** Warning – This article contains and in-depth description of the pilot episode of Constantine. If you do not want the episode spoiled for you, do not read this. **
Rich Epstein writes for Bleeding Cool:
Some of us at NYCC today were lucky enough to see the premier episode of Constantine two weeks ahead of its premier on October 24, 2014. I can tell you that even if you haven't read the Hellblazer books (granted, I am probably the only person reading Bleeding Cool that hasn't), the premier was awesome. Spoilers ahead.
The series starts with John Constantine undergoing shock therapy when a voice over tells us that this was voluntary. He is a professional exorcist, and in that line of work, "there are days you need to forget that you never will." We find out that he is referring to the murder of a 9 year old girl, Astra, who was murdered by a demon and dragged to Hell, where she will be damned forever.
Constantine soon finds a woman at the hospital who has been possessed and exorcises the spirit. When he looks up, he sees that the possessed woman left him a message "Liv Die."
The next scene begins with Liv Aberdine, who is leaving work when the power begins to go out. She runs and the ground begins to crack and fall away when a taxi pulls up and out steps John Constantine. She fears for her safety and flees, but not before John tells her that she is in danger. John jumps down into the hole left in the ground when a winged man appears. We soon learn that it is an angel named Manny, played by Harold Perrineau (Lost, Sons of Anarchy). Manny tells John that, while he can't change John's fate, he can ease his suffering a bit while he lives. Manny then says that something is on its way.
Liv's friend from an apartment across the hall picks her up and brings her home. Before Liv goes inside, she sees a man at the end of the hall. After she goes inside, somebody scratches something on her door. We then see from the point of view of a demon, as it comes upon the scrawling on Liv's door and turns away. But it doesn't disappear, it goes across the hall and kills Liv's friend. The driver of the ambulance taking away the body hears a loud banging. When he opens the back door, the body bag is empty, and the friend is (still dead) standing beside him.
John is waiting for Liv at work the next day. She believes him now and asks him about the carvings on the door. He introduces her to the cab driver, his friend Chas, who did the carvings to protect her. John then tells her that he is protecting her at the request of her father, a friend of his that died the previous year (and who possessed the woman at the asylum to send a message to John.) John gives her an amulet that belonged to her father. Their talk is interrupted when the ambulance being driven by Liv's dead friend crashes through the building and into Liv's desk, where she would have been if she wasn't talking with John. John goes into investigate and Liv runs again.
Liv ran to her mother's house, where she confronts her mother for lying to her about her father for years (her mother had said that her father died before she was born). She tries to show her mother the amulet, but when she touches it she sees her dead grandmother.
She leaves, and John finds her again. He puts the pendant into her hand and she immediately sees people that weren't there a moment ago. John tells her that these are trapped souls. She sees a train, and tries to move out of the way. John holds her still and the train passes through them. John tells her that she has her father's gift. He does not.
As Chas drives them away, the car is taken over by the demon and a truck crashes into it. John is thrown from the car while Chas and Liv are trapped inside. A fallen wire comes to life and stretches for the car. John casts a spell to stop it and they run away, only for Chas to be pierced right through the chest by the live wire.
John and Liv come to an old stone house that belonged to Liv's father, Jasper. There are tons of artifacts inside, including a helmet that looks conspicuously like that of Doctor Fate. Inside, John begins to tell her a little about her father, and what he could do, including finding spots on a map where trouble was soon to occur. John figures out that the demon is one that thrives on electricity.
John leaves her to go visit a friend, but before he can, he is once again visited by Manny. John says that he doesn't have time to talk so Manny stops time, a really nice special effects shot with the rain. Manny is trying to get John to help the side of the angels, which he is reluctant to do. John says that he is damned when he dies for his failure with Astra, so why should he risk what little time he has left? The answer, is because it may not be too late for him to be saved.
John needs his friend, Ritchie, played by Jeremy Davies (Lost, Justified) to hack the power grid, but Ritchie wants nothing to do with him. It turns out that Ritchie was with him the night Astra died. Astra was the daughter of a friend of theirs and was being chased by a demon. Rather than wait for help, John summoned a bigger demon to try to chase off the smaller. Instead, the bigger demon ripped Astra to pieces and dragged her soul to Hell. John finally coerces Ritchie into helping him by threatening to tell the police that Ritchie was there the night Astra died.
Back at the cabin, John and Liv are preparing to try and trap the demon that is chasing her when Chas appears. John explains it away by saying that Chas knows a lot about self preservation.
The two go to the roof of a nearby building. John draws a symbol into the ground to trap the demon. When it appears, he uses Liv as bait to draw it into the circle and cuts the power. He then begins chanting to try and send it back to Hell. The demon draws from the nearby power and starts to break free, suddenly appearing as John in demon form. John sends up a flare and Ritchie cuts the power around the city. The demon is trapped, but has one more trick up its sleeve. Suddeny, Astra is next to the demon, who promises to free her if John frees the demon and allows it to take Liv. John is willing to make the trade, but Liv, using the amulet, sees that Astra isn't really there. John banishes the demon.
The final scene starts with John at a bar when Chas appears. He tells John that Liv has gone to live with a cousin on the West coast. Chas then pulls out a map that Liv left for them, with upcoming trouble spots marked. Manny appears and John agrees to help. The final shot of John devolves into a drawing, which then pans out to reveal a woman with hundreds of drawings of John.
The episode was a lot of fun, with good humor and some really nice looking shots. It is definitely worth watching even if you never read the comic.
We were then treated to a brief Q&A with creator David S. Goyer and stars Matt Ryan (Constantine) and Angelica Celaya, who is playing Zed, the artist we meet at the end of the pilot.
Among the tidbits that were revealed….Papa Midnight will appear in Episode 3 (the crowd that had read the comics were really happy to hear that), Jim Corrigan shows up soon after, someone will claim the Dr. Fate's helmet and that we will hear Lucifer's voice in the third episode and other DC characters will filter in.
David described John as a bastard. He said that the character isn't devolved for television, he is a jerk through and through. Matt said that they leave the dangerous habits as part of the show. Angelica said that she was drawn to the role because Zed is a badass.
The show will include John having to face his demons not just from the present but from the past and should quickly become a must see.