Constantine works best when there are a lot of moving parts. Dead air permeates every episode that doesn’t feel jammed pack to the point of bursting, which is great news for “Waiting For The Man” as the season finale was one of the best episodes of the series to date, and ended with one hell of a twist.
I really did love this episode on almost every level. We had a distinct lack of Chas, a playful variation on one of Hellblazer’s best storylines and the return of Jim Corrigan. Frankly, episode gets top marks just for having John smoking in almost every scene. Not only did it add to his frustration with the mounting tensions, but it sold John as a more melancholic character than ever.
Constantine, Jim and Zed must find a unholy bastard that goes by the name of The Man. The Man finds young children and makes them his wives. We learn this through a creepy cold open that sets a horrid tone for the week’s proceedings. Better, still Papa Midnite finds time to get himself involved.
And where there is Papa Midnite there are voodoo zombies with their mouths sewn shut. Which made for some of the most chilling imagery this show has ever churned out. With all of these parts in play, it would have been easy to get lost and the whole episode could have collapsed into itself. Instead we got one of the strongest and most focused hours of television from Constantine this year.
Constantine showed some real significant growth and regression if that’s even a thing. He’s more friendly now for sure, but somehow his friends have pushed him further into himself. Matt Ryan sells it through a more brooding performance than usual, and it works on absolutely every level. With the smoking, the drinking, and the thousand-yard stare I’ve never been more certain that he is John Constantine.
Jim Corrigan has come to be one of the biggest surprises of this show. Again, we were treated to these subtle hints at his unsightly future, but more than that we got the moment when he shot The Man in cold blood. This goes a long way to selling him as the spectre, and his chemistry with Zed sell him as someone we could see regularly next year. Let’s hope, he’s one hell of an ally for John and an even better addition to the cast.
Manny, well, turns out Manny is bad as hell, and without even batting an eye the show has demonstrated that he may have been evil all along. He’s the rising darkness incarnate, and if you think about it, he may have been all along. It’s great for Harold Perrineau because his performance has been spot on thus far. He’s been using John to unravel all the good in the world.
Or at least that’s my take. Since “Waiting for the Man” didn’t really feel like a finale. It’s not the typical end of a story, because it didn’t offer any sort of conclusion or resolution to the core drive of the narrative. Sure, Manny might be evil now, hell, he might even be the first of the fallen. But! What about the rising darkness? What is next for these characters? And are any of you eagerly waiting for season two?
I know Constantine was intended to run much longer than this, but it just feels like they stayed with the script that they had on hand rather than adapted the episode into a more fitting resolution for the season. As it stands I know that I want more of this show, but I can’t comprehend what season two will look like. Everything about tonight was a step in the right direction in terms of a story-of-the-week, but it didn’t do anything to show any sort of forward momentum.
Which has been my problem with the series. I like heavily serialized storytelling. Or at least some semblance of character growth and while Constantine has toyed with the idea; this episode demonstrates a failure to do so. Hellblazer at its best was bite sized adventures of a weathered bastard, but the show never remembered the politics or the growth of the character. Instead it was like watching several disconnected vignettes, where any episode could be watched in any order and nothing would be lost, I realize this might be too broad of a generalization, but it certainly feels this way after this week.
In the end, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed our time with Constantine and I legitimately hope for season two. I think another chance at life is just what this production needs to get it right, since this week was a giant leap in the right direction. I just hope it wasn’t too little too late.
Let’s get those #Hellblazeronsyfy hashtags ready, folks.