I apologize for the late nature of this recap. I did not have much time to get to the fourth episode of Constantine, A Feast of Friends, this week. Now that I have seen the episode, I have no problem saying it is the show’s best as of yet. Although I do not doubt that the show will get even better, this episode succeeds not only in correcting the narrative flaws of earlier episodes, but accomplishing what it set out do masterfully. This episode was a hard one to capture the tone of while writing this recap, but that should give you all the more incentive to watch it.
In A Feast of Friends, fellow mage and old “friend” of Constatine’s, Gary Lester, comes to Constatine for help after a powerful swarm of hunger demons he captured in Africa are accidentally released in the Atlanta area. As the hunger demons (cockroach-like demons who possess the body of a human so they can eat their fill and then move onto their next host) begin to possess more and more humans, Constantine sets out to rectify the problem.
This is the first episode of the show adapted from an entry in the Hellblazer series (Original Sins, Hellblazer‘s first installment), and I found myself wondering why the writers had not done it sooner. This episode featured the darkest and most interesting plot line the show has seen so far. Aside from the initial plot line, the episode also featured great sub-plots. The episode’s strongest aspects came from the exploration of Constantine and Gary’s relationship and Gary’s drug addiction. Throughout the episode, Gary, a heroin addict, is going through drug withdrawal, and the episode does not stray from this, deciding instead to portray it rawly.
Toward the end of the episode, there is a gruesome twist of sorts involving Gary. Without revealing what happens, let me just say I was shocked by how edgy the ending was. I thought the episode was going to end with a dumb moral, but then it gives you this graphically violent, grim, cynical, and surprisingly affecting conclusion. I loved every second of it. The richness of subtlety in theme and character show how far the show has come since the blunt obviousness of episode two.
Although the whole “swarm of bugs flying into someone’s mouth and possessing them” has been done (now that I think about it, that is an incredibly specific trope), the hunger demons have an interesting origin and their CGI is great. Speaking of effects, in one of the episode’s most enjoyable scenes, Constantine engages in a hallucinogenic drug trip (so drug trips and heroin addiction are fine, but smoking isn’t? Very logical, NBC) to gain information about the hunger demons. The effects in this scene are excellent. I do not watch a whole lot of shows like Constantine, so I cannot really compare it to much else, but with this in mind, Constantine must have some of the best, or the best, visual effects of a show currently on TV.
According to John Constantine himself, the hunger demons are one of the most powerful entities he has ever seen. This, coupled with a quick reference to the dark uprising, set this episode apart from an episode like episode two. In the second episode, the spirits Constantine dealt with were unimportant to the plot at large. In this episode, we see the show moving toward more important hell spawn with the introduction of hunger demons. Yet another problem fixed by this episode.
I am digging the acting on Constantine. Matt Ryan continues to entertain as Constantine, but this episode made me get behind Ryan as an actor. Ryan can holds his own with dramatic material. I am not saying he is Laurence Olivier, but he should not be ignored either. Angelica Celaya has grown on me as Zed. What can I say? Zed is tough yet tender and Celaya’s performance is inspired. Harold Perrineau’s Manny has become a welcome appearance on the show. His fleetingingly menacing conversations with Constantine are among the show’s highlights. I am almost able to un-see him as Mercutio in drag from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. Almost.
A Feast of Friends is a tightly made episode in all departments (acting, writing, direction, effects, and story), and has a lot of fun moments, but it has a little more going for it than just being entertaining. This episode transcended mere spookiness and ended on a dark and genuinely thought-provoking note. If sticking to the source material can produce an episode this good, then maybe Constantine is more than just creepy fun.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10