The pilot episode of Preacher set up a world that was instantly engaging, and dropped enough plot hooks to make viewers wonder what was coming next. Yes, those who have read the comics that the series is based on know what’s around the corner, but even they were largely hooked by seeing what was going to be kept the same, and what would change, in the translation from the inked page to the glowing screen. The second episode kept up some of the first’s frenetic pace, but didn’t really feel like much of the story was moved forward. It was a completely logical choice, honestly, because with everything that was wrapped into the pilot, it was a good idea to reinforce a lot of those character elements.
That brings us to the third episode of the season (although some places will describe it as Episode 2, placing the pilot as Episode 0). This episode definitely stepped down the pace from the previous two episodes, while also giving us some answers, and moving the overall plot incrementally forward. While there will be detractors for the way the third episode unfolded, it was a perfect way to move on. It also creates a whole new world, one where The Possibilities are waiting us just around the next bend.
The third episode opens with Tulip on a park bench, talking to a woman named Dany. While we don’t get to see much of Dany this episode, and we don’t know if she’ll be recurring, we do get to see elements of her character, as she’s expounding on her plans to get Tulip to kill her husband for her. Not taking the bait, Tulip instead focuses on the reason she was there in the first place, and exchanges a map, bearing the name “Grail Industries”, for an address. The address is apparently the last known address for a man named Carlos, who is apparently the one who made everything between Tulip and Jesse go wrong. Map in hand, the two women part ways, with Tulip heading back to Annville, and Dany going to a movie theater, where she passes the map off to a man wearing all white.
Within this episode, Jesse goes through a little bit of a crisis of faith, but only gets his decision to follow a righteous path reinforced. Clearly scared of his powers, Jesse gets to experiment with them on Cassidy, providing us a nice visual for the limitations of what his gift can make others do; is it something physically within their abilities, or contained within their knowledge? If the answer to those questions is no, then Jesse can’t compel someone to do it, although morals clearly don’t come into play. Also, the Johnny Cash command posed to Cassidy showcased the importance of careful wording, but it would be very easy for the characters to pass that off as Cassidy not knowing any Cash songs. The crisis of faith comes up near the end of the episode, and Jesse comes close to crossing his personal event horizon with regards to his use of the power, but is able to stop himself and rededicate himself towards being one of the good guys.
With regards to Tulip and her arc, her desire to get vengeance against Carlos, for an event we only get minor glimpses of, drives her, and we get to see her cunning and a hint of her ruthlessness when she gets pulled over by the police for speeding. Her biggest triumph comes in convincing Jesse that they need to bring Carlos to justice, which only makes his later change of heart that much more crushing for her. Tulip has to be getting frustrated with Jesse’s unwillingness to see her side, despite the two of them both being affected, which is setting her on a path towards recklessness.
Speaking of recklessness, Cassidy gets to again be somewhat of an embodiment of that quality. Not only is he willing to be a test dummy for Jesse’s power, but his reactions to seeing the returned Fiore and DeBlanc show him acting primarily on instinct. Cassidy is so concerned that he’s being chased by vampire hunters that he doesn’t even pause before running down the two men, only afterwards recognizing them as the men he’s already killed once. Well, make that twice, because they also encounter him in the church, their previous bodies waiting to be cleaned up, and drop their bombshell about being emissaries from Heaven. While Cassidy makes it clear that Jesse is his “best mate”, he also clearly wants to believe what Fiore and DeBlanc are saying, and looks like he’s about to start trying to play a little of both sides.
With the primary three all moving forward, the rest of the episode is largely filled with small scenes, reminding us what came before and showing us the consequences of those actions. Emily visits the Loach family, and sees their faith restored somewhat because Tracy did in fact open her eyes. Linus has an exchange with Jane, the girl that Jesse made him forget. Donnie attempts to explain to Chris about the nature of his relationship with his wife, and interacts with Odin Quincannon. Quincannon for his part had a deliciously disturbing scene to paint some of his background in, showing him sitting in his office, listening to the sounds from the slaughterhouse floor. Ted, the man who “opened his heart”, has his body returned, with starts Cassidy on his path towards his encounter with Fiore and DeBlanc. The representative from Heaven also get a fair amount of time, most of it with Cassidy, trying to underscore the danger that Jesse, and everyone around him, is in due to the entity. And what about poor Eugene? He has an exchange with his father, the sheriff, talking about wanting to visit Tracy and maybe help, but the sheriff was so worried thanks to his earlier conversation with Fiore and DeBlanc that he refuses to let Eugene entertain the idea of leaving the house. Little pieces of story, but all of them helped remind us what Jesse has already done, and how it’s already impacted the town of Annville.
The first three episodes have delivered a fair number of plot threads for us to follow. There’s obviously the overarching story with Jesse, Tulip, Cassidy, and the strange power that Jesse has become the host for. Little subplots have popped up, regarding the other people that Jesse’s interacted with, and a few lingering mysteries have been dangled out for us. When will we see more of the cowboy from last week’s installment? Is Grail Industries going to be a major player? And exactly how disturbing, and powerful, is Odin Quincannon? These additional threads can definitely be dangled for a bit, as Preacher is content to drop us information only when we really need it, and is also doing a good job of showing, instead of just telling. We’ve seen Tulip’s resilience. We’ve seen Cassidy’s dedication. And now we’ve seen Jesse’s moral conflict, along with having the rules for his power laid out for us. The story is just getting started, and it really does feel like the pieces are in place for a solid ride to take us along with it.