Before anything happens, we need to address the elephant in the room. This episode of Constantine was originally shot and intended as episode two. This is the explanation for the lack of Zed (explained away in one line), the Halloween theme showing up around Thanksgiving, the much more laid back approach to the Rising Darkness, and the lesser handling of the guilt aspect.
Okay, that last one is more me talking than actual obvious elements in the episode, but I digress. This week we got a classic of the horror genre: the possessed kid. Surprisingly enough, the writers managed to keep it fairly engaging, and threw in an element that helped it stand out from the pack. While this was filmed back around episode two, its handling of the character of Constantine, both the deeper psychological aspects (exorcising a child) and the lighter elements (being rushed out of the house by a woman whose boyfriend is coming home), helped it to feel more like the more recent episodes. This was a great boon to the episode that was weighted down by the lost momentum.
Constantine’s hesitation to go into an exorcism of a child because of Newcastle was great. The possessed child routine can feel very overdone at times, but here it was able to be used to see a real and tangible block in Constantine’s abilities because of his own personal guilt. Constantine has been given a great deal of complexities within the span of six episodes. Seeing little things that enhance that every episode is a great and important thing.
The interaction with the boy’s family and Constantine was surprisingly enjoyable to watch. Not only were some scenes fun, but the mother’s inclusion in the magical world didn’t feel tedious at all. It was one of the first outside looks that felt really and truly natural. Corrigan’s last week was good, but I, biasedly of course, discount him because of his divine future.
The episode also had something we hadn’t really had in a few episodes: a good balance of jumps and laughs. Constantine’s snark gives us a nice bit of light in the midst of his dark world. While this week was not a five-star example of horror and humor, it was still one of the better outings of those elements we’ve had yet. On that note, I really do enjoy all the absurd ways Chas keeps getting hurt or killed. Easy laugh every time.
I won’t harp on it much, but airing this out of order hurt some of the series’s momentum. Some of the dialogue felt a bit out of place because of recent events, and it was a bit noticeable. Most importantly though was the guilt element. This episode felt like more of an appetizer to the deeper handling of this aspect in our characters. I can’t help but wonder how it would have been handled on opening end of the last two as opposed to right after them.
That said, many of the failings of this week are one’s I would have let slide back in episode two where it was intended. But it still was flawed. We still had some awkward magic item plot devices and Chas was still more underdeveloped than I’d like.
“Rage of Caliban” is a great installment of Constantine that suffers more from its replacement in the order than any actual personal flaws.