Saturday, November 22, 2014

Constantine Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 5 - Danse Vaudou

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


The Rising Darkness has come to New Orleans. The restless dead now walk the streets of The Big Easy and are killing random citizens. And John Constantine has put himself on the wrong side of Detective Jim Corrigan - a cop who witnessed one of the strange killings and has little use for supernatural explanations or British con-artists.

Fortunately, Corrigan is quickly made to see the error of his ways. Unfortunately, the trail of accidental resurrections leads to the last magician in the world John Constantine wants to see - Papa Midnite!  But like it or not, the two mages will have to work together in order to fight the shadow that has corrupted Midnite's magic...


Hellblazer: Original Sins 
(Papa Midnite and John Constantine unite reluctantly to deal with a larger threat), Hellblazer: Damnation's Flame (Expanded background for Papa Midnite, including his sister being given the name Cedella) and various American urban legends.


Matt Ryan and Michael James Shaw play off of each other wonderfully as Constantine and Midnite.

Angelica Celaya adds a flirtatious streak to Zed that gives the character a new sense of life. And she does a fine job playing up Zed's competence as she spends most of the episode without John backing her up or instructing her.

Pub Trivia

The episode title is French for 'Voodoo Dance'.

Detective Jim Corrigan first appeared in More Fun Comics #52 and was created by Superman co-creator Jerry Seigel and artist Bernard Baily. Corrigan was murdered by gangsters but this was only the beginning of his story. Because of this nature of his death, his anger over how it occurred and his religious upbringing, Jim was offered a chance by the archangel Michael to become an agent of justice against those who had defied the laws of God and escaped punishment. Jim agreed and became the human host of the Angel of Vengeance - The Spectre.

Jim Corrigan wears a green suit throughout the episode.  In the comics, Jim Corrigan is frequently depicted as wearing a green suit when he is not in the form of The Spectre, whose robes are also green.

Papa Midnite speaks to a skull who he addresses as Cedella, whom John refers to as "the hotline to Hell".  In the comics, Papa Midnite sold his own sister's soul to a demon, turning her into "a whore in Hell". His sister slept with various demon lords and, through her skull, told her brother about the events and goings on in Hell.  Apparently this is also the case in the Constantine TV Show universe.

Zed has a vision of Jim Corrigan soaked in blood and surrounded by green mist.  This is probably foreshadowing Corrigan's eventual transformation into The Spectre.


John makes use of a zoetrope to put Zed into a hypnotic state.  He claims the one he repaired was used by Queen Victoria's personal medium to put people into trances at seances.

John and Chas both make use of a magical bracelet that can detect spiritual activity.  It glows blue if a spirit was nearby recently and green if one is in the immediate area.  John doesn't say precisely what happens when it glows red, save that "we wouldn't still be standing here".

John has some kind of ability to wipe people's minds after he's talked to them.

We see Chas' "survival skills" in action as he is stabbed to death by the masked ghost woman and is briefly left without a pulse. Later, his wounds seal up. Apparently Chas is truly being resurrected but we get no explanation for how it is happening.

Papa Midnite's ritual to speak with the spirits of the dead makes mention of Papa Legba.  In Vodou, Papa Legba is the spirit (or loa) who oversees crossroads, boundaries and acts as the intermediary between the spirit world and the world of man.  All Vodou ceremonies begin and end with an invocation to Papa Legba, whose permission is needed to speak to the souls of the dead or other loa.

Somehow, The Rising Darkness - using the guilt of living people regarding dead people they felt responsible for killing - manipulated Papa Midnite's spells to allow people to speak to the dead and used them to raise the spirits of the dead

Dialogue Triumphs

(As John & Zed are checking in at a hotel and the clerk says she'll return with the keys to their rooms)
Zed: Two rooms?
John: Oh, I'm flattered, love, but we really out to keep this professional, yeah?
Zed: Does that mean that you respect me?
John: (chuckles) I respect everyone I sleep with. But I usually like to get to know something about them first if you know what I mean?
Zed: You want to know something about me? Just ask.
John: Where do you come from? Why are you running? And how bad is it that risking your life every day with me seems like a pleasant alternative?
Clerk (returning): Can I offer you complementary champagne in your rooms?
Zed: No, thank you. I don't like champagne.  (To John) Now you know something about me.

Jim: How do you live with it? The knowledge that all this can be real? How?
John: It marks you. For life. But it doesn't change who you are.

John: Voodoo's nothing but a magical excuse for a party.

(Papa Midnite takes a seat in the back of his car)
Midnite: Pop the trunk. I need to question him.
John: (spinning around to face him from the driver's seat) Have at it, mate! Ask me anything you like!

Midnite: We have to stop this! We have to put these spirits back down!
John: Right.  So it's, ah... WE now, is it?  I could help you, for sure. But ah... I'm going to need something from you.
Midnite: ... your debt is erased.
John: Ta for that. And ah... I have a question. For your sister.
Midnite: ... only if we are successful.
John: Good enough.

John: You know that old song about the hammer that thinks that everything is a nail?
Midnite: No.
John: You may be Grand Poobah of voodoo, mate, but that's one very specific, very narrow modality.
Midnite: And what do you know? Jackass of all trades?  Master of none?

Midnite: Hear us, gods! This spell is of our own creation! We bow to you united!
John: Well, if it's come to that, mate, these are dark days indeed.

Midnite: You are a magpie of magic! A thief of tradition! You steal from other people's cultures and beliefs to suit your own purposes.
John: Oh yeah? Well.. whatever works, eh?
Midnite: It worked wonders on that little girl you sent to Hell.
John: Well, at least it wasn't my own bloody sister -


Zed has a vision of Jim Corrigan as a boy, being taught to shoot a gun by his mother.

Chas prefers staying in chain hotels when he travels, apparently so he can build up reward points. John, by contrast, seems to prefer independently owned hotels and the more expensive they are, the better!

We see that Chas has finally fixed his cab, as he drives it for the first time since The Pilot.

John has impersonated INTERPOL agents in the past.

John is a talented escape artist and is capable of picking the lock on a pair of handcuffs and slipping out of police shackles.

Papa Midnite refers to the events of C103 and how John cost him the record with The Devil's voice.

Jim Corrigan recognizes Zed from a missing person's report, but notes the name Zed is not the one he saw on the report. He says the only other time Zed was spotted was on security camera footage when she stole an apple and a stale cheese sandwich from a gas station.

After consulting with his sister, Papa Midnite declares that John will not be able to stop The Rising Darkness.  More, it will be heralded by someone close to John who will betray him.


New Orleans

John Screws Up

John doesn't consider that the guilt of the living might be responsible for the dead being unable to rest.

The Bottom Line

Probably the strongest episode of the series so far.  Most of the show's on-going mysteries get some exploration (Zed's past, Chas' immortality) and Midnite gets some development revealing that he is not quite as evil as he seemed in his first appearance.  Zed gets to stand on her own apart from John for much of the episode and John and Midnite snarking off each other works wonderfully on both the dramatic and comedic levels.  A must see.

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