"A Whole World Out There" borrows a little too much from slasher films, but Matt Ryan still sells the hell(blazer) out of Constantine.
Is Constantine something you can call a "horror" show? It depends on what we mean by horror, I suppose. In the entire first season I've never found it scary, even though it's filled with spirits, demons, zombies, and more. Still, it's not until "A Whole World Out There" that the horror tone took a strange turn - like taking The Excorcist and mixing it with Psycho or Scream.
Yes, this week Constantine takes on a distinct slasher feel, and the results are mixed. To its credit, "A Whole World Out There" is certainly a "big idea" slasher, dealing in metaphysics well outside the show's realm so far. But it still features the typical tropes, right down to murdering unsuspecting students with sharp objects. It's a weird dynamic that probably sounded better on paper, and left the episode feeling inconsistent in quality.
However, "World" has a major redeeming grace - Matt Ryan. Ryan's Constantine has fully come into his own, and it's a true joy to see him on screen. We've watched him defeat unstoppable foes, sacrifice friends, and transform into a bastard. But this is the first episode where he really feels vulnerable. And not just "I feel sad because the plot demands it". This is the rock bottom, "I have a problem and can't admit it to anyone" vulnerability that Constantine tries so hard to keep from slipping out.
Even if this week's monster was literally Halloween's Michael Meyers, Ryan's Constantine is so convincing that he would still be worth watching. It's not enough to fix "A Whole World Out There"'s other problems. But it's a great reminder for why the series is worth following. See for yourself on NBC's official website or digital services like iTunes.
After the events of the past few episodes, John Constantine and his crew really need that downtime for once. Zed is still recovering in the hospital from the psychic damage she suffered, while Chas is taking advantage of a long-overdue visit with his family. Alone and with nothing to do for the first time in months, Constantine can finally slip back to his "true" self - a depressed magician who gets drunk and wallows in self pity. The safe house's mirrors are flashing visions of his dead friend Gary Lester after all, so it seems a good time for it.
Manny, however, is having none of it. In a surprising display of usefulness, Manny flies in on his angel wings to provide a heads-up on the coming darkness. Not only are lives about to be threatened, but it's connected to an old friend: Professor and semi-practicing magician Ritchie Simpson. We actually met Ritchie way back in the pilot, where Constantine blackmailed him to get information about a demonic threat. As you can imagine, Ritchie isn't any more impressed with him now, and it's only the news of Lester's death that finally breaks the ice and helps them push forward.
So now that John and Ritchie got their magician head-butt session out of the way, what's the rising darkness up to this week? Well, I have bad news, more bad news, and some good news. The bad news is after weeks of unique, fast-paced plots we're back into monster of the week territory. The other bad news is that for all intents and purposes, the supernatural threat is basically a B-movie slasher villain. But the good news? This is a B-movie slasher villain who breaks the walls between parallel dimensions.