Constantine Season 1 Episode 6 Review – ‘Rage of Caliban’

Martin Carr reviews the sixth episode of Constantine…

Let me start by being contentious. I have read other opinions on this episode. They may or may not influence me, but since I believe most have missed the point it remains unlikely. Forums and websites who afford the expert and ignoramus equal opportunity to air their views are numerous in number. Whether these should be published to begin with remains academic, as our beloved internet harbours thieves and usurpers intent on spreading rumour and undermining originality. My only hope on this occasion is that people read rather than react. There will be no intellectual backlash or Dickensian plots concocted by cyber scribes with an axe to grind. This statement like so many others will never be acknowledged. Disappearing because it lacks the traction and wide spread support of popular opinion. That these words appear contentious makes them no less true. If a review is supposed to promote debate and open the eyes of audience and programme maker alike, then those reviewing Constantine on this occasion have not fulfilled their pledge. Let me take a moment to explain why.

 

Networks have never handing out medals for cultural contribution. Nor are they known for praising those who attempt to use this medium as a platform to broaden cultural horizons. If that were the case then our viewing tastes would be more radical, ceremonies less glamorous and the academically inclined plastered across tabloids worldwide. However that is a theory for another day whereas and my point is simply this; Constantine revealed something new and exciting this week.

By taking on the writing duties for ‘Rage of Caliban’ Daniel Cerone has exposed a classical education, which not only broadens the canvas but adds a further dimension. James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and William Shakespeare are all referenced with varying degrees of subtlety, as well as nods to character beats from the source material. Cerone incorporates film homages from Poltergeist and The Babadook, whilst managing to create something familiar yet compelling. For those who wish to dig deeper I will not spoil your fun but merely name check Caliban as a good starting point. What Cerone has done is apply his intellect to a mainstream framework, displaying a level of bravery rarely associated with programmes of this nature. In terms of skill it is impossible to give examples without ruining the episode, but the fact that Cerone has been overt in referencing Shakespeare and Wilde on screen is to be applauded.

 

Others may conclude that Constantine is losing its edge but this reviewer would argue in open court to the contrary. That this show has been cut to thirteen episodes not ten as mentioned last week, is one of the more appalling televisual crimes committed by networks who remain slaves to a ratings system. I know of few programmes paying homage to classical works within their subtext and less still who do it successfully. That Cerone has truly taken the reins here and continues to push these pitch black plot lines whilst his hero veers between ingratiating and morally bankrupt is a beauty to behold. Will someone please extend the season and give these characters what they deserve without considering a balance sheet.