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The Continental: Our Favorite John Wick Easter Eggs & Callbacks in Peacock's Prequel
How many did you spot?
Spoiler warning! The following contains major plot spoilers for The Continental: From the World of John Wick!
As the first spinoff project to come out of the John Wick universe, Peacock's The Continental (all three episodes are now streaming right here) takes every opportunity to tip its hat to the iconic action films that inspired it. Easter eggs — both subtle and overt — abound in this groovy prequel about how Winston Scott (Colin Woodell, playing a younger version of the character made famous on the big screen by Ian McShane) became manager of the titular establishment in '70s-era New York.
"There's the very subtle ones, depending on how hardcore the John Wick film series fan is," director and executive producer told NBC Insider. "And then there's nods to '70s films, '70s TV commercials. Of course, that's obvious, those ones."
Head below for a rundown of some of our favorite callbacks.
John Wick Easter eggs spotted in The Continental Episode 1
Winston's drink of choice
Aside from shooting John off The Continental roof at the end of Chapter 3 - Parabellum, Winston doesn't like to get his hands dirty. He's a man who prefers to sit back, relax, and enjoy the finer things in life while other people put their necks on the line. If given the choice between picking up a gun or a dirty martini, he'll choose the martini every time (on the condition that abstaining from violence means he can keep his life and comfortable position of power, of course). Indeed, the first time we meet Winston in 2014's John Wick, he's leisurely sipping a dirty martini in a cozy corner booth in The Continental bar/dining room. As such, it only makes sense that he's enjoying the very same cocktail when we first meet him as a younger man in London as he attempts to secure a large investment for his sham car park idea.
Maria: Uncle Charlie's 1969 Mustang
Uncle Charlie's (Peter Greene) beloved "Maria," the car he loans to Winston around the 41-minute mark, is a sexy 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1. Any John Wick fan will immediately recognize it as the very same make and model stolen from Keanu Reeves' titular hitman in the original film. What's interesting, though, is that The Continental subtly confirms that the car Winston drives in the prequel is same exact one owned by John nearly four decades later. How do we know this? Simple! The license plate number — XAB 235 — appears in both projects. The real mystery is how John got Charlie to part with his pride and joy.
Yen's paint can full of daisies
Okay, this one is really cool (hat tip to ScreenCrush for spotting it): Upon fleeing the theater home she shared with Frankie (Ben Robson), Yen (Nhung Kate) brings along a paint can full of vibrant yellow daisies (the only pop of color in an otherwise drab apartment). At first glance, this seems like a mere sentimental keepsake — an optimistic (and a tad naive) reminder of the life she and Frankie hoped to build together once they handed the troublesome coin press over to The Nile.
But think about it... the daisy motif goes all the way back to the very first John Wick. Helen's final note bears the image of a daisy and what's more: the ill-fated Beagle puppy she leaves to John is named Daisy!!! John's globe-trotting quest for revenge and his struggle against the High Table kicks off with the untimely murder of Daisy not long after the adorable dog shows up on his doorstep. A similar event plays out with the death of Frankie Scott, effectively granting daisies the status of a bad omen (the signal of impending loss and a subsequent desire for vengeance) in the wider Wick-Verse.
Bulletproof clothing is pretty commonplace in the contemporary world of John Wick, but back in the late '70s, it was an emerging fad that had yet to gain a proper foothold in the assassin community. Around the 1-hour, 10-minute mark, a seamstress briefs Continental manager Cormac (Mel Gibson) on the practical and fashionable upsides of a suit jacket surreptitiously lined with Kevlar. While a number of gadgets in the Wick mythos are fanciful inventions cooked up for the sake of cooler action set pieces, this nascent mode of protection actually fits in with real-world history. Kevlar was invented in the early 1970s before scientists deemed the material safe for human use by the end of the decade. With that said, designer bulletproof suits have yet to catch on. Go figure.
"Guns...lots of guns."
After witnessing his brother's sacrifice, a distraught Winston has just one thing on his mind: revenge against Cormac. He carries an injured Yen back to Chinatown, where he informs Lou (Jessica Allain) and Miles (Hubert Point-Du Jour) that he requires "guns...lots of guns." Those four words carry a double whammy as far as cinematic callbacks are concerned.
