Constantine: “Blessed are the Damned”

Constantine - Season 1

For all of its faults, the Constantine movie did have a few things going for it, most notably Tilda Swinton as the angel Gabriel. Although, to be fair, Tilda Swinton could be playing a talking pie and it would still be strange, ethereal and awesome.

Anyway, one scene from the movie that always stuck in my mind has Gabriel and Constantine discuss the man’s lack of belief. When Constantine replies that he does believe, Gabriel points out that he knows and that’s different. Something I’ve always found fascinating in horror shows is the relationship between knowing about the reality of demonic evil and heavenly good, and having a solid spiritual faith in it. It’s also a moment and a thought I returned to with this week’s episode of Constantine and its focus on both the show’s portrayal of angels, and a character that is overtly of faith.

This week, supernatural happenings lead us to a small church in Kentucky. The preacher, Zachary, is despairing to his sister that the congregation has shrunk since their father’s death. He gets bitten by a snake during his service and appears to die, but then comes back from the dead and we see him surreptitiously pocket a strange glowing object.  He also now has the power to heal the sick, which he demonstrates by growing an amputee a new leg.

Zed is in art class–presumably not the same art class she seemed to have been at for at least two days in the last episode–when she has a vision. After some light flirting and date planning with the class’ nude model, she heads back to the mill to let John know and the two set off as Chas is away reconnecting with his daughter. I’m beginning to think that Chas and Zed have set up some kind of rota system, so that each of them takes it in turns to get dragged around by John on his work, while the other one has to do the dishes or something. Also, Chas has a daughter? I’m vaguely curious about this revelation about our resident death-dodging driver and it’d be a shame if it never comes up again.

John and Zed look into Zachary and his church, which has now become flooded with people from all around the country who hope to get healed. John is convinced that nothing good can come of this much healing magic as the energy always has to be taken from somewhere else. The pair then find Imogen, an angel who was taking Zachary to Heaven but became stuck on Earth when he ripped a feather from her wings. She’s dying and from the urging of angel Manny, who can’t interfere directly in human affairs because of The Rules, Zed and John have to get the feather back. Their task isn’t helped when those that Zachary has healed with the feather’s power begin to act like the rage-infected from 28 Days Later.

One of the things that I never expected to like as much as I have in this show is the character of Manny the angel. He has a lot of personality to him and isn’t just a “show up with vague warnings” device. Angel Imogen is at least a very typical looking angel at first, very bright and delicate looking with a white gown. In true Constantine fashion we get a little twist, but not before she and Manny have a talk about human nature. I think that after this episode’s events Manny might be getting even more involved from now on, which I’d be happy with since I really want to see this show upping the danger factor of this rising darkness.

The preacher Zachary was another interesting point for me this week. I thought it would be a straight case of the power corrupting him, but there is a bit more than that. The power is bringing more people to the church and that is his own goal, yes, but he’s also trying to make up for his own past mistakes, a motivation that Manny can’t help but point out that the preacher shares with John. Zed and John also have a talk I liked very much where Zed wonders whether her powers come from a good or bad place, to which John tells her that it’s how she uses the power that matters. Zed also takes a sweet kind of delight in the idea of meeting angels and having the reassurance that there is good to balance out the evil they’ve been dealing with. I continue to really like Zed–she’s a good combination of strong and soft, and it looks like we’re going to be uncovering more about her as someone, or a group of someones, might be looking for her.

Unfortunately, the show still feels like it’s coasting. “Blessed are the Damned” was not majorly better than last week and nothing has worked quite as well for me as “A Feast of Friends”. However, this episode did play with some nice ideas that I found interesting, and did it with the usual sly humour and characters I’ve come to enjoy.

B

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