In the Kentucky town of Briarwood, a modern-day Lazarus has begun performing miracles in the church where he survived a close encounter with death while handling a rattlesnake. Zed questions whether or not the Preacher Zachary is a willing pawn, but John doesn't care much either way. Because while the source of Zachary's power may be heavenly, the bill must come due eventually and someone will have to pay...
Hellblazer #5 (the theme of religious faith accidentally tapping into dark forces), Hellblazer #66 (the idea that angels can have their hearts cut out and they still beat until entirely destroyed) and The Sandman: Seasons of Mists (the idea that angel's become mortal if their wings are destroyed)
The effects work for the ghouls look goofy as all get out, from the cheap make-up jobs to the lumbering ape-like movement of the actors.
It never is fully explained just why John was unable to take Imogen's feather from Zachary but Zed could. Zachary claims it is because John is evil, but Zachary is just as evil being a murderer, by classical Biblical terms. Perhaps only evil people can handle a fallen angel's fathers but that wouldn't explain why Zed could handle it... unless she has a much darker secret in her past than we suspected. It is possible that feathers can only be handled by one who has faith, which would explain why Zed and Zachary could handle it but John could't. This may not be a goof, but it is a confusing point.
John says that Chas is away visiting his daughter. In the comics, Chas is indeed a father and his daughter's name is Geraldine.
Snake-handling (or Serpent-handling) is a tradition practiced by some evangelic Christian sects, particularly Pentecostals in the American South and Appalachian regions. The theory is that those who are truly strong in their faith will be uninjured by the snake's bite. The practice is discouraged by most denominations in modern times.
Faith-healing is another power claimed by some religious leaders, though few claim to have managed anything so unlikely as regenerating severed limbs.
John possesses a scythe blade that he claims he took from The Grim Reaper himself. It proves capable of killing ghouls
Enochian is the language spoken by angels. The first record of Enochian was transcribed by Dr. John Dee (the court magician of Queen Elizabeth I) and Edward Kelley (a spirit medium who worked with Dee), who called the language Celestial Speech or Angelic. The name Enochian was applied to it by later scholars, based on Dee's assertion that the last human to know the language before him was the Biblical patriarch Enoch, father of Methuselah.
Magic has laws similar to the laws of thermodynamics, in that energy cannot come from nothing or, as John might put it, everything has a price. In this case, the energy Zachary is using to heal people is being taken out of the immediate environment, resulting in all the fish in a pond close to his church dying and the people Zachary heals turning into ghouls.
Angels can be summoned using a magic circle in the same way as demons.
Dried myrtle can be used to attract angels when attempting a summoning. Saying please also helps, according to Manny.
Guardian Angels, such as Manny, are assigned to watch over several mortals at once. Manny notes that he does have things to do besides watch over John.
Angels use echo-location when flying.
Angels are rendered physical when their wings are damaged. This is the only way an angel can manifest physically on Earth.
Pulling the feather from an angel's wing is apparently enough for it to be "damaged".
According to Manny, angels are heavy compartmentalized and they do not typically coordinate. This is why he does not recognize Imogen despite sensing her power once he meets her and why - despite John's assertion to the contrary - Manny could not have sensed the injured angel any more easily than John could have.
Manny also notes that angels can die but that unlike humans their souls are extinguished completely and they cease to exist.
John knows a magic spell that creates a circle of protection from evil. It requires the use of running water, which is a frequent bane for evil magical creatures in mythology, such as the rule that vampires cannot cross running water. It is also effective in creating a circle that evil creatures cannot escape from.
A mortal who takes possession of an angel's feather can use the touch of the divine within it to perform miracles, though these miracles do drain energy from the local environment and the healed will eventually become ghouls.
Ghouls, according to John, are zombie-like beings created when magic goes wrong.
Baptism is a ritual of purification and rebirth practiced by several Christian denominations.
Angels do not feel pain.
Fallen angels have black wings instead of white, though they are capable of disguising themselves. They are subject to the same rules as angels regarding physical manifestation on Earth.
Angels can possess mortals the same way demons do. Manny does this with Zed to fight Imogen.
(As John is packing his travel bag)
John: (as he places some kind of talisman in his bag) Must have protection.
(John pulls out a chain of condoms)
John: Of various kinds.
Zed: We're going to go visit a preacher in a church.
John: Hmmm. That's a good point.
(John takes one condom off the chain and stuffs the rest in his bag)
Zed: Blind faith can he a dangerous thing.
John: Spoken from experience?
Zed: I have so many questions I want to ask them.
John: Good luck with that, love. They're real cagey types. What do you need them to tell you?
Zed: Where my powers come from, for starters. Do they come from God or somewhere else?
John: Doesn't matter where they came from. What matters is what you do with them. And what they cost you.
Chas is away visiting his daughter during the events of this episode.
We see John smoking before he puts the cigarette out just before entering Preacher Zachary's church.
Zed mentions that she saw a lot of false prophets claiming holy powers as a kid.
John cannot speak Enochian, but he can identify it by sound.
John once again notes that he was born in Liverpool.
While no specific religious denomination is mentioned, Zed is confirmed to believe in some Christian doctrine while John has little use for organized religion in general.
Zed is able to pitch a tent but she denies having been a Girl Scout.
We see Zed pickpocket Zachary to take the feather while she is being baptized.
John stores Imogen's heart in a jar.
Eddie - the model who asked Zed out - is working with the people who have been trying to track her down.
The Bottom Line
As a character piece for Zed and Manny, it works very well. As a monster-of-the-week episode, it's incredibly weak. Of note purely for how it defines the rules for angels and fallen angels. Beyond that, there's really nothing of note. At least, nothing positive worth noting, with the goofiest monsters yet. Still, the core cast manage to sell their scenes together. It is only when the ghouls come out or John has to deal with Preacher Zachary that we see the wires holding everything up.