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Constantine: Rage of Caliban continues to improve with each viewing and the main protagonist’s Englishness, in an American setting is refreshing, although the reactions to his British phrasing does not go much past the art of ignoring what they do not understand or looking blankly at Matt Ryan’s Constantine when he uses words like “shirty,” at the schoolyard scene. This iteration of the comic book character is much more like his literary origins. John is more a “Jack the Lad” type (An English phrase that means the individual likes his drink, chasing women and partying.) who plays as hard as he works. Early in this episode, Constantine wakes up in a woman’s bed, a bit worse for his alcohol intake the night before and when she says he must leave as her boyfriend is coming, John says she did not mention a boyfriend “last night.” Her response is that yes, she did.
Scenes like these show where John’s head is at when he is not exorcising demons. Apart from liking his fun, and being slightly apart from the rest of the citizen’s in the U.S.A., he stubbornly uses the slang from the land of his birth and clearly has no real boundaries in his search for distractions. In his scene with Manny, the angel, in the jail cell, John sarcastically says to Manny, “Who’s a clever clogs then?” Another term, like “shirty” that the angel may have understood, he is after all a celestial being, but one that the average U.S. denizen would be puzzled at.
While the main character in Constantine: Rage of Caliban only has one cigarette in this episode, his womanizing and drinking are celebrated fairly well and the show’s writers are taking great care to make sure that viewers realize that this John Constantine, unlike the one Keanu Reeves portrayed on the big screen, is quintessentially English. Albeit a bit of a mish-mash of “Hollywood” approved accent combined with some spot on dialogue with words, terms and phrases that are perfect for this “otherworldly” traveller.
The show begins with a set of parents being murdered by their only child. This appears to be a repeat of similar crimes and Constantine gets involved when he suspects a demon is involved. He tracks down the first kid who murdered his parents and finds out that the child, now grown, is in an asylum and that he does not communicate. Meanwhile a young boy sees someone in his room and eventually, the “someone” possesses him.
The child becomes violent, mentally causing damage and when his anger is triggered by conflict, his eyes turn black and he becomes dangerous. Putting a spell on a mirror, Constantine pursues the boy into a community haunted house (it is Halloween) after the kid mentally threw a chair at his father. John drives the spirit of the murderous boy out of Henry putting back into the grownup body of Marcello, the first child to murder his parents.
In Constantine: Rage of Caliban the audience learn more of the Englishman’s backstory, he was abused as a child, and in his voice over narrative at the end of the show it is also learned that John knows what his shortcomings are and realises he must overcome them to stop the growing darkness. This show is a real treat and NBC have come up with a story that could run for quite a long while. They have also opened a door that will allow viewers in the United States to learn a lot more about British slang. Constantine airs Fridays on NBC.
By Michael Smith