NBC’s Constantine has given a fair share of time shining the spotlight on supporting characters Chas (Charles Halford) and Zed (Angélica Celaya). As the season continues on, viewers are able to get to know the two a little bitter, but those unfamiliar with the DC comics aren’t entirely sure as to why Chas has the power to recover from any injury inflicted on him. How does that work? In “Quid Pro Quo,” the show gives viewers a better insight as to how Chas gained the extraordinary power and how Constantine – of course – had something to do with it.
The episode starts off like any other, with a bit of supernatural mischief going on for some intriguing, dark purpose. A poor little girl is the target of the latest wave of dark magic, wrapped up in this strange smoky substance that’s anything but good.
Back at headquarters, Zed is finally starting to open up to Constantine (Matt Ryan) about the attack that happened to her. She goes on to tell Constantine a tiny bit about the Resurrection Crusade, headlined by her own father. Constantine can easily see the fear in her eyes over the thought of being taken away by the group, but that’s not going to happen on his watch. Before Zed and Constantine could continue their conversation about trying to keep folks away from the lovely psychic, they spot some supernatural activity going on in New York.
Meanwhile Chas is already making his way to New York to see his daughter. Here begins a series of flashbacks that gradually piece together what made Chas turn into this indestructible force. In the first flashback we see that he’s maintaining a happy family life, but he’s having a nice night out with Constantine and having a few drinks. It’s time for Chas to take off home, but Constantine decides to drunkenly cast some random spell on him. It doesn’t seem to do anything, that is until chaos hits the bar. A devastating fire breaks out that wipes out everybody at the bar, including Chas.
Chas’s memory flickers between the past and present as he tries to visit his daughter. He immediately gets accosted by his ex-wife Renee (Amanda Clayton). She quiets down pretty quickly once Chas finds their daughter unconscious, taken over by an unknown spell. Constantine and Zed race towards the hospital and notice that she’s not the only one who’s dealing with similar symptoms. Something strange is going on, and Chas is determined that they find out the cause of it, even if that means continually pissing off his ex-wife.
The flashbacks continue with Chas, but this time he’s in the hospital post-fire. His family is amazed that he’s alive, and so is he. Constantine did something to him, and he asks him about it the next time he sees him. His friend ends up confessing to Chas that he did place a powerful protection spell on him, one that absorbs the life force of others who may die around him. It’s a nifty spell, but it proves to be a continual inconvenience for his family when Chas gets caught up in Constantine’s world.
There’s something about the acting in this episode that feels a little bit on the clunky side. Maybe it’s everybody’s delivery of the lines, but “Quid Pro Quo” definitely feels like a step back in regards to performances. At least the direction has picked up a bit, heightening the episode in a good way.
Chas, Zed and Constantine track down a powerful medium who could reach out to the spirit world – and possibly to Chas’s daughter. Once he taps into said world, the medium quickly gets taken over by a mysterious and powerful mage. Much like almost every character on this show, this is yet another person that Constantine has royally pissed off. The person wants to see nothing more than Constantine fail at his task, and he does just that by setting the poor medium on fire. Ouch.
Zed has a wonderful vision, pinpointing the location of the mysterious mage. Once they arrive, Constantine removes a cloaking spell and they all enter inside to find Felix Faust (Mark Margolis). He’s the one who’s been behind the wave of strange comas happening throughout the city. He’s stealing a number of souls, and one of the happens to be Chas’s daughter. He’s desperate to get his hands around Felix’s neck, but Constantine stops him. The two strike a deal; Constantine and company banish a supernatural creature back to it’s original plane and then Felix will release all the souls back to their proper owners. Either that or Felix will continually make Constantine, Chas and Zed’s life a living hell.
Constantine eventually has to push Chas away from the situation, that way he could cool his head. Chas is getting incredibly impatient and isn’t seeing many results. It’s difficult for Constantine to work around him when he’s like that. Now it’s up to Zed and Constantine to banish the random creature that’s lurking in whatever dank alleyway. There’s this cool third eye stone that he uses to figure out where the invisible creature is, which makes for the always cool special effects that pop up in this show. Zed uses herself as bait in order to lure the creature into the trap. They weren’t able to banish it, but they were able to kill it.
Constantine and Zed did what Felix wanted them to do, but he’s still not satisfied. Due to that, Chas gets fed up and goes after Felix himself to strike a different type of bargain. He’s still plagued by thoughts about the past, and how he inevitably lost his family in order to keep saving the world alongside Constantine. But once he found out the kind of strength he inhibited, and at what cost was that given to him, he traveled with his friend in a way to repent for all that’s happened.
Chas strikes his own deal with Felix; let go of his daughter’s soul in exchange for all the souls, and his own, that are all within him. Before Felix comes to any sort of agreement it cuts back to the continually blocky acting that’s going on this episode, this time between Zed and the ex-wife. Zed decides to use her powers to console the ex-wife the only way she knows how; through communicating with her daughter in the spirit world. However, Zed burns herself out and ends up having what appears to be the most powerful migraine in the world. While she’s convulsing on the floor, the ex-wife sees the address Zed had in her purse, leading them to Felix. So she decides to leave Zed to her own devices while she runs off to see what’s going on with Chas.
Naturally Constantine and the ex-wife show up in time to see Chas strike his horrible deal with Felix. But once they shake hands, Chas uses one of his nifty supernatural weapons to cut off the magic flow from the mage. With the flick of the cap, Chas lets a grenade go off that blasts him and Felix away. Constantine and the ex-wife are able to take cover in time, but it’s enough to leave a very traumatic visual in their brains.
“Quid Pro Quo” ends with the ex-wife being incredibly aware of the kind of burden that Chas continually deals with everyday. Chas strolls back into his old house and is greeted by his ex-wife who’s ecstatic to see that he’s walking around as if nothing happened to him. He goes upstairs to see his daughter, sits her down and rolls through a photo album that lists all the different souls he carries with him.
At the other end of town Zed is in the hospital and finally wakes up with Constantine by her side. He explains what happened, and before she drifts back to sleep she brings up Constantine’s mother, whom she ran into during her spirit world adventure. “Her death wasn’t your fault.” Another layer of Constantine is gradually being revealed, but we won’t find out any more about that until later episodes.
“Quid Pro Quo” continues the trend in this show where 80 to 90 percent of the episode works out perfectly, but there’s always a small bit that throws it into the decent category. There’s a lot about Constantine that’s fantastic, but the acting definitely took a blow in this episode. Mark Margolis as Felix Faust was fine, but his audio continually sounded a little off. At least the direction was a bit stronger this time around, making everything appear a bit more dramatic.
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