Constantine 1×04 Review: A Feast of Friends
This episode had a lot going for it in many ways and, if the buzz about it continues, could prove to be a turning point for the series. This episode was based off the very first Hellblazer story, so fans of the original comic may be more swayed by it than the three that came before. Die-hard comic fans have been watching, but this episode seemed to be tailor made to court them as a stronger base for the show. For fans who are tuning in completely blind to the comics, it went a long way towards showing a deeper side to Constantine that we’ve only caught brief glimpses of before. This type of connection with the protagonist is necessary if the show wants to have a sustainable future. Even more stunning was the fact that we got our first hint at bisexual subtext with Constantine, though the show will have to be more overt about it before fully courting fans who are seeking representation on TV. We got the door pried open a little bit in that area, but many are waiting for the door to be blown completely off the hinges before they choose to tune in.
Matt Ryan continues to be one of the biggest highlights of the show for me. Constantine as a character is the epitome of snark, but he does have an underlying soft side. His kindness seems to come out most often around children. First we have Astra, whom he obviously carries a great deal of guilt over. She was an innocent child damned to Hell and he places the blame squarely on himself. In this episode we get another example of his soft spot towards kids with his short interaction with the boy who witnessed the demon at the grocery store and we see his surprisingly good skills with kids bubble to the surface again. He doesn’t talk down to them, but he recognizes and seems to appreciate their innocence. The comment about the dancing pig and cow on the butchers shirt seemed to lift Constantine’s spirits in an otherwise horrifically serious and dark moment.
Another side of Constantine that we saw was his capacity to care for those that get caught in mayhem and, with this particular example, the very first hints of bisexuality that we’ve gotten in the series thus far. While Constantine did make the choice to sacrifice Gary, he didn’t do so with a cold malice or even a nonchalant attitude. It was obviously very difficult for him to do this. He tenderly took Gary’s face in his hands and set a soft kiss on his forehead before he began the ritual, giving Gary one last moment of affection before he became the last vessel for the demon. This sort of affection wasn’t necessary, but it said a lot about who both of these characters are. When Constantine arrives home with Gary, Zed flat out states that he loved Constantine. Zed would know since she is a touch telepath, so I don’t take her words or her interpretation of things lightly. She felt what Gary felt and chose to apply the label “love” to it. Constantine then chose to sit beside Gary and hold his hand as his body was consumed by the demon inside of him. All of these things together paints a picture of a much deeper friendship than mere casual acquaintances.
So was that it? Was that the canon confirmation that Constantine is bisexual? For me, it wasn’t quite solid enough so my counter in my reviews will continue for now, but I’m overjoyed that we’ve finally dipped our toe into that water. The reason I’m not entirely counting it, is because their relationship could still be interpreted as platonic to many casual viewers. They could have just had a very deep friendship. Or, at the very least, any possible romance or attraction can be interpreted as coming purely from Gary with Constantine only reciprocating in order to comfort a friend as he is slowly tortured to death. So it’s not perfect, but it’s way more than I thought we’d get this early. For the first time since the show premiered, I’m hopeful that we might get the representation that we’ve been looking for.
There were some parts of this episode that did leave me disappointed though, and that mainly came in the depiction of the side characters. Chas was nowhere to be seen and the explanation for his absence seemed to be messily crammed into a scene almost as an afterthought. Meanwhile Zed acted mostly as Gary’s babysitter for most of the episode when it seems like the past two episodes were spent building her up as someone who can hold her own in Constantine’s world. If Zed wasn’t left alone with Gary though, she might not have touched him and we may not have gotten the “love” revelation at the end of the episode, so I suppose the decision to leave her with Gary for most of the episode did have a plus side. I’m just eager for Constantine, Chas, and Zed to all team up and take down some baddies together, almost like we got with the Devil’s Vinyl, but with less awkward exposition about why certain characters aren’t in certain scenes. Actually, we can just leave the awkward exposition behind altogether? Because it pops up way too often in this show and it’s starting to bring things down.
This episode does have the potential to be a game changer, but with the struggling ratings and the reluctance to be upfront about Constantine’s sexuality, I’m starting to worry the show won’t last long enough for it to turn around. I’m enjoying it, but it seems a lot of people have already lost interest or haven’t been enticed enough to even give it a shot in the first place. I hope things change soon, because I see massive potential here. We could have something great on our hands and I hope it’s not too late for that to be realized.
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 winner for contributing fanfic on AO3.
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