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Constantine: The Devil's Vinyl Review

Kalem Lalonde's picture
With 5 comic book T.V. shows airing (some would say a plethora of shows), every series is challenged to differentiate themselves from the others and demonstrate why they’re worth watching. Right off the bat, Constantine had proven that it is a worthwhile series despite its flaws. The switch in female lead last episode was a little bit clunky, even though Zed is a stronger character than Liz. That being said, Constantine’s sophomore episode was still a strong outing and episode 3 tops it with the introduction of a long-term villain, a fun case of the week and the usual compelling performance by Matt Ryan.

The episode revolves around an old vinyl recording which has a brutal effect on those who touch or listen to it. The opening scene of this episode showcases the power of this vinyl recording making great use of 10 P.M. time slot with a macabre and gory death (with incredible specials effects). The recording played a decent McGuffin throughout the episode’s entirety and got the plot flowing pretty well with its mysterious powers. The plot didn’t flow flawlessly, however. The first half of the episode was a mysterious detective case leading to Papa Midnite’s reveal. It subsequently shifted into an action oriented episode with a different feel and tone to it. The shift was a little weird even though it wasn’t an immense flaw. I also have to mention while discussing the show’s tone, that there was a minor scene at the beginning that felt extremely off and cartoony to me. The show evidently wants to have supernatural, horror feel to it and thus, said scene was very out of place.

 The character department was improved this week with the addition of Papa Midnite. I know he’s a beloved character from the comics and he was very fun to watch on screen. A calculated, deliberate man with morally repugnant methods is a good antagonist for someone like Constantine who is also a little gray. Their dynamic was interesting in its first episode and I’m eager to see it elaborated upon in later episode. Other dynamics, however felt a flat due to some underdeveloped supporting characters. Zed is better than Liz, but still needs work if they want a fully fleshed out female lead. She didn’t do anything substantial this episode aside from saving Constantine but her presence doesn’t add the flair that it could. She has interesting traits and the writers needs to accentuate them and explore her with more depth. The supporting characters issues are at their brightest when it comes to Chas, who still feel superfluous at this point. He doesn’t have much personality and has a small enough role that he could be completely removed from the show without much notice.

The supporting characters notwithstanding, Constantine is a very strong character-drive series for John Constantine. The show is able to differentiate itself from other comic book series with its immoral protagonist. Constantine isn’t an ethical person and the show understands this about its protagonist very well. His actions are cold and his interactions with others often show him acting unkind. Episode 3 cleverly used his impulsive nastiness to throw in a few good jokes that felt natural rather than clashing with the dark tone of the series. Humour was a strong point for this episode with Constantine because the writers know how to limit themselves. The character’s charm is only bolstered by the perfect casting of Matt Ryan. Not only is he a very charismatic Constantine, he’s also quite a strong actor. Capable of showcases different emotions very well while retaining Constantine’s abrasive nature.

Constantine is a fairly strong show that has proven itself worthy of your time. The main protagonist is compelling and the episodic nature is enjoyable thus far. “The Devil’s Vinyl” emphasized the strong points of the series with giving us a lot of great moments for Constantine to shine. The supporting character need a lot of work and I’m hoping the writers will explore their personalities in the coming episodes!