May 29, 2018
Constantine RECAP: Minecraft (S1:E2)
We open in a mining town in Pennsylvania. If Appalachia worked for the Hunger Games, it’ll work for us too! A cranky coal miner comes home to his very plain housewife and talks shit about the men who work for him before telling her to hurry the fuck up with dinner. Hello, abusive relationship.
Drunk, scary husband whiskey shot count: 4.
He gets in the shower because dinner isn’t ready yet, goddammit, and a dark liquid replaces the water coming out of the showerhead. It catches fire, burning him alive, and that’s the end of cliché abusive Appalachian husband.
The opening sequence is pretty cool, I have to admit. It’s short, sweet, and scary, featuring souls burning in the depths of hell. I’m guessing we’re seeing anyone who’s ever trusted John.
Our first scene with John also features Chas! He gets more lines in this single scene than in the entirety of the pilot. Unfortunately, though, this is the last time we see him this episode. Sadface. Apparently he and John earn money by predicting some kind of gambling endeavor only somewhat successfully. But they have a cool house so it must work out okay as a source of income.
Before Liv left town for some other TV show because she was too scared to stay, she left John a handy guide to all the bad things that were going to happen in the entire country. It’s a map covered in dots of her blood. This incredibly precise method of finding people who need help is called “scrying.” John heads out for Pennsylvania.
The girl we saw drawing John in the last episode bumps into him on the street in this small Pennsylvania town and asks him why she’s been dreaming about him. She shows him a sketch she happens to be carrying. He accuses her of being some kind of con(wo)man and tells her to fuck off. I mean, his main source of income is already gambling, he doesn’t really need to be fooled out of any more cash. Considering she lifts his wallet as he leaves, he may have a point about her intent.
John unsurprisingly heads straight to the nearest pub and starts chatting up the locals. There’s been a pattern of mining accidents in the last year, ten men in all. Apparently they’re convinced that Hell is upset they dug down too close to its front door and know it’s literally knocking back on theirs. Is this the Mines of Moria we’re working in? I mean come on.
John decides he has to go hear this mystery knocking noise for himself, so he very unstealthily sneaks past the one security guard and goes into the mine alone. OH SHIT THEY WERE RIGHT I KNOCKED AND IT KNOCKED BACK. He escapes the mine just in time to not be crushed by ten tons of rock falling from the ceiling. This is the first time we’ve seen John genuinely scared, and it’s actually kind of neat.
After being nearly crushed, John decides to visit the roasted miner’s home during a funeral visitation. He brings a frozen chicken dinner to the potluck, which I can personally relate to because adulting is hard. He then sneaks into the bathroom and collects from the shower head a sample of the black liquid that killed the miner who lived there. Haven’t the police been here and collected all that evidence already?
The dead miner’s wife finds him there, and John asks her about what she thinks happened to her husband. Instead she tells him a boringly pointless story about a Romany girl who married a miner. She then decides this would be a great time to proposition the weird man she found lurking in her bathroom. John gets super awkward and turns her down. I think it’s pretty hilarious, but she obviously doesn’t. She tells him to get out, which he begins to do, but the scene draws the attention of several of the other guests. John throws a few punches to try and get away, but he’s clear no match for people who have spent their entire lives moving rocks, including the president of the mining company. I feel like that should have been obvious to him and maybe a bit of magic would have done the trick. You don’t see a mage or a priest trying to do melee DPS, now do you?
John gets back to his hotel and there she is! The girl who took his wallet. Oh, also John hasn’t even noticed it was gone. (How did he pay for that frozen chicken dinner?) She knows his name because she went through his wallet and garbage, and he knows her name is Zed because he also went through her garbage. There’s a bit of commiserating about how they are both into garbage, presumably because they’re both fucked-up people who don’t really have anything to live for, blah blah. She tries to convince him that they have some kind of destiny, and while they argue John takes off his shirt…for some reason. She touches his arm, and they kinda almost make out a little as Zed tells him about the visions she has about him.
Because they don’t need to get to know each other any better before they trust each other fully with visions and hypnosis, John gets her to have a vision of a man burning to death. And a wooden cross, so obviously there’s only one of those in town. John makes a show of trusting her and promptly sneaks out the window. She’s…mad. That’s really all there is to say about her emotions. Mad. Sad. I’m not really sure happy’s in her repertoire.
