Sunday, October 26, 2014

Constantine, Season One, Episode One: Non Est Asylum

The episode begins in Ravenscar, a psychiatric facility in Northern Ireland. John Constantine is strapped to a table and given a mouth guard. Constantine is then given electroshock treatment, while in the background we hear Constantine's voice saying that he came to Ravenscar voluntarily. Constantine explains that he is an exorcist and that there are days one needs to forget in his line of work, though there are some days he never will.

Shift to Constantine sitting in a psychiatrists office being questioned about the death of a young woman in Newcastle. Dr. Roger Huntoon asks if Constantine remembers the murderer and John refers to the murderer as a demon, claiming to see said demon every time he closes his eyes. Huntoon suggests that Constantine feels guilty for not being able to protect the victim and has thus created the murderer as the embodiment of evil. John argues that not everyone is powerless against demons and Dr. Huntoon notes that before John became a resident at the hospital, John was working as an exorcist, demonist and a master of the dark arts. John snarks that he should change master to petty dabler to avoid being accused of sounding arrogant. Finally, in frustration, John demands that Huntoon refer to Astra  by her name rather than as the victim.  John adds that Astra is nine years old and suffering for all of eternity and demands that Huntoon make him believe that there are no such things as demon.

John is now sitting in a group therapy session and is clearly bored by someone's share.  Three cockroaches cross the floor and John decides to follow and finds that the bugs are increasing as he follows them.  He follows them to an art area, where a woman is painting on the wall but it is covered in roaches.  John approaches her, telling her to stop, only too see that her eyes have gone opaque.  John walks away saying that this is not his job and then turns suddenly saying that he is addressing the demon inside the woman. He puts his hand on the woman's forehead and she flies across the room screeching.  John demands that the demon leave this place, as it continues to fly about the room. Suddenly, the demon flies across the room trying to attack John and he forces it to the ground  while speaking in Latin.  The windows explode and they get covered in paint.  The demon leaves and John finds the  message the demon wrote on the wall LIVDIE.  John declares that he has been wasting his time in the hospital, then blames the woman for the mess, before walking out of the room.

In Atlanta Georgia, Liv Aberdine sits and chats with someone about her future. Liv packs up her things to leave and pauses to open her fortune cookie, only to find it empty. Liv declares that she has no future.  Liv heads outside and starts her car and starts to reverse but she keeps getting a warning that there is something behind her.  Liv gets out of the car and checks behind the car and when she bends to look under it, the car starts to back up on its own.  A panicked Liv screams but the car shuts down.  Liv gets back into the car to find that it won't start and suddenly the lights go out in the parking lot.  Liv starts walking and the ground around her begins to crack, tossing her in the air.  The ground sinks, creating a big hole and Liv takes off running. 

John pulls up in a yellow cab, asking if Liv is in a bit of trouble and introducing himself.  Liv pulls out pepper spray and orders John to stay back. John simply tells Liv that she is pointing the pepper spray the wrong way because he is not the one who is hunting her. . Liv demands that John stay away but John tells Liv that is she doesn't listen, she will be dead by morning. Liv decides to call the police and John hands over his card saying that this is where the police can reach him, or Liv can, if she enjoys bleeding.  Liv reads the card, as John climbs into the hole.

Something flies overhead and John calls out that he is a nasty piece of work.  Manny, an angel, tells John that he shouldn't be down here and questions what brings John back to the street. John explains that he was asked to protect a lady by an old friend. Manny says that he was asked to watch over John.  Constantine makes it clear however that he is not in the business of hanging out with angels and that Manny will ruin his reputation. Manny brings up the hospital and John screams that he checked out and is okay.  John moves to pull away and Manny grabs him saying that John damned a girl along with himself.  Manny adds that while he cannot change John's fate, he can ease John's suffering.  John instructs Manny to go and feed off of someone else's loss but Manny replies that John's is exquisite. When John tells Manny that he can handle a demon attack, Manny points out that John has been out of action  for awhile and that people can sense what is on the way.  John asks what is on the way and suddenly sirens sound in the distance. Many quickly flies away, as John screams, "what's on the way?"

Liv gets out of Talia's car, thanking her for picking her up. Talia says that it's not problem as she works five minutes away from Liv.  The two women enter an apartment building but are unaware that not only are they being watched, they are being followed.  Liv enters her apartment but notices a strange man in the hallway.  The man pulls out a large knife and stands in front of Liv's closed door.  In her apartment, Liv reads her new fortune which simply says, "trust him."  

In her apartment, Talia is working on her laptop when it goes on the fritz. In the hallway of the building, the lights flash on and off and we see a triangular carving at Liv's door, along with a salt semi-circle  on the floor.  Live sits up suddenly when a helicopter light flashes in her window. Liv opens her door to find the area swarming with cops and a dead Talia on the floor of her apartment. A horrified Liv turns to re-enter her apartment and she notices the carving on her door.

