This episode fixed some of the longstanding issues of the series while containing a story that was surprisingly standard and honestly kind of boring.
Let’s start with the issues addressed. Matt Ryan seems to have toned his performance down a bit to be more cynical and less goofy. I have greatly enjoyed his performance so far, but he was starting to invite comparisons to David Tennant and Matt Smith. This show would never want to go toe-to-toe with Doctor Who, and it should be a much different kind of show anyhow. Angélica Celaya also got a chance to demonstrate that she has more range than just being the tough Latina. Her smile at the hotel was actually quite lovely. And Chas got something to do. His interactions with the slasher ghost got to be pretty darkly hilarious toward the end.
It’s just too bad the ghost story turned out to be pretty standard and unsurprising. There are three ghosts haunting New Orleans who are victimizing the living in ironic recreations of their death. There are two minor twists: firstly that they were resurrected by the guilt of their loved ones and secondly that Papa Midnite was involved. Otherwise, it was just a matter of finding the emotional connection to the living and allowing them to pass so that the ghosts could be laid to rest. That last part felt especially rushed to me. Constantine essentially told the grieving survivors to let go of their guilt and then within minutes everything was resolved. The original deaths were rather traumatic, so having all those guilty consciences absolved so quickly strikes me as more than a little false.
On the other hand, the big news for DC comics fans was the appearance of Jim Corrigan. In the comics, Jim is the human host for the Spectre who is essentially a god of vengeance. Zed’s vision when she touched his hand seemed to confirm that he is either destined to take on that identity or is already the Spectre. Given how out of whack magic is becoming in this world, his role could become very interesting. But then again, with the Spectre around, what is the purpose of Manny?
Some quick language notes: Papa Midnite’s ritual is conducted in very heavily accented French (it sounded like some kind of Afro-Caribbean accent, but I’m not good enough to really distinguish that). The accent was so thick that I had a lot of trouble understanding it, but at one point I distinctly heard, “L’esprit prend control de moi” (“Spirit take control of me”).
Constantine’s ritual was called “Relictum spiritum expurgationes” which is simply translated as “purging of the forsaken spirit.”