13 “Waiting for the Man” (Constantine season 1) [SPOILERS]


constantine title

So this is it. Maybe.

The last episode of Constantine‘s first series has come and passed, and still no news on its future. And in this case, I suspect, no news is probably bad news.

As someone who has enjoyed the series, and who has a deep love for the source material, it pains me to think that this series hasn’t measured up. It hasn’t been bad, and has had a great many excellent features, but some of the competition it was up against was in a different league.

It may yet be that NBC decide to give it another chance. Or another network sees the potential and decides to take it off NBC’s hands. Or, this may be the only series we get to see.

Let’s hope, then, that its final hurrah is a good one.

Teaming up again with New Orleans detective Jim Corrigan, John and Zed investigate the disappearance of a number of girls in conjunction with a lunar cycle. And at the same time, the Brujeria have placed a bounty on John’s head, which Papa Midnite is determined to collect.

The first thing to say is that the adaptation is astonishingly good. It’s not word for word, but it’s true enough to the spirit that throughout the opening I kept thinking that we’d already seen this in an earlier episode.

The story itself was an excellent series finale. Zed is still grappling with her visions and the reasons behind them, and the fact that whenever she touches Jim — who flirts outrageously with her — she sees him dead — as The Spectre, for the comic fans out there. She has access to Manny now, who is very keen to persuade her that her visions should be used for the greater good.

It’s great to see Papa Midnite back again, too, who comes after John first with a voodoo zombie, and then with a gun. It’s an order of magntiude’s difference, but apparently the Brujeria have promised to free his sister from hell in exchange for John’s life. The battle between the two magicians is well executed, with a corpse glamoured by John to look like him distracting the voodoo priest, and letting Constantine get the jump on him.

The real fun was in the climax, though, with the little troupe coming to the rescue of a little girl just before she is forcibly “married” to a satanist, and becomes one of those creepy little ghost girls. In the comic it was John’s niece in this role, but the change in setting necessitates a slight alteration here. What we do get is more of John’s own hang-ups about little girls, harking back to the one he failed to save in Newcastle.

He saves the day here, though, and persuades Jim Corrigan that the titular “man” doesn’t deserve to be left alive. Jim sets him lose, only to — off-camera — shoot him in the back. A spectre of vengeance indeed.

In the final scenes, as Zed and Jim get cosy over her vision of his death, John declares to Manny that he means to send every single demon back to hell, pledging himself to the fight that Manny has wanted him to embrace all along. Which makes it only the more shocking and brilliant when Manny tells Papa Midnite that the bounty is cancelled, and that he is behind the Bujeria. John was warned that he would be betrayed by somebody close to him. I did not see it being Manny.

I was, truth be told, dreading a cliffhanger like this. Chances are pretty good we’ll never get to see where it’s going. My guess? Something not a million miles from Gabriel’s plan in the Keanu Reeves film; Manny wants to make John an instrument of good, and giving him some big rising darkness to fight against has melded him into that.

Which has, of course, been the journey of this season. John has gone from reluctant participant, to holy warrior. If that was Manny’s plan, he’s executed it well. Or, of course, he could have been a fallen angel all along — we’ve seen before that it’s not always straightforward telling the difference.

This was a really good episode; and if this is the final roll of the dice for the series, then it was the best one that it could have made at this stage. There were missteps earlier on, but it has gotten itself largely together towards the conclusion. It would be a shame if it was just too late.

“We can all shape our destiny, but none of us can escape our fate,” John says. That may well be the epitaph of the series.

  • The costume designer clearly had a whole lot of fun with Papa Midnite’s outfit. I still want his jacket.
  • Gary Lester, Jim Corrigan, Papa Midnite. It’s like a greatest hits tour.
  • Still no real revelation on Newcastle.
  • I do salute that when his zombie plan failed, Papa Midnite took the “just bloody shoot him” approach so often eschewed by villains in favour of overcomplex schemes. It’s a shame he didn’t take his own advice about Constantine’s skills.
  • Well, from his perspective. Not John’s. Or ours.
  • Renewal? Please?
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