By Rich Epstein
After three episodes filled with backstory and revelations about the rising darkness, Zed (Angélica Celaya) and Chas (Charles Halford), this week's Constantine was more of a monster of the week episode. Four college students are in a crypt, drinking and playing around with some kind of spellbook. Suddenly things get serious, as suddenly each student is alone in a different room of a house. The first, Charlie, finds himself in a dungeon, with a table dripping blood. Another, Adam, in a kitchen with a priceless vase. Miranda appears in a bedroom, picks up a book with blank pages, and suddenly a man (William Mapother) can be standing behind her can be seen through the mirror.. The fourth student, Lily, is in a living room. The furniture is covered with sheets. A man grasps her from behind, telling her "He can see you. You have to hide me." Miranda sees the man in the mirror and screams, Adam drops the vase, and suddenly they are back together in the crypt.
John Constantine (Matt Ryan) is relaxing in the cabin, drinking his troubles away, when Manny (Harold Perrineau) appears. Manny berates John for being lazy and tells him to check the skry map. A friend nearby needs help.
Lily is in class, and it's being taught by none other than Ritchie Simpson (Jeremy Davies), last seen in the pilot episode. Ritchie dismisses the class, when John, posing as a student, tells holds everyone up because he has a question. I guess we found John's friend.
Charlie is walking along campus when he sees a reflection in a window. It is the man from the bedroom, and suddenly the boy is in the house, with a plastic bag over his head, suffocating. Back on campus he is lying on the ground, not breathing.
Ritchie is not happy to see John. When they last saw each other, they made a deal; Ritchie helps with the demon in Atlanta, and John stays away. Ritchie tells John that he is out of the game, he is no longer data mining. He teaches class and he goes home. They are interrupted by Adam, who is Ritchie's assistant, saying that he can't come in because his friend died. As Adam is talking, his girlfriend, Lily, sees the man in the mirror and screams.
The students hold a vigil for Charlie, and John and Ritchie go to talk to Adam. They don't see him, but Miranda is there, talking with Lily. She tells Lily about the man she saw in the mirror, only Miranda denies seeing anything while they were at the crypt. Lily claims that they imagined seeing something at the crypt, she learned all about it in her psychiatry class. There are few things more annoying than students in an entry-level psychology class that suddenly think they can diagnose everyone around them. As Miranda leaves, John and Ritchie walk up. Lily tells them about the cemetery, but not the vision. John knows she is hiding something, and thinks Ritchie is as well.
he was a true believer before Newcastle. Manny asks whether John could recruit Ritchie to help fight the rising darkness. In the crypt, Manny disappears as John finds residue from the spell the night before. John does his own spell, and symbols appear on the ground.
Miranda begins warming up for dance practice in a very dark studio. I have no idea why she is practicing alone, at night, in the dark. I mean, I could buy the first two. She's getting some extra practice in whenever she can. But why not turn on a light? It's a silly way to try to make the scene extra creepy. Anyway, the man from the house once again appears in the mirrors and Miranda gasps. They make eye contact, and suddenly she is back in the house. There is a man there, and he tells Miranda she needs to open the door, quick, before the other man comes back. She asks why he doesn't just open the door, and he shows her his hands. Or at least the stumps where his hands would be.
John goes to talk to Ritchie. The symbols at the crypt were Egyptian hieroglyphics. Ritchie realizes that Adam got the book from his office. The book was the journal of Jacob Shaw, a mystic who believed he could travel to other dimensions and shot his partner. While Shaw was awaiting trial for murder, his slipped into a catatonic state, possibly sending his consciousness to another realm. And I think we know who the man in the mirror is. John tells Ritchie that Adam is likely to try again, and that they need to beat him to it.
Hey, what do you know, John was right. Lily is worried about Miranda, and Adam tells her that they should look for her at that house. Yeah, good idea. Lily refuses and heads to the dance studio.
John warns Ritchie that, due to the rising darkness, anyone could be pulled through the gates that students opened, not just the Adam and his friends. They continue to look for Adam, obviously they haven't bothered with his girlfriend's apartment seeing as how he was just there.
Of course Adam goes back to the crypt and travels to the house. He finds Miranda, only she's been stabbed through the stomach. She says that they need to get out, he'll be back. They hear footsteps, as Lily finds dead Miranda's body at the gym. John and Ritchie find Adam at the crypt, at least his body. His spirit is somewhere else. At the house, Adam sees the man in the mirror, and recognizes him as Jacob Shaw. Shocking, I know. Anyway, Shaw cuts Adam as John and Ritchie see the wounds appear on Adam's body back at the crypt.
Ritchie feels guilty that three people are dead because of a ritual that they found in his office. John tells him to knock it off, that he didn't tell them to do the ritual. Ritchie tells John that he can see through the bull, he knows that John is only pretending not to feel.
