In its second episode, Constantine continues to show signs of potential while still feeling too much like we’ve seen all this before. Of course, part of this is because the source material from the 80s’ and is very influential. But whether or not some of these things were original when they first appeared in the comics, the show isn’t doing enough to make this adaptation feel fresh.
This week has John Constantine going to a mining town where there have been some mysterious deaths. He’s on his own because Chas Chandler has a warrant out in Pennsylvania. Chas says, “Funny the long memory the law has when it comes to train derailments.”
Constantine goes to this town and tells the miners there, “You’ve got a not-so natural disaster in that mine.” The first person he talks to was the only other person around for the murder of her husband and admits right away to Constantine that she was angry at him and that she’s Romani, yet when he finally confronts her in act 3 she asks how he “figured it out” so we can hear him boast about putting those obvious things together. The fact that the story is about “gypsy” magic at all is troubling. The fact that they actually use the word Romani makes it grosser to me because it shows they’re informed enough to realize this is a real ethnic group whose identity their invoking to say things like “there’s nothing darker than gypsy magic.” It’s cliche and hateful and was completely unnecessary.
The subplot has Constantine meeting Zed, the woman who’s going to become his partner on the show. Zed has been drawing pictures of him despite having never seen him before, so when she runs into him she can’t believe it and wants to know more about him. He pokes holes in the eyes of one of the drawings of him and tells her, “You want answers? One artist to another, in light, I always find mine” and directs her to hold it up so the sun shines through the holes. This has no effect except that it distracts her while Constantine walks away. T
his plot ends up being mostly just them reciting cliches establishing they don’t trust each other but might be able to help each other. It’s also a chance for the writers to have more people describe Constantine in ways they think sound cool. Zed says things like, “Loneliness, pain, desperation– these things motivate you.” He returns the favor, drawing our attention to the fact that Zed is running away from something. He tells her, “Well, there’s only two types of people who travel a lot: those in the circus, and those on the run. And, curiously, I’m not seeing any funny wigs or face paint.” In the end he tells her, “Everyone who puts their trust in me dies” and somehow that doesn’t make her immediately crabwalk out of there. They set up that its possible she has dark ulterior motives. Constantine narrates, “For there are those that pray for you and those that prey on you. And no matter how careful you are, sometimes you just can’t tell the difference.” During this narration, we see a shot of Zed watching him.