John Constantine battles demons, courts with an angel, but is he religious?
Absolutely not. Tonight’s episode “The Blessed Are Damned” perfectly explains why.
Deep in the Bible Belt, in a town not too much unlike the upstate Louisiana towns in “True Detective,” there’s a town preacher named Zachary giving one of those lurid snake holding sermons, the kind you would expect batshit zealots to do. Except this time, the venomous snake bites poor Zachary and his fate is sealed. Until it isn’t.
He comes back to live with a glowing feather in his hand, he hides it fast and resumes his faith healing oration, one churchgoer with a missing leg asks the preacher to heal his pain, he certainly gets more than he asks for. The young man grows his leg back and the preacher becomes a faith healing superstar.
John and Zed come to town to investigate the miracle healings, but find out that beneath the miracles are a much, much more hellacious issue than they expected. Without spoiling it any more, watch for faith-healed zombies and a fallen angel missing her feather. This episode not only explores one mystery, it explores extreme faith and its consequence, and not just the mortal side of it.
Manny, (Harold Perrineau) John’s ambiguous watcher angel also gets involved in this plot, more so than he likes, but Perrineau shines as the archangel in this story when an interesting discussion between him and an angelic peer hits a curious existential examination, not so much unlike the discussions we have in our lives.
Why do they obediently carry out God’s will and humans get to enjoy the sensations of mortality and that they must serve in perpetuity?
What I love about this version of Constantine is John and Zed’s brilliantly incongruous dynamic. They don’t agree, ever, and it’s fun as all get out when they don’t. Even in this episode where they examine faith and organized religion.
Despite all they have seen, Zed sees beauty in faith whereas John is, obviously, sardonic on these values. He sees the supernatural first-hand -both good and evil- almost daily, but standing behind either in what we perceive as “belief” is a fallacious concept to him.
Every new episode of Constantine I see it’s apparent that the storytelling is becoming more richly woven and beautifully presented. A show I feared to be caught in its own ambition when taking on a beloved comic book character has proven every week that NBC wants to get it right.
Though the effort is not perfect and many plot points (in terms of big picture story) this season can perplex, NBC’s “Constantine” is one laudable take on the chain-smoking anti-hero. Supernatural, even back in its prime, cannot compete with the Constantine procedural style.
There’s always mystery afoot, but John Constantine doesn’t really give a shit really about doing the right thing about it.
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