[This is a review of the Constantine season 1 finale. There will be SPOILERS.]
What girl hasn't dreamed of getting married at a young age to a sweaty, murderous redneck? That's the plan for Vesta Whitney, a narrative stand-in for John's niece Gemma Masters, in the Constantine season 1 finale that adapts the wonderfully creepy Hellblazer story 'Waiting for the Man' and reunites our antihero once more with Detective Jim Corrigan and voodoo wrongdoer Papa Midnite.
'Waiting for the Man' does a competent job of balancing its three intertwining storylines: John, Zed and Jim trying to save a missing girl before she joins her murdered predecessors; Papa Midnite attempting to collect the bounty on John's head; and Zed struggling to cope with constant visions of Jim post-death as she tries to decide whether or not to warn him of his impending doom.
Perhaps if Constantine had received the go-ahead for a few more episodes, this season we might have actually seen Jim die and appear in his Spectre form as the cliffhanger (which would have been very cool), but instead the portents of his ill fate act as an effective tease for a future storyline - assuming Constantine is greenlit for a season 2. Emmett J. Scanlan is compelling enough in the role despite not being given much to do, and it would definitely be interesting to see him go all-out as the Spectre.
That 'Waiting for the Man' is one of the Constantine's stronger episodes probably owes a lot to the source material that it borrows from. Vesta, a teenager who has sneaked out of her house to escape her strict home life, is groomed to become a virgin bride for "The Man" by the three ghosts of his previous brides, who were strangled on their wedding nights.
This requires some suspension of disbelief, since Vesta's new friends are almost absurdly creepy and engage in what seems like an unnecessary amount of hair-touching, but the explanation given is that Vesta just really, really wants to get married. The fact that she comes from a background of divorce is a nice added touch that helps her (very bad) decision make a little more sense.
Speaking of motivations, it's a shame that more isn't made of the fact that John is once again on a mission to save a young girl from a horrible fate. Those who have been watching the show will be able to connect the dots between Vestra and Astra, but even the smallest allusion to Newcastle would have helped provide some context for John inducing a potentially deadly episode of cardiac arrest (with a mouthful of hair, ew) just to grab a brief psychic hint of where Vestra might be.
Speaking of context, the fact that the Brujería and the machinations of their "rising darkness" still only exist as an abstract idea rather than anything that's been firmly established on screen has made many aspects of this season's arc a little wobbly. In 'Waiting for the Man,' it's revealed that Papa Midnite's version of a "bounty" involves his sister's soul being released from damnation, but there's a missed opportunity to show this deal being made and cement the existence of the Brujería for the audience.
It's pretty clear that 'Waiting for the Man' wasn't intended to be a season finale for Constantine. As the episode closes and the show's first season with it, the arch-baddies have yet to make on on-screen appearance and the darkness is still rising (to be continued?).
As for the bottom line of whether Constantine's first season has done enough to warrant a second season, the answer is a tentative yes. Perhaps it's just because this season was cut short and its story arc therefore feels unfinished, but the promise of the Spectre making a proper appearance, John having an epic final battle against the Brujería and an explanation as to why Manny has apparently been behind the rising darkness all along are enough to make me want to keep watching. Constantine might not be the Hellblazer show that most fans were hoping for, but there's nothing worse than a story half-told.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant to find out if Constantine gets a season 2.