Constantine 1×01 Review: Non Est Asylum
I was very lucky to have already seen the pilot of Constantine a few months ago and reviewed it, but a lot of the context of that review has changed, given the interviews the cast and crew have done since. First, the topic of his sexuality has been addressed repeatedly both positively and negatively. Second, the female lead of the show is being switched out, so any critique I had about her character and the long running effects she might have had on the ongoing plot has become completely moot. Since the new woman, Zed, hasn’t made an appearance yet, it’s really hard to judge the show based on that at this point. My strategy moving forward is going to be to review each episode individually, but still make note about the lack of mention of his sexuality each week until we finally get a mention of it. Yes, the show ‘isn’t about that’ (see: Why We Want a Bisexual Constantine for my lengthy rebuttal to that argument), but it’s still important and worth keeping track of as the show progresses. With that, I’d like to introduce this lovely counter that will be featured in every post.
So with all of that said, how exactly was the pilot episode?
Personally, all the issues regarding representation aside, I think this show has amazing potential. They managed to set up a new world in 44 minutes that gave us just enough to understand what we’re heading into, but still leave us wanting to see more. In this regard, this episode was a success. You don’t have to be a fan of the comics to be able to jump right in and know the basics of the show’s mythology. While the concept of demons and hell aren’t exactly new ground, the powers and magic that Constantine uses to battle them are unique and provide a new direction to come at this genre form. I want to see more of what he can do, how he does it, and how this show will bring these things to life visually. All of these things look very promising.
Constantine as a non-traditional hero is also something I look forward to seeing unfold. He’s not the hero people really want, but he’s sort of the one that they need. He’s not exactly the nicest guy and doesn’t deliver the news about Liv’s special powers softly. I’m looking forward to him saving people’s lives while simultaneously driving them up the wall with his blunt attitude. Matt Ryan is really nailing it so far. Playing someone with this type of attitude has to be both challenging, but fun and I hope he enjoys the material he’s being given. He also does the serious and introspective moments well. I’m so excited for this. Matt Ryan is brilliant.
While Liv won’t be sticking around for too long, she does her job as a character removed from the main mythology. She acts as an audience surrogate, needing to learn what Constantine is doing and who he is right off the bat, just like the viewers do. I can see why this isn’t something they’d want to keep this dynamic for too long. It could easily grow stale, but it did its job in the first episode at least. We needed the universe to be explained somehow and this was one easy way to do it. Now that we’ve had the basics explained, her usefulness may have run its course. They could have driven her character in a different direction, but it seems they’d rather just ax her part and introduce Zed instead. The only mystery left is how they’re going to make that transition.
I’m hooked. I have issues with the whole sexuality issue and I’m going to remain hyper-vigilante of the topic, but the Constantine and the mythology of the series have pulled me in. It’s gorgeous and intriguing. It skirts what is usually acceptable on network TV, which seems to be becoming a hallmark of NBC in general (how Hannibal gets away with the stuff it does still blows my mind). How far will they push that? I’m not sure, but they’ve already shown him stomping out cigarettes and have set the framework for a hero who is unlike any other hero on TV right now. I look forward to how far they’ll take it and what other mysteries await us.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.
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