Constantine 104 “A Feast of Friends”

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“I told you this would happen. People around me die.”
— John Constantine

“Non Est Asylum” showed promise, despite the awkward jettisoning of its original flavor femme fatale. “The Darkness Beneath” was less than inspiring, largely due to a weak plot and awkward introduction of femme fatale 2.0. “The Devil’s Vinyl” offered a glimmer of hope that this just might be able to become the series we Hellblazers had been dying for. And then along came “A Feast of Friends” and all our hopes were realized.

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Borrowing heavily from the debut issue of the John Constantine: Hellblazer comic (written by Jamie Delano and illustrated by John Ridgway), “A Feast of Friends” found John confronting Mnemoth, a hunger demon, and the most powerful he’d ever encountered. Mistakenly loosed by one of John’s old mates, Constantine had to use every trick up his sleeve to put this demon back inside a human vessel. And John, ever the consummate con man, got his mate, Gary Lester to “volunteer” for the job.

Imagine that.

So, what made this hour of Constantine leagues beyond all the previous episodes combined?

That’s a tough nut, that, but there are several factors easy enough to pin to it:

For starters, it was well written. Kudos to Cameron Welsh for a bloody good adaptation. Second, the director, John Showalter,  handled this with aplomb.

But most importantly, Matt Ryan once again knocked this one out of the park. He has really sold Constantine’s angst and captured that wide-boy swagger, so necessary to the character. And more than that, you get glimpses beneath that rough exterior of the wounded man inside. That’s damn fine acting.

He was aided in this episode by a terrific turn by Jonjo O’Neill as Gary Lester. You believed this guy every second he was on screen, as the broken down junkie who’d let everyone down at Newcastle, who had something to prove… and something to atone for. Ryan and O’Neill had brilliant chemistry and I hope that we haven’t seen the last of Lester.

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I also love love love the way Harold Perrineau is playing Manny. He is mysterious and otherworldly, quiet, understated, all the things you want from a celestial. I get that he’ll have a larger role to play as the season progresses, but right now,he and the writers are nailing this.

Unfortunately, I’m still not warming up to Angélica Celaya’s Zed. I hate to beat a dead horse, but she’s got to be more than a pretty face. There was a glimmer of a moment at the end when she jumped John’s shit for conning Gary into sacrificing himself, but I’m afraid it might be too little, too late. If it were me in that writer’s room, I’d already be devising a way for John to convince her to be a willing sacrifice for the greater good. He’s a knack for that sort of thing.

Here’s my final thought on this: I loved “Non Est Asylum” for all its potential. “A Feast of Friends” was that potential realized. Can they keep that up over the course of a season? I sure as hell hope so… and so do a lot of other Hellblazers I know.

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