Review: CONSTANTINE S1E2 “The Darkness Beneath”

                                                        MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD

The second episode of Constantine
keeps the series going at an enjoyably fun and entertaining pace
after last weeks Pilot. Now that the world of John Constantine has
been more or less established we can now get into the series proper.
There is a monster of the week vibe to ‘The Darkness Beneath’ but I
can’t fault the writers for not showing all the cards, and
considering the episode functions as a introduction to a new
recurring character it all works quite well and the story moves along
at an energetic pace.
We find our hero in Pennsylvania’s
coal mining country where he has come to investigate the sudden
immolation of a gruff Miner in his home shower. When he arrives he
deduces that the mine has dug too deep and disturbed something evil
intent on punishing the workers. Unfortunately for Constantine he
finds the townsfolk, wife of the deceased and Mine Boss, less than
forthcoming when it comes to information about the specifics of the
entity, even coming to blows with at a funeral. In fact the only
person who does show any interest in the Liverpudlian magician is a
beautiful woman called Zed Martin, who has been dreaming of
Constantine and drawing some very impressive, comic book inspired
sketches in addition to suffering from some very powerful visions. At
first their relationship is fraught with suspicion but over the
course of the episode she proves herself to be a valuable ally,
saving Constantine’s life and delivering helpful information.
The story is serviceable, the setting
is enjoyably rustic, small town Americana and the performances are
all great. The production values do feel like they have pulled back
on the excess of the Pilot but considering the nature of the story
there is no real need for flashy effects. While enjoyable the episode
does feel like one of the standalone episodes that peppered genre
shows like X-Files, down to the generic unscrupulous business man
antagonist, shadowy demon figure , and obvious villain reveal didn’t
add much to any series arc save for little hints at a grander evil on
the horizon, which would make it pretty throwaway if not for the
introduction of Zed into the series.
The greatest triumph of the episode is
the character of Zed, played by Angelica Celaya. The most refreshing
thing about Zed is that she isn’t some damsel in distress and adds to
the story. She’s confident and alluring and proves to be a match for
Constantine in their verbal sparring. I really enjoyed her
independence and that she didn’t spend her time being carried or
protected by John. She’s an interesting addition and the final image
of the episode casts some doubt as to her motivations for joining
Constantine’s occult crusade. Noticeably absent from the episode was
Chas to is hastily removed from proceedings which makes sense
considering the John/Zed dynamic.
As before Matt Ryan is great as
Constantine, and feels more at ease with the role here. His delivery
of the snippy lines and smart Alec quips is fluid and confident. He
really embodies the comic book character and keeps you invested in
the story. His chemistry with Celaya is strong and I look forward to
seeing how their relationship plays out.
While it is what in any other series
would be filler it is still a very good episode and is highly
entertaining, if not in anyway surprising or original.


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