‘Constantine’ 1.09 Recap: “I Do Stupid in Spades”

Before the winter break, NBC halted production on this season of ‘Constantine’, but has not yet officially made a decision about whether to cancel the series or not. I suppose, then, that fans should take it as a good sign that the network has committed to airing the rest the original 13-episode order.

After all, the last episode from mid-December left off with a cliffhanger, and this follow-up episode had already been filmed. How frustrating would it be if the network left us hanging without airing it?

As we last saw him, Constantine had been shot by his supposed ally Sister Anne Marie, who left him behind to get eaten by a nasty monster called the Invunche so that she could escape with a baby. In a desperate effort to save himself, John invites the demon Pazuzu to possess him. Once that happens, the demon scares off the Invunche pretty effectively and heals John’s gunshot wound. Nevertheless, the angel Manny is pretty pissed at Constantine for consorting with such a dark force.

Fortunately, demonic possession works like a virus, and John believes that he has a couple days of incubation period in which to perform “an exorcism for an exorcist” and get the demon out of him. Pazuzu, however, is particularly powerful, and sends John into a fugue state for a bit, after which he wakes up surrounded by a pile of dead gang-bangers. He’s immediately arrested and, despite protests of self-defense, deposited in a filthy Mexican prison. He’ll have a hard time finding the necessary supplies to perform an exorcism there.

Back home in the States, Zed had been kidnapped by some weird secret society or cult-type thing that somehow involves her father. She awakens tied up in the back of a moving van, but manages to trick and overpower the driver, then escapes. That’s the last we’ll hear about this storyline for a while, apparently. Not long after she gets free, Zed flies down to Mexico to assist Chas in finding John. For that, they decide that they’ll also need Anne Marie’s help.

In the prison, John gets jumped by a bunch of friends of the gang-bangers he killed. He goes demon-crazy and kills them too, which scares everyone else in the prison into leaving him alone.

Anne Marie uses her “bilocation” power to find John in the prison. Zed skankifies herself to look like a hooker so that she can get inside for a conjugal visit. With this, I finally understand why Angélica Celaya got cast on the show. I still don’t agree with the casting, but I understand how it happened now. She makes a very convincing hooker.

Chas punches a prison guard to get himself arrested and tossed inside as well. Anne Marie then walks in as a nun to minister to the inmates. The three reunite and find John. Things don’t look so good for him, and he begs Anne Marie to kill him. Instead, the trio use heroin scrounged up from the other convicts to slow the demon’s progress. They hide John inside a body bag in order to sneak him out.

Anne Marie uses her bilocation power again to project an image of herself standing naked outside the prison (well, TV naked, with her naughty bits strategically covered) and begging the guards to come help her. With that distraction, our heroes all manage to escape, get the hell out of Mexico, and return to their home base in the mill house.

With John unable to do anything himself, Anne Marie must perform the exorcism, but she’s not very good at it. The demon causes John to levitate and say mean things, which somehow triggers enough anger and resentment in Anne Marie that she’s able to cast the demon out.

Problem (presumably) resolved.

In the show’s defense, I feel like the creators are trying really hard to work in darker elements from the comic books that the network (at least initially) objected to. This started with little things, like getting to see John full-on smoke without coyly obstructing view of the cigarette. Now he’s on heroin. The show also occasionally lets him be a right bastard. It still feels compromised and sanitized for TV, however. I can tell that even without ever having read a ‘Hellblazer’ comic.

This episode is just OK. It resolves the cliffhanger adequately, but I still think the show needs a lot of work to find its identity. I’m not entirely confident that will happen in the next four episodes.

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