I’m not sure how much longer I can hang on with ‘Constantine’ – or even how much longer the series can be expected to last on the air. This week’s episode attempts to perk up interest by introducing an arch-villain character from the comics, but the show continues to struggle to find itself.
The new mystery in episode ‘The Devil’s Vinyl’ concerns a dangerous old LP album. (Kids, ask your parents.) Decades ago, a blues musician sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for fame and fortune, and Ol’ Scratch came to collect just as the singer was recording a new album. That record, only one copy of which was pressed, captured the Devil’s voice. As a result, anyone who listens to it will become possessed and go crazy.
A woman named Jasmine (Joelle Carter from ‘Justified’) locates the album hidden behind the wall of the original (now abandoned) recording studio. She gives it to an audio engineer to validate its authenticity with a waveform analysis, but is very clear to him that under no circumstances should he listen to it. Of course, he does anyway, and promptly kills himself.
The engineer conveniently happens to be an old friend of Constantine, who catches wind of this and heads to Chicago to investigate. Zed tags along, even though Constantine isn’t quite convinced that he can trust her yet. John breaks into the morgue and uses a spell to briefly revive his friend (along with all the other corpses in the room). In the process, he constantly explains everything he’s doing in order to teach Zed about his business. This becomes extremely annoying very quickly, especially given that Angélica Celaya continues to be a terrible, terrible actress.
John finds Jasmine, and learns that the woman traded her soul so that her husband could recover from cancer. The so-called “soul broker” who made this deal with her has offered to give back her soul if she could procure the album. John confronts the broker, who’s really just a middleman working for voodoo priest Papa Midnite. Unfortunately, Midnite captures John and chains him to a table, then gives him a nasty cut and leaves him to bleed out slowly. Oh, good news, Zed arrives to save him.
A couple of Midnite’s henchmen recover the album from Jasmine, but stupidly touch it and get possessed. They take it to a nightclub and play it, resulting in lots of deaths. After that, they head to a radio station to broadcast it and potentially cause mass chaos.
Constantine rushes into the radio station wearing a pair of headphones blaring punk music to block out the sounds from the album, but they get knocked off during his fight with the henchmen. Once again, he’s saved by a deus ex machina, as Papa Midnite shows up just in time – wearing earplugs – and shoots up all the radio station’s equipment with a shotgun. John casts a spell to open a portal to hell, then tosses the album down it.
Later, Constantine forces the soul broker to (literally) eat his contract, thus restoring Jasmine’s soul. Papa Midnite is angry that he didn’t get the album, and will hold that grudge for another day.
The concept of the possessed record album is a kind of neat idea, but the episode doesn’t do much interesting with it. A brief subplot where Jasmine’s young daughter listens to the album doesn’t lead to anything, and is brushed aside with an, “Oh, she’s fine now.” I realize that the show probably needs a while to find its voice, but with similar supernatural mystery programs like ‘Grimm’ and ‘Haven’ dividing my attention, this one hasn’t done enough to distinguish itself.