Ritchie and John go to see Lily. They tell her that Adam is dead, she tells him about the house. Speaking of, Adam, he Miranda and Charlie are all still at the house even though their physical bodies have died. Shaw enters, and tells them that he wants to play. He is going to choose a weapon and hunt them. Miranda and Charlie run, Adam stays put. He knows that Shaw controls the place, that he built it. He thinks Shaw can't really hurt him there. A sledgehammer to the knee changes his mind.
John brings Ritchie and Lily back to the mill-house. John tells her that there was a protective spell put on all reflective surfaces in the mill-house, so being the brilliant damsel in distress, Lily takes out her cellphone and sees her own reflection followed by Shaw's. Hey, guess who's now at the house with the rest of her friends. She opens the front door to try and escape but the house is in the middle of nowhere. Literally. Not like a field somewhere, but actually nowhere. She goes back in, locks herself in a room and finds Adam. He tells her that Shaw is a lunatic, he keeps killing them and bringing them back to life. She needs to get out.
John tells Ritchie he can't get her without him. Ritchie is worried about their bodies, but Manny appears and John knows the angel will watch over the bodies. They do the ritual, and show up in the house. They are in different rooms of course, and Ritchie hears a teakettle whistling and grabs a candlestick to use as a weapon. He enters the kitchen and turns off the stove, why I don't know. Wouldn't that tell Shaw exactly where he is? Ritchie hears a noise, and turns, but it's John. They hear footsteps and look for Shaw.
They find a dead end, but Ritchie thinks he can overwrite Shaw's control. He does, and a door appears in front of them. They end up in the room with the covered furniture, and Ritchie notices that some of the furniture is moving. They find the handless man, only now he has hands and it's really Jacob Shaw. One waive of the hand and Shaw slits Ritchie's wrists, another waive and John is nailed to the wall. John tells Ritchie to focus, that he can beat Shaw. John says that he believes in him and Ritchie creates a sun and a world around the house before he utterly destroys Shaw. He says they have to get out, which they do, by going through the front door into the now-existent field. Suddenly John remembers Lily; she is with her friends inside the house. She runs out the door only they cannot follow and the house implodes with them inside. John tells her that Shaw is gone, and their souls are free. Lily wakes up, crying, while John and Ritchie stay behind.
Ritchie wants to stay behind to create a world. He has an opportunity to create something new, and he doesn't want to return to reality. Basically, he wants to play minecraft for all of eternity. John has no interest in losing another friend and he begs Ritchie to return with him. John tells Ritchie that he isn't staying behind to create, he is running away before he wakes up. He tries to wake up Ritchie only it doesn't seem to work. John is about to give up when Ritchie wakes up.
A pretty solid episode with some genuinely creepy tones. I am really enjoying the way that the show can switch back and forth between straight horror, sci-fi action and suspense. It's pretty easy to create an eerie scene at a graveyard at night, but the house was something unique and it worked. At first I thought the episode was going to be a simple Saw knock-off, but it wasn't. Shaw was a hunter, who didn't care who came into his world, all he wanted to do was hunt them again and again until the end of time. The idea itself is seriously frightening; there is no escape. All that they will do is die again and again until time itself ends. They will have nothing but fear and pain for eternity. And the casting was perfect. William Mapother can just look like a freak when he wants, like when he played Ethan in Lost.
If there was one downside to the episode, it was the ending. Shaw had been in this world for years, creating it from his own imagination, after years of studying the principals of transporting to a different dimension. Ritchie, on the other hand, had read Shaw's diary. That's it. He had never actually been to another place. Yet, on his first trip, he is able to overpower Shaw in his own world. He is somehow stronger. Why, we have no idea. Somehow, Ritchie overpowers Shaw and recreates the world as he sees fit. The least they could have done would have been to give some reasoning. Like, for instance, some bull about the spirit losing touch with reality and getting weaker the longer it is away. Anything. There is just no real reason that Ritchie should have been able to overpower Shaw, especially as easily as he did. Shaw found them, attacked them, John gave a pep talk and within a minute or two Ritchie destroyed Shaw.
I also would have liked to see Zed and Chas. After last week, it would have been nice to see Chas again, and how he interacts with John. At least him being with his family would make sense. As for Zed, John tells Manny that she is on bed rest, but then when they return to the millhouse later, she is nowhere to be found. It looks like in the next episode she is suffering from a mysterious illness, so maybe that will explain it, but her absence was rather conspicuous in this episode.
This was also the second straight episode in which we get nothing to further the main plot of the rising darkness after the big midseason cliffhanger where we learned about the Brujeria. Unfortunately, with just two episodes left, it seems as though the major overarching storyline will never get resolved. Unless of course someone else picks up the show. Hulu? Amazon? Yahoo? Anyone? Please?
Rich Epstein writes for Bleeding Cool. He can be found on twitter at @kaspe_r11.