NBC’s Constantine has already dabbled in voodoo, demonic possession, and ancient Welsh fairy folk, but tonight’s episode “Blessed Are the Damned” get to Hellblazer’s bread-and-butter: the battle between Heaven and Hell. In this hour, a struggling preacher finds himself apparently blessed with an incredibly powerful artifact that grants him healing abilities. While it allows him to grow his following substantially, it also has some pretty awful side effects. What’s causing all of this chaos? Well, as Manny keeps reminding us, it has a little something to do with the “rising darkness.”
Hit the jump for our Constantine recap.
In the back country of Kentucky at a Rattlesnake Revival church, a brother and sister of a deceased preacher plan to rejuvenate the church by bringing serpents back into the sermon. While attempting to conquer death (as symbolized by the snake), the preacher man gets bitten and dies almost instantly in front of his congregation. A red-hot shard of something enters his hand and he comes back to life, to the joy of his followers. He pockets the artifact and soon finds he’s able to heal a disabled man of his missing leg. This should be interesting…
Meanwhile, Zed’s busy painting a nude model in art class when she’s disturbed by a vision of venomous snakes around her ankles. After making a dinner date with said nude model, she comes back to the mysterious cabin to tell John about her vision, which jibes with the now well-publicized story of the preacherman. Chas is spending some time with his daughter, so Zed and John take to the road this week to visit Briarwood, which is seeing a much larger congregation these days. It’s no surprise, since the preacher’s healing theatrics are apparently actually miracles. If John and Zed needed any more convincing of his veracity, the preacher starts speaking in the language of the angels.
But perhaps the healing acts aren’t exactly as miraculous as they appear. The man with the healed leg pays a visit to his doctor, becomes overheated, and soon turns into a savage, bloodthirsty killer for seemingly no reason. Curiouser and curiouser! The violence increases with the healed man next attacking a cop in broad daylight before scurrying away on all fours like a beast.
Zed tests the preacher to see if he’s legit, and she is able to see a variety of holy imagery that seems to have convinced her of his power. John, not so much. He believes that Zachary does indeed possess powerful abilities, but knows that the land will be poisoned because of it; a rotten lake of dead fish is the first bit of evidence of this. John tries to call on Manny, but the irritating angel doesn’t show. He decides to summon him with a symbol drawn in the mud and an offering of dried myrtle. Manny finally arrives with his usual cryptic advice, which eventually leads to Zed and John to tracking down, you guessed it… a fallen angel. They help her, wings and all, get to shelter. Imogen (Megan West) tells them that she was accompanying a soul to Heaven, but Zachary pulled a feather from her wing, causing her to fall to Earth, and allowing him to develop his abilities. Manny arrives again, concerned, since this is the first mortal who was able to pull out an angel’s feather. Imogen isn’t long for this world unless John and Zed can get the feather back.
Zachary is convinced that God (or his father) blessed him with this gift, but he’s too arrogant to see that his own sister is sick. He keeps the angel’s feather close to his chest, so to speak. His sister warns him about Nate Byars – the first man he healed – and his recent behavior. Zachary ostracizes her from the church for being a non-believer. John soon pays him a visit in an attempt to take back the feather, and gets blasted by its power when he tries to grab it. Zachary casts him out as well. John returns to their camp to find Zed being attacked by Byars, but manages to subdue him with a blade. Imogen warns them that more of Zachary’s followers will turn like Byars if the feather isn’t returned soon.
Zed plays her own card by trying to get close to Zachary as a new member of his flock, and participating in a baptismal ceremony. In a quick bit of pickpocketing, she manages to lift the angel feather from its chain. With Zachary now powerless, those he healed come out of the woodwork, drawn by the feather itself. While John slugs his way through the ghouls, Zed helps to get Zachary to the safety of the church. John attempts to hold back the horde while Zachary loses his cool and confesses that he actually killed a man in his past because he was drunk. John explains that, since Zachary had a mortal sin on his soul when he died, he was never headed to Heaven, but rather to Hell.
In the meantime, Manny has a heart-to-heart with Imogen, who tells him what it feels like to be mortal, to feel pain, to feel the sun on your skin. She also reveals a treacherous bit of talk, saying that angels are nothing but crutches for God’s creation, and that she wants this world back for themselves. (This brief conversation is easily the most interesting thing in this episode, and hopefully the show sticks around long enough to follow through.) Manny’s not too comfortable with this conversation, and he looks even less comfortable when Imogen reveals herself to be, in fact, a Fallen Angel. Good thing John put a magical ring of protection around her, though he wasn’t planning on it keeping her from running away.
Now challenged by John, Imogen threatens to kill Zed – she’s killed a mortal once before just to see how it felt. Imogen reveals that she also waited at the Gates of Hell for a mortal soul in order to give him her feather and then gain her way back to Earth. Luckily, Manny is up to the task of taking her down, doing so by pulling her blackened heart from her very chest. This is a nice turn for Manny, and for the relationship between the angel and John. Manny warns him yet again that the barrier between Hell and Earth is at its thinnest point due to the rising darkness.
At the episode’s close, Zed has apparently forgotten all about her date; it’s a good thing, too, since he was setting her up at the behest of a rather nefarious-looking individual. Stranger danger! I just hope that Zed gives us a little bit more of her backstory going forward; Constantine isn’t the only one frustrated by her mysterious nature!
Odds & Oddities:
- Manny: “Courtesy counts.”
- Zed: “There’s so much I want to ask her. Like where do my powers come from? Do they come from God … or somewhere else?” John: “It doesn’t matter where they come from, it matters what you do with them, and what they cost you.”
- John: “You don’t want to hold onto this for too long, love. That’s concentrated evil.”
- Not a lot of great quotes in this hour, but the final confrontation with Imogen the Fallen Angel was certainly a high point. Fingers crossed that more of the battle between the powers of Heaven and Hell await us in the future, with poor John Constantine caught up in the crossfire.