CONSTANTINE Recap: “Rage of Caliban”

     November 28, 2014


The bad news it that NBC has halted production on its freshman season of Constantine, stopping the paranormal investigator at an unlucky 13 episodes.  The good news is that the show isn’t necessarily canceled (yet).  If you’re a fan of the show, now’s the time to get vocal about it and encourage your friends to watch it live and check it out on NBC’s site where they’re hosting replays.  If you haven’t given this offbeat and charismatic antihero a chance just yet, then what are you waiting for?  With other comicbook adaptations getting ready to take off for the holidays, the Hellblazer frontman continues to carry the genre squarely on his trenchcoat-covered shoulders.

Hit the jump for our Constantine recap.

constantine-rage-of-caliban-charles-halford-matt-ryanConstantine sure knows how to set up a spooky opener doesn’t it?  Last week featured a ghostly, grisly murder, and this week steps that up a notch.  A man runs into a mansion after hearing screams of terror, at which point the camera pans across a bloody mess strewn throughout the house.  A blood-covered man hovers near the ceiling before dropping to the floor, while a little girl sits against the wall with her knees huddled to her chest.  Little kids in scary stories are always wholly innocent, right?

Cut to the next morning as cops are all over the mansion, with two watching over the little girl.  When a slight disagreement occurs between the two, the little girl’s eyes go black and the coffee mug shatters.  Yeah, totally innocent.

Meanwhile, Constantine is getting into more trouble as he wakes up with a girl who is obviously dating someone else.  After a quick breakfast, he and Chas head to Birmingham to investigate the bloody attack.  Constantine starts his investigation into why the girl was spared, but Manny once again interferes.  He watches as Constantine uses a bit of Mayan magic to reconstruct the scene leading to the broken coffee cup; a smokey re-enactment shows him that the little girl was not only the attacker, but was possessed by the spirit of a murderous child.  The spirit is now on the search for another host, like, say, a little boy across town (played by Max Charles).  This particular little boy, Henry, happens to be scared of monsters, and while his mom coddles him and his cries for attention, his dad is trying to toughen him up.  Too bad a real-life demon is about to creep into the boy’s bedroom. Though Henry shows some spine in shutting a creepily creaking closet door, the real chills come a moment later when the fully-formed child demon shows up silhouetted in front of his window.  If there’s any other network television show that genuinely tries to bring the scares on a weekly basis like Constantine does, I haven’t seen it.

matt-ryan-constantine-rage-of-calibanConstantine meets up with a lady friend of his who digs up some recent murders at the hands of children.  He heads to the local asylum to talk to one such murderer, the now-40-year-old Marcello Panneti (Sean Freeland), who paid dearly for his crimes; he’s completely catatonic and missing a few fingers thanks to an ax blade.

Back at Henry’s house, the now-possessed child is busy scaring his parents.  He scatter lightbulbs on the floor, which his dad steps on while retreating from sparks from an overhead light.  Henry warns his dad to be careful, and yeah, his dad should probably just drive the kid to the woods and leave him there at this point.  (As if to drive the point home even further, a Rottweiler senses the evil within Henry, who later slashes a couple pumpkins to a messy pulp… Oh and then he directs a crow to fly right into a glass door, smashing itself to a bloody mess right in front of his mom.)

Constantine reconvenes with Chas to attempt to track the murders by children through plotting psychic ley lines.  After Chas runs afoul of one of Constantine’s artifacts, they put together a frankincense concoction that leads them right to Henry’s house, where they wait for signs of an attack.  Apparently nothing happens because Henry makes it through the night and heads to school the next day.  Despite Constantine’s warnings, Henry manages to crack a bully’s skull using his powers.  Constantine later appears at Henry’s house claiming to be the school counselor, but soon tells the truth, that he’s an exorcist.  He gets a black eye and a trip to the slammer for his trouble.

He has a heart to heart with his cellmate, who, of course, becomes Manny once more.  The irritating angel offers him guidance again, claiming that he’s saved John’s life in the past whether he knew it or not.  While Constantine is cooling his heels in jail, Henry’s demonic anger is rising due to his parents fighting.  Having witnessed a display of her son’s power, Henry’s mother visits Constantine and bails him out, hoping he’ll help them.  Seeing as the antihero’s past episodes dealing with children is more than a bit rough (ahem, Newcastle), this partnership may not be quite what she thinks it is.  Then again, as the mother finds Henry doodling a bloody ax murderer, she’s probably willing to do just about anything, including drugging him with a powerful sedative.

constantine-matt-ryan-rage-of-calibanHenry’s mom Claire rides with Constantine to meet Chas at the site of Marcello’s murderous rampage.  They plan to summon the demon back to this place.  The three of them begin a seance, in which Constantine makes it clear that they’re not to break contact until he completes the binding spell; two guesses on whether this all goes wrong or not. Constantine summons the spirit and once again warns the others not to break the circle.  No spirit arrives, but a three-legged fawn does hop its way into the house. (What the hell?)  Chas offers that Marcello killed his parents on his own without demonic intervention, so that even though this house is on the ley line, it may not be connected with the other murders.  They’d best hurry home to perform an exorcism, because Henry is awake and it’s Halloween night.

During another fight between his parents, Henry attacks them both. Constantine discerns that conflict sets the demon off.  He chases Henry through the streets, with Chas getting pinned between two cars in the process (he’s totally fine), and corners him in a Halloween funhouse.  A fire ax is shown to be missing from its case… Constantine wanders through the funhouse holding a mirror with him for protection.  The house of horrors features animated scarecrows that lunge at him, butchered bodies hung from hooks while a man writhes in pain on an electric chair, and walls of skulls.  Henry, in full zombie outfit, distracts Constantine while one of the triggered automatons accidentally smashes the protective mirror.  Left defenseless, Constantine decides to aggravate the tortured soul even more by reminding him of his terrible childhood.  He manages to name the spirit – Marcello Panneti – and perform the binding spell, lifting the possession from Henry.

Apparently the living soul of Marcello had left his body due to the traumatic events, but continued his killing spree while inhabiting other bodies.  In a fun twist, Constantine sent the vile spirit back to where it belongs, Marcello’s own body, safely locked away in the asylum.  Constantine kicks back and enjoys a celebratory smoke while warning viewers once again about the rising darkness.  Let’s hope the show sticks around long enough to pay off on this promise.


Rating: B-

Odds & Oddities:

  • Henry: “I feel much better. You’ll see.”
  • I feel like I need to consult a Hellblazer expert to pick up on all the Easter eggs. I’m assuming the Sword of Night was one?
  • Apparently evil spirits (and children) really dislike mandrake roots.
  • Manny: “If you want to save a child, just remember what it was like to be one.”
  • Daryl: “What’s he doing here?” Constantine: “Your wife dropped the charges and I’m here to exorcise an evil spirit from your boy.”
  • So I guess we can say that Constantine’s record dealing with possessed children is now 1-1. Any time you can finish the season at 0.500 or better, that’s not too shabby, right?