Published on November 4th, 2014 | by Brad0
Constantine – The Darkness Beneath review
Humans dig to places where mortals have no business being, and the Earth appears to be fighting back. John winds up in rural Pennsylvania, as he investigates the mystery of The Darkness Beneath. A boss at the local coal mine heads home to what seems a pretty textbook unhappy marriage. He goes upstairs for a shower, and the water starts coming out muddy and brown. Perturbed, he looks into the showerhead. The showerhead then spits fire, burning him alive. It’s a creepy, stylish opening, which rather belies the slightly more ordinary fare this week. For an episode called The Darkness Beneath, it spends a bloody long time in the daylight.
A blood-spot on the scrying map Liv left John last week covering the mining town goes wet, causing John to head out and investigate. This, you feel, is going to be the format; cold opening with spooky goings on, blood spot on the scrying map goes wet, John and team go to investigate. Chas can’t go with him this week, as he has an outstanding arrest warrant in Pennsylvania, relating to a previous adventure where he derailed a train. Yes, I would love to see that.
This leaves Constantine to bump into Zed Martin (Angelica Celaya), the lady who was repeatedly painting Constantine’s picture last week. We get a look at some more of her paintings this week (the eagle-eyed amongst you will spot a Dave McKean cover in there), and discover that she too has a power, in her case clairsentience (the ability to discern an object’s history by touching it). Celaya brings an easy charm and feistiness to the role, immediately making a better impression than Liv.
John’s investigation leads him to discover that someone is causing the spirits of dead miners to go bad and kill the bosses of the mine. He describes them as Coblynau, but if you know anything about mining folklore (and frankly, I don’t expect you to), then their actions in the episode seem more like Knockers – guardian spirits who knock on the walls to warn of an impending cave-in. Don’t ask why I know that. As the bodies pile up, John and Zed find themselves in a few spooky situations – scenes in a burnt-out church and a mine-shaft were particularly good.
The problem I had with The Darkness Beneath was that it just felt a bit safe. Non Est Asylum felt like something new and weird, where this just feels like TV. Directed by Steve Schill, who previously directed the best episode of my favourite ever show (The Wire’s All Prologue) and written by Farscape creator Rockne S. O’Bannon, it’s got a great pedigree, and it has its moments, but it never quite finds the spark which last week had. Still well worth watching, but I hope the pilot hasn’t set the bar too high.