A Recap, by definition, WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS! Proceed at your own risk!
Like a Direct TV commercial, don’t go walking through an airport as a nervous wreck. You’ll most likely be detained for an uncomfortable amount of time and, if you happen to have a demon in a bottle (literally), it’s strongly possible that a security officer will haphazardly lose it on the world. So don’t bring a demon in a bottle through an airport, especially if you’re a nervous, strung out, heroin addict. Because you may very well be responsible for an onslaught of deaths caused by an outbreak worse than ebola. This is how the fourth episode of “Constantine” opens.
“Feast of Friends”, directed by John F. Showalter and written by Cameron Stewart is a loose adaptation of the first Hellblazer issue. Gary Lester, an old friend of Constantine, arrives in the US, after a trip to the Sudan. He looks like hell, and raising all sorts of eyebrows, is detained. The security guard opens the strange, almost genie like bottle Lester had with him and releases a swarm of bugs. The swarm enters the guard and goes on a terrifying, demon-induced binge that would make anyone contemplate dieting.
Meanwhile, in a more serene and peaceful environment, seemingly untouched by the unseen world of angels and demons, Constantine and Zed are found talking in a park. While others skateboard and kids play innocently, Zed is being taught how to better hone her skills and to more freely have visions. Zed, while in a more concentrated state, sees coins falling all around everyone in the park and then STOP. Everything abruptly freezes, time is frozen by John’s guardian angel of sorts named Manny. Receiving “pennies from heaven”, Manny and John engage in a cryptic conversation. The world is always operating on a plane that exists separate yet in unison with the more supernatural plane. All servicing as a reminder that John’s soul is damned to hell after a botched exorcism in Newcastle. Doesn’t that just ruin a pleasant day in the park?
Constantine and Zed return to their Doctor Who-ish cabin and realize that someone has attempted to break in. Unnerved by this, understanding the safety measures the house supernaturally employs, Constantine enters only to find Gary Lester suspended in a zero-gravity trap. We learn that Lester was a friend of Constantine’s since back before the incident at Newcastle. Since then he has become a heroin addict and isn’t too welcomed by John. While in the Sudan he came across a young man covered in protective markings, alerting him as to the demon contained inside of him. Wanting to make good of his life and amount to something more than just a guy on a bender, he manages to trap the demon in an incantation inscribed bottle, only to lose it at the US airport, again reminding those not to bring a demon in a bottle through an airport.
Constantine, “all trench coat and arrogance”, goes after the demon and locates it to a meat delivery plant. While addressing the demon currently in possession of one of the plant’s employees, reminding us that most demon-possessed people seem to have the flexibility of contortionists, Zed and Gary Lester are back at the cabin. Learning of the Newcastle incident, we find out that Constantine is really the only one with unique talents fitting for him to dabble in the dark arts. Lester, along with the others, were more in awe of John, and decided it’d be fun to go along for the ride. But not so fun to watch a young girl get dragged to hell. Not so fun, indeed, that you turn to drugs and alcohol just to block out the memories and sounds from that hellish night in Newcastle.
Back at the meat packing plant, Constantine is overpowered by The Hunger Demon and retreats while reckoning that due to the “rising darkness” demons are growing stronger in their power over mortals. He visits Nommo, an African cuisine shop proprietor, to discuss the origins of the demon. Sharing a psychedelic induced trip, reminding viewers as to why the series is broadcast at 10 pm and to comfort fans afraid that this wouldn’t be Vertigo’s Constantine, John’s eyeball is removed and placed in Nommo’s eye socket in order for him to see the history of the hunger demon. In a series of moments that highlight the hunger demon’s tour of chaos on earth, we learn that a shaman had sacrificed a young man in order to trap it. By cutting out the man’s tongue and carving symbols on his face, the body became a physical trap for the demon. The moment of safety and peace was fleeting as the demon possessed man soon escaped the confines the shaman had set for it. As luck would have it, or perhaps the hands of something greater, Gary Lester crosses paths with the demon that results in him being placed on a tightrope walk to redemption.
Constantine, now equipped with the knowledge of how to defeat, or more appropriately contain the demon, sets out to obtain the Kusa Knife, a ceremonial dagger and the only tool that could be used to defeat the hunger demon. After breaking into the museum that is home to the Kusa Knife and a scene of whimsy that finds John hypnotizing a guard, they soon track the demon down to the Fox Theater. The resolution to the episode, perhaps the most important (and talked about aspect) is exactly what the series needed. We are given a set of moments, in design, to show that John Constantine isn’t a very nice person; that his choices are questionable, along with his morals, enough for an angel named Manny to stop time periodically to ask him if what he’s doing is really the best thing for him. It’s the exact set-up that makes this series worth watching. Amid the lovable, dynamic, yet procedural nature of other series that shall go unnamed, the writers behind “Constantine” are able to deliver on plots that truly allow the viewer to question what exactly will happen next, in turn leading to thrills that never come across as cheap or moments derived from camp scares. It’s the kind of series that excites the uninitiated to find their local comic store and quickly educate themselves in volume after volume of Hellblazer graphic novels.
“A Feast of Friends” is the kind of episode, that due to a number of reasons; the cast nailing every beat, the director maintaining an engaging tone, the composer never over-scoring, and perhaps the television gods overseeing its production, create the perfect mixture that produces an episode worth talking about, worth blogging about, and worth tweeting about. “A Feast of Friends” is that episode.
Make “Constantine” your new must television series, if you haven’t already. “Constantine” airs on NBC, Friday nights at 10 pm. Check your local listings.