My thoughts on “Quid Pro Quo” #SaveConstantine
Season 1 Episode 10
“Quid Pro Quo”
written by Brian Anthony
directed by Mary Harron
“Quid Pro Quo” was another solid outing by the entire Constantine team. Not perfect (I’ll touch on a few of the negatives shortly), but all in all, a damn fine way to spend a Friday night.
So, what worked? For starters, Charles Halford really shined in this Chas-centric episode. Letter perfect so far in the background, Halford commanded the stage and showed some real depth here. His character’s backstory, finally revealed, was some powerful stuff and we finally got a sense of the true weight that he’s been carrying around.
The flashbacks, particularly the bar scene, were great (and it was fun to see Lillian Axe do their best Great White impersonation). Learning Chas’ “immortality” was born by John pulling a Merlin out of his ass, and the consequences of those actions, is what really set this episode apart. Seeing how Chas dealt with this guilt, by working to ensure that the bar fire victims’ lives mattered, was stellar stuff.
Unfortunately, the subsequent crumbling of his marriage to Renee rang false. The actress was fine in the role, but the logic behind her decision to leave her husband was faulty at best. It was almost as if she’d have rather he died in the fire. I suppose, given the time constraints, they just couldn’t come up with a more expedient excuse, but I’ll forgive that little misstep.
“Quid Pro Qou” also introduced a new villain, straight out of the DC Universe — Felix Faust, played full tilt by Mark Margolis. Margolis chewed the scenery and shined in every scene as the perennial sorcerer’s apprentice who finally got more than a little mojo in his pockets and graduated to the center stage.
Of course, his first act was to begin sucking souls. Unfortunately for him, one of those souls belonged to Chas’ daughter, leading to an ‘explosive’ end for the Breaking Bad alum. Should Constantine get a second season, I hope the writers find a way to bring him back for another showdown with Conjob and Company.
Also making an appearance was another character from the comics, a medium by the name of Fennel (played by Roger Floyd). Fennel wasn’t around long, but the seance scene was classic Constantine and added some much needed creep factor.
It played much better than the “spectral tiger” sequence later in the episode, which came across largely as filler. I get that it was meant to cement Faust’s double-cross, but again, like the broken marriage angle, it was mismanaged by the writer, I think.
I’m saving my biggest gripe for last. I admittedly pronounce Constantine con-stan-teen. Yes, I know that Moore, Delano, et al have declared it to be properly pronounced con-stan- tine but it just doesn’t roll off the tongue for me, but I’m working on it. Proper pronunciation matters. I wish the show would have gotten it right. It would have made the transition far easier for me.
That being said, hearing John state, “This belonged to Aleister Crowley,” really got my goat. Crowley, in case you were unaware, is pronounced to rhyme with holy. B-but, what about the Ozzy Osbourne song? Yeah, sorry to burst your bubble, kids. Don’t believe me? Maybe you’ll take Robert Anton Wilson’s word for it —
A stout, elderly woman with a Cornish accent asked Lola, “I’m planning to stay for the lecture. Is it pronounced Crouly or Crowley?”
“It is pronounced Crowly,” said a voice from the door. “To remind you that I’m holy. But my enemies say Crouly, in wish to treat me foully.”
Sir John turned and saw Aleister Crowley, bowing politely to the Cornish woman as he completed his jingle. Crowley was a man of medium height, dressed in a conservative pinstripe suit jarringly offset by a gaudy blue scarf in place of the tie and with a green Borsalino hat worn at a rakish angle. It was the outfit an artist on the Left Bank might wear, to show that he had become successful; it was definitely eccentric for London.
The Cornish woman stared. “Are you really the Great Magician, as people say?”
“No,” said Crowley at once. “I am the most dedicated enemy of the Great Magician.” And he swept past imperiously.
— Robert Anton Wilson, Masks of the Illuminati (1981)
Ten episodes down. Three remain. The last episode of Constantine’s first season airs in February on Friday the 13th.
A fitting end, methinks. I’m still not sure if John will be back next season. I hope he is, but if not, I’ve sure as hell enjoyed the ride.
I’m reminded of another short-lived occult detective show I was more than a little fond of, The Dresden Files starring Paul Blackthorne. It only got 12 episodes before Syfy laid it to rest.
Here’s to hoping Constantine doesn’t suffer the same fate…