The medical examiner loads Talia's body into the van and she is driven away.  In the back of the van, Talia's body starts to thrash, causing the driver to stop the vehicle and shake the body bag.  Talia thrashes in the bag, as the driver begs her to hold on so that he can let her out. Of course, when he opens the bag, it's empty, so he uses his flashlight to look around the van, only to have a now demon Talia attack him.

John is leaning against his cab, when Liv pulls up in a cop car and gets out. Liv approaches John and shows him the symbol which was carved into her door.  John explains that it's an Egyptian symbol called the eye of Horace and that it's a symbol of protection.  Liv says that she saw a man in her hallway last night and that she believes, he killed Talia. John knocks on the car and Chaz gets out of the car to be introduced as Constantine's oldest friend and the man who made the carving on Liz's door. Chaz simply tells Liv that he is glad she is safe, before getting back into the car. Liv questions why anyone would want her dead because she is a nobody.  Constantine explains that Liv is not a nobody and that he promised Liv's father that he would keep her safe. Liv says that it's not possible because her father died before she was born and then she turns to leave. John calls out that whoever told Liv that was lying and adds that her father died just last year.  Constantine pulls out a bag out of his pocket and tells Liv to open it because her father wanted her to have it.

Suddenly, the medical examiner van speeds past John and Liv and crashes into Liv's place of business.  Chaz gets out of the car and joins Liv and John as they rush towards the building. John yells for everyone to get out and orders Chaz to get the people out. Liv finds her nameplate on the floor and realises that had she not been talking to John, the van would have killed her.  John explains that whatever is after Liv must be able to feel her energy.  John tells Liv that they won't give up until she is dead.  Liv walks to the front of the van to find Talia struggling to breathe, with opaque eyes, stuck in the wreckage.  Liv is shocked and says that Talia is alive but John corrects that assumption and informs Liv that something is using Talia's body.  John asks Talia who sent her and she lets out a howl, shutting down all of the electricity in the area.

Talia goes to see her mother and asks her to look her in the eye and say when her father died.  Talia's mother says that she is not prepared to have this conversation but Talia is adamant that her mother tell her who her father was. Talia's mother explains that her father, Jasper, was a boy that she met at a concert and that he had no interest in seeing Talia after she was born. Talia pulls out the bag Constantine gave her  and the odd pendant that is inside, saying that Jasper wanted her to have this. Talia asks her mother if she has ever seen the pendant.  Talia notices a woman who appears to be her grandmother combing her mother's hair.  When Talia explains this to her woman, the specter opens its mouth, and howls as black liquid seeps out. Talia is horrified and rushes away, as her mother asks what is wrong.

Talia races down the road in her car but comes to a stop when she finds John standing in the middle of it.  Talia demands to know what is happening to her and John explains that Liv is waking up and seeing the world for what it really is, just like her father Jasper could. When Liv asks what Constantine means, John in return asks Liv where the pendant is.  Liv pulls out the pendant and John grabs her arms.  Suddenly, the world goes a weird gray, and they are clearly surrounded by creatures and beings.  Liv asks who the people are and she is told that they are trapped souls looking for a way out. Liz asks if John can see the spirits and John replies no, then asks what else Liv can see. Liv tells John that they are standing on train tracks and that there is a train coming.  Liv says that they have to get off the tracks but not only does John not move, he holds Liv in place as the train drives right through them. John lets Liv go with a smirk and she asks what happened.  John explains that what she saw was a ghost train and that when she touches Jasper's necklace, it focuses her ability to see what Jasper saw.  John explains that there are parallel planes of existence and though Jasper tried to teach John, he didn't have Jasper's Knack. John instructs Liv to leave her car at her mothers and come with him and Chaz.

Later, on the road, John sleeps in the backseat with Liv next to him. Liv tells Chaz that John was going to tell her about Jasper and how he died. Chaz simply says bravely and John opens his eyes and ends the conversation.  Liv suggests that maybe the creature which is after her wants revenge for something her father did and John responds that he is not concerned with why; however, he does want to send the creature away and square his debt. The radio suddenly starts to blare the song Lake of Fire but when Chaz tries to turn it down, he finds that he cannot. Chaz is distracted by the radio and does not realise that the car is about to be hit by a truck. John calls his name but it's too late and they are hit by the truck.

John gets a vision of Astra and she pleads to be let go.  John picks her up in his arms and a demon appears, telling John that he cannot have Astra.  John holds Astra tighter, as she begs John to get her out of there, only to have the demon use his magic to pull Astra right out of John's arm.

