in is…amusing.

The culprit behind the deaths is “the black diamond”; the hardened heart of a sorceror in biblical times, who was destroyed by God, and which is a concentrated form of pure evil. And which someone has found and is using to murder people who don’t take their “second chances”.

The murders and the method are, to be honest, second fiddle to the character-based fun. Manny in particular, especially the scene where the nurse lover of his doctor body takes him off to a storage room for a tryst. And we get another major development with Zed.

When the first victim dies, Zed has a seizure, which leads to the discovery that she has a tumorous mass on the temporal lobe of her brain. Which may or may not be responsible for her visions. She grapples with the implications, returning to whether or not her visions are evil. Manny, who comforts her, manages to imply that they are a force for good. The question is whether he’s being sincere or just looking to use her gift.

John, though, takes it rather harder. It’s a fascinating sketch of the character by Matt Ryan. John can’t face up to Zed’s reality, and alternately blames Manny for the injustice of Zed’s illness, and himself for encouraging her that the visions are a good thing. The internal conflict in John’s character has come out before, usually in relation to characters from his past. With Zed it focuses on the here and now.

The killer is Zed’s doctor, who has a piece of the black diamond embedded by his heart as shrapnel from the Iraq war, and who is enraged at people wasting second chances. The resolution, though, doesn’t consist of killing him, but rather the released Manny taking Dr Galen under his wings and ushering him up to heaven.

There is one, solitary episode left of this season, and we’re promised a cracker. If so, this one sets it all up nicely, ramping up the personal stakes with key characters. Manny hasn’t really had the space to grow and to fill the role so far, and this episode gives him space to be a bit more than just a deus ex machina. Neither pun nor blasphemy intended.

I’ve maintained throughout that Constantine is a far better show than it gets credit for. It’s not perfect, and at times is its own worst enemy, but it has good writing, compelling characters, and a cast which fits the bill excellently. This episode was one of those in which all of those points, and more, really shone.

Closing thoughts:

  • Zed can see Manny now. Who’s betting that comes in handy for the finale?
  • That black diamond, too. I’m sure that’s going to be significant down the line.
  • More of John smoking. It’s along with an angelic message about how bad it is, but it’s there nonetheless.
  • Considering that she was added last minute, to replace¬†whatsherface from the pilot, Zed has become a remarkably central and centred part of the plot.
  • Chas comes back from the dead, and one of his surplus souls is used up. So when he heals extra fast, what is that doing? Using part of a soul? I demand answers,¬†Constantine!

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