Recap: Constantine Episode 12, Angels and Ministers of Grace

A well-dressed woman goes into a bad part of town to score some drugs. She turns down an invitation to a shooting gallery, and instead shoots up in an alley. A huge, monstrous humanoid figure jumps her, throwing her around the alley, before killing her and injecting the drugs into her chest. When the cops arrive, she sits up – turns out she wasn’t dead after all.

Manny pays John a visit at the mill house. He has a case: the woman who “overdosed.” John, sarcastically, asks if Manny is now giving him cases. In response, Manny sets the scryer map on fire, claiming it is a crutch, and he needs to read the signs. To me, this is Manny just being a douchebag. Sure, this time he brought John a case, but it’s the first one, and he destroyed the other best way John had of finding cases. 

The team heads to the hospital and sneak a peek at Taylor. It definitely isn’t drugs – her veins are black. Zed takes her hand and sees a bright light, an angel, and a horrible pain. Taylor flatlines, and shortly thereafter, Zed has a seizure. We’ll get back to Zed in a minute. John and Chas go visit Taylor in the morgue. He flashes the room with blinding light and sees Taylor turn purple-black. There is no vital spark; this is the work of dark matter.

John goes outside for a smoke and is visited by Manny. John is enraged over Zed’s health problems and screams at Manny to fix it. Of course, he can’t, and Manny wants John to focus on what he can control. So he does: he smashes a vial of air from Hades on the ground, which sedates Manny long enough for John to carve a spell into his chest, binding Manny to the body of a doctor until the spell wears off. Manny is pissed – while in a human body, he has none of his angelic powers. Maybe he shouldn’t have been such an *sshole.

John and Manny follow flickering lights to a janitor’s closet, where they find the drunk janitor Duncan torn to shreds, but the same massive humanoid who killed Taylor. Manny gets sick. He has seen death, but never experienced the spell. He doesn’t react much better when John reaches into the dead guy’s chest cavity, where he finds a heart of darkness. The black diamond caused this. A bazillion years ago, an evil sorcerer was killed and his dark power hardened into a single mass, called a black diamond. It couldn’t be eradicated, so it was shattered into pieces so no one could ever wield the entirety of the evil. Biblical floods were meant to spread the pieces over the earth. Every time a piece was found, death followed. (Editor’s note: The Black Diamond is a big deal in the DC canon!)

John heads back to the mill house while Manny checks hospital records to see if there was any connection between Taylor and Duncan. Manny is distracted by Linda, a pretty young nurse with whom the doctor whose body he is in, Bob Carol, was having an affair with. Manny succumbs to the physical pleasure, but feels confused and guilty afterward. Meanwhile, John has found a fragment of black diamond in Jasper’s collection. He uses Chas as a guinea pig to see what effect touching the diamond has on a human. Chas is overcome with immense power, rage, and hostility. He doesn’t listen when John tells him to drop the shard, so he cattle prods it from his hand. But now he knows: it channels rage and doubles strength.

Zed had a CAT scan and a small mass is discovered in her brain, on her temporal lobe. It could be nothing… or it could be a tumor, but they won’t know until they do a biopsy. Zed is concerned that this tumor is responsible for her visions and if it is removed, she won’t have them any more. Dr. Galen really wants her to have the surgery, but Zed isn’t really sure.

Manny has discovered that both Taylor and Duncan were addicts who got sober, but relapsed. John thinks that the black diamond is seeking out people who have thrown away second chances. The likely culprit is Morris, an angry, hateful man who passed out with a cigarette in his mouth, set the house on fire, and killed his wife and kid. He comes to the hospital for skin grafts every few weeks, and is horrible to everyone. John and Manny start looking for him, and find him in the ambulance bay, trying to get a smoke. But they are just a few minutes too late: the black diamond and its possessor have already killed Morris. At least they can discount one suspect. But Manny, almost as an afterthought, mentions that Zed’s doctor, Galen, is a veteran with shrapnel in his chest. John figures that the shrapnel is shards of black diamond.

Galen is with Zed, who has declined the operation and checked herself out. He is not happy because few people are given a second chance with a tumor like this – they caught it early enough that it can probably be safely removed. Galen becomes enraged and John pulls out his own shard (in a protective case, of course). Galen runs; John and Manny follow. The fragment is like a magnet, trying to find the other pieces of itself, so they use it like a compass. Zed chases after them – she suddenly knows what her previous vision means.

John tears open Manny’s shirt and reverses the spell. Manny reappears in his angelic form, calling to Thomas Galen, telling him his time has come. Galen quiets and moves to Manny, who promises peace is yours. The two are absorbed in a blinding white light (the only thing that can fight dark matter) and the scraps of black diamond are the only thing left behind. They reform with John’s chunk.

There are a few emotional things going on in this episode. First, the one I understand: John and Zed. He is both desperate for and terrified of the connection between him and Zed. Not in a romantic way, but just as friends. He wants to confide in her, but is terrified of losing her. He doesn’t even want to deal with the thought that she might have brain cancer. It seems to almost be a relief to him that Zed would rather suffer for her magic than potentially lose it but add years to her life. He can’t admit it, but he can’t keep doing this without her. For his part, John admits something that he has never told anyone: that every morning when he wakes up, he spends the first five minutes in bed, pretending that everyone he cares about is dead. Meditating on that helps soften the blow when the inevitable happens. Zed appreciates him opening up.

The one I don’t understand: the religious aspect. Zed spends a lot of time talking to Manny about whether her visions are a gift from god or an evil curse. He gives her a lot of lip service that I take to mean it is whatever she thinks the visions are. Of course, in the circular logic of religion, Zed seems to accept the visions as a gift from god. This whole thing just feels like a way to trick Zed into believing what she wants to believe, while she thinks she got a fully fleshed-out answer. On the upside, Manny now appears to Zed (“He’s your problem now,” John tells her happily) and he has finally done something at least semi-relevant. I still find him a disturbing personification of religious rhetoric.

You can check out the promo images for the season finale of “Constantine” in the gallery viewer below. Titled “Waiting for the Man,” the episode is officially described as follows:

“John and Zed return to New Orleans when Detective Jim Corrigan (guest star Emmett Scanlan) asks for their help in the case of a missing girl. Papa Midnite (guest star Michael James Shaw) takes steps toward exacting his revenge on John. Meanwhile, the truth behind the Rising Darkness comes to light.”

“Waiting for the Man” is set to air Friday, February 13 at 8 P.M. EST.