Constantine: “Quid Pro Quo”

 

Constantine - Season 1

 

It’s the secret origin of Chas! After the big two-parter episode, Constantine needed to wind things down a little bit, and what better way to do that than a character-focused episode based around John’s mortality-challenged best friend?

A strange wave of comas is sweeping through New York. The victims bleed from their eyes and nose and show no sign of waking up. Amongst the mysteriously ill is Chas’ young daughter Geraldine, so Chas asks John and Zed to help find out what’s going on. After determining that the girl’s soul has been separated from her body by black magic, John tracks down magician Felix Faust (based on the character from DC comics) and attempts to strike a bargain with him to save Chas’ daughter. Meanwhile, in a series of flashbacks we learn how Chas ended up as John’s right-hand man in his mission against the forces of evil, and why the cab driver seemingly cannot die.

Little bit of a mixed bag this week, but the really good stuff more than makes up for the weaker stuff. The initial explanation for why Chas can’t die (because John drunkenly put a protection spell on him) is almost anticlimactic, but strangely fitting (it is John after all). But then we get the twist: in the original fire that should have killed Chas, 47 other people died and so he took on those extra lives in addition to his own. Chas then decides that he’s going to use the extra lives to help people, even though it costs him his marriage and the chance to be there for his daughter as much as he would like. It entirely sums up Chas and encapsulates why I like him: he is a good, solid guy who cares about the people in his life, and can also punch out a guy when he needs to.

We also get a bit more of the dynamic between Chas and John. Chas is loyal to John, but is not afraid to call him out. And John does seem to genuinely care about Chas and says he’d respect his friend’s choice if he wanted to walk away from their madcap life to be with his family. I liked getting to see all of this, especially since I was starting to worry that they were never going to do anything with Chas as a character.

My only big issue with the episode is that they don’t seem to know what to do with John for a chunk of the episode. He and Zed go run an errand for Felix Faust in an effort to bargain for Geraldine’s soul. Other than giving us the opportunity to see a demon get taken down with a cattle prod the whole thing ends up being entirely pointless, especially when we see how Faust is ultimately dealt with. I couldn’t help thinking, “Why couldn’t they have done that earlier?” and the answers seems to be because the episode would have only been 15 minutes long. Zed does have a good moment of testing out a new area of her powers: mediumship. It doesn’t go well, but she does seem to have communicated with John’s dead mother.

So this was a bit of a “villain of the week” episode, but it did serve to flesh out one of the main characters, which I’m definitely all for.

B

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