CONSTANTINE Season 1, Episode 9 'The Saint of Last Resorts: Part 2'

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After being shot by Anne-Marie and left for dead to distract the oncoming Invunche, Constantine takes the drastic measure of inviting the Pazuzu into his body to dismiss the monster. Unfortunately, he grossly underestimates the time he has to then exorcise the demon king, it almost immediately taking him over and escaping in his body. After waking up surrounded by the dismembered corpses of some anonymous thugs he is quickly sent to prison, meaning that before the exorcism can take place he needs to be broken out, leading to some creative manoeuvring from Chas, Anne-Marie and Zed.

Yes, Zed. Despite being subdued at the end of part one to be taken back to her “father,” Zed quickly escapes from her captor (“You spend enough time with a magician, you learn a few tricks”), meaning that after being further teased with greater development, her backstory is again put on hold. While those familiar with the comics will have some idea of where it’s going to go, given the numerous ways in which Zed deviates from her comic book counterpart, it would be naïve to assume it will play out in exactly the same way. Although she later tells Anne-Marie that the cult want to use her for her powers, that in and of itself is not nearly big enough a reason for the level of hatred and contempt she has for them, nor her apparent fear at the prospect of again becoming their prisoner. There’s a lot more to this story, and it’s one which well warrants revisiting.

Anyway, back to the main man. Throughout all the magic and terror and carnage of the series so far, Constantine has always felt like a fixed point around which everything else revolves, mutable to the situation but ultimately unyielding in the face of it. We’ve seen many sides of him, such as mage, cynic, thief, conman and philanderer. We’ve seen him cocky, cheerful, angry, and more than a little bit scary, but this is the first time he’s ever seemed genuinely vulnerable. In the interludes between the Pazuzu’s influence, we see a man in true fear not just for his life, but also his soul. He’s dropped himself into a situation that he – too late – realises he can’t control, and no mystic artefact from his bag of tricks or obscure spell pulled from his arse can offer an easy solution.

The exorcism scene has the usual outpouring of the demon voicing the hidden insecurities of those present, but it takes more than distorted sound editing and tinted lighting to make such outbursts convincingly creepy, and Matt Ryan absolutely nails the psychological sadism, looking as though Constantine’s very flesh is warping under the demon’s gleeful spite as his mouth is forcibly twisted into the cutting abuse. The most interesting of these was referring to Chas as “the freak that he made you.” This seems to imply it was Constantine who was responsible for Chas’ condition, while Anne-Marie being completely unfazed by Chas’ resurrection means it’s been happening for some time, both points reiterating the question of how it first manifested. This isn’t something taken from the comics but an original invention of the show, so it’ll be interesting to learn the story when it finally comes out. Incidentally, doesn’t it generally seem that people for whom death is little more than a polite suggestion tend to get killed on a semi-regular basis? Doctor Who’s Captain Jack and Nathan from Misfits come to mind, not to mention Jean Grey, who is such a poster girl for the phenomenon it’s a pop culture running joke.

The First of the Fallen gets another mention amidst a disgusted Manny reminding Constantine that any acceptance of power from evil entities will eventually come with a price. In allowing a demon into himself, Constantine is that much closer to surrendering what little grace he still has with heaven, and even if he succeeds in stopping the Rising Darkness, there’s no guarantee that the celestial forces won’t then turn on him after his usefulness has expired. It may well be that whatever he tries, in one way or another he’s damned.

 

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