Friday, October 31, 2014

Constantine - Episode 1 - Non Est Asylum - "To Edit a Pilot."

Finally we get to see the results of being John Constantine and Hellblazer to TV. I did touch a bit on what the show will be bringing from the comic, and adding, previously.

Based on what I've heard about the pilot, and know about the changes the show has gone through, it seems the episode is largely intact from the first finished product. But let's address this stuff as we look at this episode.

But, yes, the Dr. Fate reference is still intact. Yeah!

The episode opens with Constantine checked into Ravenscar Hospital. Constantine is locked up, by choice.

It's motto: Hey, we're not Arkham.

In the wake of a botched attempt to save a little girl, Astra, he's put himself away. He's trying to forget and find peace with her death. Because of him the child's soul was dragged away to Hell.

They do show him going through electroshock therapy. This may be because it's a standard trope of psychiatric care in stories. But it is actually a genuine and useful tool in mental care.

Of note, electroshock use can have a side effect of memory lose. That may be Constantine's intent.

But his vacation in the hospital can't last. Before long he gets a visit and message. After sending a spirit with a message on, he heads out.

"Yeah, maybe I don't look like Keanu Reeves. Is that a bad thing?"

He heads to Atlanta to find his answer. It's Liv Aberdeen, a young woman who works at a car rental site. One night she's attacked as she leaves work.

That's when John Constantine enters and introduces himself. And she's freaked out. He can have that affect.

He let's her run home, while he surveys the damage from an exploding car. While he's in the crater, he gets a visit. Manny, an angel checks on him.

He explains that something big is happening, but they want Constantine to work it out for them. He's annoyed, but he's reminded that getting a little girl damned has put him in a bad place. He's Hell bound.

So Constantine is pressured to stay interested. So that night he has a special symbol placed on Liv's front door. (And a line of salt at her front door.) It keeps an attacker away. But, as magic does, it has repercussions, as her neighbor is murdered instead.

The next day he's at her workplace, and she's not any less panicked. He tries to explain that he knew her father. Her mother had said he was dead. Constantine explains that his dad was happy to be hidden from her, as his life was dangerous.

But her dad is dead now, and that means he's passing on his duties and relics to her. This includes an amulet her wore.

Then a medical van slams into her workplace. Behind the wheel is her dead neighbor.

She runs off for answers from her mom. But mom is evasive. Then, as she handles her dad's amulet, she starts seeing the dead. And the dead aren't happy.

Constantine explains to her that the amulet focuses her powers. He grabs her hands and she starts seeing the world very differently. The dead are everywhere.

Overall it's not a bad intro to the world of magic and demons. The monsters and dead are creepy. Quite evocative. The angels aren't to friendly either. It seems fraught with danger. The only issue so far is that the evil being faced isn't that personal.

We quickly get to see it get more personality as they are attacked, by distraction, and then by power lines that have a vindictive streak.

We learn that Chas is unusual. He gets run through with power line. Then later he's back and alive. We will have to learn how he handled that.

Constantine takes Liv a cottage that her father owned. It should be a safe place from their enemies.

Inside Liv finds a collection of magic items and tomes. Seems like this is an ideal base of operations.

Constantine tries to figure out who is after Liv, and finally finds a name.

Furcifer. It's a demon that relies on electricity.

So Constantine concocts a plan, and gets his team together.

He sets the battlefield at a parking lot in the city. There he draws done symbols he can use to catch and banish Furcifer. Liv acts as his bait.

Then Furcifer comes, taking another body. And it laughs at Constantine's attempts to capture it. They are in a city, where he's inundated with electricity.

Now the demon is momentarily annoyed, but only for a moment.

Then then shape changes.

And this is a spot where the episode varies from the pilot. In the pilot, some effects were added to the actor. Orange lighting and lines.

But in this episode we get something different. Furcifer takes the form of Constantine. Or rather, demonic Constantine.

It's a nice touch. It allows the demon to take Constantine on at a very personal level from the start.

"You're good Constantine. I'm bad Constantine."

He mocks Constantine some. He reminds him that his friends never meet good ends.

Now Constantine implements the second part of his plan. He has a friend disable the city's power grid.

This takes the wind out of Furcifer's sails.

So it implements a last minute save. He reveals Astra to Constantine. It offers to free her from Hell.

Constantine can't resist the chance to save the child, but Liv sees through the offer. It's all a ruse, Astra isn't there. And that pisses Constantine, and he sends them back to Hell.

Now the other big change to the episode. Constantine sends Liv home with a friend, and has him drive her by a place she had sensed as an important place earlier in the episode. She sees an emergency situation and stops.

She sees a young man murdered and grieved over. Liv is distraught.

In the pilot this was meant to motivate her to commit to work with Constantine in an ongoing fighting against evil. And so the series would go.

But now it is being used as a way to scare her off. Constantine wanted her to see the danger, and back away. It's safer for her.

I was not fond of the original idea at first, but I've warmed to it. So I end up a little disappointed that her character up and runs from her powers at the end.

Still it is how things can go for Constantine. Not everyone is cut out for the role. Not many survive. And sometimes Constantine does trick and push people away for their own safety. So, good bye Liv.

Constantine is determined to be a loner, against the shit he's stuck dealing with.

But Liv did leave him with a map of hot spots around the country. (In the pilot she'd made it for them both to use.)

Manny the Angel is pissed at Constantine for pushing Liv away. But not to worry. Next episode we'll meet his new ally against...everything.


So we've met most of Constantine's allies now. The only one I haven't shown yet is Ritchie.

He's known  Constantine a long time, like Chas. But he's wanted nothing to do with Constantine since Astra's death. He's on many different drugs to just function. But he has a lot of knowledge that Constantine needs to get things done.

With Chas, Ritchie, and Zed around, I have to wonder if we'll be seeing a certain crusade occur during the series?

We'll have to see.

As it is, this is a modified pilot. It introduced to leads, and then had one exit. It was fun and creepy. You were given a nice sense of Constantine.

But I want to see where the next episode takes us, and how Zed will be integrated.

1 comment:

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