When another detective goes missing while investigating the disappearances of young girls that coincided with the full moon, Jim Corrigan brings John and Zed in to help him investigate. Unfortunately, Zed can't shake her visions of Jim Corrigan's impending death. Worse still, John just had a bounty put on his head by The Brujeria. And Papa Midnite aims to collect....
Alan Moore's Swamp Thing (The Brujeria), Hellblazer #4 (the basic plot involving a Satanic serial killer called "The Man"), Hellblazer #181 (Gary Lester escaping Hell to deliver a warning to John), Hellblazer: Damnation's Flame (Papa Midnite going after John), Hellblazer #63 (John taking a piss while talking to a supernatural being) and the works of Garth Ennis in general (John's jokes about lung cancer, and the appearance by The Ace of Winchesters).
It's a small thing, but it says a lot that even the usually cool-nerved John Constantine has his composure shaken by finding all of The Man's child brides laying together in one bed and Matt Ryan perfectly captures the character's revulsion and righteous anger later once The Man is in custody.
The general aesthetic of The Man's home perfectly emulates the comics and may well be the creepiest imagery the show has brought about yet. Forget demons and spirits - a serial killer who successfully enslaves the souls of the young girls he strangles to death is disturbing on multiple levels.
The title, plot and a good deal of the imagery and dialogue are taken directly from Hellblazer #4.
Coincidentally, Hellblazer #4 was the issue where John and Zed originally met.
John makes a crack about how he's fit as a fiddle despite his smoking - a reference to how John was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer in the Garth Ennis story Dangerous Habits.
The address where The Man lives is 4 Delano Street. This is both a reference to the issue number of Hellblazer that inspired this episode as well as the writer, Jamie Delano.
Spontaneous Desiccation is the act of a body becoming quickly dehydrated and mummified.
A Blood Moon is another term for a total lunar eclipse, so called because of the red-tint this gives the moon.
A Lunar Tetrad is four successive total lunar eclipses with no partial lunar eclipses in between.
Biblical Tetrads are Tetrads where the Blood Moons fall on Biblical Feast Days. These are quite rare, with the next one scheduled in 2015. There is a prophecy - promoted by a pair of American evangelists - regarding the End Times coming about because of the next Biblical Tetrad.
Holy Water can be used to reveal magical ritual markings.
The Diablo Cauter (a.k.a. The Devil's Branding Irons) were used by The Inquisition in the 13th century to torture witches. Apparently they are also used by Satan-worshipers to torture people.
Full moons symbolize rebirth.
Sacrifices made during a blood moon are used to usher in the new cycle.
It is possible for a human soul to possess a corpse and use it to speak to people, as Gary Lester does to deliver John a warning.
According to Manny, sensitives like Zed communicate more like spiritual beings than most mortals. When a sensitive such as Zed is in need, angels can sense that need and respond.
Again, Manny claims that angels do not have free will and are bound by the will of Heaven. He envies the freedom mortals have to act freely on their knowledge.
John has a Tibetan spell that allows him to "pierce the vale". It requires a DNA sample, the right incantation and an electrical shock capable of temporarily stopping the heart. This last element is required to induce a state of Bardo - the transitional state between two lives on Earth in Buddhist tradition. The spell combined with the DNA sample allows John to see through the eyes of the person the DNA belongs to.
Papa Midnite raises a zombie to kill John. In traditional voodoo, zombies are souls trapped in dead bodies, enslaved to the will of a magician. They possess enhanced strength and durability but can be killed by head-shots with an ordinary pistol.
The destruction of a zombie can stun the magician who created it.
There is a long tradition of magicians using animals as spies, as Papa Midnite does here. The tradition dates back to at least the time of Norse myth, where Odin made use of two raven familiars - Thought and Memory - to watch distant events. Perhaps the most famous example of this in modern culture is Saurman using ravens and crows to track The Fellowship in The Lord of the Rings.
Papa Midnite arms himself with The Ace of Winchesters - last seen in C103 - when he goes to confront John directly.
For Papa Midnite, the reward for sacrificing John is to free his sister's soul from Hell. z
John knows how to raise a zombie. He can also create a strong enough glamour to make the zombie look like him and fool as powerful a magician as Papa Midnite at close range.
John knows a ritual that allows him to free bound souls. He uses this to save the first three girls killed by The Man.
Zed: Are you going to roll the dice on Gary's warning too? Just wait and see what turns up?
John: Yeah. Sounds reasonable.
Zed: You can't ignore the warnings, John
John: Oh, every time I light up I have the Surgeon General harping on about bloody lung cancer and look at me. Fit as a fiddle!
Zed: What's your point?
John: My point is we all shape our destiny but none of us get to escape our fate. So when my time's up, that's it.
Zed: What are you doing here? John says you never come when he calls.
Manny: He doesn't ask as nicely as you.
John: There's a girl out there with a depraved killer. I'm her only hope of rescue. Can any bounty be worth that stain on your soul?
Papa Midnite: I gave up on my soul a long time ago.
John: Tell me... what would happen if a man like this, after everything he's done, all the children he's's murdered...what would happen if he were... to try and run away?
Jim: He ain't no demon, ain't no ghost. He's a man.
John: Is he, Jim?
(Jim looks at The Man, undoes his handcuffs, and draws his gun)
John: I stare into the face of evil every bloody day. It usually manifests itself as a demon, a malevolent spirit, a bloody zombie, but now...
Manny: John, you've encountered human evil before.
John: I have, but this is something else entirely. We now know what happens when The Rising Darkness meets the worst of humanity There's not an evil in any realm more bloody dangerous than that.
(John turns away but Manny grabs his shoulder)
Manny: This thing that we've set out to do, you and I - it's working. We can win this war. Trust me.
John: (chuckles) Of course we can. You know me. I don't play if I can't win. All I'm worried about is how to spend the rest of my days after I've driven every last bastard demon back to where it belongs.
Papa Midnite: So that's it? I'm free now? What's the catch?
Manny: You'll never be free. You gave up any hope of that when you went to work for The Brujeria.
Papa Midnite: What do you want?
Manny: I'm cancelling the contract on John Constantine. You understand? He's off-limits.
Papa Midnite: You work for The Brujeria?!
Manny: No. The Brujeria work for me.
The "previously on Constantine" teaser shows clips from C103, C105 and C108, regarding Papa Midnite, Jim Corrigan, Zed's visions of Corrigan dying and being surrounded by green fire, The Brujeria and Papa Midnite's prophecy that the Rising Darkness was heralded by someone close to John who will betray him.
Zed says her visions always come true eventually.
The Bottom Line
In a fair and just world, this would have been a stunning mid-season finale. Sadly, this is not a fair and just world and the best that we can hope for is that some magic will see fit to deliver unto us a second season of Constantine and that more episodes will be like this one.