Monday, December 8, 2014

[Constantine] "Blessed are the Damned" Review

Constantine has been evolving steadily as a paranormal adventure that's mostly independent from its source material, and though there have been small moments where I feel like it lagged behind or didn't accomplish anything substantial in an episode or two, I still think that it's on the right track for the most part, as long as it doesn't forget putting its strengths in the spotlight and improving its flaws. This latest installment entitled Blessed are the Damned has been a little bit of both. It was a necessary episode because it was definitely about a plot progression concerning the main arc, the "Rising Darkness" which clearly earns its time on the limelight by now, seeing as this season only has 13 episodes in its package so this should pressure and challenge the writers to deliver us something compelling and worthwhile by the time the finale hits. I'm personally looking forward to the season ender by the time 2015 rolls around. 

What is it an enjoyable episode? That really depends if you can get on board with its crucial factors. This isn't nearly as entertaining as The Devil's Vinyl or Danse Vaudou were especially when this episode aimed to tackle some serious issues pertaining religion and faith (which, if you're a CW Supernatural fan, might be done-to-death for you). The most essential part has to be about the role of the angels and (shall we say in?) the Rising Darkness, while the other part examines characters' perspectives about the concept of God or a higher power in the universe, particularly John Constantine and Zed's own belief systems (if not an entire lack of it). Let's discuss the finer points below:

  • I thought that Zed, who has been largely underdeveloped since her appearance in the second episode, was finally able to get some significant and revealing dialogue and interaction. It's safe to say that they will follow the backstory of her comic book counterpart but the delivery and execution of her role later on might differ. I still think that she has something to do with the Rising Darkness herself and based on the last scene of the episode (where a man wearing a silver cross and the nude model from Zed's art class /turned spy are plotting to abduct her when the time comes), there are people who have been looking for her and may use her for evil means. I still cannot warm up to TV-Zed no matter how much I want to (but it makes sense because I only started to love her character in the comics after she and Constantine part ways and she really came to her own as soon as that happened), but I did find her arc for this episode to be compelling, most notably how she views zealous faith ("People are so hungry to believe in something") and the fact that this episode finally sheds some light to her own religious upbringing (trust me, this is important). She herself wants to believe her powers come from a place of goodness, and her excitement to find out that there are celestial beings known as angels was palpable, almost heartbreakingly so, especially later on when Manny uses her body to rip out the consecrated heart of evil from a fallen angel and she just stands there looking down at her own bloody hand, rattled and a little devastated.
  • John Constantine's role here has been just as insightful as Zed's. He gets to quip about the pointlessness of religion which I found myself stupefied with because I don't think Constantine from the comics would be this dismissive, considering most of his dark arts comes from many forms of religious practices in a culturally diverse manner, I may add. But perhaps it's really more about organized religions that he takes an issue with, and not really whether or not God exists. Aside from his snarky and cynical remarks about the preacher and his believers, John also only has contributed half of the plot's resolution. However, on the plus side, he and Manny seem to be on the right page at last. John's dislike of Manny's kind has been touched upon numerous times but this is the episode that really drove it home. Just like with anybody who has faith in a higher power and therefore surrenders their own free will in accordance to that power's wishes, John sees angels as yet another instrument of blind subservience and this irks him because he sees himself as a man of his own agency who uses powers of a divine scope to serve his needs and others who may require his help. For John, that's that. He doesn't want to be a part of some grander scheme between angels and demons. He's an existentialist and an individualist; a man who had been close enough to both heaven and hell in a lot of ways and yet still refuses to believe their impact on his life.
  • The introduction of the female fallen angel for this episode brings us closer to THE FIRST OF THE FALLEN which excites me so much! I also liked that small discussion between Manny and this angel, which shows that they actually agree on something; and that's no other than the fact that the puny and negligent human race has wasted God's gifts, and that the angels should take back this mortal plane from ours because we don't deserve it. As a Supernatural fan, it's hard not to notice the similarities in their interpretation of angels and, er, celestial politics, but I'm still willing to give this show a chance to define and develop its own mythology. I can only hope that they utilize Manny more on the show as well, especially now that John has slightly warmed up to his company and looks as if he can put aside his own negative bias against angels to work with him in stopping the Rising Darkness from escalating. Also, I hope we get Chas Chandler back again next episode.


* This episode finally gives us a better glimpse of the griever implications of the Rising Darkness while certain other key players are revealed. John Constantine now has to examine and figure out the role he has to play in all of this whereas Zed may not even have the same privilege.

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