Five episodes through the first season of Preacher, and things are still in a “ramping up” mode. With each passing episode, the stakes are rising, and more and more of the rules of the game are being revealed. We’ve crossed beyond the mid-point for this first season, and it seems as though the boulder Jesse and friends has been pushing is nearing the top of the hill. When it finally crests, and starts rolling down the other side, it seems to be set up to leave a swath of destruction in its path.
Within this week’s episode, we saw more of a focus on the main trio, with just enough flavor provided to the supporting cast to keep their stories moving forward. Jesse, Cassidy, and Tulip are not quite working as one unit as of yet, but we’re moving closer to that point happening. Jesse has also been running a little wild on his own, but with some of the events from this episode, it seems that the chickens are finally coming home to roost. The South Will Rise Again, and we’ll have to wait to see how Jesse and company deal with that eventuality.
This week, our opening segment actually works to continue the story presented in a previous cold open. We’re back with the cowboy, as he enters the town of Ratwater, trying to secure medicine for his sick family. Of course, the medicine won’t be ready until the next morning, which means the cowboy is forced to stay overnight, during which he sees some of the seedier underbelly of Ratwater itself, including a backroom rape. He gets his medicine the next morning and leaves town, only to return because of a family heading in. Attempting to save them, he instead learns that they are part of the darker story behind Ratwater, and encounters the town preacher, who remembers him from Gettysburg and kills his horse because of it. The cowboy eventually makes his way back to his farm, only to see that he’s arrived too late. Grabbing his weapons, it seems clear that the cowboy is going to make the town of Ratwater pay for delaying him. What isn’t clear as of yet is how his story will affect Jesse, but it can’t simply be a side-story, without any deeper connection. Aside from continuing to explore this particular mystery, this scene was also shot with strong, dramatic camera work. Excellent uses of shading and light really made it feel like it was jumping off of a comic page, while also giving a bit of a supernatural feel, tying it to Jesse’s world.
For his part, Jesse is a man who is falling victim to more than a little bit of hubris. Riding high off of convincing Odin Quincannon to come to church, and then believing that there are no ill effects to his use of the power, Jesse is confident that he has given the church a new life. When Emily expresses her concerns, Jesse is quick to say that it isn’t him, but it’s God working through him. In fact, Jesse is so confident that he’s doing the right thing, he taps into his power to plant commands, in small ways, to citizens of Annville as they approach him at the diner. He even attempts to bring some peace to Eugene’s life, bringing him to the Loach household and commanding Terri to forgive the man she’s called a murderer. It isn’t until the end of the episode, when he’s sitting down across from Fiore and DeBlanc that Jesse even shows a glimpse of doubt as to the correct course of action, but it would also be easy for him to write off their words as the rantings of crazy people. Given that Jesse knows a vampire, however, maybe it isn’t that much of a stretch to believe that he’s talking to emissaries from Heaven.
Speaking of the vampire, Cassidy didn’t have quite as much to do this episode, being largely in recovery mode after Tulip mistook him for someone else. Tulip doesn’t fill a lot of the space herself, but the interaction between the two characters clearly shows their connection is going to get deeper, no pun intended. After being grilled over what it means to be a vampire, Cassidy tries to get some information from Tulip, and even expresses his affections for her. She deflects by talking about her “boyfriend”, but an exchange with Jesse where he points out that Tulip is jealous she hasn’t yet changed like he has changes her tune slightly. She finds Cassidy, tells him the two are “in love”, and they engage in a little backseat sex. What this all does is point out to us how Cassidy is open, to a fault, but also that he is loyal, even to people he just met. Tulip, on the other hand, is much more guarded, but isn’t above using what she can to get people to do her bidding for her. In fact, that’s exactly what upsets her so much about Jesse. He is no longer as easily swayed to her side, and she isn’t quite sure how to deal with his new perspective.
When it comes to filling out the rest of the episode, and giving us more context, we see Fiore and DeBlanc, still frightened by the phone from Heaven ringing. They’re trying to spin the best way to answer, and DeBlanc decides that they need to rehearse, with Fiore being the one to answer. After all, he’s the one they like “up there”. Of course, before they get to the phone, it stops ringing, which is clearly what prompts them to approach Jesse directly.
Eugene is dealing with troubles, as well. He’s clearly running into a bit of a brick wall in trying to please his father, and things only get worse when graffiti is found in his room, imploring him to “finish the job”. Combine that with the accusations of “murderer” being thrown in his direction, and Eugene definitely needs help from somewhere, and Jesse is one of the few willing to offer an ear. Given what’s going on with Odin Quincannon, however, Jesse might not be the best option. Sure, Odin was told to serve God, and that has changed him enough to make Donnie put together some pieces, but apparently, in Odin’s view, serving God includes straight up murdering people who would oppose him in the realm of business. The poor members of the Green Acre group, we barely got to know them before Odin blasted them all. And what about Donnie, Odin’s right-hand man? Well, Donnie has definitely realized that Jesse has some sort of a power. It wasn’t his own experiences alone, however. Instead, it was seeing the change in Odin that fully tripped the switch in Donnie’s mind, and made him confess his beliefs to Betsy, who swears that Jesse will get what’s coming to him.
All told, the fifth episode of the season moved the story forward, and is really seeming to be setting up the second half of the season with much higher stakes. Jesse has now been confronted by the men chasing down the entity, Tulip is closer to convincing someone to go after Carlos with her, Jesse’s commands are starting to unravel around him, and the enemies that he’s scattered throughout town are closer to becoming emboldened. The pace is picking up, and the action is sure to follow.