Raise your hand if you thought that last week’s beginning of a conversation between Jesse and the renegade angels would lead to big changes. Anyone? Seriously anyone? Because hey, no big shocker, but this week’s Preacher picked up pretty much where we left off, and then slowly filtered out more information as it saw fit. In fact, a lot of the fallout we could have expected from last week didn’t come to pass, leaving us in a bit of a limbo.
Not to say that this week’s episode wasn’t a good one, or a fun one. It was. It’s just that everything that was set up in the previous episode is going to have to wait just a little bit to reach true fruition. In some ways, it’s like we’re also residents of the Sundowner, staying in a seedy hotel while there’s some real bizarre stuff happening in a room nearby, but we aren’t really seeing the results of it. At least, not yet. However, this week’s episode delivered a few more answers, and kept driving us forward with the overall story, so let’s step inside the door, and take a look.
In a change of pace, this week’s episode began in media res, completing a scene that we saw beginning last week. Sitting at a booth was the trio of Jesse, Fiore and DeBlanc. The two angels were trying to impart to Jesse the importance of him giving up the entity within him, and, at first, Jesse seems almost interested in hearing what they have to say. However, after learning that Genesis (the power) is what happened when an angel and a demon decided to step outside of the eternal war between Heaven and Hell, and that Jesse is actively courting danger by using Genesis and it’s gift, does our presumptive hero realize that maybe, just maybe, Fiore and DeBlanc have his best interests in mind? Hahahahahahahahahaha*breathe*hahahahahahahahahahaha. Of course not. Even with the introduction of our first seraphim “hunter”, and the completely insane fight scene involving them, nothing is going to sway Jesse’s mind.
But, before talking more about Jesse, let’s talk about that fight scene. How do you balance out a fight where three of the participants can keep being reinvigorated into new versions of their forms? Just like this, actually. True, we don’t end up seeing a lot of it, thanks to the ultimately brilliant choice to have the camera retreat through a bullet hole into the adjacent room, but we get to see bodies flying, flashes of light as one of the angels reappears, and, ultimately, the aftermath. It’s the sheer amount of ludicrous that this show needs to help carry it forward, and the pace was fairly relentless. Will it wake Jesse up? No. But it will certainly show some of the stakes that are out there.
But what about Jesse? Well, any hope that he might realize that he needed to take a few steps back was squashed the minute he realized that the power of Genesis would work against the angels as well. This seemed to confirm for him that he is working under God’s will. Nothing he does shows any lessening of resolve. Sure, he has a nice heart-to-heart with Cassidy while the two of them are washing their blood-soaked clothes, but Jesse’s biggest moment comes when he once again brushes off any concerns from Emily, while planning on addressing an ever-growing congregation through a loudspeaker set up outside of the church. That said, there is a moment at the end, with a character that’s proving to be incredibly full of heart, that might make Jesse pause. We’ll have to wait and see.
When it comes to Tulip, it’s easy to see why there’s some discontent around her character. She’s currently coming off as a bit of a stereotype of the hardcore, bad-ass woman character. Sure, she’s pining after Jesse, but she’s largely doing so because she wants his help in her revenge scheme. She already showed her willingness to bend Cassidy to her will, too, and this week, her main interactions are with Emily, who she first encounters by storming in and demanding that the other woman leave her “boyfriend” alone. There’s definitely more to Tulip than we’ve been shown, but the show currently seems pretty focused on making sure that we know how tough and action-oriented she is. Here’s the kicker, though. They don’t have to soften her to show those other aspects of what makes Tulip Tulip, but right now, her path seems very focused on merely getting revenge, and breaking down anyone around her to get that revenge. Hopefully, she’ll become less of a caricature soon.
Meanwhile, Cassidy is the character who had the most complete arc in this week’s episode. He first pops up in the middle of the huge angel fight, and is the extra piece needed to really bring it to a finish. He then has a good conversation with Jesse, including stressing that maybe Genesis is too big for Jesse to handle. However, it’s his scene with Tulip, after realizing her connection to Jesse, that really stands out. What could have been a simple, or almost even comical, exchange between Tulip and Cassidy in the supply closet took on a great amount of emotional weight as Jesse and Tulip converse, with Cassidy hiding behind the door. His expression as the other two leave shows that he was actually invested, and sees something he wants slipping away, which has probably been occurring regularly throughout his life.
As strong as Cassidy’s scenes were, though, there is one side character who was even more important when it came to delivering something deeper, and that was Eugene. A character that could easily be written off as a sheer comic relief piece, or a dark and twisted soul, has instead become one of the characters easiest to empathize with, and the scenes with Eugene and his fellow classmates kept making it seem that he was going to get betrayed by his peer group. It was almost a relief when the boys walked into the culvert to light fireworks, instead of anything darker. This moment brings Eugene to a realization, and he goes to Jesse before church, asking the preacher to take back what he did to Mrs. Loach. After all, Eugene wants to be forgiven, but he wants to be forgiven in the right way. Unfortunately, there was no way this episode would give Eugene a grouping of happy moments without a betrayal, and making that betrayal come from Jesse, who used Genesis to tell Eugene to “go to hell”, is that much harder to take.
The rest of the side characters that appear in this episode pretty much stay by the side. Emily is largely there to be the motivation, or vehicle, for other characters, as her persistence gives Tulip another way in to Jesse, and she’s the one who ushers Eugene in before the fateful command. Miles is there merely to remind us of what Odin Quincannon did, and his own willingness to clean up the mess; he isn’t terribly effective, and his scenes would have honestly been better utilized by showing us what Odin himself did in the aftermath.
All of that said, Sundowner is an episode that stands up. Jesse has redoubled his own personal conviction that he is doing exactly what God has asked of him, although he now should be faced with a crisis of faith over what he did to Eugene. Cassidy now has to balance his loyalty to Jesse with his desire for something more with Tulip. Tulip now has her extra point of accessibility with which to try and get Jesse to wiggle a little on his stance. And the rest of the characters have provided just enough flavor to keep the town of Annville from being painted with only three primary colors.