What a waste.
Waiting for the Man is based around the Constantine comic storyline of the same name. Minor changes here and there don’t really matter, as the basic, and I mean ABSOLUTELY BASIC, sense of the story carries over to the screen. Jim Corrigan’s inclusion doesn’t’ affect anything negatively, and neither does the change of setting to the Louisiana countryside. In fact, it’s pretty faithful. That’s basically how it goes. What’s missing is pretty much everything that made the story itself any good in the first place. This is the season (and possibly series) finale? This is the payoff?
Waiting for the Man had me wanting to run away and hide every time someone was on screen. Not because it was scary, mind you, but because watching the cast’s performances get humiliated by the terrible direction of even the most basic scenes was too much to bear. Characters stand too close together (even for TV!), the dialogue is abysmal, and NO ONE acts natural. Constantine’s smoking is a distraction, Zed doesn’t seem to understand the concepts of too much or too little eye contact, and none of the children feel real or modern. The mystery is solved in the first 8 minutes, and the rest of the time is spent on a Bounty Hunter subplot that does nothing for the story and just over complicates the main conflict and a race against time that . There are a great deal of interesting character epiphanies that occur throughout the course of the episode that would be really something, but are unfortunately surrounded by unnatural progression making them feel hollow.
The villain ended up being the absolute epicenter of this trainwreck though. I…I just don’t even know who thought this was a good idea…
How did this get approved?
A sleeveless redneck with the worst Cajun accent I have literally ever heard in my life with no mystery or terror behind him and by far the dumbest Satanist to ever live. He makes no sense as a character, he seems to have virtually no motivation, or agenda. He isn’t scary, or creepy, or even gross; he’s just incredibly stupid, and has no driving force leading him to be heinous. We’re only left to assume that he is based on the context clues. This guy isn’t evil by numbers, he’s my first little serial killer and he seems to follow every trope in the book TO THE LETTER! There’s no imagination, intrigue, or personality. He’s not even fun to make fun of. His voice sounds liked teeth scraping against glass, and his dialect to so incredibly fabricated that you can anticipate the words he’ll mispronounce and how he’ll mispronounce them before he even opens his mouth. So he’s not big, he’s not smart, and he’s not motivated. YOU NEED AT LEAST ONE OF THOSE THINGS TO BE A PERSON, LET ALONE EVIL! And if you thought the Gargamel version of Ted Bundy was the evolutionary anomaly that got away, you’re sure to swoon for Vesta, our victim to be, who could only be easier to kidnap if she carried rope around with her. She seems to have been synthesized in a lab somewhere, and created to be the most easily manipulated victim all the while making consistently horrible choices that don’t match those of a modern teenager of her age. Not to mention the three “wives” of The Man who are so incredibly creepy and unearthly that it only succeeds at dehumanizing them ensuring that any shock felt from the prospect of children being used in such a terrible way is crushed in to submission by an inability to empathize with their Village of the Damned/Brides of Dracula schtick.
Don’t even get me started on that “reveal”, what a joke.
Final Word: Bad. BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD. In fact, so consistently bad that it feels like a tasteless gag. The episode seems to start in the middle of the plot, which guarantees that you will be immediately lost and disconnected. Then they introduce a potentially interesting side plot that is sufficiently slaughtered and gutted by a mediocre main conflict with no sense of investigation or adventure. Then the atmosphere is constantly being interrupted by yet another totally out of touch interpretation of the south, and as a not necessarily proud but still totally aware southerner, being bombarded by the horrifyingly bad southern accents were cringe-inducing at their best and offensive at their worst (I know exactly zero people who say “knowed”, it’s just a thing that people who have never been the south write to describe dimwits). Then there are scenes that should be considered defining for both Zed and Jim; but both of them fall flat, land on their faces, bleed out, shrivel, and die due to a lack of steady progression. The Man is a joke of a villain that doesn’t even come close to matching the incredibly threatening presence of his comic counterpart. Vesta either wants to die, loves getting strangled, or has a thing for trucker hats. Either way, she’s a ridiculously standard victim, with terrible decision making skills, and a possible allergy to survival. It devastates its fantastic comic book origins, and attempts to make use of the more mundane side of evil to tell an everyman demon story; but (and this is the important part) it doesn’t. It fails on every front and consistently disappoints, which makes the plot bombs that drop fall with thuds rather than a bangs (Yes…that’s the true face of evil. After trying that hard to separate from what the movie did…they end up copying its story…).
David Goyer and Daniel Cerone don’t have the right voice to bring Constantine to the screen. Hellblazer is a comic of intelligence, subtly, and mystery. This show has been filled to the brim with deus ex machina, sensationalism, and over explanation. There’s no mystery because the rules aren’t consistent from episode to episode, and there’s no reward for solving the puzzle of each episode because there’s no way to know the solution as some character is waiting in the wings to reveal everything all at once some to speed things up. Ryan, Caleya, and Halford proved time and again they had the chops to convey the source material; but that wasn’t enough to save the misinterpretation of what makes Constantine…well Constantine. This is the not the character study of a fascinating character it promised to be. It’s a mediocre rip off of the worst episodes of Supernatural; my only question is, why did they have to destroy Constantine in the process? They could have done that with anything, and yet they chose to butcher one of the most iconic fictional detectives in modern literature,while also ensuring that the phrase “Constantine TV series” will be considered as radioactive as plutonium.