NBC’s Constantine returns this Friday with a new episode and a new timeslot—8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST). This week’s new episode, “The Saint of Last Resorts, Part 2,” picks up right where last month’s cliffhanger of a midseason finale left off. Of course, you’ve been watching, so you know where that is… right?
Okay, if you haven’t, we understand. There are a lot of great shows on TV right now including quite a few based on DC Comics titles. But here’s the truth when it comes to Constantine. Over its first eight episodes, it’s easily become the best show you’re not watching right now. As its fans will tell you, Constantine is one of the most faithful comic book adaptations going, and the comics that it’s adapting are some of the most acclaimed works of horror in comic book history.
The result is that the show isn’t just a great comic book show—it’s freaking terrifying.
Constantine’s first season has been infused with a sense of growing dread and futility. It’s presented a supernatural world where people and beings that should be trustworthy aren’t, and survival and happy endings are far from guaranteed. The result of all of this has been some of the most haunting, disturbing or in some cases flat-out frightening moments we’ve ever seen on network TV. Here are five of them that even weeks after they’ve aired, we can’t stop thinking about.
Have you watched Constantine’s pilot since the night it premiered? We rewatched it over the holiday break, and were surprised by how many direct-from-the-comics details are there from the very beginning, including the shocking first sequence. From the wrought iron sign introducing the Ravenscar Psychiatric Facility for the Mentally Deranged to the sight of Constantine receiving shock therapy in disturbing slow motion, the show begins with a dark, but crucial point in Constantine’s life pulled directly from Hellblazer. But you don’t need to know that for the scene to be effective. All you need to know is that this is the show’s “hero,” and he’s clearly damaged.
Either way, it manages to set the series tone effectively while also seriously creeping us out.
Gary Lester’s Sacrifice
Agh, Gary Lester! Introduced in Constantine’s fourth episode, “A Feast of Friends,” Gary Lester also comes from Hellblazer. The big difference is that in the comic he wasn’t brought to heartbreaking life by actor Jonjo O’Neill.
A junkie friend from John’s youthful days in Newcastle, Gary Lester was there for the terrifying and tragic events that resulted in the death and demonic possession of Astra. When a demon that Gary trapped in an attempt to atone for Newcastle escapes and starts possessing and killing people, Constantine reluctantly agrees to help… without telling Gary the cost of his help. The only way to trap the demon is to painfully and ultimately fatally bind it to the person who released him.
But the reason we can’t get this moment out of our heads is the way John reveals this to Gary, and Gary’s ultimate acceptance of it. Gary accepts it because John leads him to see it as a noble sacrifice, a way for Gary to join him in striking a blow against the supernatural. Considering that Gary has spent his life in awe of Constantine, and Constantine knows this, it’s a frightening bit of psychological manipulation. For the first time on the show, we see the devastating lengths that Constantine will go to for the greater good.
The final shot of Gary screaming in bed as Constantine holds his hand still haunts us.
The “Spectre” of Jim Corrigan’s Fate
“Danse Vadou” stands as one of the show’s best episodes for a few different reasons, not the least being some great banter between Constantine and Papa Midnite. However, it’s also the episode that introduced Det. Jim Corrigan on the show, who fans know will eventually become the Spectre.
There’s just one problem with that. Jim has to die first. While we don’t see the Spectre in Constantine, “Danse Vadou” does end with a tease. As Zed thanks Det. Corrigan, she witnesses a frightening, bloody vision that ends with a ghostly green light. We know the fate that’s eventually coming for Corrigan, but seeing the character brought to life onscreen by Emmett J. Scanlan, two realizations become shockingly clear. First, while the Spectre may be a force of justice in the world, Corrigan’s death is tragic. He’s a good cop that genuinely wants to make his city a safer, better place. Second, Corrigan doesn’t just die—he dies violently. It’s another reminder of the painful, fatal toll that’s frequently paid by people who want to do good in this world.
Introducing the Resurrection Crusade
First teased in “Blessed are the Damned” before being more fully introduced in “The Saint of Last Resorts,” the Resurrection Crusade is a religious cult introduced in early issues of Hellblazer. While their motives haven’t yet been fully revealed on Constantine, we know they have an interest in Zed.
While they’re ominous and powerful, the Resurrection Crusade isn’t exactly frightening. At least , not in the traditional horror movie sense. So why can’t we get them out of our heads? Because of what their introduction on the show means. We don’t know how closely the show’s writers will adhere to the Hellblazer storylines, but if they stay pretty close to it, it means that things between John and Zed might eventually be changing… in all sorts of twisted ways. It also means that we might be seeing the Damnation Army, the cult that opposes the Resurrection Crusade that just happens to worship the demon that possessed Astra.
In short, the Resurrection Crusade opens the door for some truly dark stuff ahead, and we can’t stop wondering how far the show will take things.
As fans of the series, Constantine’s midseason hiatus has been tough. We’re eager for new episodes, and who can blame us? The midseason finale, “The Saint of Last Resorts,” not only ended on a (literal) killer of a cliffhanger, but it was also a series high point. So many moments have stayed with us, from the aforementioned Resurrection Crusade, to the disturbing human fruit, to Sister Anne Marie shockingly giving Constantine a taste of his own deadly medicine. (We also had to appreciate Constantine’s note perfect response to it.) However, for the sheer nightmare factor alone, it’s the Invunche that we’ve had a hard time shaking.
As beasties go, the Invunche is a downright terrifying one, and it not only also comes from the comics, but from the very book that also introduced us to John Constantine, SWAMP THING #37. This episode paid tribute to that iconic storyline in all sorts of ways, from the creature’s introduction as one of Zed’s sketches, to the mention of the brujeria, to the Invunche’s confrontation with Constantine. However, it’s the creature’s comic book connection to Anne Marie that has us most uneasy. If you’re a Swamp Thing or Hellblazer reader, you know what that connection is. If you’re not, well, let’s just say that we wouldn’t want to be in that particular nun’s habit during this Friday’s episode.
Those are the moments that we’ve been unable to shake. What about you? Which scenes, sequences and episodes from Constantine have stood out to you so far? And where do you hope the show goes from here? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so be sure to leave them below and don’t forget to watch Constantine on Friday at its new time!