Events moved at a rapid pace during the premiere episode of NBC’s Constantine, flinging us deep into the hellish world of everyone’s favourite arrogant anti-hero, John Constantine.
The pilot titled ‘Non Est Asylum’ opens eerily enough at a mental hospital in Northern England where Constantine (Matt Ryan), had voluntarily committed himself three months prior. We see Constantine undergo shock treatments, group therapy and one-on-one therapy with a doctor who naturally can’t grasp his patient’s tales of demons and death. Haunted by the damnation of a young girl’s soul as well as his own, it’s clear from the onset that our anti-hero isn’t such a bad guy as he’d have you believe.
During group therapy, Constantine notices a group of cockroaches crawling in one direction, leading him to the art room. Another patient appears to be possessed as she paints an unclear message on the wall. Exhausted by his previous dealings with supernatural entities, Constantine wants nothing to do with it, but cannot help but intervene. He casts the demon away causing one hell of a mess in the process, before finally seeing what the entity was scribbling on the wall: ‘Liv Die’.
Back in Atlanta, Liv Aberdine (Lucy Griffiths) is enjoying some Chinese takeaway with her colleague while musing over fortune cookies. While her colleague’s fortune message is pretty standard, Liv opens her one to find it completely blank. Liv then leaves work and hops into her car but runs into a bit of trouble when her sensor identifies an object behind the car, despite the camera showing nothing there. She walks behind the car only to find the lights around her shutting off, along with the car engine. As Liv walks through the car park, the concrete underneath her begins to crack and rise, eventually creating a large crater which comes up in flames. Naturally she’s freaked out, and the situation isn’t made any better by the perfectly-timed arrival of Constantine. He explains to Liv that she’s in danger, leaving her with his business card in the likely event that she’ll need to call. Constantine then jumps into the crater where he meets an angel called Manny (Harold Perrineau) who is assigned to watch over him. Manny warns Constantine that something big is coming before flying away.
After Liv manages to hitch a ride home with her neighbour Talia, she enters her home. As she closes her door we notice a strange collection of symbols etched into the wood. Inside the apartment, Liv opens another fortune cookie which tells her to “trust him”, while outside more sinister things are happening. A creature who we cannot see, reaches Liv’s door but moves away as the symbol lights up. It then sets its sights on Liv’s neighbour, whose apartment lights have shut off before the eyes of something wicked appears on her laptop screen.
Later in the night, Liv is woken by the commotion of police who have taken over the building. She walks outside her apartment before seeing Talia dead on the floor. However, dead is sort of a loose term in this show. As the ambulance carrying Talia’s body reaches an underpass, the driver hears a loud noise in the back. As he stops to investigate, he soon faces a possessed Talia who is quick to attack.
The next day, Liv is dropped to work by a police officer and finds Constantine waiting for her along with his driver and friend Chas. She tells him of Talia’s death and shows him the symbol found on her door. Constantine identifies this as the Eye of Horus — a protective symbol that Chas scratched onto her door, ultimately saving her life. Constantine tells Liv they need to leave before bodies begin piling up. He then reveals that he knew her father — a man called Jasper Winters — which perplexes Liv as her father died before she was born. Constantine tells her that Jasper in fact died only the previous year before handing over a small bag containing a medallion which Jasper wanted his daughter to have. The ambulance from the previous scene suddenly races through the car park, crashing through the glass doors of Liv’s workplace, notably targeting her desk. Talia is seen sprawled over the hood, still possessed but very much dead as Constantine points out to Liv.
Confused as hell by this point, Liv makes a trip home to confront her mother about Jasper. Since her mother is hesitant to talk, Liv pulls out the medallion hoping to get some answers. As she handles the necklace, Liv sees an old woman brushing her mother’s hair and lights up as she says ‘grandma!’. The old woman’s eyes suddenly turn black and horrid, before dark blood comes streaming out of her mouth.
Liv is quick to dash outside before again running into Constantine who is standing in the middle of the road. She demands to know what’s going on and Constantine explains that she’s finally starting to see the world as it really it. He grabs her hands making Liv see the dark souls trapped between their world and the next (a gift she has inherited from her father). As Liv, Constantine and Chas are driving in the taxi, Liv finds out that her father died bravely, but that Constantine isn’t keen on discussing the matter further. As Chas becomes distracted by the radio, the trio are hit sideways by a truck, flinging Constantine from the broken back windshield and trapping Liv’s leg under a seat. As Constantine is laying motionless on the grass, he has a vision of the girl he couldn’t save being dragged to hell by a demon. As he finally comes to, Chas rescues Liv and hands her over to Constantine. Unfortunately, a possessed electric cable stabs Chas through the chest which doesn’t seem to phase Constantine at all.
