Sunday, January 25, 2015

Constantine, Season 1, Episode 10: Quid Pro Quo

We open with an ominous black cloaked wizard sends some evil smoky magic down a chimney to kidnap a little girl. It’s like an old school more ominous telling of Father Christmas (or, possibly, depending how noisy said child is, a parent’s Father Christmas).

To the Mill and John has beefed up the defences on the Mill to try and reassure Zed who isn’t that reassured. John also pushes from some actual answers from Zed and she tells him about the Resurrection Crusade. The cult leader things Zed is super special and important he’s also her dad. John declares how he will keep her safe before the Scry map becomes all scary and bloody on New York – which happens to be where Chas is heading to see his daughter. Time for them to head off – Zed already has news reports of people falling into comas and John shows off this week’s bad of tricks.

This comes with a flashback of Chas and John two years ago when John was much the same as he is now and Chas trying to save people from a really nasty concert/bar fire when John left. They pulled Chas out of the fire, apparently dead but he’s alive in the hospital with his wife and child. Looks like this was his first resurrection.

Chas arrives at his ex, Renee’s, place and it’s clear they don’t have the best relationship. He goes to his daughter – and finds her unconscious and bleeding from her nose. Chas calls John and Zed to meet him in the hospital and dramatically tells John that he’s the only one Chas trusts with his kid

Oh Chas you are screwed. John uses magic and finds that the girl, Geraldine’s soul has been removed which should be impossible. They take Geraldine’s doll for woo-woo purposes and Renee briefly shows up to tell us John is a terrible person.

Off to see a Medium called Fennel (because why not a medium named after an aniseed vegetable?) who knows John and points a shotgun at him. Everyone who knows John hates him, it’s a rule. After Chas takes that shotgun off him and throws in some threats, Fennel co-operates.

Time for a very spooky communicate-with-the-dead ritual which is, yes, intensely creepy. They speak to Geraldine – and then the creepiness goes up several notches as the soul thief takes over; the thief recognises John (and like everyone else who recognises John, isn’t a fan). He then uses magic to fry Fennel (which sounds more like a bad culinary idea than murder).

But the spell used is sufficiently rare that Zed can use it to get a psychic insight, seeing a location but getting her arm cut in the process. But she has clues to an abandoned railroad yard – onwards! They find a building cloaked by magic which John quite easily cuts through. Inside is Felix Faust, an elderly wizard who John calls “second fiddle to the greatest wizard in a generation.” John is sure that he has a Master because Faust just isn’t all that special; but Zed confirms he’s being honest when he says he’s working alone and figured out how to steal souls himself.

He proposes a deal (after magically mangling Chas). A demon is taking power from his stolen souls – if John banishes it and they can have Geraldine. John and Faust seal the deal magically.

As they leave, Chas is bemused and angry as to why they’re leaving since John could easily beat Faust in the past – but that was before. The Rising Darkness, among other things, is seriously boosting dark magic. John also sends Chas back to the hospital because his anger and grief is making him impulsive and dangerous.

This leads to another flashback – and Chas confronting John about why he wasn’t dead. John is astonished, his drunken protection spell actually worked. Apparently the spell is one of Merlin’s creations – if any Knight died surrounded by lesser knights, it would absorb the lives of the lesser knights. Or, in other words, Chas has 47 lives, having absorbed the lives of the 47 dead in the fire. If he has a finite number of lives, he might want to be a little more careful about spending them.

To the present! John and Zedd go to the building where the invisible demon, Carabasa lurks – which John can only see thanks to a magic rock. To catch him in the maze they use Zed as bait. Then plan doesn’t quite work out but John has a cattle prod which is also very effective.

Back to the hospital where more and more people are falling into comas. They collect chas to confront Faust and Renee demands to come with them – John tells Chas to “deal with this” and she slaps him which he totally deserved. Zedd convinces her to stay

Going to see Faust, the old man reneges on the deal since John destroyed the demon not banish it (someone’s trying to poke loop holes). He’s also annoyed that John accidentally blundered into magic while he worked so hard and got so little.

Chas loses patience and is unwilling to keep playing Faust’s game no matter what John says – and he knocks John out – joining the legions who blame John for their suffering (we have flashbacks of Chas’s family falling apart because he neglected them while helping John save lives, in part due to his guilt about 47 lives supporting his).

He goes back to Faust and offers 32 souls in exchange for his daughters – the souls inside him. Faust doesn’t believe him, so Chas slits his own throat saying he then offers 31 souls. When Chas resurrects, Faust accepts his deal.

John runs in to see Chas change the agreement at the handshake – binding their hands together with one of John’s super-strong woo-woo items and pulling out a grenade; they will both die but only one will come back. Renee (following the note she found in Zed’s bag) also shows up in time for the explosion.

In the aftermath Renee panics and screams while John has to calm her down and explain things a little more and describes their work as “messy.” And add that Chas saves people’s lives even if it did ruin their relationship

Which leads to another flashback of Chas asking John to lift his spell John can’t – but he offers support.

Present again and Chas goes to see an ecstatic Renee and restored Geraldine. He shows Gerladine an album of all the souls inside him, he’s learned their stories.

John sees Zed, recovering in hospital after she tried to act like a medium for Geraldine and he has some advice for being more careful – and Zed has a mages from his mother telling him her death wasn’t his fault.

I think there’s a definite ongoing theme of harsh judgement of John which, in turn, generally reflects on other people relying on John to do what they can’t/won’t do or blaming John because shit happens and he can’t fix all of it. This was really clear last episode with Anne Marie and her judgement – but still calling on John when she needed him. Here we see Chas blaming John for his family falling apart – for what? Because he neglected them while helping John save people? Do you judge him for that, for requiring help? For not saving people alone? Especially when Chas relies on him to save his own daughter? It’s an interesting facet of the Constantine world – it’s terrible. Utterly and completely terrible with little in the way of hope and hard choices have to be made constantly. As someone there constantly when things are at its worst, and being the man who so often makes those hard decisions (and his general less than stealer personality), John is often the scapegoat for the hopeless world they’re in; it’s easier to blame John than accept the world is just damn awful.

I did like Chas’s back story – it was about time we had some explanation for his apparent immortality. Of course it’s much darker and less something you can rely on than we expected. Given the rate Chas dies, I’m amazed he still has 30 left!