If you, like me, thought Constantine was starting to build some momentum, it may be time to reconsider this thought. This episode follows the “crime of the week” framework including the connection of similar murders to each other, ends with yet another strip tease of the darkness rising, and is ultimately pointless in developing the show. These components make Constantine‘s fifth episode, “Rage of Caliban” is exactly the episode I was NOT hoping for.
In Rage of Caliban, after a unknown killer brutally kills a man and a women while seemingly sparring their child’s life, Constantine discovers that the a spirit possessing the child was in fact the culprit. Constantine learns that this spirit moves from child to child, possessing them. Constantine sets out to discover the spirit’s next host and the spirit’s origins before more lives are lost.
The first problem with this episode is the acting. Aside from the Matt Ryan, Charles Halford, and Harold Perrineau (I am just going to assume Zed was on vacation or something), nobody in this episode was believable in the slightest. Max Charles, who played young Peter Parker in The Amazing Spiderman and The Amazing Spiderman 2, plays the possessed kid, Henry, and he is hilariously wooden. I guess I should cut the kid a break. He is a only 11 years old and playing possessed convincingly is not easy task. Even with this in mind, I dare anyone who watches this episode not to crack a smile or chuckle whenever this kid tries to say or do anything “creepy”. Charles is a child actor but whoever play his mother (whoever played her was awful enough that I do not even feel the need to look up her actual name) is an adult and has no excuse. Watching her, I felt less compelled to exorcise a spirit and more likely to turn my head away from her just to escape her utter blandness. In one scene, after she comes to her senses that Constantine may be right about her son being possessed, Henry’s mother tries to inject Henry with something that will make him sleep for long enough that Constantine can figure out where the spirit came from without Henry killing anyone. This scene is a train wreck. The scene goes pretty much like this:
Henry: What is that?
Mother: Vitamins, I give them to you all the time. Here you go.
Henry: (in a voice that would make Willy Wonka proud) No. Stop. That hurts.
Aside from the bad acting and a formulaic plot, the contrived nature of this episode pissed me off. This episode makes up rules as it goes along. Although Constantine was no masterpiece before this episode, the writing on the show at least seemed invested. However, the contrived writing was nothing compared to the “scares” in this episode. I extend my middle finger in the general direction of whoever wrote this episode. The” scares” in this episode were insultingly cheap. I am too disheartened to shed light on more than one of these “scares” this episode dares to partake in, I think my heart would break if I explained more than one of them. The “scare”: Constantine goes into a Halloween haunted house searching for Henry and an animatronic corpse jump out and fools Constantine. . . twice! I started to loath this episode just a little bit after that. In a moment of nitpicking, it is very odd that this episode took place on Halloween. Constantine is a show that is about an exorcist! Air the damn episode that takes place on Halloween on Halloween! Don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that one.
If last week’s decent episode, Danse Vaudou, was a nudge in the shoulder that the show needs to pick up a pace, Rage of Caliban is a full-on punch in the face. We have seen the whole, “kid gets possessed, acts creepy, turns out he is possessed by uneasy soul of dead child” thing. The only variation is that for some stupid reason, the soul possessing the kid is actually the departed soul of the original victim who is still alive. Even if the audience immediately does not know what is going to happen in the episode, as the plot moves along, it should become painfully obvious. If by episode six, a show has fallen into a formula, said formula better be a goddamn engaging one otherwise you are just wasting your audience’s time. That was what this episode did. Waste my time. I get it! Demons are spooky and violent! I get it! Darkness is rising! Stop treating your audience like idiots. Most of the people watching this on a freakin’ Friday night are bored people with have no plans, critics, or fans of Hellblazer. The show needs to stop reassuring the audience that a dark uprising is coming at the end of each episode. Prove it! Give us a dark uprising or give us something a little bit different in the plot department. Stop giving us pointless little ghost stories that serve the purpose of telling the audience that (imagine this in Chris Tucker’s voice) “bad shit is happening!” A Feast of Friends made it clear that this show has the potential to be great. If the show does not make this change very soon, audience will tire and a second season will be all too unlikely. This episode makes me seriously question weather this change will occur in the course of this season.
Un-compelling performance guest stars, cheap scares, a formulaic, contrived, and unoriginal storyline join together to make the first certifiably bad episode of Constantine. While Matt Ryan, Charles Halford, and Harold Perrineau continue to entertain, they cannot save this boring episode. I honestly think that this show needs to go outside of the box very soon or it is going to lose it’s viewers.
Rating: 4.8 out of 10