Quick thoughts on Constantine’s “Rage of Caliban”

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I hate it when shows are presented out of order. “The Rage of Caliban”, our sixth Constantine episode, was the second episode filmed… and it shows… glaringly. That’s not to say it’s a bad episode. Far from it. In fact, I dare say it was one of the best episodes of TV I’ve seen this year. But it is painfully obvious that “Caliban” would have fit perfectly into the slot following the pilot episode. It is deftly written, enhances and expands the back story, is Hallowe’en-centric, and both Chas and Manny are important cogs in the wheel.

Daniel Cerone’s script is brilliantly executed by one of my favorite directors, Neill Marshall, who also helmed the premiere, so there is (or would have been) a sense of continuity. Instead, because of the femme fatale fiasco, the scuttling of one novice bland clairvoyant for another, far more vivacious flavored one, we get this chaotic, uneven narrative to the overall story.

We, the fans will have to take it in stride and go with the flow, and understand that  it is what it is. Buffy went through similar growing pains, as did Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.

It’s still aggravating. I’d have preferred that Constantine had hit the ground running, that the show and showrunners had been as prepared as its lead actor has been.

Therein lies the rub. Matt Ryan deserves better. He has embraced John Constantine in a way that almost shames everyone else involved. He gets it. He is the character, through and through. And while he is putting on a perfect performance in each and every scene, the writers are trying to catch up and elevate the material around him.

Constantine - Season 1

The problem is, with no Back 9 and no 2nd season guarantee (yet), the writers, who have seemingly got their esoteric legs beneath them, may have found their groove too late. Why they couldn’t have ironed all this out before filming began is beyond me, but it is what it is.

Airing “The Rage of Caliban” on the heels of the “No Back 9” announcement and the misreported “cancellation” talk by nearly every two-bit media outlet has its pros and cons.

On the pro side — it is a stage-setter, so new viewers are quickly brought up to speed and the info dumped on us in the pilot is rehashed and expanded upon. Also, it’s a good monster-of-the-week episode, with great direction from Marshall, plenty of jump scares, and fine acting throughout.

The cons are, if you were on the fence, the good acting, directing, and story are marred by the obvious continuity hiccups and, if you weren’t aware that this was aired out of order, it might cause you to lose faith in the show’s direction.

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It is our jobs, as fans of the character and of the show’s potential, to make sure we keep spreading the word via the hashtags #Constantine, the somewhat misleading but effective #SaveConstantine, and, of course, #Hellblazers Unite!

There is something of an Occult Detective renaissance going on, which obviously pleases me greatly. Unfortunately, of all the Occult Detective shows on the small screen, Supernatural has lost its luster and Grimm and Sleepy Hollow never caught my fancy. Constantine is the quintessential Occult Detective. It has a charismatic star. A wealth of comic story lines ready to be mined. And there’s that whole Justice League Dark/Guillermo del Toro thing in the works.

In John, we trust… and that shall be our undoing.

Oh, and speaking of Occult Detectives, be sure to check back in tomorrow for a second installment of Wyrdtails.

Addendum: I was just asked, how do I rate the episodes that have aired thus far? Well, ask and ye shall receive —

6. The Darkness Beneath

5. The Devil’s Vinyl

4. The Rage of Caliban

3. Danse Vaudou

2. Non Est Asylum

1. A Feast of Friends

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