Fight the Demons Inside
Arrowverse 2018/2019 Season: Week 11
Although I hadn't realized it at the time, all the CW Arrowverse shows went on hiatus after the big "Elseworlds" event last week. Most of them won't be back until near the end of January (while Legends is out until April). That oddly leaves us without a ton of stuff to cover this week.
Since there's nothing else to discuss, clearly we get to talk about Titans this week. Also, during the year DC put out both Constantine: City of Demons and Freedom Fighters: The Ray on DVD. I picked them up, so we'll cover Constantine this week and The Ray next week while we finish up this season's coverage of Titans.
Titans, Season 1, Episode 10: Koriand'r
After the cliffhanger from two weeks ago, we pick back up at Rachel's mother's house where Kori was about to kill Rachel (also, does anyone remember Rachel's mother's name? I certainly don't). Dick Grayson and Donna Troy (which I keep wanted to spell with a, "i") bust in and stop Kori before she can kill the poor girl. This causes Kori to run off, looking for answers as to what's going on. This leads her, Dick, and Donna to an abandoned factory, one that Kori is having memories about. Inside, they find a cloaked spaceship... and Kori really begins getting all her memories back. She's from the planet Tamaran and she's here to stop Rachel from letting her demonic father, Trigon, into this world, ending all life in the universe.
While the adults are off helping Kori, that leaves Rachel and Gar with Rachel's clearly evil mother. I'd say it's a spoiler to discuss that everything goes tits-up for Rachel and Gar once they're left along with mommy dearest except it's all so clearly telegraphed that I never, for a second, thought she was a good person. By the end of the episode a police officer ends up dead and Gar is left on the floor bleeding from every orifice. Desperate to save her friend, Rachel listens to her mother (a stupid idea) and uses her power to allow Trigon into this world. At her behest, the demon saves Gar, leaving Rachel thinking he's not such a bad evil demon guy. And then the credits roll.
My first issue with this episode, as I mentioned above, is that the sudden heel-turn of Rachel's mother simply doesn't play. We barely get a chance to bond with the woman, or really learn anything about her -- she's dropped on us three episodes ago and acts like a background extra for most of her time on screen. Having her pull a hard-left into evil just doesn't work. When Kori suddenly got her memories back, went all fire-eyes, and tried to kill Rachel, that felt like a gut punch because we'd just spent most of the season learning about her. Having mommy dearest do the same kind of thing, though, simply can't have the same impact not only because Kori just pulled the same maneuver but also because we neither know, nor care, about this woman.
I also have to question the intelligence of Dick, Donna, and Kori in leaving Rachel with a mother we all barely know. They just accept that this woman who, remember, slept with Trigon back in the day, is just going to be this nice woman who has her child's best interests at heart. Sure, we're viewing a TV show so we already know that any time a new character is brought in, especially one with a creepy old house out in the middle of nowhere, we should instantly distrust them. Dick, though, has never proven to be a trusting person so why on Earth would he think this was a good idea. Wasn't he trained by a master detective? Could he do some background checks, see if her story passed the smell test? No? Huh...
I had less of an issue with the Kori side of the plot line. I've been waiting for weeks now for her to get her memory back so it felt like time to just rip that band-aid off. He scenes with Dick and Donna play well and there's a lot of chemistry between these three leads. Getting this plot line. moving and these three working together is great for the energy of the show.
However, where are Hawk and Dove in all this? We get hints of them at the start of the episode (after focusing on them last episode). But then they don't show up. That matter is dropped, presumably to be picked up in the next episode, but it all feels so uneven. The pacing off this show is starting to fall apart a bit in the back half.
This wasn't a great episode of Titans, but it wasn't terrible. There was more table setting I would have liked, and many of these moments could have done with better development and more time spent on the characters. Hopefully everything comes together in next week's episode to send this season off on a high-note.
- Also, please tell me Dona is sticking around as a regular on the series. She's a need jolt of sass and energy.
Constantine: City of Demons
The first third of this movie debuted on the CW SEED as little mini-sodes. Now DC has published the whole movie finally letting us see the whole story. And it's... well, honestly, kind of meh.
Constantine gets a call from his long-time friend, Chas. Apparently Chas's daughter, Trish, has fallen into a coma. Worse, she's not the only one, as a bunch of people (especially in L.A.) have also mysteriously fallen into comas around the same time. Investigating, Constantine finds that Trish's soul isn't in her body which leads him to think it's been taken by a demon. He contacts a magical witch/nurse to watch over the comatose girl while he and Chas head to L.A. to find the demon responsible and get some justice. Unfortunately this only sinks both of them deeper into the world of demons, forcing them to strike a bargain to free the girl's soul. They just have to do it before it's all too late.
As a short web series, the first 5 mini-sodes for the series weren't bad. They quickly established the world of City of Demons and allow us to get into the flow of John Constantine and his adventure. He's broody, he's sassy, and he has magic -- what more do you need. Making the story about saving a girl certainly gets us into the groove for the movie, sets up stakes we can understand despite all the magic and demons and stuff. Then the first portion ends with Constantine agreeing to help one demon kill five other demons all so the first demon will free the soul of Trish. That works, and you know somehow in the end Constantine will both free the girl and make the big bad demon pay in the process.
The issue with City of Demons is that everything after those initial five mini-sodes is incredibly boring. Supposedly Constantine has to track down and kill the five demons, but mostly he just spins his wheels, not doing much while weird crap happens around him. It's all disjointed and strange and none of it really amounts to anything. Villains are introduced and then eliminated in quick succession, but none of it means anything because we're never given a story for any of them -- they're just demons that are in the way of Constantine's real goal.
The climax of the movie does work, and there's a good gut punch of an ending to go along with it, but to get there I had to sit through 45 minutes of fairly mindless tedium. When it comes to quippy, sarcastic Constantine, "tedium" is not something you should feel, but that's what happens in this movie. I simply couldn't rouse myself to care for anything that happened in the middle act -- nothing of real consequence occurred, the characters just ran around for a bit, and then suddenly were killing all the demons. Big whoop.
Part of my issue with the movie may also be that it doesn't really have any connection to other Constantine properties that have recently aired. Although originally it was going to tie into both the NBC Constantine show from from 2014 and the run of the character in the Arrowverse, the movie doesn't actually ties into either property at all. It is, supposedly, a spin off of the DCAU Justice League Dark film, but you'd be hard pressed to know or care. As such, no matter what happens in this movie, it doesn't have any long term impact on a version of the character we're regularly watching.
In short, the film is a letdown. It had potential to be great (especially with the first five very good mini-sodes), but then it drops the ball and never recovers. There are better John Constantine shows and movies out there (and I'm including the little loved Keanu Reeves movie on that list) -- you're better off avoiding Constantine: City of Demons.
Elsewhere in the 'Verse:
- *television static*
- As noted, next week we'll be covering the other DC/CW movie, Freedom Fighters: The Ray. Also, Titans finishes up its 11 episode first-season, so clearly we'll continue discussing that show over there. And then... who knows?