Saturday, October 25, 2014

Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode "Non Est Asylum" - Recap and Review


NBC Constantine Matt Ryan 2014 TV Show poster wallpaper image picture screensaver DC Comics Hellblazer character

As the pilot episode begins, John Constantine (Matt Ryan) has been institutionalized in Northern England. He receives shock treatment and attends counseling sessions with Dr Roger Huntoon (Miles Anderson).

Constantine is bored out of his wits with the pedestrian life at the institution. He does not have to wait for long. During one of the group therapy sessions, he notices a lot of beetles moving in a particular direction and follows them.

At the end of the trail, he finds a possessed girl and proceeds to exorcise her. She was writing a message on the wall, when she was interrupted. The message reads: “LIV DIE”.

Lucy Griffiths as Liv Aberdine with Matt Ryan as John Constantine in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Asylum

Liv Aberdine (Lucy Griffiths) is a young woman, who is the person referred to in the message. After a long day at her work, she is about to leave in her car when she is attacked. The ground near her opens up and couple of cars go under.

John arrives in time to save Liv. But he is not alone. Constantine's guardian angel, Manny (Harold Perrineau) is looking out for him. John gives a suspicious Liv his business card and advises her to look him up, should she find herself in mortal danger.

The stranded Liv finds help from her friend Talia (Julia Lehman), who works nearby. Talia lives in the apartment opposite Liv's. As Liv enters her apartment, she notices a stranger lurking in the shadows.

Harold Perrineau as Manny Constantine guardian angel  in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Asylum

An unseen assailant tries to enter Liv's apartment and is foiled by the inscription on her door. The unlucky Talia becomes the victim. 

Convinced about the seriousness of the danger surrounding her, she agrees to take Constantine's assistance. John takes her to a safehouse, that belongs to Liv's father, Jasper Winters. John had promised Jasper that he will keep Liv safe.

Soon, Liv starts to see dead people, including her dead grandmother. John explains to her that she has inherited these powers from her father.

Charles Halford as Chas Constantine closest friend in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Asylum 

John's closest friend Chas (Charles Halford) is along for the ride. He is the one who inscribed the spell on Liv's door.

Constantine discovers that Furcifer is the demon trying to kill Liv. He decides to take the fight right back by baiting Liv. He also takes the help of a hacker/computer expert Ritchie Simpson (Jeremy Davies).

In the final showdown, Furcifer possesses a security guard (Victor McCay). Constantine is about to destroy the demon after entrapping it, when it tries to trick him by using his guilt over his failure to save a young girl, Astra (Bailey Tippen).

Victor McCay as the security guard possessed by Furcifer demon in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Asylum

Liv uses her new found powers and informs Constantine about Furcifer's tactic. Constantine proceeds to destroy the demon.

The NBC show got off to a great start with the first episode. The production values are surprisingly good for a pilot. Credit goes to the director Neil Marshall and the script by David S. Goyer and Daniel Cerone.

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I have enjoyed the werewolf horror movie Dog Soldiers by Neil. He continues his good run with this episode. Goyer redeems himself after the unmitigated disaster of Man of Steel.

Matt Ryan as John Constantine with sunglasses in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Aslyum

Constantine is an antihero and not a regular run-of-the-mill superhero per se. He is a self proclaimed Exorcist, Demonologist and Master of the Dark Arts. He also has a wicked sense of humor and an attitude to boot. 

The casting of Matt Ryan as the titular character is one of the best casting choices among the TV shows I have seen in the recent past. He is spot on as the smooth talking con man/exorcist. Matt's Constantine has a great sense of humor and this makes a world of difference to a viewer like me.

It also helps that Matt has the acting chops and charisma to make for a genuinely appealing lead. Despite the fact that Constantine suffers from typical leading man fallacies such as angst over the past etc., Matt made an impression. I find his performance far more enjoyable compared to the leads in other DC comics based shows like Arrow, Gotham and The Flash. 

Helmet of Fate Dr Fate DC Comics reference in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Aslyum

Another enjoyable aspect was the cameo by the Helmet of Fate. As fans of DC Comics might be aware, it is used by Dr Fate.

I am not familiar with the history or background of the character of John Constantine, except the 2005 Hollywood movie starring Keanu Reeves. The movie reportedly features significant changes to the character.

The NBC show returns the character to his roots as a blonde British at home in the UK.

Talia possessed by a demon in NBC Constantine Season 1 Pilot Episode Non Est Aslyum

The music, cinematography and the makeup greatly enhance the horror aspects of the show. Kudos to the cast and crew for delivering a great horror show. Talia's possession reminded me of the classic Sam Raimi movie Evil Dead.

A recommended watch for fans of Constantine/DC Comics/Horror genre.

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Image Sources: DC Comics, Warner Bros. Television, National Broadcasting Company (NBC)

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