Constantine: Will You Go to Hell and Back for NBC's New Drama?

Constantine Series Premiere Recap NBC

Fighting the good fight takes a gnarly turn in the series premiere of Constantine, NBC’s new supernatural drama based on the DC Comic Hellblazer. After watching Friday night’s premiere, are you willing to stand with the title character against the forces of evil?

We want to hear your thoughts on the episode, but first, a brief recap:

We first meet John Constantine (Matt Ryan, The Tudors) as he’s willingly being prepped for electroshock therapy at a psychiatric treatment facility in England. “In my line of work, there are days you just need to forget,” he tells us via voiceover. “But some, you never will.”

During a therapy session, it becomes clear that John — a self-described “exorcist, demonologist and master of the dark arts” — witnessed a demon kill a 9-year-old girl named Astra and damn her soul to Hell; his emotional anguish over the event is what landed him in the facility three months prior. But he’s done with all of that now… or so he thinks.

When a seriously creepy cavalcade of cockroaches leads him to the hospital’s art room, he finds a possessed patient painting “LIV DIE” on the wall. He chants a little Latin, the windows break, the patient flies around the room, and then everything is back to normal. “A spirit took your body for a spin” while delivering a message for him, Constantine tells her.

Next thing we know, Constantine shows up in Atlanta to help a young woman named Liv (Lucy Griffiths, True Blood) shake off the demon that’s dogging her. When the ground beneath her opens up and nearly swallows her, Constantine warns, “If you don’t listen to me, you’ll be dead by morning.”Constantine Series Premiere Recap NBC

Around that same time, an angel named Manny (Harold Perrineau, Lost) appears and tells a ticked-off Constantine, “I was asked to watch over you.” Manny provides a key detail John left out of his earlier narrative: When the young girl’s soul was damned, Constantine’s was, too. And something big and evil is gunning for him.

After some scary shenanigans involving the possessed body of her now-dead neighbor, Liv is a bit more open to entertaining the impossible. John gives her an amulet that allows her to see trapped souls wandering the earth. “It appears you have your father’s gift,” he tells her… just before the car they’re in is hit by a truck (thanks, demon!) and John’s mate Chas (Charles Halford, True Detective) is gored to death with a live wire.

At her father’s house — which bears more than a passing resemblance to the archives on Sleepy Hollow — Constantine figures out exactly which big nasty wants Liv dead (his name is Furcifer) and Liv realizes that by using the amulet and a map, she can see where bad things are going to happen. (This will prove important later.)

John leans on another friend, Ritchie (Jeremy Davies, Lost), who was around for the Astra debacle and is similarly messed up about it, for help hacking into the city’s power grid. Chas shows up alive (?) — “He has survival skills,” John tells a gobsmacked Liv — and then she and Constantine go to the roof of a tall building to lure Lucifer into their trap.

While waiting for the beastie to show up, John confides in Liv that he’s a self-taught conjurer who started communing with the spirits in an attempt to reach his dead mother. But he hasn’t been able to find her, “Not yet.” (Side note: Ryan’s reading of those two words make for an unexpectedly moving moment.)

But enough with the heart-to-heart: There’s a demon to send on its way! Furcifer shows up and eventually takes on the guise of a busted-up John. Ritchie shuts down the city’s electrical system (thus weakening the power-hungry demon) and it looks like the vanquishing is a done deal… until Furcifer brings forth little Astra. “Release me, and her soul is free,” DemonConstantine bargains, and John’s seriously considering it when Liv clutches the pendant and realizes it’s a trick. So John works his mojo, and Furcifer is no more.

It seems like Liv will be a strong ally in Constantine’s battle… until she freaks out and leaves for California. (We later learn that John intentionally scared her off.) But she leaves her map of potential badness for John and Chas, and Manny also claims to be down for the fight, so there’s that. But what’s with the pullback shot of a young woman sketching John? Nod to the source material, or something more?

Now it’s your turn. Grade the premiere via the poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Tran says:

    I give Constantine an A. This should definitely give a big boost for a Grimm lead-in.

  2. Kait says:

    It was decent for a pilot, and I’m glad that the girl is gone she was mehhh so I hope her replacements are better even though I enjoyed where her storyline could have went. I haven’t had the chance to have conversations with people from the UK, so do they really say “love” and “mate” as much as he did in this episode?

    • Lysh says:

      I have always wondered this. Hook on OUAT says love and mate a lot, too.

    • Travis says:

      they really do say ‘mate’ a lot.

    • Kait says:

      I never paid attention enough to interviews and such to notice it, but the only show from there I ever watched was Skins and it didn’t seem like they said it as much. I’ve definitely heard it I just didn’t think it was THAT often. Maybe it’s an American writer writing for a guy from there thing overusing it a bit. Or person to person, like I catch myself saying dude a lot and I kinda hate it

    • Tony says:

      Depends on the location. Hailing from London, I use mate and luv on a daily basis, mate for men and luv for women. This is inverted for women saying it etc.

