Sunday, February 1, 2015

Constantine, Season 1, Episode 11: A Whole World Out There

Young adults drinking and experimenting with Egyptian magic in a tomb. Oh this is not going to end well. The spell transports them to different rooms of a spooky house (one of those rooms has a blood stained torture chamber, so the spook level if pretty high). They all have spooky experiences – before returning to the crypt.

This is your cue to run screaming guys.

Over to John in the Mill who is getting drunk and staring into his past-showing-mirror to be all mopey. Even many has low tolerance for this much angst and he makes an appearance (what, angel can’t be there to fight demons but he shows up when John’s cracking out the whiskey?). Chas and Zed are both absent (of course) but Manny still wants to get John back on the job. He pokes John to look at the scry map and helping out and old friend.

I have to give points to John’s poking many for being less cryptic and “breaking daddy’s rules”.

So John goes to a university where, it seems, his friend Ritchie is lecturing on transcendence (or not lecturing, since he uses a recording to deliver his lecture). He’s not exactly thrilled to see John show up. While Ritchie rants about John promising to stay away, John tells him that Gary is dead and Ritchie may be next (a bit of a convoluted link, though – Gary was pretty much the cause of his own death).

Meanwhile on of the kids who did their unwise ritual is being haunted by reflections of a man he saw in the spooky house – the reflection gets him pulled back into the house and killed with a plastic bag. His body reappears on the university campus.

John tries to poke Ritchie on exactly what he’s doing to attract attention – just as the leader of the unwise spellcasters, Adam, calls Ritchie to let him know he’s taking time off for his friend’s death. So there’s a connection between Ritchie and the Damn Fools.

John and Ritchie investigate (Ritchie disapproving of John’s theft of a police notebook) and John decides they need to speak to Adam though, again, Ritchie isn’t a fan of the plan.

At the memorial service, Lilly, another of the Damn Fools is sure she’s seeing things but her fellow Fool Miranda is trying to play the “everything is totally perfectly normal and nothing happened” denial game. John and Ritchie talks to Lilly and she tells them about the foolishness in the graveyard – and refers to some project Adam is working on with Ritchie, which Ritchie quickly tries to distract from

Yes, of course John notices.

John goes to the cemetery (of course at night. Who explores spooky cemeteries in the day?) Manny shows up to allow John to exposition that Ritchie was the closest of John’s old friends to a peer and equal (before the trauma of Newcastle) – but that John isn’t really interested in recruiting him for the cause. He does some magic investigating…

He goes to confront Ritchie about the evidence of an Egyptian ritual used for out of body travel – and basically accuses Ritchie of giving them the knowledge. Ritchie realises one of his books are missing – a journal of Jacob Shaw, a man who magically transported to alternative worlds. Added history, Shaw accidentally (or not) shot his protégé; he was tried for murder before becoming comatose and dying. The theory is his body died but he just sent his spirit elsewhere. Now they just have to stop Adam trying this again

In case you haven’t caught on, they merrily exposition that if your spirit dies so does your body in the real world and we learn that Ritchie showed the journal to Adam as part of their project to, basically, download consciousness into a computer. We also have some more sense of how Ritchie has been scarred by his experiences and stopped even tracking the darkness because it was too much.

Miranda, one of the Fools, goes to the gymn is teleported by evil-guy in a mirror to the spooky house. There a guy without hands begs her to open the door (which he’d do – but he has no hands). She screams at him which is kind of rude.

Over to Adam, Lilly tells him Miranda is missing and he decides they have to astrally project to try and find her. Lilly wisely says nope and decides to look for her in the real world. Adam uses his magic and goes to the spooky house where he finds Miranda – stabbed in the stomach but alive and hiding from someone. In the real word gymn, Lilly finds Miranda collapses on the floor with a terrible stab wound

Ritchie and John find Adam’s spirit-less body and in the spooky house, Jacob Shaw (spooky mirror guy) finds Adam and Miranda. He slashes at Adam and, in the real world, John and Ritchie see cuts appear on Adam’s arms. They try to help – but Adam ends up with his throat cut.

The next day, they learn about Miranda as well – and Ritchie has a case of the guilt weasels. John snaps about it – but Ritchie isn’t follow and says he knows John feels the same guilt. They go to see the very panicky Lilly who tells them about the House

And in the spooky house, everyone’s still alive (Adam removes the spike from Miranda). Jacob Shaw drops in to announce he wants to play an evil game of cat and mouse – and Carter and Miranda run. Adam doesn’t – Jacob made this reality but he also, for some reason, believes that means Jacob can’t kill him. Jacob decides to test that

John and Ritchie take Lilly to the Mill where all reflective surfaces are warded – until she pulls out her mobile phone with its glass front and ends up pulled into the Spooky house. She manages to reach the front door – but outside there’s just a vast barren plain under a night sky full of northern lights. Adam explains to Lilly that Jacob is a dangerous psychopath who hunts them and kills them – just to bring them back to life. But since Lilly is still alive, she can still escape.

John and Ritchie repeat the ritual to go to the spooky house and save Lily. There they meet up and Ritchie announces that he can re-write Jacob’s world, creating a door in a blank wall. They meet Jacob Shaw who is, predictably, evil. He nails John to a wall and slashes Ritchie’s wrists – all with his mind. Ritchie falls to his knees while John reminds him that he can control this reality

Ritchie takes over and is contemptuous about how utterly limited Shaw’s world is. He expands the world, making a sun and creating a meadow around the house; he mocks Shaw for revelling in his sadistic weakness rather than creating a whole new world. He erases Shaw from the world. John and Ritchie flee the collapsing house into the new meadow, their wounds sealing (before belatedly remembering Lilly and going back for her).

Lilly comes – but the others cannot and are destroyed with the house. John tells Lilly their souls are free. Lilly is released. Ritchie chooses to stay, though, in a world where he decides what is real, the transcendence he was seeking. John is not a fan – not only does it mean losing one of his very few friends, but he’s also sure Ritchie will go insane in a pocket dimension all alone. Ritchies fine with that – so long as it happens in his world, away from the Rising Dark. John is scathing of Ritchie’s cowardice, of him running away.

John returns to the real world. And, surprisingly, so does Ritchie.

Ritchie returns to lecturing – on Nirvana and how desire causes suffering. And John returns to moping and grieving for the past.

That was… ok. I think that’s where I come down on this episode. It was decent, it contained a lot of Constantine staples – darkness, despair, the rising dark, dangerous magic and harsh truths. Lots of John angst, a reference to Newcastle and how much it broke everyone who was there which, in turn, sheds some light on John; after all, Gary, Anne-Marie and Ritchie were each in their own way completely broken from Newcastle, fleeing magic in all its forms afterwards. What does that say about John?

But it doesn’t really bring anything new, it doesn’t cover any new ground, it doesn’t advance the plot, develop characters or the world or, really, much of anything. It’s not bad, but there’s nothing in it that was especially amazing either. It was decent.

I’m not happy with Chas and, especially, Zed just disappearing for episodes at a time. Zed and Manny are the show’s only attempt to bring some diversity to the show and both of them are frequently plot-boxed (and, again, Manny is utterly ineffective).