Constantine delivered, I'd say, its first solid episode with "A Feast of Friends." Now it's possible that things felt more on the level because this particular story was lifted from Hellblazer #1, but I'd offer that there were still enough tweaks made to it from the original Mnemoth tale to make it fit more perfectly into the world that the show's created for itself.
And this was also the first time that the show really dipped its toe into the emotional side of the Constantine waters. Constantine plays really well as a surface-level adventure. Our hero is sarcastic and seems to have a solution, or trick, for almost every problem. Most of the challenges so far have been in the actual tracking down of the week's respective "evil." Here, in "A Feast of Friends," the answers didn't come quite so easily, as John was in no way prepared to deal with a demon quite as powerful as Mnemoth. A demon who basically could only be contained in a human body - one which was sacrificed to become a vessel-slash-prison.
Sure, there are elements of this story, as in the comic, where you felt like it sort of solved itself. Gary brings the problem, Gary's the one who ends the problem. But the way it was handled here was very well done. For three episodes we've been hearing about how people who saddle up next to John wind up doomed, but this one actually hurt my heart a bit. Gary was a loser, and John made no bones about not believing he could change, but when the series used the events of Newcastle to tie everything together and explain Gary's spiraling condition, it all rang true.
This was the first episode since the pilot to use Newcastle as sort of the jumping off point for, basically, everything we're seeing. And it did it better than the premiere. Sure, it was all explained more in the premiere, but the actual "guilt" part didn't resonate as well. We knew John checked himself into an asylum to try and erase the trauma. We knew Ritchie couldn't sleep unless he loaded himself up on sedatives. But Gary, in this episode, really sold the sadness. His guilt over being high while trying to save Astra, even though he'd come to find out that everyone knew he was high that night, fed the Mnemoth story. It explained why he tried to save the boy in the Sudan. And also why, in the end, he agreed to be the one who got sacrificed.
This episode also touched upon the idea that perhaps a lot of people die around John because they have no business being around John. Which certainly touches upon the character of Liv in the pilot, though her powers were actually quite substantial. But yeah, apparently John had himself a lot of hangers on, who sort of idolized him for being cool and flippant even though most of them were not prepared for the dangers that awaited them. So that's a big part of what John feels guilty about and why he's been so slow to bring Zed into the fold.
In the original story, Papa Midnite and the ghost of John's ex played heavily in the demon hunt. Midnite providing the magical assist while "Emma" dosed out the guilt trip after John realized that he'd need to use Gary as bait. So Zed sort of slid into those roles here, along with a mystic named Nommo (Charles Parnell). And it was a good thing for her to be a part of this story since not only did a bit of John's past come back to haunt him, but it also showcased the type of hardline decisions he's forced to make in the name of vanquishing evil. Decisions she objected to at first, but then came to ultimately understand. I think. Their big blow up happened fairly quickly at the end and then seemed to vanish fast.
No, the show couldn't go all out with the Mnemoth story, but there certainly was enough here to tether it to the comics. Some familiar imagery and beats (swarm of bugs, mystic removing his eye, etc), and some great final scenes between John and Gary (Jonjo O'Neil). Moments where you understand that John cared about his friend, but also that he's often reduced to using bulls*** methods to trick and deceive in order to get things he wants and needs. Whether he's facing for or friend, in fact. So to have both of those things playing at the same time was awesome.
With "A Feast of Friends," Constantine delivered both an engaging demon story and an effective emotional one. That's not to say that John is now expected to be sympathetic or "heroic," but watching him actually have offer up one of his old mates to a vile monster helped give us a deeper understanding of his world. Which is a world where he's probably had to do that, or worse, more often than not. And it showed us that fighting these wicked things, if they're powerful enough, can come at a massive cost. Zed may have backed off John too easily there in the end, and Chas being out of the picture so he could fix up the cab was sort of weak, but overall this was the best Constantine episode so far.