NOTE: This is a double review of both the last episode of Constantine before Christmas and the most recent follow-up episode.
“THE SAINT OF LAST RESORTS, PART 1”
After the past few episodes of passable, but not great, fare I was starting to worry that Constantine had peaked too soon. Well we can all be happy that I was wrong because “The Saint of Last Resorts, Part 1” is quite and episode, and there’s even a cliffhanger! I’ve wanted things to pick up and oh boy, has it.
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from a member of John’s old crew, and in this episode we are introduced to Anne Marie. Once a bit of an adventurous spirit (she introduced a young John to the world of the occult), Anne Marie was part of the dreaded Newcastle Incident that saw an innocent girl’s soul sent to Hell. However, where John checked himself into an asylum and the doomed Gary Lester went on a bender around the world, Anne Marie took up the wimple and is now living as a nun in Mexico. When an evil entity kills a new mother and snatches away the baby, she is forced to call John, whom she swore she would kill if she ever saw again, to find out what happened. When it is discovered that the creature is one that dates back to the earliest of biblical times, it seems that John might be out of his depths.
Whilst John sets off with Chas to Mexico (apparently it was Chas’ turn this week) Zed is left in the TARDIS-like mill. After a bit of wandering, she goes out and runs into the cute nude model Eddie from her art class. No longer in his birthday suit he asks her out for drinks, but she gets a vision that clues her into his less than genuine nature. She takes him back to the magical safety of the mill where he tells her that he and others have come to collect her on behalf of her father. Something tells me that this is a family reunion Zed would rather not happen.
So quite a lot happens leading into the second part of this two-parter. This is a great moody episode with the dark and misty convent and some brilliantly shot moments. In particular, the creepy figure gliding through the corridors was very effective, and reminded me of that really creepy bit in Exorcist III with the nurse. Also the creature’s look has some nice nods to classic vampire imagery.
To go along with the misty creepiness, there’s some nice use of angles in the mill based scenes to make the place look extra-disorientating. Character-wise we also get to see that whilst John has come along a little bit since the old days, he still has a long way to go. He’s still willing to try and con the forces of evil for his own ends. Anne Marie is a nice foil to this, being more of a caring individual and less than happy with John’s actions, but willing to call him in if it means saving people. The two have an obvious history of mutual interest ruined by John being … well, John. Although considering what happens to everyone that gets even slightly close to John, you can kind of get why he can be such an arse. There’s also a little scene with Anne Marie and Chas that’s quite nice, and it fleshes out just a bit more of shared history and friendship between the characters.
We also get to find out a bit of Zed’s back story, which I really liked. It seems that she grew up in some kind of cult or an extremist sect, and was held captive in a room for most of her life. This was possibly because of her visions/powers, but considering the fact that her birth name is “Mary,” I’m thinking they have a very specific use for her in mind. I liked how resourceful she was, using the mill and her knowledge of it against her attackers (possibly the first ever use of Chekov’s Void Room). Granted, if she’d listened to John and not left the mill in the first place she would have been fine, but then we wouldn’t have a plot so that’s no fun.
I’m so glad that the show is getting into the swing of things again. Creepy mood, good character moments and a little bit of action. The cliffhanger was effective, putting both John and Zed in extreme peril. The second half of “The Saints of Last Resorts” retains this feel even after we find out the fates of both men.
In “The Saints of Last Resorts, Part 2,” John deals with being attacked by a demon the best way he knows how: punching it in the face. The next thing he does is a little more extreme, with him dispelling his personal spiritual wards to allow the demon Pazuzu into himself to scare the other demon away. Now possessed and with a limited time before the demon fully takes over his body, the exorcist must exorcise himself. Easier said than done.
It’s a much more simple escape for Zed. After a vision of Anne Marie, she escapes from her captor with a trusty application of syringe to his neck and meets up with Chas, as John has gotten himself thrown in a Mexican prison. After an attempted exorcism in the prison goes awry, they gang head back to the mysterious magical mill to try again there. With John running out of time, Anne Marie steps up to go full Father Karras and drive Pazuzu from John.
This episode has a lot of the same strengths as the previous one. It zips along at a good pace, has some nice stakes in John’s ticking clock over the state of his soul, and also has a few decent character moments to flavour things. In a way, the cliffhanger resolution is a little cheap when John is healed and Zed escapes so easily, but such is the nature of midseason finales I suppose. I liked that each member of the team got a chance to shine, particularly Chas, his method for getting inside the prison (breaking a guard’s nose) and another round of him being particularly hard to kill when he wakes up in a body bag. Zed also has moments with Anne Marie that were quite good, with Zed telling Anne Marie about her vision to help the nun find the strength to perform the exorcism. I do really like all these characters, and it’s good when episodes like this one find more of a balance in using them.
The final exorcism itself is very well done, full of some fun haunted house effects, including John levitating off the bed. I can imagine Matt Ryan had a nice bit of fun playing possessed John and he pulls it off well. I’m also curious to see whether this possession will have any long-term concerns for John and the gang’s fight against evil. Manny the angel was certainly less than pleased that John let a demon into himself, but I don’t think this will prevent the angel from offering help in the future.
Constantine is back and it’s still maintaining the loveable blend of horror tropes, humour and action. I’ve missed you John, you ridiculous occult con artist trash king.