“The Saint of Last Resorts: Part Two” highlights the absolute best and worst of Constantine. It’s not hard to digest that our greasy hero will find his way out of the horror that had befallen him before the winter break that much is clear. But, the convenient plot somehow removes all sense of danger by thrusting John back into the status quo we’ve seen eight times before.
The John Constantine I know is in a constant state of decay. There is something about the character that is attracted to darkness. He can’t resist inflicting pain on himself in a misguided effort to balance the universe. And, in a moment of writing clarity that team behind “The Saint of Last Resorts: Part Two” understand that core part of John’s character.
What they don’t understand is the longstanding state of decay. By the time the credits roll you’ll find a John Constantine who’s arguably learned nothing, a supporting cast who somehow despite all odds performed something previously thought impossible, and the ramifications of the week’s events wiped clean for next Friday.
I know that’s the nature of the show as it was designed. Despite this, I can’t help but feel a little shortchanged by just how messy everything began this week and how quickly it was all tied up. Take Zed’s predicament for example. At the top of the episode she’s locked in the back of a van with a dead body on her way back to her “father.” Within 5 minutes she’s out of the van, on the run, and on her way to Mexico… wait what?
She arrives in Mexico to find out John is locked in prison, for killing five gang members. Which consequently was one of the best scenes this series has ever pulled off. Seeing John wake up with a severed arm beside him only for the camera to pull out and display a grisly masterpiece of death was brilliant.
The situation in the jail was desperate. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the demon to take hold again. While I did enjoy the scene where John let loose in the mess hall, it felt like they blew their effects budget when they shied away from the carnage.
So the episode progressed to a point where Anne-Marie is convinced to help John because Zed reveals Constantine’s conversations with Manny. This I buy, utterly and completely. Manny’s inclusion here was perfectly balanced and the more we see of this character the better. But, here Anne-Marie was given her chance at redemption, by trying to do what she failed to do with John at Newcastle.
Constantine works best within a state of utter dread. There can be comic relief (like the moment with Chas finding his unique way into the jail – that million dollar smile) but it should be a brief reprieve from the darkness. Instead we get a complete reprieve from the darkness. Anne-Marie and Constantine are given personal salvation.
I didn’t buy the immediate believe in yourself moment for the exorcism to work. Perhaps we don’t know enough about Anne-Marie but I just didn’t feel the moment from Matt Ryan either. In fact he seemed to be having the best time as a fucked up demonic version of himself. Which I welcome, wouldn’t it be something for Constantine to be the rising darkness himself? Wouldn’t that put our hero in a provocative place going into the backend of the season. It would also give us much more depth to the supporting players.
Even here, without John behind the wheel of the episode Chas and Zed didn’t have much to do. I can’t be bothered to watch characters that seem to have no personal motivation of their own. I know they were devoted to their friend and know the risks of letting him loose, but not even once did they have their own reasons implied.
Perhaps I’m pulling too hard at the threads of this show. I just want it to be better, and I know it can be better. If we look to Arrow or even The Flash you can see the supporting players flourishing over time, and a sense of progression in the overall story. I felt like tonight started so strong, and by the end moved us right back to where we were before the winter break. I still enjoy the show immensely, but I want it to grow.