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A binge guide for John Constantine

Contributed by
Oct 16, 2018

John Constantine will be joining the Legends of Tomorrow team in Season 4—and he’ll be playing a major role, if the promotional posters are any indication.

Best known for being a cocky, yet powerful, exorcist, warlock, and general hottie, Constantine has been a mainstay of the occult side of DC’s comic book universe for decades. When the character was adapted for the screen, it was not an instant success, in part because the show couldn’t quite seem to figure out what it was doing.

The original portrayal was highly sanitized. As Constantine moved from his own show, however, to the world of the Arrowverse, the character sloughed off the extraneous storylines and sidekicks that were weighing him down and became the more recognizable hard-smoking, super-flirtatious, intoxicant-loving, sarcastic bisexual master of the dark arts we know and love from the comic books.

We here at FANGRRLS wanted to provide you with a binge guide to help you get pumped for the new season, but first, there’s some context you might want to understand. Unlike most of our binge guides, which cover particular episodes of the same show, this one has a bit of a crooked journey.

In 2014-15, Constantine, played by Matt Ryan, got his own eponymous show for one bumpy season that had some serious highlights, but very little consistent live viewership. When the NBC show was canceled, Arrow lead Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen) and showrunner Marc Guggenheim fought to integrate Constantine into the Arrowverse. Shortly thereafter, Constantine joined the world of vigilantes, metahumans, and time-traveling superheroes, at first helping Oliver and company deal with an occult hot tub and resurrected family members. This guide will take you through the entire journey, particularly focusing on the Newcastle backstory, which threads through all the episodes and provides an interesting insight into our seemingly untouchable antihero.

So grab a gin and tonic or a beer, and a smoke if that’s your kind of thing, and let’s binge Constantine’s journey through four TV shows: Constantine, Constantine: City of Demons, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow.

 

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“Non Est Asylum” (Constantine Season 1, Episode 1)

We find Constantine in a mental institution, where he is recovering from a failed exorcism. A supernatural warning tells him to assist a young woman whose father Constantine once knew. We also meet one of Constantine’s friends from the failed exorcism, Ritchie, and a mysterious woman elsewhere who keeps drawing Constantine’s face. This episode introduces us to the Monster of the Week format and Constantine’s haunted past.

The original pilot was retooled slightly, and the original female lead was replaced through some re-shooting, so it’s a bit of a bumpy beginning to the show.

“Feast of Friends” (Constantine Season 1, Episode 4)

In this episode, we get to meet another old friend of Constantine’s who tells Zed, the aforementioned artist, (and the viewer) all about what happened at the failed exorcism in Newcastle. This episode is fantastic as it takes us deeper into the darkness with Constantine and also shows us just how far he will go, and who he will sacrifice, to defeat the dark forces in play.

“The Rage of Caliban” (Constantine Season 1, Episode 6)

Constantine heads to Alabama when a series of murders has an eerie pattern: Both parents are killed, but the child is unharmed. He ascertains that the serial killer is actually the malevolent spirit of an abused child, and the viewer gets to learn about Constantine’s own abusive childhood, which was a huge part of the comic book character’s backstory.

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“The Saint of Last Resorts” Parts One and Two (Constantine Season 1, Episodes 8 and 9)

We meet another former friend from the Newcastle incident. She just happens to be a former lover of Constantine’s, but there’s no chance they’ll be rekindling their flame, because she has taken the cloth. Constantine and his ex-girlfriend-turned-nun seek a demon who is stealing babies. It’s a delightfully creepy two-part episode that brings out some of the darker themes of Constantine’s world. Once again, we see what Constantine is capable of when his back is, literally and figuratively, against the wall.

“A Whole World Out There” (Constantine Season 1, Episode 11)

Ritchie, who we met in the pilot, has traded the world of magic for the lecture hall. When four of his students enter a dimension created by a serial killer, their souls start to get trapped, and in our dimension the bodies start to pile up. As they figure out how to stop the serial killer and destroy the dimension, Constantine and Ritchie get philosophical and reflect on the rising darkness around them. This is a very trippy episode that reflects some of the psychedelic themes from the comic books.

