Thursday, January 29, 2015

Constantine: The Saint of Last Resorts – review

Director: T.J. Scott

First aired: 2014

Contains spoilers

Constantine (Matt Ryan) is a DC character and we have come across him before as a guest character in DC’s New 52: I, Vampire and he is, in that, part of Justice League Dark.

This series – which, at the time of writing this review, is up to this episode and taking a mid-season break – has Constantine working mostly alone with help in the form of quick healing Chas (Charles Halford, The First Vampire: Don't Fall for the Devil's Illusions) and the mysterious Zed (Angélica Celaya, Gabriel & Cowboys and Vampires).

baby snatching
The episode starts in a convent where Martina Lopez (Ivette Li-Sanchez) has just given birth. Her husband, cop Hugo Lopez (Jose Pablo Cantillo), leaves to get her some water and she falls asleep. Unfortunately she awakens just as a hooded something with bird like talons for hands reaches for the baby. The creature rips her throat out and takes the baby, locking it in a cage in an underground lair. In the US psychic Zed is drawing picture after picture of a creature, an invunche, which Constantine suggests were wiped out during the Great Flood. He puts this down to a tactile interaction the episode before. A woman, Anne-Marie (Claire van der Boom), appears through bilocation – she is an old friend of Constantine (and thus dislikes him intensely) but needs his help in Mexico. The event has caused the cross she wears to burn her skin, indicating the baby was taken by supernatural means.

Matt Ryan as Constantine
Constantine orders Zed to stay in America – and in the supernaturally guarded mill – and he and Chas go to Mexico, where he is darkly amused to discover that Anne-Marie is now a nun. They try a runic ritual (whilst the convent is empty) to discover the nature of the abductor but the tracks have been covered causing it to go wrong. Instead they go to the Lopez home intent on uncovering the placenta (buried for good luck) but Constantine realises that the tree it is buried beneath is bearing human skinned fruit containing blood. He speaks to Hugo and suggests the child is alive (hence the fruit growing) and the abductor is one of Eve’s sisters but he doesn’t know which one (it is suggested there were a series of women created, beginning with Lilith, who chose to exist as Queens in Hell rather than be subservient to Adam).

They rush back to the convent when they hear that another baby has been taken. It is revealed that the father of the baby was Hugo’s teenage son (Hugo was unaware of the pregnancy) and so it is Hugo’s family being targeted. I don’t want to spoil too much but Constantine does reveal that the abductor is the Sister of Eve Lamashtu. He describes her as “a bit of a vampire” and in mythology she was a Mesopotamian Goddess who threatened women during childbirth and abducted children while they nursed. In the original mythology Pazuzu would be invoked to ward her (you may know the name as the demon from the film the Exorcist) and Constantine uses a medallion of Pazuzu to fight her.

Lamashtu face on
Lamashtu would normally, according to Constantine, devour the child and so there is another mystery to uncover in why she is taking them alive. However this is where the episode would have difficulty as a standalone. The episode is tied deeply into the wider series arc, it has action around Zed, unrelated to the main story, that feeds into her sub-story and – due to the fact that this is also the mid-season break point – it ends on cliff-hangers for both Constantine and Zed.

That said, the series is brilliant so far, nicely dark and pretty true to the Constantine comic character. This episode is by far the worst to dip into and that has affected the score (which is based on it being viewed as a standalone vampire episode) but it is not a bad episode by any stretch of the imagination and I heartily recommend the series so far. I should mention the earlier episode Danse Vaudou, which features ghosts but one of them is draining life energy. I won’t look at the episode separately (as it would be a fleeting visitation at best) but worth noting and has added the label of vampiric ghost and energy vampire to this post generally.

For The Saint of Last Resorts, 6 out of 10 and my thanks to Ian for letting me know about the episode and quality of the series. The episode’s imdb page is here.

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