Constantine Season 1 Episode 6 Review: Suffer The Children


B+. <p class=. . . THE RAGE OF CALIBAN

This show has really turned the page following the so-so story found in episode two, “The Darkness Beneath.”   The characters are starting to come alive, the stories are exciting and compelling, and the writing is deftly mixing humor, tragedy and elements of horror flawlessly.  This is exactly what it is going to take in order to keep this series alive past season one, and episode six continues the trend of excellence . . . mostly.

Plot Summary:

This episode opens with the promise of a good horror story: a quiet night in the suburbs being pierced by the sound of screams; a living room that has been utterly destroyed; a bloody corpse surrounded by the wreckage; a blood-stained wall; and an adult male hovering in the air, screaming “No more!” as his young daughter sits on the floor, watching the carnage unfold.

Seems there’s a spirit of a young child on the rampage, possessing living children just long enough to release its anger in bloody fashion before moving onto the next unsuspecting victim.  John Constantine attempts to locate the spirit’s latest target and identify its origin in order to stop it for good, all the while facing his own demons – namely, the guilt he still harbors from the botched exorcism that led to Astra’s murder and subsequent damnation.

How do you know I wasn’t by your side when your father burned you with his cigarette? Or stayed you from suicide when your sister left you alone with him?

What I Liked:

“The Rage of Caliban” was a great showcase for Matt Ryan.  With Zed out of the picture for this episode, the investigation involved just Constantine and Chas, with the former doing most of the heavy listing, obviously.  This allowed the writers to really show us Constantine in one of his weaker moments (the scene in which he finds himself in a jail cell, having his past recanted to him by Manny), and Ryan nailed the performance, yet again.  If NBC decides not to renew this series, I hope to God Matt Ryan finds a new vehicle, immediately.

The decision to leave Zed out of this episode was another move that worked.  While I enjoy her character, and cannot wait to find out whether she will prove herself to be an ally to Constantine, or a wolf in sheep’s clothing, I was afraid that her character exists only to allow our hero to solve problems that he would otherwise not be able to solve – the show’s deus ex machina, if you will.   Kudos to the writers for avoiding falling into that trap!

What Could Have Been Improved:

Not that it killed the episode, but I felt like this story failed to capitalize on the creepiness factor.  Simply put: possessed kids = scary s**t!  That opening scene, with the father begging his daughter to stop – very cool.  Sadly, from that point on we only get a few semi-scares courtesy of the possessed child, and a final confrontation in a Halloween house of horrors that comes across as more of a convenient plot device than an actual scary scene.  Constantine proved back in episode four, “A Feast of Friends,” that it was willing to embrace its horror roots.  “The Rage of Caliban” needed a little more rage, in my opinion.

There you have it!  We’re six episodes into season one, and we have one hell of a show on our hands!  Let me know what you think, and check back in with me as we prepare for episode seven, “Blessed Be The Damned.”