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Constantine Review: The Devil’s Vinyl

This week’s Constantine continued to show a lot of the same problems. The content was too familiar without its own take on the material and the dialogue still feels expository and overwritten.

The “snappy” dialogue still feels very forced. For instance, there’s a moment when Zed says “follow me” and Constantine replies, “We don’t have to just jump when she says it … okay, that’s long enough. Let’s go.” At another point, Zed asks Constantine, “Isn’t that illegal?” and he says, “Almost everything I do is, love.” A show this intense, with people being sent to hell at an alarming rate, needs levity for sure, but it just feels like they go to The Big Book of Buddy Movie Cliches every time they want a bit of humor, and since the supernatural plots are pretty par for the course and expected, they’re really going to have to up the game on making the dialogue and interpersonal interactions stronger to hold interest.

In this episode, they investigate the aftermath of an old blues musician who’d sold his soul to the devil and left behind a recording. Constantine starts out thinking this is just an urban legend. But a man named Marcus insists that it’s real and that a man named Ian Fell has bought the recording.

Constantine explains to Zed that the soul is the ultimate expression of god’s love but every time “the thirst” takes a soul, it’s an act of revenge. Then we see a little girl get her hands on the old blues record and reassure it, “I do want to hear you. I do.”

They find a man they thought traded his soul for wealth and fame but discover that actually his wife traded her soul in order to save him from dying of cancer.

After a bit of a chase, Constantine finds the person who was truly behind it: Carver Midnight. Carver Midnight ties Constantine up and Constantine replies with some innuendo. This is not only very cliche, but also feels like a big slap in the face after the show declared they would be erasing Constantine’s canon bisexuality. Then Carver Midnight shows him that “get out of hell free” cards do exist; he’s sure that’s what Constantine was after. Constantine is left alone, tied up in the rain.

In the end, Constantine sends the recording back to hell, really pissing off Carver Midnight. I love the image of the gaping hole in the earth that was required to destroy a vinyl record.

Constantine makes the original cancer patient who made the deal eat the contract to be sure it’s broken. Physically eating a piece of paper, like in the episode of The Simpsons where Bart sells his soul.

What this episode does is strongly establish the show’s mythology, letting us know exactly how all these deals with the devil work and showing some different types of supernatural creatures at play. It also tries and, in my opinion, fails to incorporate more of the music influence in Constantine’s origins. Not only does the episode largely deal with musician characters and of course the evil record, but Constantine mentions his punk band Mucous Membrane. This aspect would’ve been a great way for it to stand out from other sci-fi/fantasy shows but I just didn’t see a love of music truly infused in the episode, it felt very much like surface details.

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