The Rising Darkness finally, well, rises, as John heads to a Mexican convent to help an old friend.

By Jonathon Dornbush
April 24, 2015 at 05:24 PM EDT
Daniel McFadden/NBC
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Constantine has been dipping its toe into mythology-driven, serialized waters for a while now. There’s been the occasional Newcastle hint here, another mention of The Rising Darkness there—but it’s largely been ancillary to the cases of the week. With “The Saints of Last Resorts, Pt. 1,” though, the show is finally diving into its comic book roots. The Rising Darkness now has a face–it may not have any eyes, sure, but we finally see some of the ancient, biblical evil that’s been trying to creep its way onto Earth since the season began.

Unfortunately, “The Saint of Last Resorts, Pt. 1” really only picks up speed around the halfway point, with a few early scenes that could have been condensed to get to the intriguing material toward the end more quickly.

What the story definitely gets right is the setting–a convent in Mexico. After last week’s angel-heavy plot, the continued religious iconography is a welcome addition to the show. It appears some hooded, clawed figure is stealing babies there, and killing anyone who gets in the way–including the baby’s mother. A nun at the convent, Sister Ann Marie, suspects a supernatural culprit, and contacts John via some strange astral projection spell while he and Zed are discussing her latest drawing/sign of imminent doom.

Ann Marie and John share a past–both a romantic and occult one, as she was the person who introduced him to the world of magic and also happened to be at the oft-mentioned Newcastle. So John decides to help her out of what I assume is a mixture of guilt, lust, and curiosity.

He and Chas head down south, leaving Zed to hold down the fort while she continues to draw pictures of an Invunche. Even if you attended Bible camp or Sunday school, that name will still probably be unfamiliar. Invunche are ancient monsters from Chilean folklore. They don’t look pretty, but John says they haven’t been around since “the last flood”–Noah likely did not include two Invunche on his ark.

And at when John arrives, he and Ann Marie immediately hash out their past. She’s furious that what happened to Astra at Newcastle hasn’t affected him–he’s still the sarcastic prick she remembers–and John promises he isn’t ignoring his debts. He just didn’t think he needs to don a habit to fulfill them.

But the two will have to settle their disagreements later, as John tries to suss out just what kind of boogeyman kidnapped the baby. After a brief interruption from Sister Louisa (“You can’t even turn it off around a woman married to God,” Ann Marie tells John), John determines whatever stole the baby is old, powerful, and knows how to cover its tracks. Might that Invunche be into baby collecting?

John, Ann Marie, and Chas follow their only real lead–Hugo, the father of the kidnapped baby. Through a little spellwork involving a bleeding tree, which is nowhere near as inviting as The Giving Tree, John determines that the child is still alive and what took it. Or rather, who. The monster is a sister of Eve—of Adam and Eve, that is. She and her other sisters who didn’t shack up with Adam took up residence as eternal goddesses of Hell. And this one is on the hunt for babies. She’s actually taken another–Hugo’s grandson.

With two babies from one family kidnapped, John starts to determine which sister it is—until Sister Louisa comes by to conveniently interrupt his spell. Suspicious, he calls out a few of the sisters’ names at Louisa until she reveals her true identity–Lamashtu, Eve’s sister. She unsuccessfully tries to kill John, but doesn’t leave him with any intel about why she would steal two related babies and not immediately kill them.

Thankfully, Hugo’s mother—who hails from Chile—shines some light on the situation. She tells them of the Brujería, a coven of warlocks John had long believed extinct. Hugo’s great grandfather was apparently a member of the group, but John refuses to believe that the Brujería are back. No one has a spell to stop them. Not even Hell wants them.

But John has a plan to at least stop Lamashtu and save the infants in danger. He preps a fake offering to Lamashtu–just take one dead chicken and some of Hugo’s blood, and she’ll apparently never know the difference. But they’ll need someone to pose as a mother, and Ann Marie, putting herself in the line of fire, much like another Newcastle alum, Gary, did a few weeks ago, offers to make the hand off.

NEXT: The Rising Darkness finally shows it face.

Before the meeting, she and John rekindle their lost spark, while Ann Marie admits she believes John is her greatest failing. She had been bitter earlier in the episode about their relationship woes—but more than that, she blames herself for involving John in such a messy life to begin with.

Thankfully, she doesn’t suffer quite like Gary for her guilty conscience. Lamashtu takes the fake baby/real dead bird without hurting Ann Marie, but John and the gang immediately pursue her into the sewers beneath the convent. There, John, Chas, and Ann Marie find the captured babies, but run into Lamashtu.

To fend her off, John threatens to kill one of the babies unless she gives him some information. She reveals the Brujería are attempting to break the seal between Earth and Hell, allowing all of demon and mankind to mingle… until the demons destroy humanity. John manages to stop Lamashtu, thinking he can worry about the Brujería later, but, as Zed so wisely predicted, there’s a much bigger threat the demon hunter has to worry about–an Invunche with the same skin problems as the Pale Man rises as soon as Lamashtu falls.

This is normally where John would sacrifice a friend to ensure his safety. Instead, it’s Ann Marie making the brutal choice, pulling out Hugo’s gun and shooting John in the chest. The Invunche will be too busy dealing with an injured John to chase after her and the babies, she thinks. And so she ends the episode by leaving our Master of the Dark Arts bleeding out, feet away from a prehistoric, impossibly strong evil force.

Something tells me part 2 won’t begin with John dying and Chas picking up the mantle–otherwise, the name of the show would become a big problem. But there’s no clear sign of how he’ll make it out alive when the show returns in January. Which, really, is all we can ask for from a cliffhanger.

Between Heaven and Hell

– So what was Zed up to during all of that? Well, she goes on a date with Eddie, the model from her art class last week—but discovers he’s actually working for her father. Oh, and he may be her brother (which gives their kiss a whole new level of Luke and Leia creepiness). Unfortunately, her crazy father’s cult of followers finds them, kills Eddie, and knocks out Zed with some kind of drug, kidnapping her. It was certainly nice to see the show open up into Zed’s background after so many hints, but it’s still extremely uncertain how this factors into the Rising Darkness story or what her father’s motivations actually are.

– I hope the second half of the season incorporates as much memorable imagery as the bleeding tree and the human fruit in Hugo’s yard. It’s horrifying and disgusting and the kind of dark set piece the show should try more often, because it’s something I won’t be able to easily push out of my memory.

– Chas gets a few great lines this week, but his small role in the final Lamashtu sequence is a bit disappointing At the very least, he sneaks in one great line down in the sewers: “If you need me, scream.”

– “That’s what’s on the way,” John says when he learns about the Brujería, a nice nod to one of his biggest lines from the pilot.

John Constantine, demon hunter, takes his skills to NBC.
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