Casting Out Demons With Constantine: The Rage Of Caliban [Spoilers!]

Before I get into this week’s episode, I felt it necessary to preface this by explaining that I do love Constantine. Matt Ryan’s casting is perfect, the cast is great, the show is great, everything is awesome. But every show get’s a freebie. A rough spot. A bump in the road. Especially in the first season. So before you read the review, just remember how awesome this show is.

This totally happened. Don’t forget.

With that, I had a lot of questions going into the sixth episode of Constantine. Where’s Zed? Art class? What a weak excuse. The show was definitely a low point of the season, which isn’t helping the show out, with the possibility of cancellation on the horizon. To add insult to injury, the writing seems to be moving backwards. With the rising darkness looming in the horizon, and the prior episode’s team-up aspect showing the urgency in which John and crew need to deal with the impending darkness, it seemed a little lackluster for John and Chas to go solo on this one, without the help of Papa Midnite or Zed. Sure, Papa Midnite isn’t one of the main cast members, but losing Zed and now losing him, the show seems to be moving backwards. Zed’s absence, and the weakness can be explained, however.

John, starring in a production of “The Tempest.”

This isn’t the sixth episode of Constantine. It’s actually the second. Originally, Liv Aberdine was to be introduced, and her story was to carry into the first half of the season, with Zed being introduced around the time Liv’s story wrapped up. But losing Lucy Griffiths left a dilemma: They needed a female lead. I personally think that this episode would’ve carried itself fine for a second episode (also explaining the Halloween plot points, it would’ve aired a week after Halloween), and introducing Zed in the third episode would have made sense. With John seeking help from a paralegal (Amy Parrish), who John once helped with the vanquishing of her late husband’s spirit, and the possessed boy’s own mother, Claire (Laura Regan), the episode didn’t need Zed, and would’ve fit well at the beginning of the season. The network chose to switch things around, and introduce Zed earlier.

That aside, the episode itself wasn’t bad. With Manny showing up, and Chas on deck, the episode wasn’t lacking characters, it just lacked continuity. At least the story held up in the Constantine tradition, and John did his thing. It wasn’t completely out of left field. Here’s hoping next week will see the show go back to normal, and let the story pick up. We got to see John as his typical womanizing self, in the shows opening, sneaking out before being caught by his one night stand’s boyfriend. He also was back behind bars (again), so things are looking typical Constantine.

But what of the episode’s name? “The Rage of Caliban?” For those with no Shakespearean experience, Caliban was the son of the witch Sycorax and the devil. With this episode’s villainous soul coming from the son of abusive parents, the Rage/Soul was born of true evil. The child’s parents punished him by chopping off his fingers with an ax, so the boy retaliated by murdering his parents, and the evil of his crime drove his soul from his body. I can kind of see the connection to Caliban, the son of the devil and a witch (kinda like Hellboy!).
To take that a step further, Caliban was described as being immoral and base in his actions, yet for that, he is at least partly a sympathetic character, at the mercy of his nature—we fear him in his rage and his plotting to overthrow the hero, yet also we pity him in his deformity and his impotence (there are similarities there, if you look for them). A more contemporary usage of the term “Rage of Caliban” is from Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture Of Dorian Gray.” I won’t go into that, reference, however, I feel it bears no relevance, although I do feel like that’s where the phrase “Rage of Caliban” comes from. I think they lifted the line from the book, when in actuality they were referencing Shakespeare. I don’t know. I could be wrong.

Caliban, in Shakespeare’s ”The Tempest”

One thing that fell flat: John was hesitant, for most of the episode, in casting the spirit out of Henry, although once he actually did it, it went smoothly, and quickly. Like it was a simple feat, and not something that John had trouble with in the past (i.e. Astra). It seemed like the writers were trying to drag this story out by avoiding an exorcism, when it was simply “just a matter of casting out the spirit.” Now, I’m sure it’s a whole different story casting out demons and casting out the soul of a tormented living man, but it did seem a little weak.

To put it plainly, this episode was weak, but Constantine still remains one of my favorite shows on television, and I truly hope it continues after season one. Give Constantine another chance! Season two could do so much. I want to see Zatanna, Swamp Thing, and of course, The Spectre. Here’s hoping we get more.