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REVIEW: Constantine 1×01 “Non Est Asylum”

Awesome. That pretty much sums up my feelings for this episode. So I guess you don’t have to keep reading this review, though you should. People that read past the first sentence are the kind of people that we like here at ap2hyc.

You’re still here? Good!  You’re better than those people that read the top and scrolled to the bottom to see what grade I gave the episode. Hopefully you now feel good knowing that you are better than them. That’s how I felt after watching Non Est Asylum. I don’t know a single person (outside of ap2hyc) that knows about this show. It feels like a secret treasure that I get to enjoy all to myself, similar to how fans of A Song of Ice and Fire must have felt like before HBO made the series (further) expand in popularity. Think of me as a small (microscopic) version of HBO trying to let people know about this series. Ok, not really, but I needed something (admittedly not so) clever to make this fun to read. Obviously people know of the show, since it is on NBC. Just nobody that I know.

Anyway, the series stars Matt Ryan as John Constantine, an occult detective and exorcist who is on a mission to save a little girl from her eternal damnation in hell (which he caused). Along the way he defends Liv Aberdine (played by Lucy Griffiths) from a demon, with the help of his friend Chas Chandler (played by Charles Halford), and makes a deal with an angel named Manny (played by Harold Perrineau) in order to get his soul back.

I have never read any of this character’s comics and only know him from his time in The New 52’s Animal Man, so I was not fully sure what to expect. I thought that the best the show could hope to be was an intriguing noir series that involved the supernatural, and it exceeded my expectations. Noir heroes are known for being tormented by their pasts and Ryan does a great job of portraying John this way. You can really feel his inner pain, which is the best part of the episode. The characters feel real and there was not a moment that I did not care about them, which is more than I can say about Gotham.

The special effects, with the exception of one short scene, were believable. This was a concern of mine that was gladly put to rest by the premiere. Acting was never a concern, especially not after seeing the promo image (seen above). Just seeing that image let me know that the character would be portrayed well. The premiere sets the groundwork for the series while also providing a riveting experience. I can’t wait for next week’s episode.

Non Est Asylum was directed by Neil Marshall, known for his work on the Game of Thrones episodes Blackwater and The Watchers on the Wall. Having the director of two of the most acclaimed episodes of Thrones was definitely a smart move. The scary scenes are scary, the thrilling scenes are thrilling, the funny scenes are funny: this guy knows what he is doing.

I was surprised to find that I did not find any problems with the episode, or at least I was not bothered by anything. I was fully engrossed in the show. The only scene that seemed a little (tiny bit) forced was when John tells Liv about his parents. Otherwise, any exposition that is given is done in a way that feels authentic and true to the characters. Technically that scene is true to the characters; it just didn’t need to be there. Normally a noir character is more interesting when less backstory is given but this scene actually sheds light on the character in a way that improves him, so this is not really a complaint. I am really stretching here by trying to say that this short scene could have been done better, but that’s the point. I have to nitpick in order to try and find something “wrong” with the show. I can’t. Sorry. Maybe next week?

Final Grade: A-

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About the author

Nick Doblovosky