Everything is about to hit the fan. The Saint of Killers has arrived in New Orleans, and he’s being delivered right to Jesse’s door. But the Saint is going to have to contend with a newly reunified trio, and all of their skills put together. We may not be closer to finding God, but we’re certainly seeing Jesse have a moment where he has to decide what path he is truly walking.
After this episode, it seems that Jesse’s path is a little more gray than maybe even he realizes. The last few episodes have done good jobs drawing parallels between different situations, as “Dallas” reminded us that Hell, at least as we’ve seen it through Eugene’s eyes, is something akin to moments that Jesse and Tulip actually lived through. The cycle was stuck on repeat. It’s only fitting that “Sokosha” would take some time to remind us of previously explored backstory, although in a different fashion to how “Dallas” showed us things we didn’t previously know. This episode was also another opportunity for Preacher to step aside and indulge in some of the absurdity which is something of a hallmark for the show, and yet can’t be the meat of every outing. Given little glimpses here and there, and we’re given a delicious garnish. Too much, and it runs the risk of ruining the entire palate. In “Sokosha”, this balance is handled delicately, and it’s hard to say it wasn’t done at just the right levels.
Take the cold opening this week, for example. Instead of picking up from the exact point we’d been left before, “Sokosha” presents us with an entirely new scenario, featuring individuals we’ve never met. In fact, it’s all a little weird, but grounded in the science and magic of how Jesse’s world works. The entire exchange is odd and a little cold, but not terribly so. We hear the Japanese technician assure his initial clients that, even at 15%, they won’t miss it, and he performs his procedure, granting them an obviously needed financial boon. The scene then cuts to the next part of the entire transaction, as the technician is clearly delivering at least part of what he extracted to a wealthy older couple. The wife’s dementia clears up, and the husband makes the exchange. It shouldn’t go missed that, at the soul of this scene (see what I did there?), the entire transaction shows people of color giving up something far more valuable than what they are offered, all so that well-off white people can benefit. There was a definite Get Out feel to that scene, although not quite as ominous as what was presented in the movie. In Preacher, this type of exchange just felt sadder than anything else, and, for a show not necessarily diving into social issues, the framing of this scene was too purposeful to be anything less than commentary on our own day-to-day existence.
One of the things done well in this episode is the fact that we witness the soul exchange, but we don’t actually really know what it is for certain until it crosses paths with Jesse Custer. In fact, after the cold opening, we have more pressing issues to deal with. Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy are busy plotting out what they’re going to do next, all over a clearly overly-sugared breakfast of Tulip’s creation. This is all interrupted by the arrival of the Saint of Killers, forcing our heroes to bring the fight to him only after they escape, thanks in no small part to Jesse paying more attention to his surroundings than the squabbling of the other two. It also creates an opportunity for Preacher to diverge into absurd territory once again, when the three head to the library and its assorted materials to figure out exactly what will help them deal with the Saint.
This episode is one where Tulip, interestingly enough, takes a bit of a back seat. It a lot of ways, it makes sense. She’s had so much story thrown her way so far this season, that she’s definitely threatened to overshadow Jesse as the star of the show. It doesn’t help that Jesse has been fairly single-minded in purpose, whereas Tulip has been able to be more of a holistic person, attempting to balance her needs with those of the man she loves. This doesn’t mean that Tulip doesn’t have her moments to shine, but they are definitely not as many as the others. The moment that carries the most weight for Tulip’s personal journey is obviously how the touch of the Saint affects her moving forward. It doesn’t seem necessarily that there’s a supernatural bent to her response, but she was definitely shaken by his touch. In contrast, we also have her “it’s still a book” response to Jesse regarding her research through a book-on-tape. Both of these moments show elements of who Tulip is, but we don’t get much more than surface-scratching for her in this episode.
