Constantine 1×02 Review: The Darkness Beneath
This week felt like a second pilot, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but certainly slowed any momentum a series usually gets after its first episode. Since they swapped Liv out for Zed, they had to establish a new dynamic between Constantine and his sidekick. The only difference between this and the actual pilot was that the world itself has been established and we already have a good understanding of Constantine himself. Everything else, though, has to start from scratch.
The verdict is still out with Zed, for me. I can see why she’d make a better permanent companion than Liv since she’s already somewhat familiar with the world of magic, but her knowledge is still very basic. I had assumed she’d be more on equal footing with Constantine, but she’s still learning about things just as Liv was. The major difference seems to be that she’s less afraid of Constantine and more flirtatious. The chemistry with them hasn’t quite clicked yet for me, but I can definitely see how that’d work better than a mentor-student relationship that Constantine and Liv had developed. I’m also not a huge fan of will-they/won’t-they type romances between lead characters, so I’m still a bit hesitant about how long they’ll string out their obviously flirtatious relationship. But most of my hang-ups with Zed so far is just that we don’t know enough about her or this new dynamic to judge, which is usually the feeling I get after a pilot episode. Having this feeling two episodes in a row is a little strange.
It was also interesting that we dived into a Monster-of-the-Week episode and left behind most of what had begun in the pilot episode. My theory is that they wanted to give Zed and Constantine time to formulate the relationship that’ll propel the show forward, but it was a bit jarring to be introduced to angels and demons and then focus on Welsh spirits that are probably here and gone in a single episode. There were references to the fact that they were easier to summon because of whatever this dark mysterious force is that was kicking up trouble in the first episode. I’m hoping that the next episode returns to our main plot and more solidly places Zed in the established cast of characters. I don’t expect this show to be entirely Monster-of-the-Week free, but it just felt weird to be so far removed so quickly. I suppose that can also be blamed on the switch out of the main female lead.
Matt Ryan is absolutely killing it in this roll. He’s what sold me on the pilot and he’s what continues to sell me even now. I feel like he’s really dug into this character and understands him on a level that most actors take a while to get to. Even though pretty much everything was different from the pilot, he was the common thread that held the show together. The way he casually tosses the frozen dinner on the table at the wake was my favorite part of the entire episode. I cannot praise Matt Ryan enough.
One thing that made me pause during this episode was the use of a word that is often used as a slur against the Romani people. The term “g*psy” seems to be commonly used and many people don’t realize that a lot of Romani feel that it’s a slur against that group of people. I was once, however, told by a Romani person that the offense is often overblown and that he really didn’t mind the term all that much. As I’m not Romani myself, and the population is rather low (some estimates place them as low as 2 million worldwide, with 12 million on the higher end), it’s not exactly easy to find a definitive answer for this. As racial slurs of any kind aren’t allowed on this site, I’ve asterisked the word to err on the safe side. Still, I’m always amazed when I hear the term used in popular media. The fact that people find it offensive doesn’t seem to be known by most people, it seems, and honestly I feel I could be more educated on the matter as well.
Overall, I’m still enjoying this show. The placement of this episode after the pilot was jarring and the Romani slur threw me off, but so far I’m still drawn into it despite these individual episode flaws. If they’d cast someone who hadn’t locked into the essence of Constantine as well as Matt Ryan has, I might not have enjoyed this episode as much as I did. I’m looking forward to all of the elements coming together next week and for this show to finally find a groove. This show needs to find its groove soon or viewers may start dropping like flies.
And, as promised, here’s our weekly counter…
Author: Angel Wilson
Stephanie “Angel” Wilson 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 nominee for contributing fanfic on AO3.
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