Published on November 18th, 2014 | by Brad0
Constantine – A Feast of Friends Review
Cor blimey. Fair warning, I am going to spoil the heck out of A Feast of Friends. There’s no way to really talk about this, the strongest Constantine episode so far, without going into what makes it so good. Problem is, what makes it so good is the payoff. So, fair warning, here there be spoilers.
We open with a sweating, visibly unwell man getting off a plane from Africa. Timely! The gentleman in question is Gary Lester, and after stumbling shambolically through his customs interview, he is detained, along with his only item of luggage; a very ornate looking bottle. Expecting to find heroin inside, the customs official breaks open the bottle, releasing a swarm of cockroaches, which billow down his throat. Hellblazer readers of old may be recognising this scenario from the very first two issues of the comic. Yes, you do know what’s coming.
The swarm of cockroaches is the physical form of a hunger demon named Mnemoth. Gary exorcised the demon from a tongueless man in Sudan, trapping it in the bottle, and then bringing it over to the States to impress John, and get him to send it back to hell. It causes its victims to eat uncontrollably before eventually devouring their insides and moving on to the next poor soul. John is furious at Gary for unleashing it in Atlanta, but this anger is shown to go back to their past, and the Newcastle incident. Gary was high during the failed attempt to free Astra, and when things went bad he hid upstairs, before fleeing. This is the two men’s first meeting since.
After taking a trip with a shaman, John begins to make plans to defeat the demon. Gary, meanwhile, wracked with guilt over what he’s done, sets out to face the demon again. Chas isn’t in the episode because reasons, and Gary sidelines Zed early on by forcing her to experience the pain of his heroin withdrawal by grabbing her hands, leaving A Feast of Friends as a two-hander between Gary and John. Guest star Jonjo O’Neill does a great job, creating a truly tragic and pathetic character. They have a scene in a bar together, where Gary confesses about Newcastle, and John forgives him, which is just great. Their exchange about the capacity to change seems funny, but turns out to be dripping with foreboding. When Manny pops up and asks John if he really wants to go through with the break-in they’re committing, it’s abundantly clear he’s talking about something else.
So they confront the demon, and all is revealed. The only way to defeat it is to trap it in a human body, cut out the tongue and let Mnemoth consume itself. This is what had happened in Sudan, before Gary released it. And with he and John being the only two people present, and John being the only one who can perform the ritual, it all clicks into place. Gary has to be the sacrifice, and John has led him to the slaughter under the guise of leading him to redemption. Stone cold. In that moment there, like no other in this series so far, we saw the true face of John Constantine. And even at the end, when he’s silently sat by Gary’s dying body, reflecting on his sins, whilst heaven stands across from him in the form of Manny, nothing can wash that away.
A Feast of Friends is my favourite Constantine episode so far. A real look into the character’s soul. Matt Ryan absolutely knocks it out of the park once again, balancing the regret at having to sacrifice his friend with the cold conviction that he’s doing it for the right reasons beautifully. It’s really well-directed; every time you see that swarm of insects flying down someone’s throat it’s just chilling. Great television.