“Final Girl” (Constantine Season 1, UNAIRED Episode 14)

If you feel like doing something extra nerdy, Constantine showrunner Daniel Cerone released a script for an unaired Episode 14, where we meet another of Constantine’s former bandmates and learn more about how the events of Newcastle haunt them all. Oh, and the two get real freaky.

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“City of Demons” (Constantine: City of Demons Season 1, Episode 1)

Chronologically, the events of the animated episode “City of Demons” take place before Constantine Season 1, but it takes some of the oomph out of the narrative if you see it first. Constantine helps a friend with his daughter, who has fallen into a magic-induced coma. Their search for a cure takes Constantine to the mansion of a demon who wants his services. We also finally get to see the Newcastle backstory in full. The episode is available to stream on CW Seed.

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“Haunted” (Arrow Season 4, Episode 5)

In case you don’t watch Arrow, it is important to note that the narrative unfolds both in the present and through flashbacks—together the two tell the story of the rise (and fall and rise and fall) of the hero Green Arrow. The majority of the backstory takes place on the island of Lian Yu, where Oliver Queen was shipwrecked (and then some).

Oliver and Constantine meet on Lian Yu, in the past. Constantine takes Oliver hostage, shows him a hidden spell book, and then gives Oliver a magical tattoo because duh, why not? In the present, Sara Lance was dead, but then her sister resurrected her. The only issue is that when she came back, her soul didn’t tag along. If only Oliver and his friends knew someone who understood something about the occult.

“Beebo the God of War” (Legends of Tomorrow Season 3, Episode 9)

If you don’t watch Legends of Tomorrow, first off, what are you doing? This show is delightful and hilarious. Second, you should know it's a show about a team of villains, heroes, and neither who are all, essentially, rejects—the majority are characters who have previously appeared on Arrow or The Flash but have been written out.

When we catch up with them, the Legends are at an all-time low. Martin Stein has died, Jefferson “Jax” Jackson has left the team, and our heroes are no closer to stopping the megalomaniac triad of Damien Darhk, Malcolm Merlyn, and Eobard Thawne.

Enter Constantine. He approaches Sara in the cargo bay of her timeship to get her help fighting a demon who is possessing a little girl. Why has he come to her? It turns out the demon knows Sara’s name.

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“Daddy Darhkest” (Legends of Tomorrow Season 3, Episode 10)

Shortly after he flirts with just about everyone on this ship, Constantine learns the name of the demon who is possessing the girl. Names, of course, are a critical aspect of magic. Sara joins Constantine for an exorcism of the young girl, who turns out to Damien Darhk’s daughter, Nora. What starts as a simple exorcism turns into a time-traveling, demon-fighting, Nurse-Ratched-fleeing adventure. Let’s just say things get steamy between two of my favorite blond bisexuals.

In a nice callback, Mallus, a time demon, taunts Constantine by telling him that just as he failed Astra, so will he fail this child. Constantine shares his struggle with Sara, another flawed, lost soul.

“Necromancing the Stone” (Legends of Tomorrow Season 3, Episode 15)

Mallus has a hold on Sara, and she is not acting like herself, to put it mildly. The Legends and Sara’s new girlfriend, Ava, have no choice but to turn to someone experienced in exorcising demons. There are some very cute interactions between Ava and Constantine as they fight to save Sara. The bisexual goodness just keeps on giving.

The Newcastle through line continues when Mallus promises Constantine he will free Astra in exchange for Sara, but Constantine isn’t new here and doesn’t fall for it.

“The Good, The Bad, and The Cuddly” (Legends of Tomorrow Season 3, Episode 18)

The Legends fight Mallus and figure out a way to stop him, but in the process seem to have released all manner of nasties. Only one handsome British rogue can help them with their new problem: demons and hell beasts.

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Bonus Viewing: “Trash” (John Con Noir Season 1, Episode 1)

John Con Noir is a cute, short claymation webisode. Our hero searches for showrunners Goyer and Cerone, who have gone missing. If he can’t find them, then NBC will be forced to cancel the program. It premiered in January 2015 when the show’s supporters were advocating for a second season.

Matt Ryan reprises the role of Constantine through voiceover for this silly, meta gag.

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