I wish Matt Ryan weren’t so good as a softie. He’s almost against type these days as John Constantine, this suffering devoted boyfriend who tries not to gaslight or yell when disagreeing with girlfriend Tala Ashe. The dialogue on their romantic problems—she finds out he’s been lying to her again, hiding his addiction to evil magic juice—is a little trite because it’s a superhero show, and they’re magic people. Still, Ashe and Ryan are so good when they’re sincere. Their chemistry is vibrant. Apparently, so vibrant Ashe got a haircut between last episode’s cliffhanger and this episode’s resolution.
But she sticks it out. Though every time she leaves Ryan alone, it plays wrong, like she’s setting him up for something, but she’s not. The episode will get by on the actors more than the script—credited to Phil Klemmer and Morgan Faust–so it’s not just bad for Ashe.
Jes Macallan gets the other main plot—it’s kind of two B plots and a C plot coming together; the pacing’s excellent, the drama’s just a little too simple. But Macallan’s got the other big plot where she’s interrogating recently cloned season bad guy, Raffi Barsoumian. Barsoumian’s future scientist created Macallan’s clone line, so she’s got a lot of baggage, which comes through in the interrogation; she’s ostensibly running the show, but he might have an edge of manipulating her. It’s good acting from Macallan and Barsoumian without being particularly good writing for either of them. The entire episode is setting up the season finale arc, so it’s kind of like chess pieces being arranged. Or dominos. I’m only thinking chess pieces because Nick Zano and Caity Lotz play chess while doing exposition dumps.
There’s some fun stuff with Dominic Purcell being pregnant—for a while before it gets very dramatic; otherwise, it’s a heavy episode. Adam Tsekhman’s got a few scenes, and they’re funny, but he’s barely around because otherwise, he’d foil the Barsoumian arc early. Ashe enlists Olivia Swann and Lisseth Chavez for help with Ryan, and it’s a fun but too short team-up.
The episode’s trying to keep the costs down on a bridging episode by focusing on character development to get things set for the sci-fi superhero action, but… the script’s just not really there. Enough. The idea’s there, the actors are there, the dialogue isn’t. Nico Sachse’s direction helps.
But good acting without much fodder from Macallan, Ashe, Barsoumian, and Ryan. Half of Ryan. If Ryan were better at his green kryptonite evil version, who knows. Otherwise, maybe one more C plot, and it’d have probably been fine. It’s still okay. It’s just actors deserve better writing on a character development episode.