Preach On: Season 1, Episode 10 – Call and Response

Well, that’s certainly one way to end a debut season of a television series. There was a lot packed in to the first season of Preacher, and much of it came back around in the end. The first season of the show certainly didn’t end with a whimper, and is setting us up for a much bigger world for these characters to inhabit.

Of course, with the town of Annville going the way of the dinosaurs, there may be some discontent. It certainly seems likely that we won’t encounter most of the people that we spent ten weeks getting to know ever again, unless there’s some clever reason why they weren’t around. But we got some answers for a few questions. True to the episode itself, maybe not all of those answers were what we were hoping they would be, but they were indeed answers. There are still plenty of threads left dangling, some of which that weren’t singed off, and Jesse has a new mission before him. While his Call and Response may not have been quite what he expected, there’s a new opportunity, and we only have to wait until the second season to see where we’re going now.

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Via AMC.

The opening for this episode shows that things aren’t necessarily going great for our preacher. Jesse is still on the run from the police, and, while aspects of the town are supporting him, he certainly isn’t a safe place. We also got a lot of callbacks to moments from earlier in the series, being reminded of the weirdness of the mascots, the looming threat of Linus and his school bus, and the nature of Donnie and Betsy’s relationship. Tulip’s return also let us know how Annville feels about Jesse’s promise to bring God to church on Sunday; a lot of the residents are nervously excited, and there’s a line of women making sure to get themselves looking their best.

For much of this episode, Jesse and Tulip are a united force. Sure, Tulip is initially under the belief that Donnie has done something terrible to Jesse, but that idea gets squashed quickly. Jesse has actually inspired mercy in Donnie. Apparently Jesse isn’t as bad at this “man of the cloth” thing as it seemed. Together with Tulip, Jesse is able to play a darker side of his personality, and that is shown in the interaction with Carlos. By the same token, he is able to keep his hands relatively clean, and keep himself the “good guy”.

The flashback showing why Carlos was hunted down by Tulip makes it understandable why she would be seeking her revenge, and also shows why things started to fall apart between her and Jesse. A heist gone wrong that took an even more difficult turn thanks to a miscarriage, and all of it caused by pure jealous? Yeah, Carlos kind of asked for what was coming, especially given the fact that, at the time of his betrayal, Jesse and Tulip certainly weren’t operating on any good side of the law. The act of taking care of Carlos reunited Jesse and Tulip, and a glimpse into why they worked together so well before is shown. That moves them on to the bigger task of bringing God to Annville, as long as they get french fries afterwards. And, if you’ve been paying attention, you know that Tulip is going to get her french fries.

Cassidy also shows his dedication, and, when he is able to join up with Jesse and Tulip, the threesome is so much stronger than they would be alone. That said, Cass is probably the one who is best suited to being on his own, and one has to wonder if the flashbacks to Carlos are a big of foreshadowing for what might happen with Cassidy. Cassidy seems to be a more loyal type than Carlos, but sometimes emotions cloud things. Right now, though, the vampire is firmly sided with the preacher, as he is willing to take multiple bullets from Sheriff Root (who pieced together the truth) in order to protect the secret of what happened to Eugene.

The big thrust of the episode is, naturally, Jesse using the heaven phone to bring God to the church, and, after a quick tutorial (from Betsy, of all people), Jesse is ready to do just that. It seems like everything is going according to plan, and the caller from Heaven speaks in platitudes, doing just enough to placate the people of Annville, including Odin Quincannon. That is, until Jesse asks if Eugene, like “everyone else” is saved. After an affirmative answer, Jesse sees through the ruse, eventually using Genesis to demand to know where God actually is. Turns out, He’s missing, and nobody in Heaven knows where He’s gone. Oops. Yeah, the humans certainly weren’t supposed to know that. The reaction of the people of Annville is probably one of the most understandable things that could happen. You take a community that’s very religious, and has a large amount of faith. They’re told that they’ll be able to meet God, only to learn that God is apparently missing. The crisis of faith must have been crippling, and it leads to a domino effect of people acting out in some very base ways. After all, without an Almighty, is there a reason to keep toeing the line of goodness (note: this is not an actual philosophical discussion I’m proposing, but attempting at an explanation as to why this particular group of characters acted as they did). We see people destroy the church, schoolgirls exact their bloody vengeance on Linus, Tracy Loach being euthanized, and the strange battle between the two mascots coming to a tragic end. We also learn over the course of the episode what exactly the panel of dials and gauges was for, as it’s keeping track of the methane content powering Annville, all thanks to Quincannon Meat & Power. Pappy, who was venting the methane slowly when it got to be too much, is now dead, and the hooker he hired for his final bliss isn’t equipped to deal with it. The methane releases all over town, and one stray dropped cigarette later, say goodbye to Annville.

