It’s taken ten outings, but we are finally treated to a Chas heavy episode. He’s been lurking on the periphery for long enough and it’s a welcome move giving him some much needed backstory. There’s a new deputy in town, and Quid Pro Quo is Chas Chandler’s moment in the sun. The real question is, can he and John keep this flagging show above water, and warrant that second season?
*****WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS*****
Dozens of Brooklyn’s citizens are mysteriously falling into comas, and unfortunately for our lovable sidekick Chas, one of these victims is his daughter Geraldine. Constantine learns that Felix Faust, career apprentice to the most powerful mages, (and an old nemesis of his, naturally) is stealing souls in a bid to increase his power, and step out from the shadow of his masters. Constantine meet’s with Faust, and they strike a deal. Constantine must banish a competing demon, Caraban, to hell in exchange for Geraldine’s soul. On successful completion of this task, Faust revokes the deal, prompting Chas to make his own deal. He promises to release the remaining souls that reside within him to Faust, in exchange for his daughters. Where did these souls come from? It’s explained through some handy flashbacks.
We finally discover how Chas gained the ability to resurrect himself. Two years previous to the events of present day Chas was caught in a bar fire that killed 47 people. Mere moments before the tragedy, a highly encumbered Constantine put an ancient medieval protection spell upon Chas, initially intended so that he could safely drive home intoxicated. Unbeknown to him, he absorbed the souls of all who died, giving him 47 extra lives as it were.
Upon striking the deal with Faust with a handshake, he binds their hands together (with Achilles’ tendon no less) and pulls the pin on a grenade, killing them both. Chas naturally arises from the ashes, and everyone lives happily ever after.
No really, that’s what happens.
Which leads us to think, why didn’t they just put a bullet in Faust as soon as they saw him? They even mention earlier in the episode that to kill a mage is to undo all his magic, yet once again, as we’ve seen in past episodes, John Constantine’s way is the nonsensical way, through and through.
Quid Pro Quo has one of the strongest episode endings to date, with a hospitalised Zed (after opening her soul to the spirit world) telling Constantine that she saw his mother, and that her death wasn’t his fault. What follows is a beautiful piece of acting by Matt Ryan, where no words are spoken, and we see a rare glimpse into the fragility of John Constantine’s character, stripped of all bravado. In this moment, you realise he’s just as frightened and afraid of what’s on the other side as the rest of us. For all its weaknesses, the episode is saved in this moment, and promises something deeper in the future.
Verdict: It’s clear from the outset that this episode was always going to be about Chas. The writers have sensed that he was becoming a bit of dead weight, adjusted accordingly, and it really paid off. Now, if only they can do the same for Zed. An honourable mention also goes to a Mark Margolis for his fantastic portrayal of Felix Faust.