Saturday, November 15, 2014

Constantine Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 4 - A Feast Of Friends

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.



Plot 

When John's old friend Gary "Gaz" Lester comes to Georgia, it isn't a social call - it's a call for help. Seems the wannabe wizard/heroin addict somehow captured a hunger demon and his twitchy behavior going through airport security resulted in a TSA agent unleashing Hell on Atlanta.  Literally.

With the CDC going crazy trying to stop what is apparently a real-life zombie apocalypse in the making, it will fall to John to clean up Gaz's mess.  Again.  But can even the cynical Constantine stomach what needs to be done to permanently put this demon to rest?


Influences

The title, plot and a good portion of the dialogue for this episode come from Hellblazer #1 & #2.


Goofs

Some of the CGI for the digital bug swarms is a bit dodgy.

How did Gaz know how to find John in Atlanta in the first place?


Artistry

The sequence in which John shares a vision with the shaman perfectly emulates and expands upon the dream-like nature of the original scene in the comics, including the sharing of eyes.

The script for this episode is a good one, borrowing a bit of Jamie Delano's original dialogue for a number of sequences, such as Gaz's flashback to Sudan and the shared vision between John and the shaman.


Pub Trivia

The title for this episode is taken from the title of Hellblazer #2.  It is also the name of a Doors song.

Gary "Gaz" Lester is identified in this episode as part of the Newcastle Crew, who was there for John's failed to save Astra.  He blames himself for the ritual getting screwed up because he was high and panicked in the middle of it.  John describes Gaz as a rich junkie who he and the rest of his mates only put up with because Gary's dad was rich and Gary had a car.

Very little has changed in Gaz's transition from the comics to the small screen.  In the comics, John described Gaz as a "musician, culture-clone andsmall-time conjurer".  Gaz was part of the Newcastle crew in the comics but he was not stoned at the time of John's failure to save Astra.  Gaz was, however, so useless when it came to magic that John tasked Gaz with trying to track down a cat he didn't really for the ritual when handing out duties to the rest of the crew and he did run screaming at the first sight of a real demon.

One major change from the comics to the show - in the comics, Gaz was part of John's band Mucus Membrane and co-author on their one single, Venus of the Hardsell.  Nothing is said of Gaz being a part of John's band in this episode.

John describes Newcastle as a North England town with horrible weather and an even worse football team.

As in the comics, John is not fond of psychedelic drugs.

John and Gaz are both capable pick-pockets.


Arcana

Zed foresees Manny's approach as a rain of pennies from heaven.

Zed showcases a talent for precognition (seeing the future), retrocognition (seeing the past) and clairtangency (literally "clear touching" aka psychometry - the ability to glean information through touching an object or person).  She also experiences a psychic transference with Gaz, feeling his pain, guilt, addiction and withdrawal symptoms.

The Seal of Solomon is a powerful symbol of protection in Islamic and Jewish mysticism.  It is the symbol upon the Ring of Solomon - a magic ring, sent from Heaven itself, that gave Solomon the power to command genies, demons and other wicked spirits. John paints the seal onto a bottle in order to give it the power to contain the hunger demon.

The enchanted playing card John uses as a fake ID is the Nine of Diamonds.  In tarot cards, diamonds correspond to pentacles and the Nine of Pentacles symbolizes self-confidence, self-sufficiency, independence and freedom - a fitting card for the independent Constantine.

Mnemoth is a hunger demon who manifests as a swarm of carpet beetles (the most destructive pest in the world, according to John) when it is traveling between hosts.  When inside a host, Mnemoth is driven to consume any foodstuffs in the immediate area while the host's body wastes away into an emaciated shell. If no cooked food is available, Mnemoth will eat raw food or attack living creatures in an attempt to eat them.

The Mist is a foul-tasting hallucinogenic root that may be the most powerful drug in the world. Its effects last forever unless one takes the nectar that is the natural counter-agent.

The only way to permanently banish Mnemoth is to trap him in a living human body that has been prepared with sacred symbols carved into its flesh while Mnemoth was inside it. The symbols must be carved with a kusa knife.

John casts a spell that enables him to mind-control a security guard into dancing until an alarm is shut off.


Dialogue Triumphs

No dialogue is spoken, but John's quietly changing the number on the "It has been ___ days since our last incident." sign to "0" is quite funny.

John: Anyone in here who's still alive?!  Preferably not possessed and feeling peckish?

John: You know what I always say... "Everyone has the capacity to change".
Gaz: I've never heard you say that before.
John: Exactly.

John: This demon requires a sacrifice. That's what I learned from the shaman. No cage, bottle or vessel can hold it; only a body. A live human body.
Gaz: Mine
John: ...we could draw straws.
Gaz: It was your plan all along, wasn't it?  That's why it's just you and me here.  You sneaky bastard... my chance... to finally make my life mean something.
John: It won't be quick. Could be days of sheer agony before you die. And there's no going back. Do you understand?
Gaz: There's no better way to go out.  A mage... like John Constantine!

Zed: You're sacrificing him?! You're sacrificing your friend's life?!
John: It was his choice and it was a brave one.  You need to respect that!
Zed: You manipulated him!  You tricked him into it!
John: That demon was one of the most powerful and malevolent entities I've ever come across!  What we did saved countless lives!
Zed: I don't care!  Gary loved you and you betrayed him!  All he cared about was to make you proud of him, for once,  John! Huh?! He wanted to be just like you! Thank God he's not!
John: He came to me!  You think I wanted this?  Any of it?  I told you this would happen.  People around me die.  If you can't handle it, then go!

Another silent but powerful scene is Manny's appearance as he joins John in his sitting with the violently dying Gaz in the episode's conclusion.


Continuity

Zed has never tried any kind of recreational drug in her life.

Chas is gone for the entire episode, finally getting his cab fixed after the events of The Pilot.


Location

Atlanta, Georgia and Sudan.


John Screws Up

John drops the bottle he prepared to trap Mnemoth.

John butters up Gaz in order to convince him to volunteer to sacrifice himself to send Mnemoth back to Hell.


The Bottom Line

A decent adaptation of the original story, though Hellblazer fans may wonder why some of the changes there were made occurred in the first place such as Gaz being identified as John's old band-mate or Papa Midnite being involved in the proceedings.  Perhaps the show-runners feared things becoming redundant since next week's episode will also center around a Constantine/Midnite team-up?  In any case, this is a solid episode but it will probably appeal more to new fans of John Constantine than the old sods.

Still, it's not bad and it could have been a hell of a lot worse.  No pun intended.  Apart from some iffy CGI, the whole affair is good, well-acted and decently directed.  One feels they could have done more to build on the original material, though.

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