Of course, that isn’t the end. The show is going to continue for another season, and it can’t do that if literally everyone is dead. Turns out that getting Tulip french fries meant leaving the blast radius of Annville, so Jesse, Cassidy, and Tulip are just fine, being some of the only people to escape the methane explosion. They’re going to travel the country, on an epic road trip to try and find God. Before they leave, Tulip insists on learning what Genesis does, so Jesse uses it to have her kiss him. Unsurprisingly, she punches him as well. Tulip is not the kind of person who Jesse should consider using Genesis on, especially not in the way he did. They aren’t the only three who survived our first season, either, as Fiore is back from Hell, and the Saint of Killers, our illustrious cowboy, is along for the ride, to chase down the preacher. There’s also Eugene stuck in Hell, and Jesse is determined to try and get him back. We probably won’t see anyone else from Annville, and the show did everything it could to wrap up most of those stories for us. Sure, there’s always the potential for more, but how many of these characters would make sense in a bigger story of cross-country travel?

Overall, the first season of Preacher was a strong one. Was it a perfect show, by any means? No. Of course not. But perfect isn’t messy, and Preacher is at its best when it’s portraying a little bit of that messier side of things. There’s a lot of potential moving forward, and still plenty of questions left unanswered to keep the audience invested in our heroes, whether they end up being true to the title, or dancing closer to the anti- side.

Preach On: Season 1, Episode 9 – Finish the Song

Only one episode remains after this past weekends entry into the story of Preacher. It’s been one heck of a ride so far, with action punctuated by dark humor and a strong sense of place, with the West Texas background being displayed beautifully on screen every week. Of course, with a desire to bring the series to a second season, they can’t wrap up too many of the loose ends that they’ve created. Also, with all of those loose ends, it wouldn’t be feasible to tie everything up into a pretty bow right away. Clearly the creators of the show need to keep dangling threads, but they have to avoid the pitfalls of The Walking Dead, which sometimes completely ignores plot holes that have been created just to leave a cliffhanger for the next season.

So how does Finish the Song work with the rest of the episodes? Honestly, it presents a nice continuation of the build up that we’ve been seeing all season long. The characters are coming back to what you could reasonably assume are their true selves, and story elements are being pushed only when needed, with a seeming willingness to close off pieces that aren’t going to serve the greater story. There were definitely moments where the dark comedy aspect of the series was replaced with simply a darker angle, but that actually helps raise the stakes. The song may not be quite finished, but it is hitting a strong melody as it approaches it’s coda.

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Via AMC.

Our opening segment this week returned us to the town of Ratwater, with the Cowboy entering the saloon, interrupting the start of a surreal song. The Cowboy’s presence makes everyone go quiet, until the town’s preacher introduces him as the “Butcher of Gettysburg”. As a response, the Cowboy empties the bag he had slung over his shoulder, rolling decapitated heads out for all to see before starting a slaughter, all backed by the song he interrupted earlier. Once again, a scene that was terribly bloody was also far more humorous than it probably otherwise would have been, due to the highly stylized nature of the cinematography, and the soundtrack layered over the top. When finished, the Cowboy poured himself a shot and drank it while the earth shook around him. We’re then deposited back in the present.

This week was a big week for Jesse Custer. After using Sheriff Root to get himself away from Quincannon’s men, he showed his ingenuity by escaping from the back of the squad car, and keeping himself hidden enough while also reestablishing the connections he had previously been burning apart. This is incredibly important, especially as a continuation of last week’s hallucination. If Jesse is going to be any sort of character we want to see more of on screen, we need to not only see his competence, but we need to see his willingness to admit his faults. In an attempt to set things right, Jesse goes to the house where Tulip has been staying with her uncle Walter, only to find Emily there instead. This leads to Jesse seeing Cassidy, and we learn that Jesse actually was the one to save the vampire, and the two have their reconciliation moment.  Meanwhile, Jesse is still working on his plan to bring God to Annville, getting a little assistance from the Heaven phone and some spare angel hands.

