Martin Carr reviews the season finale of Constantine…
A purveyor and peddler of sensory drugs for those into a little action, Constantine represents the bad boy in all of us. Inherently cool, ultimately flawed and perpetually alone amongst friends. Waiting for a salvation which will never come and trapped into a thankless cycle without end, anyone who has to imagine their friends dead each morning has problems. But such are the strange quirks of human nature that just such a person is liable, in certain impressionable circles, to be revered because of this. Which ironically describes the situation Constantine currently finds itself in.
Elevated by a fan base of ardent supporters Constantine has been buoyed by an internet campaign in place pretty much from week one. With episodes broadcast out of sequence and bedding in issues, as experienced by every new show, it was always going to be an uphill struggle. Fluctuating ratings which were perpetually in recovery coupled with a source material that some may consider over the line, meant that this was never going to be mainstream.
So we come to a finale destined either to signal the death throes of another original serial, or less likely an endgame where salvation is offered from a network concerned only with ratings. What we get instead is something which feels more like a mid-season break than any sort of resolution. Given there are another nine episodes which NBC failed to commission this should come as little surprise.
With the welcome return of Jim Corrigan (Emmett Scanlan) and Papa Midnite (Michael James Shaw) we get friend and foe crammed into an episode which feels broadened if a touch formulaic. It serves to deepen the relationships, expand the canvas and give fans something to sate them over the period between conclusion and season renewal. Picking the subject of satanic weddings rites, redneck stereotypes and voodoo curses, we tread a ground which by now feels familiar yet still manages to push the boundaries of taste.
As of this week, Constantine still remains in network limbo playing the waiting game as NBC weigh up their options. Daniel Cerone has gone onto social media sites stating that ‘Constantine’ is still very much a viable proposition, but that any decision regarding its future will be held off until May 2015. As has been said in more than one review Constantine represents a wasted opportunity if someone fails to pick it up. In a culture where everything is instant and must be instantly accessible there seems little room for ‘the slow burn’ tactic. Patience and spontaneous gratification are not only words which are perpetually at loggerheads in a format which requires one but demands the other, but also signals in the eyes of this reviewer the death knell of something far more precious. If this were HBO or dare I say Netflix then the need for good storytelling would have prescience over a ratings system which has sent many a good series to oblivion. Artistic freedom rarely comes with financial independence unless you happen to be LucasFilm. So once more we find ourselves at an impasse begging the question; how much longer can banality and mediocrity pass itself off as entertainment while originality and altruistic artistic intent disappear between the cracks.