      Bollocks is a fun word. You should try it :D

    • Lee says:

      I chat on Facebook to British friends pretty often, and some of them do use mate and love a lot. I also lived in England for a few months. I was sometimes called “love” by strangers (taxi drivers, innkeepers, sales clerks). My male FB friends from England will call other men “mate” and use “love” for women. So in my experience, Constantine’s usage of these words is very plausible.

    • S. from A. says:

      I got called “honey” from random bus drivers. “love” and “mate” is pretty normal actually (=

    • Cate53 says:

      The ‘love’ and ‘mate’ usage is pretty accurate for the social status Constantine seems to have ie posh people tend not to use it as much! Very common here in the UK

  3. alistaircrane says:

    It was very “meh”.

  4. Lysh says:

    I watched the leaked pilot of this (I know, tsk, but it sort of felt intentional) and I thought it was weird that Liv just jumped on board. Her character didn’t feel strong enough. There was something missing. And now I think it’s weird that she just got freaked out and left, leaving them with a map. But pulling back on the lady with the drawings was a really great, mysterious ending (smart move), so I’ll definitely be tuning in next week.

    • James says:

      I saw some character potential for Liv but I have to agree that given the way she was written, I doubt she’ll be on board right away. Perhaps allow the character some time offscreen to harness her newfound abilities and possibly become an exorcist herself if there’s any intention of bringing her back in at some point.

      • Patrick says:

        It was a recast. The character is gone, with a chance to show up later. But, outside of a few, sporadic, appearances, she probably won’t be back.

    • James says:

      After reading the interviews with the EP, I realized it is for the best that they write Liv out right away. Having her around would probably take away much of the attention from the actual title character. But I do really hope she’ll be brought back in a future episode as it seems like the door is still open for Lucy Griffiths (Liv to return).

  5. Nick says:

    I loved it, I hope it is a huge hit and runs a long time. I think it is my new fav show of the seasion.

  6. Jenna says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed it! Matt Ryan was awesome.

  7. iMember says:

    Perfect match up with Grimm. Fridays nights are now double the fun.

  8. Andrew says:

    I was expecting….better. A better Constantine. A better plot. I don’t think Matt Ryan knows what he is doing. It was just …Blagh.
    All the demony shows the last 10 years have already done what this show is trying and done it much, much better.

    • mangolovenet says:

      I feel the same way. I wanted the show to approach “demonology” – is that a word? – in a more unique way. I also wanted to root for the title character more, but couldn’t care less whether he survived or not. I’m not really sure what the disconnect is. I do plan on giving it another chance, hoping that it’ll prove me wrong and add another side to demonology that I’ve never seen before.

      (If not, I always have Supernatural to fall back on.)

    • Jude says:

      Everything felt like it just floated on the surface somehow. The characters seemed so shallow….the plot so far, as well…. Just no depth to any of it. I can’t believe we have yet another non-US actor in yet another sci-fi leading role. If Ryan is attempting to replicate Reeves’ portrayal he missed his mark. I like Crowley (Mark Sheppard) in SUPERNATURAL as they have explained the current King of Hell’s Scottish lineage. I had a hard time getting past Constantine’s accent, however, and all the damned CGI (added not because it contributed that much much to the plot but just because the show apparently has a big budget!). The scene in the rain with Manny (a rather irritating personality there) added nothing except to show the imagination of the SFX guy. The 21 yr old in our house came into the room to see what all the noise was about….sat down to watch and after a few minutes… got up… shook his head… and left. That and all the screaming and shouting matches just did me in. Won’t even give this one a second try no matter how much they advertise the show……..

      I’ll stick to SUPERNATURAL and its complex characters that I actually care about and the Grimm people.

      • hugomarink says:

        The John Constantine character in the comics is British, so at least they got that right in this show (as opposed to the awful Keanu Reeves movie where they made him American). So I highly doubt Matt Ryan had any intention of replicating Reeves’ portrayal. The show is trying to do a portrayal closer to the source material and I think Ryan did a good job with that (although Constantine is a chain smoker in the comics and I think leaving that out is a detriment even though I know it’s not PC to have characters who smoke on TV these days). But I agree the show was flat. Everything just happened too quickly and, as noted by others, the characters had very little depth. I know they tried to give Constantine some depth with the whole Astra back story but, honestly, they kind of kept hitting us over the head with that. It’s like, we get it! Overall I think it was a somewhat promising debut for the show but we need to care more about Constantine, his sidekick Chas needs to be fleshed out and be more involved, and the whole thing needs to slow down a bit so things that happen have more meaning other than just loud demon fights that end predictably.

