Constantine is back! While NBC didn’t do a great job of letting the show’s audience know that the occult antihero had moved to 8pm on Friday nights, the lead-in spot to Grimm is certainly much friendlier than the previous late-night spot. Time will tell if the fans’ #SaveConstantine campaign can generate enough buzz for the network to keep the Hellblazer going for another season, but for the moment it’s back without missing a beat. “The Saint of Last Resorts: Part 2” picks up exactly where the mid-season break left off, but if you are just catching up to the DC Comics adaptation now, read over my “Things to Know about Constantine“ first. Then, hit the jump for my Constantine recap.
When last we left John Constantine he was in pretty bad shape, shot by Sister Anne and left for dead in an underground sewer system while a vicious creature attempted to make the magician his next meal. As “Part 2” starts out, the ever-resourceful antihero pulls a neat trick, embedding a demon within himself to scare off the lesser evil. Manny shows up spouting holier-than-thou rhetoric and chastising John about his rash actions. Since John chose to ask Hell for help over Heaven, Manny’s taking the not-so-high road and taking back his offer to help John prevent the “rising darkness.” After Manny leaves, Chas finds John and helps him to the surface again. Turns out that John’s plan is to purge the demon before its incubation period is complete, thus preventing it from taking his body over. He’s banking on a self-exorcism to cure his ills, but it’s clear that he’s running out of time when the demon gains control and throws Chas aside.
Meanwhile, Zed wakes up in the back of a van, experiencing a vision that showed Anne in pain and bleeding from the eyes. Her kidnapper – a member of the Resurrection Crusade – attempts to subdue her with a syringe full of a knock-out drug, but Zed turns the tables on him. She drives off in the man’s van, stopping only to chat with Chas about John’s condition.
So what was the demon-possessed John up to in that short time? Apparently disemboweling and slaughtering a half dozen people down Mexico way and attracting the cops’ undivided attention. Luckily for John, one of his own countrymen – Stanley Gibson (Jeremy Crutchley) – arrives to help him out (eh, not exactly); too bad John’s demon is making him a bit touchy. John looks to make friends with a tattooed convict named Julio – played by Efren Ramirez of Napoleon Dynamite fame – in order to survive inside, not from the other convicts, but rather from the demon inside him. Before Julio can lead John to the prison’s sanctuary, Manny shows up once again to patch things up with John, who seems amenable to doing whatever he needs to do in order to finish his work on this Earth.
While John’s sweating it out in a Mexican prison, Chas and Zed track down Anne in order to tell her of John’s otherworldly complication and seek her help. She reveals that John’s summoned demon is actually a demon king, Pazuzu. Anne also reminds them that the Catholic Church has been battling the Brujeria for centuries, at which point Zed drops the knowledge bomb on the nun that Constantine chats with the associates of Heaven on a daily basis. That wins her over. (Speaking of the Brujeria, the mysterious Vicente, played by Werner Daehn, name drops them as he tracks Constantine down in the prison and appears to consume the not-so-estimable Mr. Gibson.)
Back in prison, gang members take on Constantine as revenge for their fallen brothers. Too bad that these threats trigger the demon king Pazuzu in a wonderfully frightening transformation that makes Constantine scarier than ever. John wakes up well after the bloody mess is over, but whatever the demon made him do was enough to scare the rest of the prison into leaving him alone. Anne, however, tracks him down through her spiritual traveling abilities. He seems ready to confess his sins and make the ultimate sacrifice if the situation calls for it. If his Assyrian exorcism recordings fail, there’s always a sacrificial dagger that Chas and Zed can plunge into his heart. Good Plan B!
Zed, Chas, and surprisingly Anne show up to help Constantine exorcise his demon. While John readies himself (and Chas presumably gets further roughed up by the guards), Anne warns Zed not to fall for John’s charms and to get as far away from him as possible. But it’s not just the demon they have to fear, as the recently-consumed Mr. Gibson arrives at the prison, only to reveal a body composed of writhing snakes. Anne blesses the team before starting the exorcism, but apparently John’s demon is too far along. Adding to their misery is the Brujeria agent Vicente’s arrival, who welcomes John as his new ally. Vicente appears to snap Chas’ neck (he’s fine, eventually waking up in a body bag), which distracts him long enough for Anne to plunge the dagger into the trickster’s back. Vicente is no more, at least for the time being. Guards swarm the room and … something happens?
While the editing here was a bit choppy what with Zed apparently disappearing in the midst of the chaos and no real action showing what transpired, they writers almost made up for it with a bit of humor: Anne Marie uses her abilities to distract the guards by projecting herself as a topless damsel in distress. (Man, we’re so predictable.)
Prepping once again for the Exorcism of John Constantine, Zed shares a bit of her traumatic experience at the hands of the Christian cult with Anne, but the others remain in the dark. There are bigger fish to fry here. John knows his own magical trinkets and trivialities won’t work against Pazuzu, so he convinces Anne to perform the powerful Roman Catholic ritual as his last hope. It’s a great moment of confidence for Anne, especially considering her brief struggle with disillusionment upon learning that the human mess that is John Constantine is on the angels’ direct hotline, and even moreso when Pazuzu steals the scene and draws out Anne’s deepest shames for all to hear. Chas tries to keep control of John while Zed does her best to put Anne’s doubts aside in order to finish the exorcism. She responds magnificently. Manny looks down on them, checking on John but not actually doing anything as per usual.
Once John is recovered, he and Anne put their past disagreements behind them. He’s also back to being chummy with Zed and Chas, so it looks like the gang’s all good again. However, that last lingering shot of Constantine as he comments on the rising darkness and the battle ahead seems to suggest that this traumatic experience may never allow John peace of mind. Is it simple uncertainty, or something more? As Matt Ryan himself puts it:
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Manny: “Ye cannot drink the cup of the lord and the cup of the devil!”
Manny: “It’s not that I can’t help you, John; I won’t.”
Zed: “You spend enough time with a magician, you learn a few tricks.” Has she mentioned this magician before?
Chas: “You’re possessed by a demon?” John: “Feels surprisingly good.”
Zed: “Do you think John’s plan will work?” Chas: “Well he’s given himself a couple of days, but he’s prone to over-confidence.”
Stanley Gibson: “I’m sorry but why do you keep looking at me like that?” Vicente: “Not looking … Murdering.”
John: “Now I run this place! Now sod off!”
Julio: “See you in Hell, lunatico.”
John: “I don’t know about you lot, but I could murder a bloody drink.” Did you guys know that Constantine is British?
Next week on Constantine, it looks like John and Co. are getting back to the paranormal demon-hunting business. There are some cool visual effects at work in the preview alone, but more importantly it looks like Chas gets to take center stage next week. Do your part to #SaveConstantine and check back for my recap next Friday night!