‘Constantine’ 1.11 Recap: “Suffering Is Unavoidable”

With Harold Perrineau, Jeremy Davies and William Mapother, Friday’s episode of ‘Constantine’ was a right little ‘Lost’ reunion. I wonder if that was intentional?

Perrineau in particular feels shoehorned into this episode with little to do except stand around and observe what the other characters are doing. Yes, I realize that’s usually the purpose of his character, Manny the angel, anyway, but he has even less need to be part of this story than usual. Honestly, in the notes I took while watching, I never even wrote his name down.

Whatever the case may be, episode ‘A Whole World Out There’ concerns four drunken college kids – two guys and two girls – who play around with casting an ancient Egyptian spell while inside a cemetery crypt. The spell is supposed to allow them to travel to another dimension beyond our space and time. I guess LSD is just so passé with the kids today.

Lo and behold, the spell works, and they’re each transported to separate rooms of a spooky old house. One of them clearly winds up in a murder basement, which can’t be a good sign. Another is terrified by an uber-creepy guy (Mapother) watching her. Fortunately, the spell wears off after a few minutes and they all awaken back together in the crypt. The blonde bimbo thinks they’ve suffered some form of group hysteria and imagined the whole thing.

Sadly, that’s not the end of it. The creepy guy starts stalking the four kids in the regular world, via appearing in reflective surfaces like mirrors. As soon as one sees him, his or her consciousness is brought back to the house. Much like Freddy Krueger, if he kills you in a dream, you die for real.

John is tipped off to these events by his magic map. Because both Chas and Zed are preoccupied this week, he pays a visit to his pal Ritchie (Davies), who was last seen in the show’s pilot episode doing some computer hacking for John. Apparently, his regular job is a burned-out professor at the same college where these shenanigans are happening. Ritchie isn’t particularly pleased to see John, but agrees to help when he realizes that one of the victims is his teacher’s aide and stole the Egyptian spell book from his belongings.

Ritchie identifies the killer as a man named Jacob Shaw, who’d written a journal all about travelling to alternate realms and eventually vanished to one of them. Why he’s now a serial killer isn’t explained, except with a suggestion that he’d gone a little stir crazy all alone in a private dimension.

After three of the kids are killed in the real world, they remain alive in the alternate dimension so that Shaw can torture them endlessly for all eternity. He claims to be a sportsman, and allows them to run. He gets his kicks from chasing them ‘Most Dangerous Game’ style.

John brings Ritchie and the last surviving victim, a girl named Lily, back to the mill house where they’ll be protected from Shaw. Stupidly, Lily tries to make a call on her iPhone, which of course has a reflective screen, and is sucked over to the murder house, which exists all alone in the middle of a vast nothingness. She finds that there’s nowhere to run.

John and Ritchie cast the Egyptian spell and travel to the house to save Lily. Because the house is a maze with many dead ends, Ritchie posits that Shaw has created this universe on his own, and therefore controls all the rules there. However, Ritchie is convinced that he can overwrite Shaw’s rules, which he demonstrates by creating a new door in the middle of a wall. How Ritchie suddenly has this magic overwriting power is hand-waved aside. Basically, he’s Neo at the end of ‘The Matrix’ and that’s all you need to know about it.

Well, Shaw taunts our heroes and crucifies John against a wall. Ritchie then creates a sunrise that causes Shaw to implode into a tiny ball of light. The house starts to disintegrate. John, Ritchie and Lily run outside, but the other dead kids can’t travel with them and have to stay behind as the house vanishes.

Ritchie wants to stay in this universe and build a new world for himself. John warns him that he’ll go crazy just like Shaw. John and Lily return to the regular world, and Ritchie does as well after a minute. He realized that John is right, so he goes back to teaching, now with a new sense of purpose.

This is a difficult episode to evaluate. From scene to scene, individual moments work pretty well, but the story doesn’t make a lot of sense as a whole. I’m growing tired of the show’s reliance on suddenly inventing new unexplained and never-before-seen magic that John and his allies can use to get out of any situation when they conveniently need it. This series really needs to better define its mythology, but with only a couple episodes left this season, doesn’t have much time to do that.

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