CONSTANTINE Recap: “Danse Vaudou”

     November 21, 2014


Tonight’s spooky episode of NBC’s Constantine was a straight-up ghost story wrapped in a voodoo presentation.  Although “Danse Vaudou” didn’t do a whole lot to advance the season’s storyline (until the last few seconds, at least), it did have plenty of scares and style to spare.  It had the staples of urban legends – a deceased hitchhiker, a femme fatale, a love lost too soon – elevated by not only the tales of the loved ones they left behind, but by the clashing magical styles of Constantine and Papa Midnite.  While the hour didn’t have quite the heart-tugging moments of last week’s effort, it was still an enjoyable installment in what has become my surprise show of the season.

Hit the jump for our Constantine recap.

constantine-danse-vaudou-emmett-scanlanWell now, if that wasn’t one of the craziest intro sequences ever … A drunk man stumbles out of a bar to relieve himself in an alley.  That man, played by newcomer Emmett Scanlan, is eventually revealed as Detective Jim Corrigan, who comicbook fans will know by another name.  As Corrigan is minding his own business, a crazed young woman – her nose and mouth veiled by a surgical mask – brutally stabs and slices another woman to death with a pair of scissors before running off down the alley.  Corrigan fires numerous shots but the bullets seem to deflect off of her.  What the hell is going on?

While Zed’s busy trying to interpret the map, Chas and Constantine show her a repaired zeotrope … which takes her into a vision in which a woman was teaching a young boy to shoot a pistol.  Whatever the vision means, it’s connected Zed to the map once again; another stigmata leads them to New Orleans.  Constantine does a neat trick at the crime scene which tells him a spirit was recently nearby.  While the trio is attempting to figure out what happened, the green-suited Corrigan steps out of the shadows.  Zed makes an instant connection to him, recognizing the now-grown man as the child in her vision.  Turns out that the department didn’t buy his story and took him off field duty, so now he’s aligned with Constantine.

Meanwhile, exactly 40 miles outside of New Orleans, a teenage boy hitches a ride with an older man.  And of course the driver is a pervert.  While they’re (presumably) driving, Zed sees a vision of their car crashing into a big tree.  What the driver sees, or rather what he first doesn’t see, is the young man, who disappears from his passenger seat and reappears, bloody and disfigured in the road right in front of him, causing him to crash.  Apparently this neck of the New Orleans woods has been the site of three recent wrecks; Constantine suspects a ghost, while Corrigan suspects him of being a conman and arrests him.  Chas and Zed splits up to track the spirits instead.

constantine-danse-vaudou-charles-halford-angelica-celaya-matt-ryanChas gets the worst of it when he crosses the masked, scissor-wielding beauty in an alley.  If not for his healing ability, he’d be a pretty corpse by now.  While he’s mending in the alley, Corrigan interrogates Constantine, who gives him a clearer picture of the state of Heaven and Hell.  It seems the scissor-slasher was Misaki, a former model who had her face slashed which caused her to lose her career and commit suicide, while the hitchhiker was a young man named Phillip who died in a car accident.  Constantine’s figured out just who these spirits are, but what he needs to know is why they’re reappearing right now.

Constantine interviews Misaki’s former model friend (who was responsible for slashing her face) while Zed talks to Phillip’s grandmother.  Both of them reveal that they regularly speak to the spirits of the deceased individuals, and they both happened to talk to the same medium: Papa Midnite.  Constantine will handle the voodoo priest while Zed sees to Dead Man’s Road.

At a voodoo ritual, a young woman pays Papa Midnite a tidy sum in order to speak to her dear departed husband.  Midnite plays up some theatrics and appears to conjure the man’s spirit, which is going along fine until Constantine ruins the party.  John charges Midnite with resurrecting the dead instead of merely communicating with them.  Midnite blows some dust into his face which knocks him out; his thugs dump him in the trunk of a car.  He picks the cuffs in the back of the car and manages to switch places with the driver, while Midnite visits Madeline, the widow who visited him last night.  Madeline isn’t alone; her husband has returned.  Constantine explains to Midnite that the Rising Darkness is messing with his magic, and they need to work together to combat it.

constantine-danse-vaudou-angelica-celayaZed’s out on the road with a bunch of flares in order to keep drivers safe.  Corrigan pulls over to chat her up.  He plans to pick up Phillip in order to keep him from killing anyone else; it’s a bold strategy, let’s see if it pays off.  As the two get to know each other, it seems as if they actually share a past.  That reunion story is put on pause as they pick up Phillip from the side of the road.  Zed’s trying to relate to him, and he disappears in a puff of smoke only to reappear again in front of the car; Zed obliterates him and avoids crashing.

While the spirits have been remade as flesh to wreak havoc on the living, Constantine and Midnite go to the source and engage in a bit of body snatching.  They plan to bless their corpses, return their bodies to Midnite’s ritual place, and burn them.  Constantine will combine his own Old World magic with Midnite’s voodoo spells.  They both do a fair amount of screaming and yelling, but the bodies refuse to burn.  They come to blows over their differences in magic and their tumultuous history.

While the magic wielders are sorting themselves out, Chas is holding his own by asking the model’s spirit questions to keep her off balance.  Corrigan brings the grieving loved ones left behind by the departed – Phillip’s grandmother, Misaki’s friend, Claude’s wife – in order to give their consent to the ritual.  The spirits are purged and come to rest among the stars.

constantine-danse-vaudou-michael-james-shawCorrigan and Zed resume their earlier conversation, in which Corrigan reveals that he used to work Missing Persons, and recognizes her from a file that, for better or worse, no longer exists.  Corrigan kisses her hand, and Zed sees a vision of him glowing green, and mortally wounded.

Constantine and Midnite share a drink at the end of their truce while the former asks the voodoo priest to talk to his sister in the other realm (through her ritually braided skull) to find out what’s stirring in Hell.  Papa Midnite says that a darkness is coming, heralded by someone close to him who will betray him.

Rating: B-

Odds & Oddities:

  • Now there’s the cigarette-smoking Constantine fans have been waiting for!
  • Constantine: “I respect everyone I sleep with.”
  • Spirit: “Do you think I’m pretty? How about now? AM I PRETTY NOW?!”
  • Constantine: “Voodoo’s nothing but a magical excuse for a party.”
  • I’m sure Hellblazer fans know a bit more about Papa Midnite’s sister, so hopefully more is revealed in the series.
  • Papa Midnite: “What do you know? Jackass of all trades, master of none.”