Constantine: 113 “Waiting for the Man” (Finale) Review
Reviewed By Louis Rabinowitz.
Back in October 2014, Constantine launched in a flurry of publicity as part of a trinity of new DC Comics shows, including The Flash and Gotham. The latter two clocked high enough ratings to swiftly receive a full season order and then renewal for a second season – but Constantine wasn’t so lucky. Despite an improving standard of storytelling and a fervent fanbase, Constantine’s first season was clipped to 13 episodes as opposed to the full 22. And after a short run of episodes this year, we’ve come to what could possibly be the final episode before Constantine floats up into the big TV graveyard in the sky…
Waiting for the Man saw the return of two Hellblazer characters previously seen in the show’s 2014 run, Jim Corrigan and Papa Midnite – which added some gloss to what was actually a fairly humdrum case-of-the-week episode. Corrigan’s last appearance ended with a tantalizing vision of his death – and while it’s been a few episodes since then, Zed’s visions of Corrigan wrapped in a green mist were explored in a little more detail here. It seems that Corrigan’s future as hero the Spectre won’t come to fruition, but the finale explored the detective’s upcoming grisly fate in a satisfying and detailed enough fashion. The show hasn’t done an awful lot with Corrigan, but his portrayal here is one of the better parts of the finale, with an adequate study of the character and what he means to Zed.
As for Papa Midnite, the character remains as entertaining as he was in his first two appearances – but the plot involving his quest to claim a bounty on Constantine’s head never quite gelled with the A plot involving the kidnapped girls, and ended up sitting somewhat awkwardly as a slightly wasted B plot. Should Constantine live on, we’ll doubtless be seeing more of Midnite, but his appearance in the finale was sadly a little insubstantial, even if it delivered a few strong action moments and a neat if predictable fake-out as it appeared Midnite had blown Constantine’s head off.
The villain of the week was aptly named the Man, a psychopathic killer who kidnaps and kills little girls. Given Constantine’s strong track record with human bad guys, it’s a pity that despite the effective creepiness of the character, the Man is never really fleshed out or explored, and therefore never rises above the standard ‘creepy killer’ cliché. The character’s cold-blooded execution at the end of the episode was a bold twist (and one of the very few genuinely surprising moments this episode), however – showing a great deal of moral ambiguity on the heroes’ part, and helping the villain to at least go out on a high note.
However, as a season-ending villain, the Man was a disappointment – a fairly run-of-the-mill creep with a handwaved ‘it’s the rising darkness’ explanation for his villainy, rather than a formidable foe such as Felix Faust or the Brujeria demon from the mid-season premiere. Likewise, the Man’s group of ‘child brides’ was little more than a few standard creepy children, failing to innovate on any real level – just like the episode, often effectively spooky but fairly uninspiring on the whole.
Waiting for the Man was, originally, set to be episode 13 of 22 – and despite the chance for the writers to retrofit the episode with a little more finality, the crucial problem with the episode (aside from the fairly humdrum case of the week) is that it doesn’t feel like a finale. There’s the bounty hunter storyline, which takes up a handful of scenes, and the final scene (but more on that later), but aside from that the season finale is essentially just another standalone freak of the week episode. The Brujeria remain very much active, Zed’s father’s cult remain at large, and Chas doesn’t even appear here – these threads may all find conclusion in a potential season two, but taken as the culmination of a run of television, it’s utterly unsatisfying, leaving every ongoing storyline on the boil and every character only partway through their respective journeys.
However, the final scene does go some way to adding a little finale flair to proceedings – as Papa Midnite is freed from a police car by none other than Manny, who proclaims that the Brujeria work for him. It’s the sort of rug-pull that flips a great deal of what’s come before on its head (similar in many ways to a revelation from Agents of SHIELD, which shook the series up hugely), and adds a whole new dimension to events. Should Constantine end here forever, it’ll be a yet another frustratingly unresolved cliffhanger ending to a cancelled show – but it’s nonetheless a genuinely surprising and well done reveal that spices up Constantine’s battle against the Brujeria a great deal, should it ever continue.
So, here we are at the end of season one of Constantine – it’s been a somewhat uneven run, with plenty of bumps in the road, but also plenty of inspired moments. It may not have captured audiences, but Constantine certainly tried its best; and there are reams of potential for the future of the show. Will Constantine live on? Most likely not – but it sorely deserves to.
Waiting for the Man is average as a standalone episode, with a thin villain and a derivative plot, and disappointing as a finale, with no real conclusion to any of the ongoing plots – but there’s still some merit to the episode, with a few fun return appearances and a killer cliffhanger.
Scene of the Episode: Uncanny Manny – Everyone’s favourite angel becomes everyone’s least favourite angel, as Manny reveals his true colours.