Cassidy spent a good portion of the episode doing what he did last week, as well; hiding behind a closed door. There’s a good reason for this, as he is slowly healing after his experience in the sunlight. Tulip has been taking care of him, providing him with pets from seemingly everywhere she can get them, but it’s only doing so much. It isn’t until Emily has her plan that brings Cassidy back to the light of day, so to speak, and that’s followed by Jesse’s arrival. There is seemingly no reason for Cassidy to want to even associate with Jesse, let alone extend a hand of friendship again, but that’s exactly what he is willing to do. As it turns out, Jesse not turning away from the vampire was all that it took to show his character to Cassidy, and pulling his burning body from the sunlight convinced him to offer a second chance. Cassidy is clearly someone who is unflinching in his loyalty, even in situations where it seems that he shouldn’t. However, he’s seen something in Jesse that he wants to bring out, and he isn’t going to give up easily. Besides, it isn’t like Cassidy had any real use for the extra angel hands.

Tulip is also taking this episode to stand true to herself. Her dedication to attempting to help Cassidy is clear, based on the number of animals she’s gotten for him. Still taunted by the knowledge of where Carlos is, she was split on what to do, until she stepped aside and decided to put her trust in Emily’s kind nature so that she could get the man who wronged her on her own. Tulip’s strength is her unflinching drive, and she’s using her passion to help draw more people into her social sphere, as opposed to push them away. We have yet to see how Jesse’s phone call to her will resonate, but it does seem possible that even she may be willing to give the preacher another chance , but she’s certainly going to hold his actions against him. Still, it will definitely be hard for her to remain completely cold to him, especially with him again mentioning “til the end of the world”.

As for that end of the world, well, it might be coming quicker than Jesse and his friends might want. Fiore and DeBlanc, pursuing their Plan B to retrieve Genesis, make their voyage into Hell, and specifically to a little town that we’ve seen a few times. Yes, they’re visiting Ratwater, and the Cowboy as he relives the death and destruction around him. Clearly, he is their second option, as they tell him that they’re hiring him to “kill a preacher”. Of course, when they return with him, there’s a chance that it will embolden Jesse’s desire to rescue Eugene. Meanwhile, the only other character who really got a strong moment to shine in this episode was Emily, in what could have easily been wasted screen time. Instead, she is the one who pushes the story from the dark comedy straight to a darkly serious tale, as she, in her own attempts to get Cassidy back to full health, manipulates Miles into being a feast for the vampire. Miles has clearly been trying to pursue his own goals, at the expense of everything Emily holds dear, but for her to show such a callous disregard towards him, knowing what would happen, was fairly shocking. Sure, she was kind of seeing him as a surrogate while Jesse continued to rebuff her advances, but it’s a big step from that to specifically feeding him to Cassidy. It should be interesting to see how Emily’s character is changed by this one action.

The penultimate episode of Preacher packed a lot in, but it also set up what should be a strong conclusion. The show runners have been doing a good job spacing out the action scenes with quieter moments of introspection, and the stakes have been steadily growing since we first saw Genesis inhabit Jesse. We’ll only get to visit this particular corner of the world one more time before we have to wait for more, but the people behind Preacher have made sure that we’ll be eagerly waiting.

Preach On: Season 1, Episode 8 – El Valero

We’re quickly running out of episodes for the first season of Preacher. No pun intended, but it’s been one hell of a ride so far. The way that the creators have infused this little West Texas town with true, vibrant life has been impressive, as has their willingness to play things with both deadly seriousness and dark humor has been refreshing. There have been a lot of plot threads bounced out for the audience to pick up on, and we’re seeing just exactly how tangled the ball bearing those threads is.

So how was this eighth episode approached? Well, it actually decided to focus a little bit more than previous episodes. Instead of bouncing from main character to main character, and important story to important story, it really honed it all down into two main threads. On one hand, we have Jesse Custer, and on the other we have Odin Quincannon. It all goes down in El Valero.

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Via AMC.

Instead of picking up the story right where we left off this week, the opening decided to give us a little more of a glimpse into events from the past once again. Remember when John Custer brought young Jesse to Odin Quincannon’s office, and we had that glimpse of Jesse peaking into the open door? Well, we now know exactly what was going on behind the door, with Odin screaming for John to denounce God in front of everyone. Turns out, Odin had lost his family in a tragic accident in Vail, and, while pursuing his point that no God could allow such a thing to happen, Odin also holds aloft intestines; one from his daughter, and one from a cow. He demands that John tell which one is which, then proceeds to declare “It’s all meat.” It’s a gruesome scene, and one that allows us to see what exactly was the event, or at least the final nail, that turned Odin away from any belief in what the Custers were selling.