Not only is it what John said to Winston before the big Continental siege in Chapter 3, but it's also what Neo said to Tank ahead of the big lobby shootout in The Matrix. It's no wonder why longtime Wick director Chad Stahelski decided to pay homage to the Matrix trilogy. Without his tenure as a stunt double and coordinator on the Wachowski's groundbreaking action saga, he never would have met Keanu Reeves.
John Wick Easter eggs spotted in The Continental Episode 2
The crooked coroner’s assistant
KD’s (Mishel Prada) investigation to track down Frankie Scott brings her face-to-face with Ezra (Johnny Freeman), the crooked morgue worker who illicitly cremates Frankie's body at the start of Episode 2. Aware that Ezra is not being entirely truthful, the clever and street smart detective needles the man, stating that his job as coroner’s assistant is “one step above gassing puppies at the pound.” It’s a pretty harsh sentiment, but something tells us the writers knew exactly what they were doing here. Without murdered puppies, we wouldn’t have a John Wick franchise in the first place. RIP Daisy.
“Comfort in the face of adversity”
With the coin press in the wind and the High Table breathing down his neck, Cormac sits down to a lavish meal in the hotel dining room. “In crisis, we’re all gluttons in our own way,” he explains to Charon (Ayomide Adegun). He copes with a spiraling situation with good food and good wine, which draws the ridicule of the Adjudicator (Katie McGrath). “You think in history’s great tales of survival, legendary men who battled their way back from defeat, they did so by comforting themselves?” she asks. Cormac’s hedonistic coping method brings to mind the arrogance of John Wick villain Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen), who continues to drink and party, even after invoking the wrath of the world’s greatest hitman. “People who are born into wealth seek comfort … often seek comfort in the face of adversity,” the Adjudicator continues. “Perhaps it’s time for you to feel uncomfortable.”
The Bowery King’s pigeon coop
Hoping to topple Cormac’s reign, Winston goes in search of an army. His quest brings him to the doorstep of the Bowery, the network of homeless spies, informants, and killers introduced in John Wick: Chapter 2. Back in the late 1970s, the autonomous organization was headed by a woman named Mazie (Zainab Jah), who could very well be the Bowery King’s mother. The timing certainly works out in favor of this theory: Laurence Fishburne was only 15-years-old in 1977 (our rough approximation of when the show takes place). If true, however, this would retcon the Bowery King's backstory since he never says anything about inheriting an empire. Nevertheless, the rooftop meeting place where Winston unsuccessfully tries to haggle with Mazie over a price to unlocking the Bowery’s manpower should be very familiar to fans. Visible in the background are the Manhattan Bridge and pigeon coop — both of which were present during John Wick's first meets the Bowery King.
“I’m your boogie man, that’s what I am"
According to Lou (Jessica Allain), her Haitian grandmother would nail chicken feet to the door “to scary away the Boogeyman.” Again, this is no mere coincidence of dialogue. As the most feared assassin in all the land, John Wick is famously known by both his peers and enemies as “Baba Yaga” or “The Boogeyman.” Rankled by Lou’s outright refusal to accept his rules as Chinatown’s newest crime-lord, the Orphan Master (Dan Li) warns that the “Boogie Man” will be coming for her very soon. The notable subtitle spelling of “Boogeyman” as “Boogie Man” seems like a clever acknowledgement of the show’s disco-era time period (à la KC and the Sunshine Band’s 1977 hit “I’m Y2our Boogie Man”).
Charon pays a fare
It’s no secret that John Wick director Chad Stahelski is a big fan of Greek mythology. Case in point: The Continental’s eternally loyal concierge, Charon, is named after the underworld boatman who was said to guide souls over the river Styx and into the afterlife. Very fitting, given that the Wick-Verse's Charon plays a crucial role in the criminal underworld, helping bring about the end of other people’s lives. This is why ancient Greeks placed coins on the eyes of their dead, so the person would be able to pay Charon for a ride into the next world. Episode 2 subtly tips its hat to that particular myth when young Charon boards the bus and pays the fare. Angling the camera on the coin receptacle for the briefest of shots is a genius way to get this across. Winston then commandeers the bus and asks for Charon’s help in securing safe passage into the heavily fortified hotel.
