Review: Constantine Ep. 3. "The Devil's Vinyl"

Review: Constantine Ep. 3. "The Devil's Vinyl"


Season 1, Episode 3

“The Devil’s Vinyl”

Rating: A-

Last week’s re-pilot seems like much more of a bump in the road than a map of what is to come, a hastily scrapped together episode to introduce John’s new companion. Tonight’s episode improves dramatically, and feels more like the kind of thing that should have followed the pilot itself.

Zed shows up at Constantine’s sanctum santorum, as he knew she would, just in time to accompany him to Chicago to investigate the death of his friend Bernie. Bernie made the mistake of listening to a record that seems more than a little infected with evil, as it caused him to take an ice pick to the side of his face.

‘The Devil’s Vinyl’ offers the Constantine take on the old Robert Johnson folk legend, of a bluesman that sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for brilliant talent. In Constantine, the Devil comes for the bluesman in the middle of recording a record, and the vinyl captures it all. The Devil’s voice on an old record. It’s a nifty little adapatation of an old story, and I’m glad they took this direction since Robert Johnson, Hellhounds, and the Crossroad Blues have been covered time and again by Supernatural.

For a show fundamentally rooted in theology, Constantine really likes to dance around the mention of religiously inspired plot. The Devil is only the Devil until Constantine hears the story, than he corrects the naming by calling him “The First Of The Fallen”. I understand we live in a very diverse society and that any number of faithful people could tune in to watch the antics of John Constantine, but it feels like nit-picking these words so as not to specify which religion the lore comes from is a little silly.

The evil record has been making the rounds again because a woman named Jasmine Fell dug it up to try and save her own soul. When her husband was sick and dying of cancer, Jasmine made a deal with one of hell’s soul-brokers to save him. Turns out the record may be the only way to save herself now.

Enter Papa Midnite. More accurately, Papa Midnite sits back and Constantine figures out this is all something he’s been planning. The deal with the sou-broker extends to the deal with Jasmine, and it’s all a plan by Papa Midnite to hold a get-out-of-hell free card. Papa Midnite is a powerful voodoo priest, and occupies a grey area in the morality-ruled world of Constantine. Sometimes ally, sometimes adversary, Papa Midnite makes his entrance to the world of Constantine filling both shoes in the same episode, and Michael James Shaw’s performance is decent enough.

Midnite’s goons get the record, or acetate, and are nearly instantly possessed by it’s evil. They take it to a club, and gave it a spin. Constantine and Zed roll up just in time to see paramedics bringing out the bodies. It’s a massacre. They aren’t stopping there, though. Zed sees a vision of a tiger, and Chas finds the radio station flyer it was pointing to. Midnite’s possessed employees are going to broadcast the acetate, and kill anyone listening. Constantine and the rest head to the radio station, and in one of the most inspired character moments this show has had in it’s short run, jams headphones in his ears, says “give me the juice, Johnny.” and takes off to save the day as Anarchy In The U.K. blares. When one of his headphones comes out and the Devil’s voice begins to permeate, it’s Papa Midnite who ultimately stops the broadcast and saves everyone, walking in the room firing a winchester rifle.

Constantine gets the last word though, or words, as he uses a latin incantation to pull both the record and Midnite’s possessed men straight down into Hell itself. The episode ends with Constantine finding the soul-broker and returning Jasmine Fell’s soul as Papa Midnite makes a very Constantine-esque voodoo doll and throws it in the fire.

Everything about the episode is head-and-shoulders above ‘The Darkness Beneath’, and I can’t express to you what a relief that is. Last week’s meek little outing to Pennsylvania and the weird racism and everything that followed had me very worried about the potential of this show being totally wasted.

Stuff And Things

  • – Can we talk about his coat and how terrible it is now?
  • – Draco Malfoy is looking for his Hand Of Glory but it’s in America with Constantine, obviously
  • – That dead body dance party wasn’t terrifying at all.
  • – The Constantine version of Doctor Who’s psychic paper is a playing card.
  • – “I don’t do zip-ties without a safe word.”
  • – “Cut me loose and I’ll show ya you celestial wank.” I think I’ve found my new favorite insult.
  • – I want them to release a book of all the nifty mystic gadgetry they use in this show.
  • – Michael James Shaw has aunts that practice Yoruba, and when he told them about his new role, they told him to be careful with what he messes with, that it is real to many people.
Categories: Entertainment