Saturday, October 25, 2014

Constantine 1.01: "Non Est Asylum”

“I walk my path alone. Because let’s be honest, who’d be crazy enough to walk it with me?”
- John Constantine

Of all the new shows I was going to check out, “Constantine” was the one I was most excited about. It looked dark and edgy and it had magic. Plus it was scheduled after Grimm which I think makes an awesome pairing. So without further ado, let’s jump into this ride to Hell. We begin our journey in England where one John Constantine has checked himself into a mental hospital and is undergoing shock treatment to try and forget some of the horrible memories he’s carrying around from his time as an exorcists, demonologist and master of the dark arts (he’s getting new business cards made because he really hates to put on airs about his skills). The doctor he’s seeing isn’t convinced that Constantine witnessed a demon murder a nine-year-old girl named Astra. He’s however damn sure that that little girl’s soul has been damned to Hell. In the middle of a rather boring group therapy session Constantine gets distracted by some cockroaches and follows them to what looks like a chapel. Bugs are crawling all over the walls and a woman is painting something on the wall. John manages to boot the hijacking nasty out of her body and he’s got a message from beyond the grave. A woman named Liv is going to die. I gotta say one of the things that really drew me to this show is the main character’s personality and snarky attitude.

So it’s off to Atlanta to try and save Liv (played by Lucy Griffiths…you may have known her as Maid Marian on the BBC series Robin Hood). She’s closing up at work and things are going wonky. She gets a blank fortune in a fortune cookie and then the electronics around her start going out, including her car. And then the ground opens up around her and a giant fire ball plumes into the sky. Constantine shows up just in time but she’s pretty freaked and takes off. He goes to investigate the giant hole and gets a visit from an angel named Manny (at least he won’t be screaming for Walt all the time). It seems someone has sent Manny to keep an eye on Constantine and it has to do with Astra.

Liv gets a ride home with a friend and catches a creepy guy in hallway. The next thing she knows, her friend is dead and a weird symbol has been carved into her door (and a protective barrier of salt poured as well). She seeks out Constantine again and is introduce to Chaz, his driver and best mate. Well the one that’s still alive anyway. Constantine gives Liv a present from dear old dad who did not in fact die before she was born. He died a year ago. So she’s got some questions for her mother. Unfortunately, her mom isn’t too keen on chatting about Jasper Winters. That’s okay though because Liv freaks out when she sees her grandmother’s trapped and demented soul in the house. Time for a bit of a history lesson. Jasper could see trapped souls and other planes of existence and it appears liv has inherited that ability and her power is focused by touching his amulet. Liv wonders if maybe whatever is after her is seeking revenge for something her father may have done but Constantine isn’t interested in the reasons. He just wants the nasty bugger gone so he can move on with his life.

Whatever is hunting Liv is catching up to them. A truck rams into Chaz’s cab and Constantine briefly takes a trip down memory lane to the time h lost Astra to a big glowing blue demon. Liv’s screams for help draw him back to the present and he manages to keep the demon at bay until Chaz can get Liv out of the car but Chaz gets skewered by an active power line. Constantine isn’t too fussed about his friend’s death as it seems there are more important things to do. And maybe his buddy isn’t actually dead at this point. He takes Liv to her father’s hidey hole and they find out that there’s going to be an attack soon (Liv uses her father’s amulet to scry for trouble). Oh and Constantine figures out which demon is after Liv.

He pays Manny a visit and it seems the angel is using Constantine and our reluctant hero is not happy about that. But it does seem that there may be a possibility that he can save his soul. That is definitely intriguing and I can’t wait to see where that goes. I lie that he’s not a particularly nice guy for some reason. Maybe it’s the hotness and the accent. And the Lost alum just keep on coming. Constantine goes to pay another old friend, Richard Winston, a visit (you might recognize him a Daniel Faraday). He’s equally as scattered as Daniel was and apparently he was there when shit went down with Astra. He’s on all kinds of drugs just to function and he wishes the demon had taken Constantine instead of Astra. Funny, Constantine feels the same way. He ends up blackmailing Richie into helping him.

Back at the house, Liv is kindling the fire when she sees a man in a mirror. Turns out it’s out of time with the rest of the house and she’s seeing her father in the past. Nifty. And Chaz is back. He is definitively hard to kill. Which is helpful in a best mate/demon hunting buddy. That night, they go to take out the demon and we get some (comic canon) background on Constantine. As Liv is sitting in a demon seal 9which looks really cool from an aerial point of view), we learn that Constantine’s mother died in child birth and his drunk of a father blamed his son for his wife’s death and didn’t let him forget it. So when Constantine hit puberty he started learning everything he could about the occult in an attempt to find a way to his mother. No luck yet but he’s still searching.

Right now, they have a demon to smite. It possesses the guard downstairs (who Constantine paid $500 to let them go up to the roof and have sex). The demon quickly takes new form though, Constantine himself but all demonic and gross. I’d seen the early trailers where there was another demon he was fighting but I have to say I like that it was more personal with this. Plus fewer special effects (more makeup and contacts). He gets chewed out by the demon a bit and brings Astra into it. Constantine is about to let the demon go to save the girl’s soul when Liv uses the amulet and sees that it isn’t really Astra. So he sends them to a fiery spot in Hell and then sends Liv off so he can brood. She gets a ride from Richie (he cut the power grid which was rather helpful) and he explains the history behind Astra. Constantine did a little demon summoning of his own and it went sideways. He should really talk to Rupert Giles. I mean that man knows about unintentionally losing control of demons. Anyway, Liv and Richie pass the street where Live saw trouble earlier and there’s a dead boy with his throat ripped out. This prompts her to leave the amulet behind and run. Constantine set the whole thing up to save her life really. And he’s begrudgingly going to help Manny in whatever his agenda is. As the episode comes to a close, Constantine is walking through a dark alley and pouring lighter fluid on his hands and busts out some cool magic to make a bunch of thugs with guns back off. I know that Liv was supposed to end up being his student and all but I’m glad the writers changed their minds and ended up letting her leave at the end of the episode. Her story served the purpose of getting Constantine back in the fight. This is going to be one hell of a ride and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

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