Constantine – The Saint of Last Resorts Review
heads to Mexico in this latest installment. When a freaky, long-fingered being snatches a newborn baby and gruesomely kills the mother from a convent hospital, it is up to John to uncover the mystery and rescue the innocent child. As many of the series’ episodes, the supernatural story is introduced in an effective way. The cold open thrusts us in an unfamiliar world and quickly sets up a compelling disturbance that immediately pulls us in. The hour struggles with sustaining the same level of immediacy and interest throughout the entire story, but does a serviceable job unfolding the narrative into something that keeps our interest, even minimally. This show has a knack of introducing really fun scenarios only to have them fizzle out towards an episode’s end. Last week’s ultimate resolution was a total let down and the undoing of the big bad in this hour is as anticlimactic as these things can be. All the build up that was so efficiently produced in the first two thirds of the episode comes crumbling down with a ridiculous plan (a blood stuffed chicken?) and a lackluster confrontation with the baby-snatcher “Lamashtu.”
Weren’t these beings like, incredibly hard to defeat? All John does is bring out an idol of some kind and voice yet another tired incantation and, poof – fire clod, threat gone. Even a last minute shocker that leaves John in serious peril and us with a cliffhanger for the next episode (which will air on January 9 after a brief winter hiatus) fails to ramp up the necessary tension to make a story like this really land. Is anybody really worrying that John might not make it out alive? Do we care about Anne Marie’s decision? Not really.
Despite the lack of tension the episode leaves us with, the final reveal that one of those ivunche monster thingies lurks in the underground tunnels of the convent is a fun one. I may not be stressing out over whether or not John gets out of this predicament alive (he’ll be fine) but I am interested in the show delving into the mythology of these scary beings. Though the series often feel bogged down with all the supernatural nonsense talk the brief synopsis we get about these creatures is intriguing enough and frightening enough to inspire an engaging narrative. And before the story completely devolved into another convoluted mess, the episode is an entertaining one. Baby snatching, murder, “human fruit”, nuns, Mexico, what’s not to like?
The setting of the convent hospital is beautifully used, not a terribly original place for such a story but nevertheless effective and evocative. The show has some fun with the imagery; the imposing architecture, candle-lit rooms and stained glass windows give the hour an air of otherworldliness. Those underground tunnels were not necessarily anything we hadn't seen before (Did they give anyone else Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets vibe? Kept expecting them to run into a basilisk at any moment) but it provided visual intrigue and a new kind of setting for the show to exploit. Not to mention the mist, there is so much mist in those outside scenes that it is laughable, but I admire the gusto with which the show goes to portray a creepy and foreboding location. They must have rented like a hundred fog machines. Yet, somehow it works in this heightened reality where demons lurk around every corner, trees produce flesh fruit and angels drop from the sky.
While the Mexico story is a lot of silly yet weird fun, the hour does give Zed her own subplot that isn’t much of anything. Turns out, her father is some kind of powerful cult leader and has sent his goonies out to get her. Given my impressive disinterest in the character I could not bring myself to care a smidgen for her fate, but I am somewhat intrigued by what this could mean for John down the line. No doubt this shady group will get involved in all the “rising darkness” business, how exactly (and whether or not the show will be around to explore that) isn’t exactly clear. However, this B story is pretty much Zed running around John’s crazy house almost falling into a void (how I wished that would happen) and getting chased in said house and finally kidnapped. Whatever. Also, her name is Mary.
“The Saint of Last Resorts” depicts an engaging story that, though hindered by some clunky character moments, lackluster story elements and an ineffective ending, provides a good amount of entertainment. While the series still has a lot to improve (character issues, clunky dialogue, etc.) there is no question that the monster-of-the-week narratives have gotten darker and more effective as the season has progressed.
What did you think?
- Chas is once again criminally underused.
- I was kind of hoping that it would be revealed that all the nuns were in on the baby kidnapping business, not just the one who was working undercover so to speak. A crazy conspiracy like that is right in the show’s wheelhouse.
- John’s drama with Anne Marie was pretty annoying. I was interested in the idea that it was her who brought him into this occult world, she created this “monster” in a way and their background, but when they pin her resentment on the fact that he pretty much spurned her romantically, I just lost interest. Why does the show have to depict yet another seemingly competent woman being led by her emotional ties to a man? I do appreciate that she did shoot him, at least.
- “Sister flirtatious” was kind of funny.