When the story returns to the present day, it does pick up with Odin’s men about to make their raid on Jesse’s church. They didn’t take into account Jesse’s prowess in a fight, however, as he is able to summarily defeat and disarm a much larger group. He later is able to use precise shooting to defuse another group of Quincannon’s men. The scenes of Jesse successfully defending himself from each group of attackers showcase part of how scary Jesse actually is when cornered. We’re never given a glimpse of him relying on Genesis to turn away Quincannon’s men. Instead, it is his own abilities that save him time and again. In fact, the only time he does rely on the power, it ends up as a failed attempt, thanks to some dark cleverness on Donnie’s behalf.

Jesse also gets to show that he’s actually truly penitent regarding what he did to Eugene. After commanding the Eugene “come back”, Jesse hears a scratching from the place where he disappeared, and he pulls the younger man from the dirt. It isn’t until the two men have been hours deep into conversation, and Eugene lets slip about the “men in the motel” that Jesse realizes it isn’t Eugene at all, but merely a figment of his own imagination. Jesse’s guilt over what he has clearly done to Eugene is palpable, and it leads to him making a deal with Fiore and DeBlanc. True, Jesse still believes that there’s a chance that Genesis picked him for a reason, and this belief is seemingly reinforced by the two angels drawing Genesis out, only for the power to escape its coffee tin cage once again and return to Jesse. Now with access to Genesis again, and the knowledge that Hell can be escaped, clearly we’re going to see Jesse do something drastic in an attempt to bring Eugene back, while we also get to wait for Fiore and DeBlanc to utilize the “other option”.

Seeing this episode, with Jesse both highly competent and less-prideful allows us to empathize more with the character than we have over the last few weeks. Instead of him being so certain that he was doing the right thing, and following the will of God, we actually see a very human side of Jesse, and his willingness to try and set things right is a breath of fresh air. Of course, when dealing with Odin Quincannon, Jesse does have a bit of the old bravado slip back, but that could have stemmed from having to defend himself and his property for over a day, and feeling like Odin cheated him out of their deal. While Odin never lied, he did allow Jesse to mislead himself, and therefore Jesse promising to bring God to Annville is both a bit of the old hubris, and a reaction to everything he’s been through at Odin’s hands.

With so much of the episode focused on Jesse, it isn’t surprising that we don’t see a whole lot of the other main characters. In fact, we don’t see Cassidy at all, as we’re lead to believe that there’s a chance that Jesse did in fact let him burn in the sun. We follow Tulip briefly, as she first rescues a stray dog from a shelter, and through scenes of caring for Brewski before eventually leading him to a room and shutting the door behind. Farewell, Brewski, but welcome back, Cassidy. While we didn’t get to see much of her this week, we did see a bit of a softening of Tulip’s character, at least with regards to Cassidy, while her frustration towards Jesse grows. Previously, it seemed like Cassidy was simply a fling to her, and a way for her to get closer to her desired goals, with or without Jesse. However, after the way that Jesse abandoned the man who may be his only true friend, Tulip has taken on a caregiver role, and it’s clear how little she wants to serve Brewski up to the ailing vampire, despite knowing that it is exactly what’s needed to bring him back to health. Getting to see something of Tulip other than the 120% gung-ho attitude that has been displayed before is refreshing, and helps round her out.

Meanwhile, the rest of the episode deals with Odin Quincannon, his men, and their attempt to take Jesse’s church. Much of the raid is also where the episode drops in fair amounts of comedy. Whether it’s Odin promising his men a food court where the church once stood, Clyde having his manhood shot off, or Odin’s later suggestion to “drink water, I guess”, there’s a darkly funny thread running through this episode. There’s also a just plain dark one, either with Odin’s past, or with Donnie, who at first seems intent on ending his own life, but instead shows cleverness and a willingness to sacrifice. After all, if you can’t hear, you clearly can’t be affected by Jesse utilizing Genesis. Donnie is not going to end up the hero, even in Odin’s eyes, but the man needed a win to be perceived as anything that could be a threat to Jesse’s continued existence, so having him be the one to bring Jesse down will provide story payoff down the road. We also see glimpses of Miles and Emily, reminding us how they stand on different ideological bases concerning Odin’s continued land grabs, while also showcasing how, despite their intentions, the two are more reliant on each other than at least Emily would be happy to admit.