The duo then find themselves at Jasper’s old cottage in the woods — a place he previously used for divination. Constantine pulls out a large book and finds out that the demon chasing Liv is called Furcifer. Meanwhile, Liv is holding the medallion over a map when suddenly her hand begins to bleed. Constantine tells her to let the blood drop, and as it does, it points out the exact location where a bad event is set to take place. Good news does come however, as Constantine tells Liv that he can stop the demon…so long as he can use her as bait.
Soon afterwards, Constantine drives up to a security gate at an unknown location. The security guard is suddenly replaced by Manny who questions Constantine about what the demon wants. Our anti-hero is strong in his opinion that helping the angels is pointless as his soul is already condemned. Manny then hints that it might not be too late for Constantine before vanishing.
Next, Constantine is in the office of an old acquaintance called Ritchie, who’s not too happy to be seeing the occult master. Constantine asks Ritchie if he can hack a power grid, but Ritchie is frank in his reply that he wants nothing to do with Constantine’s missions. We learn that since the event in Newcastle which made Constantine check himself into the mental hospital, Ritchie too has been struggling and can only get by with the help of heavy medication. Constantine then pulls out the big guns, threatening to pin the death of Astra (the young girl) on Ritchie.
Back at Jasper’s cottage, Liv learns that they’ll be going after the demon tonight. Chas also shows up, frightening Liv. Turns out he has mad survival skills, and for some reason cannot die.
At a unknown building, Constantine is busy bribing a security guard with $500 to let him and Liv “have sex” on the roof. He also hands the guard a light bulb asking him to call Constantine should it light up. On the rooftop, Constantine is busy preparing a magic circle to trap the demon. Liv implores him to open up, and learns about Constantine’s rough childhood. Not only did his mother die during childbirth, but his abusive father would constantly blame him for it. It was this event however, that caused Constantine to study magic in an attempt to talk to his mother’s spirit. Suddenly, the lights shut off and the guard from downstairs appears. Earlier, we saw the guard playing video games, causing him to miss the flickering lightbulb. Initially, Constantine reprimands the guard for not calling him first, but soon sees the guard has been possessed.
Constantine invites the demon to go after Liv, and as planned, the demon becomes trapped within the circle. What he didn’t plan for however, was for the guard to melt away and turn into a dark reflection of Constantine himself. Liv becomes trapped by a cable as the demon taunts Constantine about the people who constantly die by his side, ultimately providing the demons with a supply of souls. Constantine then fires a flare gun, prompting Ritchie to shut down the city’s power from which the demon was sucking his energy. The demon then reveals Astra to be by his side and says that if Constantine releases him, he will set her free. Constantine is about to give in, when Liv (who is able to see the true nature of the dead) realises that the vision next to the demon isn’t Astra. Constantine then sends the demon back to hell, but not before telling him to pass on the message that he’s coming for Astra and for Nergal (the demon who took her). After it’s all over, Liv asks Constantine if he’s ok. He angrily tells her to leave, and that his friend is waiting to drive her home.
As Ritchie and Liv are driving, Ritchie warns her to stay away from Constantine. It’s then that we’re given a full picture of what happened to Astra. When a demon tried to take her, Constantine summoned Nergal to send the lesser demon away. However, Nergal took both the demon and Astra, but not before tearing her apart in front of the group.
Ritchie and Liv are passing by Edgewood Avenue (the location that her blood pin pointed on the map earlier), where they find a several cop cars and ambulances. Liv asks Ritchie to stop the car, and as she reaches the scene we see the body of a dead boy and his mother screaming in agony.
Afterwards at a bar, Constantine is drowning his sorrows in alcohol and debating the most influential bands with the bar tender. Chas arrives and hands Constantine Jasper’ medallion, which Liv has decided to give back. He informs Constantine that she’s going to stay with a cousin in California, opting for a life far removed from the dark world of magic. Before leaving however, she’s used the medallion and her blood to pin point more locations of events to come — and by the looks of it, there’s trouble brewing everywhere. Chas tells Constantine that in order to give Astra’s death meaning, they need to help those who are soon to find themselves face-to-face with evil.
After Chas leaves, Manny appears once more having taking over the body of the bartender. Manny notes that Constantine scared Liv away intentionally, making Ritchie drive out of his way past Edgewood Avenue simply to show her the true horrors of his world. Constantine stands by his decision to give Liv a choice, but says that he will continue to work with the angels…but that they will owe him big time.
As Constantine is walking home through a dark alley, he pours some kind of liquid over his hands before being confronted by a group of armed men. He then scares them away by setting his hands alight using magic. Through voice-over, Constantine says that he walks alone, because who would be crazy enough to walk with him?
We then cut to a scene which may be the answer to that very question. A woman (presumably Angélica Celaya’s Zed Martin), is seen in the middle of a drawing frenzy surrounded by paintings of Constantine. It looks like Constantine’s path won’t be so lonely after all.
Episode two titled, ‘The Darkness Beneath’ airs October 31.