Taking Tulip’s place in this episode as the secondary character is Cassidy, and, truth be told, he doesn’t have a whole lot to do in this one, either. That doesn’t mean that we don’t learn a very key part of Cassidy’s story, and one that makes a lot of moments from the past couple of episodes stand out even more, but it’s telling that Cassidy’s story is still impacted by others more than it seems to be by him. Cassidy is a bit of an agent of chaos, and he has clearly been bouncing from place to place, and situation to situation, for a long time. His previous statements about Denis were easily brushed off as just someone who maybe Cassidy had engaged in dealings with in the past, but this episode lets us know exactly why the Irish vampire would go to a man who seemingly could barely tolerate him, and why Denis wouldn’t actually do more to kick the trio out. Denis is Cassidy’s son. The gulf between the two is so wide that Cassidy never even learned to speak the only language that Denis seems able to, but clearly Cassidy wants to make things better. And yes, it should be clearly stated he is looking to make things “better”, and not “right”. The possibility of “right” left a long time ago, and Cassidy knows that, but he is clearly trying to do small things. In fact, the exchange over the shoelaces takes on even greater meaning when you understand the familial relationship, and Cassidy’s words are definitely ones that a parent would use to a young child. Of course, if Jesse’s search hadn’t lead the trio to New Orleans, Cassidy wouldn’t have made these efforts, but maybe it was seeing his son ailing as he is that allowed Cassidy to open up in that capacity. God may be missing in the world of Preacher, but it’s clear that His hand is still working in mysterious ways.
That leaves us with Jesse Custer, and this episode is all about the preacher. Jesse is the one to learn about Fiore’s demise at the Mumbai Sky Tower, leading to the realization that the Saint is after them. Jesse spearheads the research at the library, and he concocts the plan to restore a soul to the Saint. After all, this is New Orleans, and a voodoo hotbed would clearly allow Jesse to find this illusive item, right? Jesse crafts his deal with the Saint, and has to scramble to try and find a soul, because the Saint isn’t playing games, and takes the others as hostages. After coming up empty at Papa Bebe’s House of Voodoo (where Jesse drops the last name L’Angell and his own familial connections to the soul industry), he learns about Soul Happy Go Go, and makes his move. He finds their armored car, we’re all reminded that Tulip is a remarkable tactician and scary around the components for explosives, and it all figuratively blows up in Jesse’s face until he is forced to utilize Genesis to get his way. Knowing where the Saint is makes it easier for Jesse to be willing to use his power, and he gets a little out of control with it, before he does eventually get to have a face-to-face with the mysterious technician from the opening scenes of the episode. It should come as no surprise that none of the souls were matches, until Jesse offers up part of his own, and this piece grants the Saint a chance at rejoining his family in Heaven.
It’s never that easy, though, is it? Jesse, missing seemingly just a small portion of his own soul, clearly isn’t going to let the Saint off of the hook, and goes a little dark. Something that he figured out along the way was that the Saint was unaffected by Genesis due to no longer possessing a soul; just a piece of Jesse’s changed the whole game. And Jesse’s dark turn almost sends the Saint back to Hell, as Jesse even taunts that he’s done it before and he can do it again. In fact, it seems to only be self-preservation that leads Jesse to abandoning the Saint under the swamp instead of banishing him entirely. After all, that’s part of the preacher’s own soul inside the cowboy, and Jesse clearly doesn’t want to have any part of his self consigned to the underworld. When the episode comes to a close with a similar scene to Jesse’s from the beginning, bathroom fogged, shower running, but a very different expression on his face, one has to wonder how much Jesse actually gave up.
For his part in this episode, the Saint shifted from an unstoppable force into an immovable object. He is a barrier that Jesse has to get around to continue his search for God. Most of the way, he’s actually handled deftly, and it’s refreshing to see Jesse and the others forced to think outside of their carefully constructed boxes along the way to finding a solution. If there’s any disappointment, it’s in the solution itself, as Jesse abandoning the cowboy like he did means that we know the Saint is coming back, but he’s also now hampered by Jesse’s soul, and the effects of Genesis. Even the Saint’s earlier missteps, by heading to the wrong apartment, make sense. He’s single-minded, and his ability to track Genesis are clearly much more like radar pings than a magnetic force. He has no reason to disbelieve Allie, and it’s even possible that she made a mistake with regards to which apartment Jesse was hiding in. The Saint has his purpose, and his goal, and he is going to push himself towards that. Of course it’s Jesse’s soul that is a close-enough match, given the way they both drive themselves. And, given the darkness Jesse exhibits at the end, it’s clear that isn’t the only similarity between the two men.
All told, “Sokosha” is one of the most complete episodes that this series has put out yet. Humor is handled deftly, and heightens scenes, never undercutting the seriousness of other events. Sure, the entire concept of selling souls for profit may seem ridiculous, but it’s handled with such a dry sincerity, it just blends in to the rest of the narrative, and leaves us with more questions for the future. We’re also now left wondering how both Jesse and Tulip will react to their experiences, while getting a moment of solace and hope from Cassidy’s own story. The library may seem like the least likely place for Preacher to take it’s largest, loudest strides, but that’s exactly what happened.