Published on December 2nd, 2014 | by Brad0
Constantine – The Rage of Caliban Review
The Rage of Caliban was actually the second episode filmed from Constantine, so we get some more Neil Marshall-directed goodness. Long tracking shots are a Marshall specialty, and this episode opens with a beauty, flowing from an establishing shot of a house, through a bloody mess that used to be the living room, until we finally reach the ceiling, where a bloody mess that used to be a man is begging for mercy. He drops to the floor, dead, in front of his terrified daughter. It’s a spectacularly creepy opening, and one which sets the tone for one of Constantine’s better episodes so far.
No Zed this week, as Angelica Celaya hadn’t been cast at this point. I think that’s the reason for moving the episode back, to allow for the show to establish her as part of the team before getting into this one. This allows John more time to interact with Chas and Manny, and we get to know a bit more about their relationships. John and Chas bicker like an old married couple, which is very entertaining, but the episode is more concrete in what Manny’s deal is; since humans gained free will, angels lost the ability to intervene directly in Earthly affairs. As such, Manny is only able to give John guidance, typically in a cryptic fashion. My hope is that the writing team find creative ways to use this limit, so that Harold Perrineau isn’t reduced to cryptic exposition fairy.
The Rage of Caliban is about surviving childhood abuse, and what drastically different paths the survivors can take. On the one hand, Manny tells us a little of John’s childhood, and the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father; on the other, more extreme hand, is Marcello, a young boy whose father cut his fingers off on a tree stump. He later retaliated by murdering his parents with the same axe used to hurt him, and the experience left him so traumatised his soul left his body, and has been possessing other children to kill their parents for years. John is afraid to exorcise this spirit from a young boy, and a quick flashback to Astrid in Newcastle tells us all we need to know.
Though Chas and Manny feature prominently, The Rage of Caliban is the first time since Non Est Asylum where we’ve been following John working practically alone. As such, we get a great showcase for Matt Ryan’s superb performance in the title role. Equally at home whether he’s being kicked out of bed by a woman whose boyfriend is arriving home or performing a Mayan spell to reveal the past, taunting an angel or exorcising a vengeful spirit, Ryan’s Constantine is the closest we will ever see to the character being adapted properly. He lives and breathes the character, even within the strictures of network television.
Though the announcement that production has been halted and the first series will only be running up to episode thirteen is alarming, I don’t think that’s going to be the end of Constantine. A late starter, the show has only gained viewers since it began six weeks ago. I daresay thirteen episode series may even work in the show’s favour, allowing a narrative tautness which often eludes baggier, 23-episode behemoths. Constantine’s a cracking series, and The Rage of Caliban is one of its best episodes yet.