John regains consciousness and to find himself with a bloody wound on his forehead, while sprawled on the ground. Chaz and Liv are both stuck in the car and Liv calls out for help because her foot is jammed. John struggles to get to his feet and a burst of electricity goes off, as a live wire starts to wave about the car.  Liv struggles to release her foot, as John begins to speak in Latin, demanding that the demon leave this place.  When the live wire disappears, John orders Chaz to get Liv out of the car.  Chaz manages to pull Liv loose and hand her to John; however, when Chaz tries to slide across the roof of the car, the live wire impales Chaz right through the chest.

Later, John is marching through the woods with Liv right on his heels. John informs Liv that there are millions of demons and therefore what they need to figure out is which demon has Liv marked for death.   John instructs Liv not to be afraid and she points out what happened to Chaz. A very condescending John, informs Liv, that things aren't always what they appear to be and if she wants to survive this, she needs to keep that in mind. Liv tells John that she doesn't understand half of what he says and asks if John ever says anything clearly.  When the two reach a stone house, John informs Liv that it used to belong to Jasper and that he promised Jasper that if this day ever came, he would put a set of keys in Liv's hand.  John then tosses the set of keys to Liv and then opens the door and enters.

Inside, John explains that Jasper stayed in the house occasionally to keep an eye on Liv, though Jasper kept his distance for the sake of Liv's safety.  As they walk through the house, the lights turn on and Liv comments that one could survive an apocalypse here and John explains that Jasper used the house for divination, adding that no one could find trouble faster than Jasper.  John then opens a big book on the table, as Liv looks at the maps Jasper drew based on what he saw. John tells Liv to try scrying i.e. holding her pendant over a map.  In the book, John finds the name Furcifer and declares that this is the demon which is haunting Liv. John adds that Manny was right and that the stakes are rising. 

Suddenly, Liv's hand starts to bleed and the blood droplets move along the map until they settle on a location. John explains that something bad is going to happen at Edgewood Ave and Liv declares that they have to do something. John responds that they are because they are keeping Liv alive. John does however add that they can cut Liv's attacker down to size by using her as bait.

John drives a beat up truck and stops by Manny's side  in front of a gate to say that there is a fine line between watching over and stalking. Manny snarks that it's heating up down here and John asks Manny to open the gate because he is under a time crunch.  Manny begins to use his powers and suddenly everything freezes.  John gets out of the car, calling Manny's power new and then moves the rain aside.  John tell Manny that a demon from the inner circle is haunting Liv and Manny points out that a thing like that cannot make it's way here without needing serious help.  John questions whether Manny wants him to find out some information and Many explains that if John figures out what they are up against, he will use the knowledge to save lives, as his eyes turn a weird shade of yellow.  John screams asking about his life, considering that it was Manny and angels like him who damned him to hell. John questions why he should risk his last days on earth and Manny replies that John is a peddler of shabby magic and that his decisions are questionable at best and without conscience. Manny informs John that he should risk whatever time he has left because he is damned to hell - at least for the moment anyway.  John questions if it is too late for him to save his soul and it suddenly starts to rain and Manny disappears.

Ritchie sits at his desk when John bursts into his office.  Ritchie demands that John leave but when John questions if this is a proper way to treat a friend, Ritchie tells John to stay and says that he will leave instead. John questions if Ritchie is still trolling the internet for things which go bump in the night and warns that something celestial said something big is on the way.   Ritchie asks John to promise to leave if he gives him the information he is looking for and John nods.  Ritchie says that he has a ton of information, including police reports and news wires which suggests that something is crawling out of the shadows on a scale they have never seen before.  John responds that it includes a demon from the inner circle, which is terrorizing Jasper's daughter. John ask Ritchie if he can hack a power grid and Ritchie admits that he can but refuses to do so. John admits that Newcastle was a bust but Ritchie screams that Newcastle was a nightmare.  Ritchie says that he cannot make it through one day without drugs.  John points out that the police are still searching for the man who murdered Astra, so Ritchie points out that it wasn't a man.  John counters with the fact that the cops don't know that. John then threatens to tell the cops that Ritchie was there and that Ritchie doesn't have an alibi for that night.  Ritchie tells John that he wishes that demon had taken John instead of Astra and John replies that he agrees with that sentiment.

Liv is inside the house when a figure suddenly appears in the mirror over the fireplace. John enters saying that he brought groceries and Liv asks if the man was Jasper. John replies that time is out of joint in the mirror and that Liv was watching the past. John then tosses Liv some clothing he got for her and a stunned Liv questions how John got into her apartment.  Before John can answer, Chaz appears behind Liv saying that he is alright.  Liv says that Chaz died and Chaz replies that it's complicated. John calls out that the reason Chaz is his oldest friend is because he has survival skills. Liv points out that no one should have been able to survive what she saw and an even more condescending John responds, "if you're not confused, you're not paying attention."  John tells Chaz to make a rack of lamb because one shouldn't battle demons on an empty stomach.

