I think it’s definitely arguable that last week’s Constantine heralded the beginning of what the show should have been from the very start. The biggest shame of all is that it has come so late in its first season. Had it been doing this sort of thing from the very beginning, the axe would definitely not be floating over its head.
And believe me, there is an axe. It has yet to fall, and there is still the chance that it may not, but on balance I think that Constantine is for the chop.
Which, as I say, is a shame. But that’s where we are.
After last week’s gamechanger, Zed is feeling unsurprisingly nervous about staying put. John promises to protect her, but almost immediately they have to get on the road to deal with something spooky. Chas’ daughter’s soul has been stolen by some dark magician, and the crew need to find it before her body passes away.
Following the “and now for something completely different” tack, this is a Chas development episode, and indeed a Chas origin story. Wrapped up in the quest to find little Gerladine’s soul is the tale, through flashbacks, of how he ended up as the unkillable man.
To nobody’s surprise, it’s all thanks to John. One night at a bar, John uses a protective spell so that Chas is good to drive home. Then there’s a fire at the bar, and everyone dies. Except that Chas comes back to life. Turns out he absorbed the 48 souls of those who died in the bar, meaning he has 48 resurrections in him. Or 30, by the end of this episode.
The strain of all of those souls on his conscience drives him to neglect his own family, leading to the separation from his wife, and the situation at the start of this episode.
Hunting down the missing soul leads them to one Felix Faust, a two-bit magician with whom John has had past dealings, and who has now discovered how to separate souls from bodies in order to fuel his magic. He agrees to release Chas’ daughter Geraldine’s soul, in exchange for John removing a demon sapping energy from the bodies of his victims — energy he considers his.
Naturally, Felix changes the terms, whereupon Chas takes it upon himself, offering himself and his souls in exchange for his daughter’s. But he’s apparently learnt from John, and changes the terms of the agreement himself, binding himself to Felix with a magic item which cancels out magic, and blows them both up with a grenade.
It’s a surprisingly neat solution, which plays into Chas character arc. Considering it drops the weight which made the last episode so successful, in order to do a character development sketch, this is very strong. Chas has been in the background for so long that giving him the chance to take centre stage is a welcome delight. The weight he carries of those souls is all too heavy in Charles Halford’s acting, and he makes a great leading man.
This was also another episode looking at the damage John does to those around him. As with Anne-Marie in the “Saint of Last Resort” two-parter, Chas has suffered. In himself, and in the wedge that his situation has driven between him and his family. There is, though, a small amount of solace for John at the end, as a dazed Zed gives him an apparent message from his mother: that her death wasn’t his fault.
- New York mayor Bill de Blasio gets a namecheck. Maybe he’ll intervene to save the show?
- I’m not saying that shops in the US have grenades just lying around on shelves, I’m just saying that I found it believable.
- Chas’ wife Rene calls him Francis, which he asks her not to. Chas is usually short for Charles. No, I don’t understand either.
- Fans of Breaking Bad may notice Felix is played by Mark Margolis, who have a gloriously good wordless performance as Hector Salamanca in the meth-based drama.