So…. did you anticipate that tonight’s episode title, Feast of Friends, was to be taken literally? Maybe you did, if you have read the Hellblazer comics. I haven’t, so I didn’t – and it was. Bugs, people-eating demons, bugs, oh! and John Constantine sacrificing his friends. And a note – if you’re not following the live tweets during the episodes, you’re missing a lot. This episode is based on the very first Hellblazer story, and the producers say it “sets the tone” for all the rest. Today’s question – where is Chas? He’s certainly been missing a lot (but executive producers Daniel Cerone and David Goyer say we’ll learn more about Chas’s backstory in upcoming episodes).
When Gary Lester, one of John’s mates from the Newcastle incident (where Astra ended up being dragged to hell) goes on a bender and comes across a demon inhabiting a young man in Sudan, he figures that he can redeem his worthless life by capturing and containing the demon – but he makes a mistake by trying to bring it to John. A suspicious customs agent touches the jar containing the demon, large bugs fly out of the broken jar and into the agent, and he becomes its next victim.
Gary, a heroin addict, then makes his way to John’s hideout and begs John’s help. You just know things won’t end up working out well for Gary (great guest appearance by Jonjo O’Neill, one of Matt Ryan’s closest friends). John doesn’t have a very high opinion of Gary, telling Zed that “Gary’s had more opportunities than I’ve had hot dinners. Gary’s life is a wasted life.” Gary tells Zed more about what happened with Astra – and his role, or non-role, in the event (Cerone and Goyer say that we’ll eventually meet the entire Newcastle gang). “Some of the crew were interested in the occult, but most of us just wanted to be with John,” he says. John had been the group’s idol, cocky and talented, but that combination ultimately brought about disaster.
As the demon goes from host to host, consuming them from the inside and then eating everything else it can find, John has to find out which demon this is and how to contain it. He pursues the demon – from the airport to a grocery store, to a meatpacking plant, where John tries and fails to contain it.
Realizing he needs to know more about it before he can be successful, he approaches Nommo, a shaman, who naturally runs a cafe in Atlanta (you know, this episode has done little to make me interested in a dining tour of that city), and together, they take a psychedelic drug whose effects last “forever,” unless the antidote is taken. This will let Nommo guide John’s visions, so they can discover where the demon came from and what it wants. John’s no stranger to psychedelic drugs, but most just “make me puke these days.” (The scene where Nommo takes out John’s eye, set designer Dave Blass said on Twitter, was filmed using a man with a prosthetic eye; they had him remove his glass eye and then comped it on to John.)
They learn that the hunger demon Mnemoth was attacking a village in Sudan until it was trapped and contained in the boy selected as a sacrifice; he escaped and was – unfortunately – found by Gary.
Zed’s visions are growing – this episode was very interesting in that aspect. It seems that Zed is more sensitive to some people – and Gary is one of them. As we learn more about Zed, I hope we’ll understand her better – she’s a contradiction. Trusting, basically optimistic, compassionate, yet deeply hurt, somewhere in her past. She tries to convince John that Gary only wants to please him, and that people can change. But John’s having none of it. “I see the truth. Gary’s hopelessly addicted to heroin. And let me tell you a little tip about addicts – between thought and action is temptation. Always.” John finds Gary, who has escaped after deliberately overloading Zed’s senses when he grabs her arms, being beaten up by drug dealers, and takes him, unknowingly, to do what he set out to do – trap and contain the demon. Gary confesses to John that he was high during the event with Astra; John already knew, and has apparently never forgiven him for it. He and Gary break into a museum to get a ritual knife needed to make the containment markings, and follow the demon to a local theater (showing a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, says set designer Dave Blass).
People die around John. He doesn’t try to convince anyone otherwise; he’s tried to warn Zed away more than once. And Gary ends up understanding and embracing his final role – “my chance to finally make my life mean something. No better way to go out – a mage, like John Constantine.”
But while John accepts that he brings ruin, he also believes that what he does is ultimately for the greater good, and stands with Gary through his sacrifice. As Gary is consumed by the demon, John sits with him the entire time, holding his hand, giving him the only comfort he can. And is it a good sign for John’s soul that Manny the angel comes to join them as Gary dies?
I may not have a grounding in the years and years of Constantine history, but I’m enjoying this show for itself, even without the background. Matt Ryan’s got the tortured, sarcastic tone down just right. I’m waiting for “the rising darkness” to truly figure into the extended plot, but the conversation with Cerone and Goyer has convinced me that it will happen, and we’ll be rewarded for our patience.
From tonight’s live tweeting – check out the VFX from tonight’s episode
Add to your Constantine Twitter follow list: Set Design: Dave Blass, @Blackhawk Design; Showrunner Daniel Cerone, @Constantine_NBC
David S. Goyer and Daniel Cerone talk about Constantine: Part 1 (Parts 2 and 3 to come)
Follow me on Twitter: @ErinConrad2 and @threeifbyspace