John pays a security guard five hundred dollars to have sex on a roof top and then hands him a light bulb adding that there will be an extra hundred in it for him, if he keeps the light bulb by his side. The security guard points out that the light bulb isn't screwed into anything.

Later, John draws a symbol on the roof as Liv watches, explaining that if the demon comes for her, it will have to enter the circle and that the seal will hold the demon, thus allowing Constantine to order it to hell. John stands after finishing and asks Liv to enter the circle. Liv sits in the middle and tries to get John to tell small details about himself and after some snark, John reveals that his mother died giving birth to him and that his father blamed him for it.  John's father was a drunk, who abused him regularly.  We learn that John spent his time learning how to conjure but still has not been able to contact his mother.

The lights go out and the security guard enters the roof.  John quickly realises that they are not look at the guard. John tells the now demon guard to come and get Liv and when it enters the circle, he throws the electricity switch and starts speaking in Latin. The demon falls to its knee and when it stands, the demon appears as Constantine and asks John how it feels to lock eyes with his future. John calls it unsettling and the demon adds that it's only a matter of time until John joins them.  The demon says that they rely on John to provide them with a fresh supply of bodies because everyone who stands next to him dies.  John orders Liv to run but the demon keeps Liv in place with an electrical cord. John fires a flare into the air and Ritchie shuts off all of the electrcitey.  John tells the demon that he is seeing the power of intention, just before he sets the circle on fire.  The demon and John make eye contact and Astra appears and begs John to get her out of here.  The demon taunts John, asking him if he is going to fail Astra again, like he failed so many others.  The demon promises to free Astra's soul if he is freed. John apologises to Liv and starts to say a spell but Liv grabs her pendant and realises that the little girl is not Astra.  John screams in rage, telling the demon that he is coming for Astra.  The two demons burst into a massive flame that reaches far into the sky, and Constantine falls to his knees out of breath. 

Liv inquires how John is doing and John simply tells her that he has a colleague on the street who will drive her home.

Later, Ritchie is driving Liv home and she asks who Astra is and he explains that she was the daughter of a colleague. Ritchie adds that John conjured a powerful being to take away the lesser being but it took Astra instead while tearing her apart. Liv realises that they have come to the street she divined earlier and they stop when Liv sees police cars lined up.  Astra walks through the crime scene and sees a dead boy on the ground with his throat slit.

John is at a bar when he is joined by Chaz.  Chaz informs him that Liv stopped by to get her bags and said something about a cousin in California.  Chaz puts the pendant on the bar and John says that Liv will be safe because he will put a cloaking spell on her.  Chaz then puts Liv's scrying map on the bar and it is covered with incidents that are going to happen. Chaz suggests that if John wants to give Astra's loss some meaning, he should do something about this.

Manny appears in front of John and tells him that Ritchie had to drive twenty blocks out of the way to stumble on Edgewood ave. John says that he works better alone but Manny screams that Liv's power is valuable.  John points out that if Liv was going to join the fight, she had the right to see the risks first and adds that he gave Liv a choice, which is more than Astra ever had. Manny questions if John is going to help them and John stands, telling Manny to pick up the tab because he is going to owe him.

John walks through an alley pouring water and salt on his hands, when he is suddenly surrounded by thugs.  His hands catch fire and the thugs move away.

Somewhere else, a woman frantically draws the scene and all around the area where she is sitting, are various pictures of John Constantine.

Obviously, Constantine is based of the comics and having not really read the comics, I am going into this kind of cold.  So far, my impression is that John is a condescending asshole with mommy and daddy issues. He is clearly meant to viewed however as a wary reluctant warrior who has seen far more than he wanted to.  I am not quite sure yet if he fits into the category of anti-hero yet, I am quite convinced that we should be completely routing for him. 

There were not many female characters this episode and the few that appeared seemed to be in need of saving Liv (though she had power) or dead to move the plot along (Astra or Talia) which is not a promising start at all, in terms of gender inclusion.  In some way it had me thinking of Supernatural with it's list of dead women, to keep the male protagonist motivated and full of angst.  I hope that this is not foreshadowing for how Constantine will play out.

The only reoccurring character of colour seems to be Manny.  Manny of course is the angel and yet with all of the power he has access to, he somehow still needs the help of John Constantine.  It makes me nervous that already see the framework of a wise Negro shaping up here but I am will to withhold judgment for a few episodes on that one.

I know that I have said a few negatives thus far, but I honestly like the first episode of Constantine.  I can see that they spent some money on the special effects and even though the tortured, White, male, able bodied, heterosexual (yeah, I know John was bisexual in the comics), is over done, Matt Ryan played the role very well.  I am interested to see where this story is heading.