CONSTANTINE Season 1, Episode 12 'Angels and Ministers of Grace'

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Many thousands of years ago, a dark sorcerer amassed vast and terrible power and began brutalising humanity. Eventually destroyed by God himself, his rage was condensed into a black diamond, which was then shattered by an angel’s sword and the shards scattered across the world by the Great Flood so that none might again wield such power. Problem is, the shards on their own are still rather potent, and now one has created a demon with the face of the Toxic Avenger that has begun viciously killing people who succumb to their previously conquered addictions.

Constantine is pointed towards the strange case by Manny, who believes he is still failing to grasp the full scale of the Rising Darkness and is becoming decreasingly subtle in directing him to where he’s supposed to be. That doesn’t mean to say he’s overcome all his less endearing behaviour, and after one patronising dismissal too many Constantine finally loses it and manages to swiftly bind Manny to the body he’s currently possessing.

Like Quid Pro Quo granted some insight into Chas and A Whole World Out There gave us more of Ritchie, the opportunity is now taken to further advance Manny as a character. Blessed are the Damned gave him some development beyond overseeing the actions of the humans and berating them for their irrational behaviour like an irate celestial GM, but now he’s temporarily trapped in the earthly realm more of an actual personality emerges. Cut off from his angelic powers and encumbered with a corporeal form susceptible to mortal senses and physical feeling, he becomes an increasingly sympathetic presence simply as a result of being far less assured and more, dare we say it, human.

In other news, when Zed is examined after having a seizure it turns out that her visions might not be a gift from God or a curse from a dark force, but hallucinations caused by a brain tumour. However, even if their origin is medical in nature, help in the supernatural cases she’s been a part of mean she must decide if the aid they can give Constantine is worth the possible sacrifice of her health, and perhaps even her very life.

The possibility of losing Zed clearly weighs heavily on Constantine (he reveals he partially copes with his life by spending five minutes every morning imagining everyone he cares about is dead) and it takes him most of the episode to even speak to her about her condition. While their relationship is not yet threatening romantic attraction – god forbid that the two hot leads of a TV show don’t eventually start some 12-rated heterosexual bonking – they have developed a genuine mutual affection resulting from both now having seen the other at their most vulnerable.

Although the monster of the week goes unnamed, details such as a brief reference to the Heart of Darkness combined with the shards of a black diamond and the purple mood lighting emanating from them seem to suggest Eclipso, a vengeance demon and embodiment of God’s wrath who was eventually replaced by the Spectre (the entity that Detective Corrigan from Danse Vaudou is destined to become). Alternatively, the physical lumps of concentrated pure evil could simply be proof that God is, like everyone should be, a big fan of Time Bandits.

It’s worth observing that this is now the third episode in a row with a one-shot villain where the plot was all too easily resolved by the incidental powers of the supporting character the story focuses on. The next episode might well be the show’s finale, so hopefully something far more awe-inspiring and conclusive is in store for us.


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