Four college kids in a cemetery kneel in a circle with candles lit, reading a mysterious incantation that will allow them to tamper with the fundamental forces of the universe. This kind of thing always ends well, right? Not so much. The four are trying to reach out and touch planes of existence beyond ours, and they unfortunately succeed–each of them leaves their bodies, finding themselves trapped in different rooms in a creepy house, where a pleading victim tries to warn them and a sinister figure in a cardigan (William Mapother, Lost’s Ethan Rom) stalks them. Each of them makes it back, but something has followed them…
Meanwhile, John Constantine (Matt Ryan) is succumbing to the blues in his safe house–Chas is off trying to reconnect with his family, Zed is on bed rest as a result of last week’s adventure, and our hero is feeling melancholy over the loss of his hunger-demon stricken old mate Gary Lester (Jonjo O’Neill), whom our hero keeps seeing staring at him out of a mirror. Manny the angel (Harold Perrineau) arrives to try and snap John out of his funk, reminding him to check his scrying map for signs of the “rising darkness” and other supernatural threats. Said map leads us to Ivy University (last seen in the very first Constantine episode), where the four students who took part in the ritual are being haunted. One of them, Carter (William R. Campbell) finds himself slipping sideways into that other world again, where the sweater-wearing wraith ambushes him with a plastic bag over his head. In the real world, he collapses on the campus and dies. Soon after, John arrives at Ivy U to visit his old pal Richie Simpson (Jeremy Davies, also from the first episode and, like Mapother, another Lost alum), who is not too happy to see him. Richie was with John for his failure at Newcastle, and wants to keep his distance, but he can’t deny that Constantine can help when his teaching assistant Adam (Shamier Anderson) admits what he and his buddies got up to in that cemetery. Only after John casts a spell to see what exactly the kids did there does Richie connect the incident with a journal that has gone missing from his office–the journal of Jacob Shaw, a man obsessed with Egyptian dream travel techniques who died some time ago. Shaw believed that if you died in one of these other realities you had travelled to, you would also die here…which seems to be the case when another of the kids, Miranda (Skyler Day) is mysteriously stricken down in her dance studio. Richie realizes that Adam stole the journal from his office, and that his fooling around with it has made targets of he and his friends. Manny once again appears to Constantine to offer cryptic advice, and to encourage John to inspire Richie to do something good again.
Meanwhile, Adam and his girlfriend Lily (Erinn Westbrook) haven’t heard from Miranda and have begun to worry. Adam, against Lily’s wishes, goes back to the cemetery and astrally travels to that other plane of existence once again, where he finds Miranda and Carter being held and hunted by the evil figure in the sweater (in our world,Lily has discovered Miranda’s lifeless body in the dance studio). John and Richie find the entranced Adam in the cemetery and are horrified to see slash wounds appearing on his body–fatal slash wounds inflicted on him in the parallel plane.
Lily is packing up her things to run when she is confronted by John and Richie, who bring her up to speed and spirit her off to John’s safehouse, where they figure she’ll be safe. The mysterious attacker has been appearing in reflective surfaces, which have all been enchanted in the safehouse, but when Lily takes out her smartphone to call her mother, she is trapped via her reflection in its screen. She falls into a trance and her spirit is trapped by the man we now know is Jacob Shaw, and John and Richie must repeat the ritual to follow and rescue her. Manny watches from the wings with interest, of course.
The duo arrive at Shaw’s house, which is floating in a dark void. A huntsman at heart who has created a realm for himself which he populates with inhuman victims he can hunt and torture over and over, Shaw is thrilled to have some interlopers with their own minds and will that he can now toy with. Richie, however, shows John that he can manipulate this other realm as well, having studied the same techniques as Shaw–when the two are trapped in a dead end, Richie is able to create a door out of nowhere for them to escape through. Before long, though, they’ve encountered the cheery, apron-clad Shaw, who crucifies John and begins slashing Richie to ribbons. John encourages Richie to fight back, and Richie uses his own skills to similarly warp reality, bringing light to the dark world via a sun of his own creation. Shaw is driven back and defeated, and his dream world begins to collapse. John is able to send Lily back to the real world but her friends are dead–thankfully though, their souls have at least been set free now. Richie decides he wants to stay–better to collapse with the dream world than collapse in the real one, as he has been doing since Newcastle–but John successfully convinces him to come back and make something of his life. In a coda, we see a reinvigorated Richie lecturing his students on suffering and desire, while John suffers in solitude at the safehouse, still haunted by his own demon in the mirror–Gary Lester, a friend he wasn’t able to save.
DC Comics Easter Egg Watch: Once again John’s adventures bring him to Ivy University, home of Ray Palmer, AKA the tiny superhero The Atom, in the DC Comics Universe. There isn’t much chance of an appearance by Professor Palmer here, since he’s currently a guest star on another DC Comics-based show on another network, but hey–stranger things have happened!