This week sees the return of one of the now famed Newcastle Crew, Ritchie, and the premise itself leaves a scintillating taste in the mouth. Ritchie, now a college professor, whose research centres on the potential ability to travel to, and even control alternate dimensions with the mind. Four young students from his class take his findings a little too literally, and attempt to test these theories for themselves. Sadly for them, they succeed, and what’s waiting for them on the other side is a chilling universe that will have them fighting for their lives.
*****WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS*****
As we’ve discussed, in previous outings, Jon seems to seamlessly chop and change who he wants in his team, be it Zed or Chas; but A Whole World Out There sees them both relegated to the bench. Chas apparently needs some ‘family time’ (understandable after literally taking a grenade for his family) and Zed needs yet more ‘bed rest’. This gamble doesn’t pay off however, and it leaves the episode feeling disjointed from start to finish.
The episode feels almost like the writers put as many horror clichés into a hat and picked them out at random, adding any and all. You have your four young impressionable youths (Scream) entering a parallel dimension with a shifting house (Poltergeist) and the harm they suffer in this dream world, is made flesh in reality (A Nightmare on Elm Street). There were even times where it had a The Lovely Bones feel to it in the alternate dimension. These are all successful storytelling methods in their own right, but together, they just create a mish-mash of mediocrity. More importantly than that, it just feels very non Constantine. For better or worse, the show has firmly found its style, but A Whole World Out there throws that play book out the window, and in the worst way possible.
The episode is not without its positive points however. Jeremy Davies has truly made the role of Ritchie his own, much like Claire Van Der Boom in her portrayal of Anne Marie Flynn. Sadly though, this just further cements the fact that a Constantine-Ritchie-Anne Marie trio would have much greater appeal than the already stale Constantine-Zed-Chas party. It’s presenting the audience with solutions to problems they didn’t know existed until that point, and that is dangerous storytelling.
As well as Jeremy Davis’ stellar return, the visceral nature of the peril the students are in is at times genuinely shocking. Seeing in close, drawn out detail the injuries they are sustaining while motionless in a trance, completely helpless to the pain they are suffering, is at times very unsettling.
Verdict: This week’s outing was one of the weakest yet, and with ratings slowly evaporating, you have to hope that this lull is just an attempt to lure us into a false sense of security for the final two episodes of the season. The potential is still there, but when you take all that potential and completely disregard it for an entire episode, you have to wonder what the future holds for the puppet masters of Mr John Constantine.