We’ve only got a couple of episodes left. Jesse is now with Sheriff Root, but has regained the use of Genesis after attempting to give it to the angels. We know that Eugene can be saved from Hell, although we don’t know how as of yet. The fallout between Jesse and his closest friends has to be reaching a boiling point. And, as for a boiling point, the episode showed us the mysterious gauges once again, complete with the pressure needle rising into the danger zone. Given how much of Preacher is set in their version of the real world, it seems highly unlikely that this location, while serving as a metaphor for what’s seemingly going on within Jesse regarding Genesis, isn’t going to be carrying consequences for the town of Annville in a much more pressing manner. All that, and a return to the Cowboy’s storyline, await us next week.

Preach On: Season 1, Episode 7 – He Gone

Surely Jesse Custer has started to see the error of his ways, right? I mean, after what happened last week with Eugene, clearly our man of the cloth is going to start moving back towards the straight and narrow? After all, the big reason he didn’t want to go with Tulip to chase down Carlos is because he wants to be one of the good guys. Hard to still claim to be a good guy after what he did to close out the last episode.

Just kidding, guys. It’s going to take a lot more than that to make our “hero” think he’s doing anything other than the will of God. Jesse is a character that has exhibited a willingness to let his own hubris take control, and he certainly hasn’t been above blurring the line when it suits his purposes. Just look at the situation with Donnie, which has clearly been building since childhood. You can’t say that Jesse did the “good” thing. Maybe what was right in the situation, but definitely not good. As for Eugene? Well, He Gone, and we get to see the fallout from that.

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Via AMC.

This episode, much like last week, picked up right where we left off. We’re still in the church, seeing Jesse after he tapped into the power of Genesis to send Eugene to Hell. For a moment, it even looks like Jesse might be remorseful, but a complete change overtakes him, and he goes about the business of setting up for Sunday service. Is this a glimpse of Genesis taking more control of the preacher? Or is Jesse just refusing to let himself feel guilty for his own actions? It seems much more strongly the former.

Over the course of this episode, in fact, Jesse is shown to be fairly unrepentant. The flashbacks to Jesse and Tulip as a child show that he was once more willing to accept where he had stepped off of the path, but the man that he has become is much more set in his ways. This serves him well in his discussion with Odin Quincannon, as Jesse stands up to the powerful business owner, but every other instance showcases Jesse as a man who is so dedicated to saving his own skin than admitting his faults. When Sheriff Root visits during dinner to ask about Eugene, Jesse denies ever seeing him, and even sits sullenly still when a fire breaks out, and everyone scrambles to put it out. He proceeds to tell Cassidy the full story of Eugene and Tracy, and then seems willing to let his friend burn in the sun. He lashes out at Tulip and Emily, pushing them away for even seeming to show any concern, and for the perceived slight of keeping information from him. It isn’t until the end of the episode that we see a moment of remorse, as Jesse pries up the church floor, trying to tap into Genesis in an attempt to get Eugene to “come back”. Is Jesse finally turning over a new leaf, and rededicating himself back to the side of good? Clearly the memory of watching his father killed resonated with him, but it remains to be seen if Jesse can bring himself back, or if he’s already too far gone.

Tulip is a character that has been a bit of a one-note story for a little bit, showcasing how tough and determined she is. While modern-day Tulip still isn’t given a ton of room to grow in this episode, the flashbacks to the two as children help shed some light on her personality, and her dedication to Jesse. Turns out, the Custers took her in when she was a child, because she had nowhere else to go. When she was turned over to the state, all because she was an O’Hare, Jesse tried to chase her down. After all, they did promise each other “till the end of the world”. This finally gives us a reason why Tulip hasn’t just packed up her bags and moved on, after being rebuffed by Jesse at every turn. It’s not necessarily the wisest course of action for her, but she is committed because of the kindness he showed as a child, and the fact that they have revolved around each other for decades. It’s hard to just abandon that kind of a connection, no matter how hard Jesse tries.

