– Spoiler Review –
Funny, well-paced, and smart, “Angels and Ministers of Grace,” has a lot of great things going for it and is arguably the best episode of Constantine yet, but it just doesn’t feel like a proper penultimate episode.
I only say that because typically a penultimate episode helps set the stage for the finale, ratcheting up the danger and introducing key elements of the enemies to our heroes. Instead “Grace” is more of a standalone episode, with just a brief mention of the Brujeria and more of the same talk that we’ve got all season about the rising darkness being imminent. But that’s my only dig at “Grace” and it won’t affect your enjoyment of the episode.
Because “Grace” is truly enjoyable, thanks to both Manny’s involvement in a rather interesting case and the repercussions of Zed’s latest issue. Manny appears to John early in the episode, insisting John needs to get out and fight the rising darkness, turning the scribe map to ashes, and giving John a case involving a woman overdosed on a strange drug which turns people’s veins to black. My favorite part of their first meeting here is Manny burning the scribe map and calling it a crutch, which it’s basically been for the show since its introduction. In fact, this almost felt like the writers were admitting they used it as a crutch too, keeping it around as a way to give causal TV viewers a procedural element to latch onto.
After Zed had made that psychic connection with Chas’ daughter in “Quid Pro Quo,” she’s been afraid of the pain and unsure if she wants to try having visions again. Once they get to the hospital, John coaxes Zed to connect with the barely alive OD victim and she has a vision regarding what looked like an angel surrounded by red light. Unfortunately, Zed immediately has a seizure and after a couple tests it’s revealed she has a tumor.
The fact that Zed has a tumor goes onto affect both of her and John in very different ways. John hides it well, for a while at least, but he feels like her tumor is his fault and he’s basically the one killing her. As for Zed, she begins to wonder if her gift of visions was actually from God…or the Devil and the tumor is her punishment for using something from the Devil. These are great moments for both characters and it provides some of Matt Ryan’s and Angélica Celaya’s best work on the show to date. From John going off on Manny for not helping and Zed’s confession of fear to Manny, they really gave this episode their all and it shows, giving those scenes the extra weight needed to really sell the emotional impact of the events within “Grace.”
Even with the emotional aspect of this episode, there’s tons of humor and it comes from John trapping Manny in a human’s body. Harold Perrineau hasn’t gotten many chances to show off his chops as Manny, the last time he had significant screentime was in “Blessed are the Damned,” and he chews up his expanded role here. Manny dealing with the sexual feelings of human’s was a riot and Harold’s delivery was the icing on the cake. And for every moment the humor with Manny stood out, his compassion and vague answers were equally as entertaining. More Manny, please!
I liked the history behind the Black Diamond, what with an angel’s sword cracking it into many pieces and the giant world-wide flood (of not just biblical fame) spread it across the globe. Needless to say, I was surprised by the doctor and his shrapnel being the one behind the deaths and enjoyed a slightly contemporary background for this week’s case.
Here are a few other things:
- John using air from Hades to knock out Manny and then a spell to keep him trapped in mortal form must mean he’s saving the fallen angel’s heart from “Blessed are the Damned” for an even more drastic situation.
- Chas’ great reaction to Manny taking over his body, “I hate being used.” And man, Chas gets used a whole damn lot this episode.
- That look of child-like wonder on Zed’s face when she gets to talk to Manny in church at the end was priceless.
- John’s confession to Zed at the end was heavy stuff.
- Wonder how keeping the tumor will affect Zed moving forward.
- The doc’s face when the Black Diamond took over reminded me of Sloth from The Goonies.
- Well, it continues to look like Constantine won’t be getting a second season….on NBC. A new rumor swirling around states the show would continue over on Syfy (an affiliate channel of NBC’s) with the entire cast returning. The best part of the idea though is the show being rebranded as Hellblazer, the name of the comics, and would focus more on the supernatural and horror aspects of the series instead of all the skirting around the show has done so far. I’m sure we can all get behind that!
Whether it’s on Syfy or NBC, episodes like “Angels and Ministers of Grace,” prove why and how John Constantine on TV can work. It had a script that cracked with wit and smarts, giving nearly all of our main characters added emotional death, and had Manny experiencing the finer things in life.
+ Matt Ryan and Angelica Celaya put in some great performances
+ Fast-paced and intriguing case
– Not much of a penultimate episode
S1, Ep. 13: “Waiting for the Man”
S1, Ep. 11: “A Whole World Out There”
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)