  9. Percysowner says:

    I like it more than Gotham, less than Flash for comic related shows released this year. As far as shows based on comics, that I watch or watched Flash=Arrow>AOS=Constantine>Gotham.

  10. Seems to follow the original story line, however with a twist. It will definitely create a variety Friday nights. Production and effects are great!

  11. James D says:

    I’ll give it a B+. the writing wasn’t that great, but I loved Matt Ryan great casting choice for constantine. It doesn’t seem right though without the chain smoking.

  12. Temperance says:

    The recut pilot was much kinder to Lucy Griffiths and Perneau, and made a much superior pilot. I’m much more excited about the show now.

    • Ray says:

      Good god. You mean whatever aired was an improvement upon the original version? I can’t even fathom the pilot being any worse than it was!!

      • Temperance says:

        Yes, the one we saw wasn’t good, but the original was *horrible*. They clearly had writing and direction issues with the first cut. The ‘leak’ got crucified, and the second cut was much better. (Yes, seriously.) I’d not judge the show on the pilot, but give it another go next week and decide.

  13. Tony says:

    The girl at the end seems to be Zed, the character they brought in to replace Liv.

    Compared to the leaked pilot, the exorcism at the end seemed rushed, though this is understandable given how late they left the reshoots. The nod to Constantine’s punk rock origins was a nice touch and the use of Chaz as Constantine’s conscience added a whole new outlook which should make Constantine a decent watch. Looking forward to next week

    Oh, and;

    Arrow>Flash>Constantine>AOS>Gotham…Would be interesting to see how that changes when the Netflix Marvel shows start airing

    • jag says:

      Netflix will rock this plus the agent carter, this constantine will be a constant-no-more. the girl writng and floating with insects crawling was the worst CGI (if that is right) ive seen this season. CW have shown the weakest CGI’s but improved with flash, but man NBC has topped it with this show and more. The movie sucks but it was rich, dark and luch. This one is a cool aid without bther cool. I would rather suffer Dracula. Rerun Hannibal instead.

  14. Yasmin says:

    First of all loved the ‘flap off line’ from john too maanv the angel. Enjoyed the episode although a lot was crammed into the pilot. And yes mate is used quite a lot in the UK and love is some parts of the UK too. From a UK resident.

  15. Shell says:

    Is no one going to mention the fact that Dr. Fate’s helmet made an apperance?!

  16. Pat says:

    I actually watched this instead of putting it on my DVR. I gave it a “B” because it does have potential to become awesome. I felt really sorry for Constantine after hearing a little of his backstory of how his mother died giving birth to him and then he had to grow up in a house where his father nicknamed him “Killer” and also abused him by punching him in the head everytime he accused him of killing his mother. Now, I would like to know what the heck is Chaz? Is he real or what? Seriously, the angel played by Harold, creeped me out anytime he surfaced. His eyes seemed to have a yellow tint to them. There is so many questions that need to be answered, so I hope they start to do this next week and yes I will watch it again.

  17. Sam says:

    Loved the pilot. But knowing that Lucy Griffith is out had me watch it with a pince of salt on the side because obviously the show takes a different direction from the pilot. The Pilot was all about buiding her up so it remains to be seen how episode 2 is like. I think a 2hr premiere would have been good.

    What we’ll see next week is more or less the ‘real pilot’ for the series.

  18. ? says:

    This was much, much better than the leaked pilot and I’m glad I watched it again.

  19. Joey Padron says:

    I like it, it was good. I’ll keep watching.

  20. AB says:

    Boring show. Same formula. Badass, wow, finish it easily. Then there is unexplained questions and some sort of continuous back story. Boring. It makes KR’s version look like an A grade version. Haha

  21. Amy H says:

    I liked it, but I’m feeling like we’re in overload on these types of shows. Seems like one catches on, and everyone rushes onboard to ride the wave. Interesting to see if this one takes.

    • Piers says:

      ITA. I’d like to see a good old fashioned mystery show that isn’t a police procedural. Something like The Snoop Sisters, or maybe a quest show like the Amazing Race, but scripted with actors. Something like the National Treasure films or a road rally or scavenger hunt with an ensemble cast.

      • klynn1075 says:

        @Plers then you may want to watch The Libriarians on TNT when it starts on December 7. It is about a group of librarians who set off on adventures in an effort to save mysterious, ancient artifacts. Christian Kane, John Larroquette and Rebecca Roman are in it along with Noah Wyle who starred in the made for TV movies of the same name. I’m looking forward to it.

  22. les says:

    I can see considerable thought went into to making this. ;/

  23. I think Constantine has a lot of potential. I hope they take the series and make it closer to the Hellblazer comics, there is a lot of good ideas there, I also hope they will make an effort to not create another “Supernatural”, Constantine is greater, more adult and I really want some depth in this series ;-)

  24. georgiamadman says:

    I’m about to give up on Grimm (sigh). so this will be a good replacement.

