Photo: Annette Brown / NBC

That's Ritchie

Could Dickie Bennett from Justified really be The One?

We met Jeremy Davies's recurring Constantine character, Professor Ritchie Simpson, all the way back in the pilot. Though clearly scattered and dealing with some kind of lasting trauma, he was able to accomplish two invaluable tasks: he brought down Atlanta's entire power grid right on cue, and he told the story of how John Constantine messed up in Newcastle. What more should we have expected from a guy whose belt clearly doesn't go through all the loops?

Still, Ritchie returns in this week's episode, and while he's checked out enough to be teaching his classes with a tape recorder, he's still got something going on. Specifically, he's got his TA working on visiting alternate dimensions using ancient Egyptian magic. Which totally makes sense for a professor whose lectures seem to be about Buddhism.

So let's assume for the sake of argument, and our sanity, that Ritchie is in fact a polymath. Sure, they exist. And that would explain why Ritchie was less ensozzled with Constantine than the rest of his old entourage was (though don't think I didn't notice that old Mucous Membrane t-shirt draped over the end of your couch, Ricardo). It's not any more unbelievable than anything else that goes on in this show, including Zed's acting. It's certainly not harder to credit than the story's central premise, in which a dude who looks like a young Terry O'Quinn has set up his own kind of supernatural The Matrix in which he hunts and tortures visitors to his domain. We're here, it's happening, get on with it.

My issue is this: Jacob Shaw has been building and controlling this world for decades now. Ritchie is afraid to even enter it and face what might be there. Constantine has to lean on him pretty hard to even try it. And yet, when the two adventurers come up against a blank wall, Ritchie is able to conjure a perfectly crafted door through it. How? "I've studied the principles of alternate planes," he says out of nowhere. "I can override his world." Despite having never been to an alternate plane himself. Beginner's luck? I've studied film theory, but the first one I tried to direct would turn out like Plan 9 from The Room.

That's apparently not the case with Ritchie, because when he comes face-to-face with Shaw himself, who is no less than this world's god, he has the skills to undo everything Shaw does, destroy his lair, and remake the entire artificial reality to Ritchie's own liking. He goes full-on Neo, if Neo kept going and turned his city into a set from The Lovely Bones.

After that, it's no wonder that Constantine insists Ritchie follow him back out into the real world. If Ritchie can pull all that off using skills he never before developed, practiced, or even tried, he's going to be a lot more useful against the Rising Darkness than John Constantine has ever been. Maybe the show should be called Simpson, but that might lead to some confusion.

If Ritchie ever returns to the show, watch for him to accomplish something even more amazing. And no, going back to teaching his classes without a tape recorder doesn't count.

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