Constantine Gets Very Dark, But Not Quite Dark Enough

Marshall Lemon | 15 Nov 2014 14:00
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"A Feast of Friends" takes Constantine back to its Hellblazer roots.

Some people have a strange idea about John Constantine in their heads: That he's an all-powerful magical badass. (This is why in the New 52, Constantine is a Level 20 mage with a house that travels between dimensions.) Sure, he's a magical expert, but that was never his definitive characteristic: It's that when he finds a solution to a problem, he doesn't worry about who it hurts. When he saves the day, odds are he completely destroyed someone's life and sacrificed a piece of his soul along the way.

Constantine behaved like this from the very beginning. His first standalone comic book, Hellblazer #1, stuck him in an impossible situation that could only be resolved by doing something terrible. The surprise twist of the book was that he actually went through with it. The experience was equal parts riveting and horrifying, so it's only natural Constantine would adapt it in "A Feast of Friends".

The end result, however, is a mixed bag. On the one hand, Constantine is the biggest bastard we've seen yet, coldly weighing the life of an old friend while ironically downplaying his own faults. But at the last moment, it holds back just enough of its punch so that you actually feel sorry for him at the end. And while the show is willing to call him an asshole for his actions, Constantine should have gone that extra mile, even if doing so would shock television audiences.

Want to watch the episode before I spoil any more details? You can watch it on the official NBC website, or digital storefronts like iTunes.

The episode opens as John Constantine and Zed Martin return home to find that someone broke into the safehouse: John's old friend Gary Lester. Lester used to belong to Constantine's magical crew before Newcastle shattered the fellowship, at which point he basically became a traveling heroin addict. It was during this period that Lester found a man forcibly bound to a demon, and realized he could redeem himself by saving the man's life. The problem was the demon was too powerful to contain after being freed, and now Lester wants Constantine's help to clean up the mess.

You see, this wasn't just some possessed victim Lester stumbled across. This was a sacrifice, designed to trap a powerful demon in a human's body until death forced them both from human realms. But Lester screwed up the spell, freeing the demon for a murderous rampage and leaving Constantine only one choice: Find another sacrifice.

And who's going to miss a washed-up heroin addict like Lester?

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