Despite some rather high expectations from comic fans, the first season of Constantine started out pretty rough. Longtime fans of the Hellblazer comic series where the John Constantine character made a name for himself weren't too happy to see their beloved, foul mouthed, rough edged mystic be on NBC. He's a character with the kind of story that seems perfect for cable. New viewers thought Constantine looked like another supernatural-themed show with a bad boy at its center like Supernatural. There have been noticeable changes to the character too. Constantine is definitely different than his comic counterpart; his edges have been sanded off so he fits network television; and his trademark smoking is also mostly absent. Another important change decried by fans was that Constantine is no longer bisexual like he is in the comics.
But while the show starts off like many other genre shows it definitely finds its footing by the midseason finale. It's unclear if Season 2 of Constantine will happen. So, for everyone enjoying Constantine, you may have to be satisfied with getting the 13 episodes of Season 1. Instead of worrying about the show's future, let's learn about what's happened this far with a recap of Constantine Season 1 while we wait for the show to return Friday, Jan. 16.
Who the Hell is John Constantine?
In brief, Constantine is an occult detective with a lot of serious issues, occasional do-gooder, a strong smoking habit, and a tendency to be a selfish prick whose very existence harms everyone around him including people he supposedly cares about. His magical abilities aren't brought about by destiny but through skill and a lot of learning. The world he's part of includes all matters of gods, superheroes, demons, and even, angels.
Wait, Angels Exist Too?
Yes, angels exist in the Constantine universe. The angel you need to know about is Manny, played by Harold Perrineau. He's an original creation for the show. Manny isn't some benevolent, halo wearing nice guy. While he starts off as a snarky nuisance he ends up becoming more active in assisting Constantine's fight against the Rising Darkness.
What's Constantine's Driving Force?
At the start of the show we see Constantine in a mental hospital. Why you ask? Well the events at Newcastle (which you'll hear mentioned a lot in the show) led to Constantine and his fellow magicians accidentally releasing a demon to wreak havoc. This leads a young girl, Astra, being dragged into Hell with the demon. His main goal is to save Astra's soul even if it costs him his own. That's the kind of baggage that would have me seeking therapy too.
Tell Me This Dude Has Some Friends
Don't worry; this show gives you a bit more diversity than your usual Supernatural White Man Problems show. There are three important people in Constantine's life you need to know are Chas, Zed, and Papa Midnite. Chas has been friends with Constantine for ages. He's got brawn, dedication, and immense knowledge of city streets thanks to being a taxi driver. Zed Martin is new to Constantine's life. While Constantine helps Zed develop her natural magical abilities he also uses them to his advantage when it comes to all things occult. She's got some fire to her which makes me like her all that much more. Powerful voodoo priest Papa Midnite is a fan favorite from the Hellblazer comics who is not quite friends with Constantine. The two have an antagonistic relationship and occasionally become allies when necessary.
So, Who is the Big Bad?
If you're a big fan of genre television like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-Files you know while these shows love to do cases of the week they also rely on serialized stories. A Big Bad of any story arc is the main villain that are good guys have to deal with. Constantine instead keeps discussing this Rising Darkness that is behind all the ugly things that go bump in the night lately without getting to deep into it until the midseason finale.
Where Did Constantine Leave Off?
The last episode that aired back in December, "The Saint of Last Resorts Pt. 1", sees Constantine embracing Christian mythology in a big way. Constantine and company goes to a convent in Mexico to figure out who (or what) is the hooded, clawed figure stealing babies and leaving a lot of dead people behind. He's called to the convent by a past flame turned nun and the person who introduced him to the occult, Ann Marie. This episode marks the show being more serialized instead of just case-of-the-week style. Thanks to some good ol' magic the baddie is revealed to be a sister of Eve. Yes, as in Adam and Eve. She and her other sisters who decided Adam wasn't their cup of tea ended up becoming goddesses in Hell. Which actually sounds like a sweet gig minus the baby killing.
Things don't end nicely for our favorite Dark Arts Master/Demon Hunter or his friends. Zed ends up being drugged and kidnapped by her father's crazy cult of followers. But most importantly, Zed's prediction about the Brujería, a coven of warlocks Constantine thought were extinct, comes true. After some twisty reveals and Eve's sister is taken down another monster rises in her place. Ann Marie makes a hard choice deciding to shoot Constantine to distract the newly revealed big bad saving herself and the kidnapped babies. "The Saint of Last Resorts Pt. 1" ends with Constantine bleeding out right in front of a superpowered, prehistoric evil force with no clue as to how he's going to survive.