Constantine, Season 1 Episode 12 Review: “Angels and Ministers of Grace”

(Beware, spoilers below!)

A smartly dressed girl goes to a shady part of town in order to nab some drugs, which she promptly injects into herself. As she slides the needle in, all the lights go off and a vicious killer stabs her with both needles after beating her up. As the police arrive on the scene, she suddenly awakens, eyes utterly black.

In Jasper’s house John follows Ariadne’s thread to find Zed meditating out in a room which opens up into a beautiful forest glade. She’s still reeling from her attempted contact with Chas’ and John’s trying to spur her into action because as Manny soon confirms, there’s no time like the present. The angel burns the scry map and tells them to go to hospital and look for the girl with the overdose. They get Chas to stab himself in the leg with a screwdriver so they can gain access to the girl in the hospital. Zed touches the girl to gain access to a vision but soon after she suffers a seizure. She gets her brain scanned in the hospital as John and Chas look at the girl’s body in the morgue.

As John visits Zed in the hospital the doctor tells her that she has a small tumour in her brain. In the hospital the killer strikes again, murdering a janitor. On the hospital rooftop, John takes matters into his own hands by enacting a spell which means that Manny is stranded on Earth. Soon after they find the dead janitor and side his body is a heart of darkness, connected to the Black Diamond of radiant evil which rose to power before it was dispersed during The Great Flood. John sends Manny to do research in the hospital that ends but being more … salacious than we expected.

Back in the house John asks Chas to teach pieces of the black heart so that he can understand why no human can touch it. At first, nothing appears to happen but soon after he starts turning into a black veined rage monster. Back the hospital, John teases Manny but then goes on a mission to talk to Morris, the angry patient. Manny is sent to talk to Zed and she quickly realises that he’s an angel. She asks Manny about the source and reason for her powers and the angel comforts her. John quickly realises that Morris isn’t the source of the power and that the shrapnel Galen was hit with must have been a piece of the black diamond, making Galen the killer. Zed reveals the demon is afraid of holy light and John releases Manny from the spell and the attacks end.

After the case John tells Zed that every morning he imagines that everyone he cares about is dead so that he is more prepared for when it ‘inevitable happens’. Manny shows up and for the first time Zed can see him. I think everything about this episode shows what’s wrong with the series. Unless Constantine is planning to drop a massive bomb on us, today’s episode didn’t feel like one we should be having just before the season finale. Given the nature and complexity of comic television today, Constantine’s pacing has been decidedly rocky, and this episode could have certainly substituted a weaker one. That’s not to say interesting issues and concepts weren’t introduced this episode, notably Manny coming to terms with humanity, Zed coming to terms with her tumour, and the two meeting and bonding for the first time. Much kudos must go to Angelica Celaya for making Zed and her emotions seem genuine and organic. Without so much as words we can already tell that Zed is the kind to wear her heart on her sleeve and wants to believe. She’s a purer soul that John for sure. Harold Perrineau plays off this beautifully to create a dynamic with Zed that so far is one of the most earnest and also interesting things we’ve been offered so far … it’s just a shame we’ve taken so long to get there. Constantine might not be the cream of the comic book crop but with a push in the right direction and a little more time, it could really rise up to greater things. The show has now set up so many threads that I’m not sure where on earth it’s going to take us for the finale, but with NBC still unconfirmed as to the show’s renewal, I’ll prepare myself for a fond farewell just in case.

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