Martin Carr reviews the eighth episode of Constantine…
This review leaves me with a distinct sense of having missed the boat. Other opinions have been jamming up the internet for at least two weeks now, so you might rightly ask yourself what I bring to the table. Well if discussions about Christian iconography, far flung South American sorcerers and biblical references fail to float your boat, then nothing obviously.
With this ambitious opening gambit and relocation to a more audience friendly time slot Stateside, it would seem the #SaveConstantine campaign may be finally getting somewhere. However the twenty five percent ratings jump probably had more to do with good writing, an engaging storyline and characters which gave Matt Ryan more to do than stand around pontificating about a raising darkness.
By introducing Anne Marie Flynn to upset the natural order producers have done more than disrupt an established routine. This old flame, reformed hell raiser and self-confessed Constantine creator, does more than deny us the framework of moistened bloodspots and demonic frippery; she shakes things up. A disruption which is further compounded by the simultaneous inclusion of two story arcs running in tandem. However this ancillary benefit which keeps Zed involved but on the periphery has a down side. By asking the audience to divide their attention span there is an inherent sense of narrative pressure being applied, something both arcs are unable to support.
Unfortunately, of the two Zed’s storyline feels weaker and tantamount to superfluous at times. Not only is the danger not immediate enough, but she has proven so resourceful previously that this threat feels hollow by comparison. Furthermore if you pitch it alongside the eloquently defined dynamic which develops between Halford, Van der Boom and Ryan it becomes an exercise in futility. Ultimately this calculated misstep is one made by writers eager to set up future events which they consider crucial to later episodes. Unfortunately this fails to work meaning that what begins as a distraction rapidly builds into something much more frustrating. I much prefer the arbitrary reasons which are dreamt up each week to keep Zed or Chas out of the picture. It makes no more sense yet ceases to impact on storylines in the same way. This narrative niggle aside it remains a small price to pay bearing in mind the quality, skill and risky subject matter being tackled elsewhere.
Constantine continues to wallow in religious iconography, approaching taboo topics with nothing more than a thin veil and enquiring mind. That they have blurred the line further by including South American folklore, indigenous sects and forms of Chilean witchcraft only serves to broaden this canvas. Comparisons between biblical characters and those within the show can made with no great leap of faith. Snakes, forbidden fruit, former scarlet women anointed into an order looking for redemption are just a few examples. If the producers are to remain honest to their approach then these references will become bolder, darker and more unpalatable. Because anyone who has dipped into Revelations knows that is far from bedtime reading. And this above all remains the bread and butter of a show which continues to push the envelope in terms of content on a weekly basis. At the outset I promised you something new and different from the humdrum opinions which litter our collective cyberspace. Maybe I should have altered my declaration from the outset. What I bring to this table then is nothing more than an honest, clear and none to concise opinion. You want film references google Pazuzu. You want something darker google invunche and read up. Then tell me this is an average show. Until the next time keep your chin up people. Remember Constantine remains one of the best shows on television right now. A fact others will wake up to soon enough.