Review: Constantine, Ep. 4 "A Feast of Friends"

Review: Constantine, Ep. 4 "A Feast of Friends"


Season 1, Episode 4

“A Feast Of Friends”

Rating: B- (C- if it weren’t for that ending)

Constantine’s biggest problem at this point is consistency. It’s a little understandable, considering the behind-the-scenes drama that happened before the show even made it to air. So far, we’ve had a couple of very solid outings into the world John Constantine lives in, interspersed with lame procedural plotting. A Feast Of Friends doesn’t spend much time in the supernatural, but it does dwell in Constantine’s past quite a bit.

Gary Lester, an old mate of John’s, shows up on his doorstep (well, actually in his basement) still shaking from the heroin withdrawal.  While on a bender that took him to, of all places, Sudan, he finds a man with binding magic carved into his skin. Someone had literally trapped a demon inside of him, and Gary sees this as a chance to redeem himself, in his own eyes, and more importantly, in John’s.  So he performs a little magic of his own, extracting the demon and trapping it inside a bottle. Everything goes fine until he’s standing in line at Customs, shaking and sweating so much that the TSA would be dissolved out of necessity if they let him through. One interrogation and some butterfingers later, the jar is broken, and a swarm of demonic beetles have infected a TSA agent.

Of course, using words like infected, which they do in a news report after the TSA agent tears through a diner and devours all the food he can get his hands on before dropping dead and having beetles pour out of his mouth, instantly brings to mind all of the ebola fears we’ve dealt with over the summer.

Add in the fact that Gary brought this demonic disease from Sudan, and I can’t help thinking that the writers aimed it there intentionally. This isn’t unusual, it’s really common for stories in shows like Bones and Castle to do an episode devoted to a current pop culture fixation. That’s the problem though. It doesn’t work to build a story around that when your reality is based in mythology.

This demon isn’t an ebola demon, of course, it’s a hunger demon, which adds in a whole other level of tasteless elements to the story, but you put East Africa and infection in the same storyline that’s probably going to be what people think of.

Constantine learns the history of the demon he’s hunting, learns that a Shaman had trapped it inside the man that Gary had saved. After spending a little time with Gary, learning that Gary had been high when Astra died, the little girl whose death condemned Constantine’s soul, he concocts a plan to put the demon inside of Gary. Having carried his own guilt over Astra for years, Gary is willing to let himself be a vessel for the demon.

I admire them showing the depraved depths that Constantine is willing to go to in order to do his job. He performs the spell, puts the demon inside of Gary, and holds tight to his friend’s head as he carves the binding magic into his skin. Zed is quick to point out John’s betrayal of Gary’s friendship and loyalty. His response to her is the same warning he gave her when they met. People around him die, it’s dangerous to be a friend of John Constantine. If she can’t handle it, she needs to go.

The episode ends on the most dismal note of any show I’ve seen this side of Hannibal. Gary is strapped to a bed, screaming, the demon trapped inside of him and blood pouring out of the cuts John made to instill the binding magic. John sits beside him, holding his hand and Manny the angel, who had periodically popped up throughout the episode to question John over what he was planning to do, seems to offer a little comfort to John as the credits roll. Constantine is definitely at it’s best when it explores the darker aspects of it’s main character. They took away the ability to really delve into that, but his handling of this situation shows that at his heart, he is still the same John Constantine.

Overall, Constantine’s fourth outing was weaker than it could have been. If they had spent less time drawing lines to real world fears and more time dwelling on the history between John and Gary Lester, the episode would have been so much better. That ending was the strongest Constantine has had yet, so I can’t help but think that if they had gotten to the history between the two of them earlier and spent less time exploring the origins of a one-off demon, the entire episode would have been strong and not just the end. There’s always next week though, and plenty of people in Constantine’s life who I’d like to know more about.

Stuff And Things

– The best way to get through airport security is definitely to sweat profusely and look as nervous as possible. Wait, no.

– “How come she gets whatever she wants?”

– Memnoth is the name of the demon, not to be confused with Memnoch the devil, of Anne Rice fame.

Categories: Entertainment