  25. Rick A. says:

    The story moved so fast leaving no room for any character development. Main lead actor is boarder line over acting and trying too much. Decent special effects. Will see how this plays out but first impression didn’t look good.

  26. paul d says:

    I loved the movie Constantine with Keanu Reeves. I watched Constantine the TV series with an open mind but found that it lacked something and I don’t know what that something was . It seemed the special effects were overdone and the ones that were there were like ho-hum. It seems with today’s technology etc they could have done a much better job seeing as the effects are a big part of the series. I do hope that The series finds its way because I feel it would be a great sci- fi / fantasy series that television desperately needs right now. Unfortunately like me, a lot of people are comparing it to the movie Constantine. And when you have a big screen film being remade into a weekly tv series people can b in for a letdown. As for me, I will watch either way and I hope it does wonderful.

  27. Ray says:

    Dracula was much better. NBC axed it for this dreck?!

    • Temperance says:

      No. They axed it because no one watched it. Constantine was a separate, unrelated issue.

      • Ray says:

        Actually Dracula’s premiere had over 1M more viewers than Constantine. It can be argued that Constantine was a direct replacement for Dracula since they are both supernatural genre shows airing in the Friday 10pm slot as a companion to Grimm.

  28. ScottJ says:

    Pretty good as pilots go, and it stuck quite faithfully to the source material. Problem it seems to have though is that far more people know the ridiculous movie than know the comic and have no idea that the character has been around since 1985. Constantine isn’t a copy of other genre show…it pre-dates all of them.

  29. Disneywhirled says:

    I actually really enjoyed it. I’m a fan of Constantine & Hellblazer. I thought the pilot was okay, but it lacked the character-driven appeal of Supernatural. There’s room for improvement there. I will watch again.

  30. The show is awesome… my only concern is that it’s on a friday night, and many shows die quickly inthis slot.

  31. Ken Mitchell says:

    Need to see couple more episodes before I judge. Seems like it can be a good show though.

  32. pam says:

    Its got a lot of potential. I will keep watching. Hopefully it will gel better.

  33. Josi says:

    Doesn’t come close to the movie Constantine with Keanu Reeves. Hey where’s the cigarettes? Major part of his character!

  34. Maryann says:

    It will be interesting to see where they go with the new sidekick. The two women have very different vibes, at least based on the little we have been given to go on. Liv feels almost like a Dr. Who companion, and I like that vibe. I was prepared to totally dislike her replacement, but the final scene introducing the new woman definitely has me intrigued. In fact, so far I like her better than Constantine himself. We will see where they do wit that.

  35. Maryann says:

    Using the clever format already introduced, with a slight addition:

    Arrow (A+) > AOS (A-) = Gotham (A-) > Flash (B+) > Constantine (B- / C+)

  36. Maryann says:

    Yes, I know that the Keanu Reeves version of Constantine has little to do with the comic. That, however, does not keep me from preferring the movie version. Not surprisingly, I might have read a comic based on the movie. The comic that inspired the movie, however, just didn’t grab me. The two are totally different. We will see where they go with the tv version. I just might like the new sidekick enough to stick around to see what they do with her character.

  37. I had watched the original pilot online a few months ago and then heard they were getting rid of the Liv character so I was interested in seeing how they would do that. I think they did a good job of reworking the ending to have Liv leave. Can’t wait to see next week’s episode

  38. Badpenny says:

    After watching the episode twice the feeling I get from it is that it tried to do too much in the first episode. They tried to introduce too much: asylum, angels, demons, damnation from dead innocents, magic, exorcism, undying friends, etc – and that is not including the easter eggs like Fate’s helm, etc. I would have much rather seen episode 1 being part one of a three-part storyline. Then it would have felt less rushed and crammed full of stuff.
    I will give it my standard 3 episode try, but it has not interested me enough to make me watch it over Blue Bloods. If it is not moved to a different night it will always be a DVR show for me.

  39. Exorcismo says:

    Bah. Constantine isn’t a master of dark arts. He doesn’t summon fire. What a ridiculous spin. He’s just a human who can see through illusions. This guy belongs on some modern revision of Baywatch. Way to mess up another cool comic TV people. Will not watch.

  40. Holly says:

    BAD MOVE NBC! I really liked Dracula. I didn’t even watch it until after the first season was over because I didnt know about it. Dracula was very intelligent and interesting compared to most of the teen based shows and ridiculous reality shows that consume the networks today. I hated it when I found out Dracula had been cancelled then became disgusted as I watched the pilot for Constantine. Terrible acting, cheesy, and a complete waste of my time that I will never get back. Thanks a lot NBC for the garbage you put on the air to replace Dracula.