Saturday, November 15, 2014

Constantine: Season 1, Episode 4

Episode Title: "A Feast of Friends"
Channel: NBC
Director: John F. Showalter
Writer: Cameron Welsh
Genre: Fantasy, Horror
Runtime: 43 min
Rated: TV-14
Original Air Date: November 14, 2014

It was a lot of fun to see this story, inspired heavily by Hellblazer #1, brought to the small screen. None of the changes that were made to the story really detracted from it at all, although I do wonder why Papa Midnite was excluded from this episode. Trying to use him judiciously at this point I assume. That aside the essence of the story remains that same: Gary Lester comes to John having separated a powerful demon from a dying man in Sudan, controls it just long enough to get it to the U.S., then it breaks loose and wreaks havoc. Enter John Constantine.

What “A Feast of Friends” does very well is illustrate to the audience some of the things we've been told about Constantine, but haven't seen for ourselves yet. The pilot told us that he felt tremendous guilt over the events in Newcastle, but he seemed to shake that off quickly when weird came a-knocking. Here we see his guilt, during his conversation on the subject with Gary the viewer can see that it pains him to dwell on it, it was a well-acted scene from both Matt Ryan and Jonjo O'Neil. Also established is that John will do whatever it takes to succeed. We're accustomed to hearing that kind of thing being said of someone, “A Feast of Friends” proves it's no platitude when it comes to John.

Which brings us to the next thing. Constantine has warned two people so far that if they stick with him, they'll most likely end up dead, they're both still breathing. It was important to prove to the audience that they're not just empty words, Constantine's companions have a short life expectancy. John manipulates Gary Lester into a position where there is only one outcome that doesn't involve the demon going free. He uses Gary's friendship, guilt, and desire to atone against him. Manny even asked John if he could go through with his plan, drawing more attention to his tendency to use his friends as exploitable resources.

Additionally, the audience got a little more info regarding the events in Newcastle. John's group of hangers-on, revealed to be much less powerful than he, got involved in something they were wildly unprepared for. It wasn't a lot of information, but it was enough to keep that aspect of the story moving along. Oh, and the eye scene! Talk about uncomfortable to watch.

This episode did suffer from a lack of Chas. After seeing John, Zed, and Chas interact with each other in a group last week I was really hoping for more of the same. A significant portion of the episode occurs with John working on his own, so he's reduced to bantering with himself. One positive side effect of this is that the pacing of the show seemed to slow down, without John constantly talk to a companion the scenes that needed some suspense got the chance to have some, the meat locker scene springs to mind.

Conclusion: “A Feast of Friends” gives us some useful insight into the character of John Constantine, finally illustrating some of the things that we'd previously only been told about him. This is who he is, and these are the possible consequences for counting him amongst one's friends. This felt like the most polished episode they're aired so far.

Rating: 8/10

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