– Spoiler Review –
As has been the trend, episodes where John Constantine is paired with an old friend involved with the Newcastle incident have markedly been among the best this show has to offer. “A Whole World Out There” thankfully doesn’t buck that trend thanks to its somewhat unique take on slasher horror and the return of Ritchie Simpson (Jeremy Davies).
The slasher/horror movie tropes were strong with Constantine this week, but the show tried to give that genre its own little twists. Instead of some ritual in an old book bringing evil to the college kids, they were brought to the evil. William Mapother has always had a creepy look to him and he usually plays ‘silently menacing, but oddly gleeful’ characters very well, making him a great choice for Jacob Shaw, the architect of the dimension the college kids get sucked into. His friendly but haunting demeanor projected through any mirror-like surface was on of my favorite aspects of the episode, with the scene in the dance rehearsal room with him moving along the panes of glass as the girl twirled giving me the most chills. Overall the other dimension haunted house was a fun storyline, changing up battling demons from hell to battling a once Earthly bound demon, while proving Constantine can really use some help.
We haven’t seen Ritchie since the series premiere, where John and Ritchie didn’t necessarily part on good terms. But an almost specific, instead of his usually cryptic, warning from Manny leads John to visit this last of his Newcastle mates he hasn’t dealt with since the darkness started its rising. Ritchie really hasn’t forgive John nor himself for the Newcastle incident and he’s afraid having John around will cause trouble, and even though it’s not John’s doing (for once), trouble does truly start. The first of the kids who traveled to Jacob Shaw’s dimension has been found dead, leaving Ritchie no choice but to join up with John again to help his students and their friends.
But the crux of having John and Ritchie together is to show cracks in the sarcastic shell John Constantine hides behind and in this the episode surely doesn’t disappoint. Their few conversations focused more on their past than the task at hand lend themselves to several great scenes, especially the one where we practically see John cry. They are discussing their roles in the deaths of those around them, leading Ritchie to reveal his feels just as terrible as John does under the surface, calling out his false callousness. I’ve enjoyed these glimpses into John’s character, as each one this season has given him a nice new layer for a character who could be likable without any hidden layers.
Ritchie owning Shaw’s reality and making it his own made for some rather neat special effects, including both him creating a doorway and the brightest, happiest background this show has ever had in the lush world Ritchie imagines around them. The time we did get to spend with Ritchie, coupled with the early scene of Constantine wallowing over Gary’s death, did a pretty great job of convincing me he would actually stay in the other reality. It’s hard not to blame him, considering the power and freedom he’d have there, but thankfully Ritchie came back. Will this mean we’ll see his data mining come into play in a later episode (and his eventual fate as seen in the Hellblazer comics)?
Here are a few other things:
- It was like having a very small LOST reunion with Mapother and Davies on screen together here. Now I’m itching for another rewatch…
- The whole dying inside the house meant dying in real life made me think a little of The Matrix, though here you continue to live on at least in the other dimension.
- If I was in Ritchie’s class and I knew he tape recorded his lectures, I’d have stolen them ASAP.
- Having Manny helping in the little ways that he can is always nice to see, but a little part of me wonders if Manny hadn’t suggested for Constantine to try recruiting Ritchie, would he have fought so hard to stop him from staying in the alternate reality?
- I could’ve cared less for the college kids and their plight as they didn’t make for terribly interesting characters. Though I will say it was nice to see some common tropes with their type of characters subverted.
The horror/slasher angle of “A Whole World Out There” worked on several levels, making for a somewhat nerve wracking episode despite me not being totally invested in most of the characters. And with more heart to heart conversations with Newcastle crew members, I found myself enjoying another hour of Constantine. Here’s hoping these last two won’t be his last.
+ Horror genre fun
+ Ritchie and John
+ Jeremy Davies and William Mapother
– Didn’t really care for the college kids
S1, Ep. 13: “Waiting for the Man”
S1, Ep. 12: “Angels and Ministers of Grace”
S1, Ep. 10: “Quid Pro Quo”
S1, Ep. 9: “The Saint of Last Resorts” Part 2
S1, Ep. 8: “The Saint of Last Resorts” Part 1
S1, Ep. 7: “Blessed are the Damned”
S1, Ep. 6: “The Rage of Caliban”
S1, Ep. 5: “Danse Vadou”
S1, Ep. 4: “A Feast of Friends” (plus reviews for episodes 1-3)