John magically finds the church from Zed’s vision, and it’s trashed inside. Of course there’s also teenagers having sex. John gives them a hard time in a very old man “I was canoodling before you were born” kind of way, and asks them about the drawing of a black demon on the wall near the door. The boy says it’s a story and then describes Slenderman. Yes, Slenderman. To John Constantine, Master of the Dark Arts. WTF.
John then pours some holy water over his head and sees a vision of a demon. It’s definitely the coolest thing that’s happened so far.
Zed is in town looking for John and has a super boring talk with one of the town residents that John spoke to earlier. His son died in the mine, and he was so devastated he quit his job as a minister. She gets home, and it’s John’s turn to be waiting in her apartment. He accuses her of having secrets and believes she’s probably running from something. They have another chat with their faces really close together, and the mine alarm starts going off. Saved by the bell!
They rush to the mine and discover the knocking happened again just before the collapse. OBLIGATORY RUNNING SHOT OF ZED’S BOOBS BOUNCING EVERYWHERE. John confronts the mine president’s son and immediately starts talking some Balrog shit, and the guy doesn’t even look confused. He’s like “yeah…we’re delving too greedily and too deep.”
John channels Gandalf while scolding him, and the car starts filling up with muddy water! The doors are locked and the windows are broken and it’s all so surprising! Then creepy black hands come up from the water and drag them under the liquid. It’s okay though, Zed-with-a-crowbar to the rescue.
John survives, but the man who was possibly his only ally among the miners is already dead. The show actually takes an interesting turn at this point, and John’s new suspicions are not at all what I expected. He tells Zed about coblynau, or the spirits of dead miners which inhabit mines and warn living miners of cave-ins by knocking. John believes that a human is conjuring them to do evil rather than good. Perhaps it’s not the Balrog after all!
Now the hunt is on for someone seeking revenge and using demons to get it. The first suspect is the gentleman Zed spoke to yesterday, whose son died in the mines. He also used to preach at the abandoned church we saw earlier. It’s all coming full circle! Attempting to locate him, Zed sits in the man’s chair at the pub and has a vision of a campground by a waterfall. A quick chat with the bartender gives them a location, and they find the minister there easily.
John starts chanting an incantation and the minister disconcertingly joins in. Yeah, he knows all the Latin, it’s on St. Patrick’s breastplate, duh. Our minister very placidly suggests that one have must have faith to raise evil, so he’s not our guy. Apparently the men who died above are actually the men in charge of the mine, not the peon miners, and the only one left is the president of the mining association. It sucks we may have to save the guy who’s been the second biggest douche of the episode.
Simultaneously the company president and his son are being attacked by a super awesome-looking demon guy in the mine. John and Zed show up hella quickly. John gently reminds the spirit that his mission is protection, not murder, and the creature goes back to the fiery chasm from whence it came.
The company president is dead, but his son seems to be okay. I thought this show was tragic and karma wasn’t a factor? Oh, well. There’s only one thing John can think of to keep anyone from ever coming back into this mine—oh look, dynamite!
Zed brings the priest to watch the explosion because everyone needs closure, and then there’s more close talking about John and Zed’s plans after the adventure is over. The mine explodes, and they never have to tell anyone why they’re destroying this company’s property. I guess everyone is just okay with this mine closing and the entire town being out of work with no explanation at all.
Apparently this episode isn’t over though, because we still haven’t caught the person behind all the conjuring of spirits. Who else do we know who has experienced awful abuse at the hands of a miner and knows about magic? Duh! The Romany widow from the beginning of the episode!
John confronts her at her home, and she’s ready with more coblynau. It’s pretty clear she’s been the victim of a lifetime of domestic abuse and eventually decided to strike back. Because of the mystery event Manny has been warning us of, she was able to use her family’s magic to summon the coblynau to do her bidding.
She orders them to kill John. As the coblynau begin to rip him apart, he reminds her that the coblynau are the spirits of dead miners, and her husband was a miner. John calls up the spirit of her dead husband who drags her down to hell. The coblynau disappear and are finally at rest.
Back at the hotel, John and Zed discuss their possible partnership and SO MUCH CLOSE TALKING SERIOUSLY WHAT THE FUCK. I honestly don’t know if this is supposed to be interpreted as sexual tension or what, but it’s really just fucking strange. This time, I’m convinced that getting rid of the demons was actually really draining. John promptly falls asleep on the bed, and Zed creepily watches him. There’s a weird voiceover about trust, betrayal, and manpain, and with that, we cut to credits. Honestly, I kind of miss Liv.