John Wick Easter eggs spotted in The Continental Episode 3
Okay, so we’re kind of bending the rules a little with this one. It’s not exactly a John Wick-specific Easter egg, but still relevant (and absolutely hilarious to boot). When Gene poses as an exterminator to clear the apartment directly across from The Continental, he wears a jump-suit bearing the name tag “Chuck Spadina.” That may seem like a random monicker choice…until you realize that Keanu Reeves considered changing his name to “Chuck Spadina” early on in his career. Reeves recalled the whole story back in 2017 during a guest appearance on The Tonight Show. It’s a deep-cut, to be sure, but also an awesome tribute to the man who kicked off the entire John Wick franchise.
KD checks in
Following the lobby shootout at the Rhodes Hotel, NYPD detective KD (Mishel Prada) finds herself in possession of a gold coin, her key to gaining entrance into the bowels of The Continental. You may recall that her attempts to book a room in Episode 1 were foiled once it became clear to the hotel staff that she was not a member of the criminal underworld. Coin in hand, KD checks into the hotel, gaining a single night stay in Room 818 — the very same room John was given upon his return to the world of assassins in the first movie.
Charon injects a wounded Winston with a “proprietary drug quite popular at this hotel.” The unnamed narcotic works almost immediately, returning even the most grievously injured individual to a state of combat readiness. While there isn’t a 1-to-1 analog in the films, this miracle drug does recall the mysterious pills The Continental’s in-house doctor gives to John in the first movie after sewing up a nasty gash in his abdomen (ingesting two grants a person full range of motion, regardless of pain and torn stitches). Our best guess? The High Table, which always seems to be ahead of the curve technologically speaking, figured out a way to replace a somewhat painful needle jab with an easy-to-swallow pill.
Pneumatic tubes FTW
There’s something inherently retro about pneumatic tubes; it just works so well with the show’s analog, pre-digital setting. Based on The Continental finale, pneumatic tubes once led to every room in the building, allowing guests to receive up-to-the-minute information once killing became permissible on hotel grounds. As John Wick: Chapter 2 shows us, the system was never completely phased out, although it did become less conspicuous with regards to the overall interior design. And thanks to an exchange between John and Charon in the first movie, we know the hotel was renovated about four years prior. All of that is to say that pneumatic tubes are a prominent fixture of The Continental switchboard — aka “Accounts Payable” — where bounties are placed by and announced to the wider criminal world. Our brief glimpses of it in the second film prove that messages can be sent via tube to every part of the hotel — from the front desk to the rooftop.
“Be seeing you”
After shooting Cormac dead in the secret railroad tunnel beneath the hotel, KD finally fulfills her quest for revenge. The true culprit behind her family’s fiery demise back in the ‘50s has been brought to justice. With the debt settled, she spares Winston’s life, tosses her gun aside, and walks away in the opposite direction, but not before uttering a famous farewell among professional killers in the Wick-Verse: “Be seeing you.”
Another license plate Easter egg! This time around, we'd like to draw your attention to the vanity plate on The Adjudicator’s Chevrolet Impala, which reads “SW-FLTY.” It took us a second to work out what it meant, but a helpful hint from director and executive producer Albert Hughes got us there in the end. Speaking with NBC Insider, he said: “The Adjudicator character’s license plate in the third episode was a throwback to a line from The Adjudicator in the film series. But it's a vanity license plate so you have to put the words together yourself, you have to use your brain.” This sent us back to all the Adjudicator scenes in Chapter 3, which have a running theme: the mention of pledging one’s fealty to the High Table. With that in mind, the license plate meaning becomes clear. SW-FLTY becomes SWEAR FEALTY. Well played, Mr. Hughes!
Additional reporting by Stephanie Gomulka
Originally published Sep 26, 2023.