Cassidy again is shown as the steadfast one. He argues with Tulip over how much she keeps from Jesse, and even admits that he tried, in a somewhat circular fashion, to tell Jesse the truth about his vampirism. Point of fact, he DID tell Jesse, but the circumstances may not have carried the intended weight into Jesse’s mind. But Cassidy is a man who isn’t going to do anything lightly, and he knows that he needs to get Jesse to believe him. To this end, Cassidy is willing to incinerate himself, to prove to Jesse the truth of his nature. Of course, this is all after Cassidy failed to convince Jesse that Eugene was an innocent who didn’t deserve the punishment set before him, but you have to give credit to Cassidy for being willing to sacrifice everything to get his friend to see the error of his ways. Even though the last scene of Cassidy’s casts doubt about his future, but you know he isn’t going to be gone that easily.

What about the rest of our supporting characters? Well, we had a week away from Fiore and DeBlanc, as they were clearly involved with cleaning up the mess made by the appearance of the seraphim. That gave us the ability to check back in with Sheriff Root and Odin Quincannon. The sheriff is a man who has clearly been conflicted with how to feel about Eugene ever since the incident with Tracy and the shotgun. However, at the bottom of it all, he is a man who still loves his son, and the concern he has for the missing Eugene is palpable. As for Odin, well, it seems pretty obvious that either he was somehow immune to the power of Genesis, or, more likely, that he has taken the command to “serve God” in his own way. He even has a moment where it almost seems that he’s about to confess to Jesse about what he did to the Green Acres people, but instead, his confession was his belief that he turned away from his birthright by crippling his own company, albeit not through any direct action. His speech, and papers of deed transference give Jesse the only real moment of doing the right thing until the end of the episode, but it also sets us up for a confrontation between Jesse and the forces of Quincannon Meat and Power.

So how does the seventh episode of this series resonate? Well, for being our titular hero, Jesse Custer needs to do a lot to redeem himself in the eyes of the people who are closest to him. Cassidy isn’t going to forgive Jesse easily, even if he was eventually extinguished. Tulip seems about ready to give up, and even Emily almost looks as though she’s questioning her continued devotion to this man who has been toying with her emotions. We know that a redemption arc has to come at some point, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see at least one of Jesse’s closest comrades turn on him, at least for a short time. After all, he’s earned at least that.

Preach On: Season 1, Episode 6 – Sundowner

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.

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Via AMC.

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.

Preach On: Season 1, Episode 5 – South Will Rise Again

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.

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Via AMC.

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.

Preach On: Season 1, Episode 4 – Monster Swamp

On Father’s Day, AMC gave us a rousing Preacher episode, one packed with plenty of different storylines all moving forward piece by piece. While not all of the disparate stories worked smoothly, those that did really felt like they were a greater part of the whole. Four episodes into the series, and we’re starting to get a better idea of how the characters of Preacher really do fit together, and we’re seeing deeper motivations start to bubble to the surface.

This was also an episode where the main trio was moved incrementally closer, as we all know they have to be. Without a strong bond between Cassidy, Tulip, and Jesse, Preacher is bound to fail, but the show is making sure to take steps to draw them into an intricate web. While the show is working to pull our trio together, it’s also throwing a bunch of sheer craziness at the wall, seeing what sticks. We know one of the threats that is out there for Jesse, with hints of others filtering through. This continual forward movement is propelling us towards an epic confrontation, and there are enough threads being spun that there is no way they can all be tied up in one short season. It’s a veritable Monster Swamp out there, and we’re all just playing paintball in it.

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Via AMC.

This week’s episode, much like each episode before, began with a seemingly disconnected story playing out before our eyes. In the pilot, we saw the entity currently cozied up inside of Jesse first coming to Earth. The second episode showed us a glimpse into the past, and the cowboy. Episode three featured the man in the white suit, and Grail Industries. So the fourth episode, which opened with a horror-movie scenario, just continued what we’ve already come to somewhat expect. It was a surreal scene, with Linus’s school bus driving past a few times, and a strange person in a mascot costume strolling down the street. We’re following Lacey, one of the town’s prostitutes, as she appears to be running for her life, and encountering other women also on the run. Lacey’s presence confirms that it’s modern day, and the entire horror scenario ends with her being shot with a paintball gun. She starts to complain about the paint, but immediately plummets into a sinkhole. Without skipping a beat, the opening credits roll.

After having gone through a bit of a crisis of faith in the last episode, this one shows Jesse clearly determined to rebuild his congregation. He has flashbacks throughout the episode to different experiences with his father, all of which shaped him to being the man that he is. From the responses to sermons, to the failed interaction with Quincannon, Jesse’s father clearly had a shaping hand, and Jesse wants to live up to, and surpass, that particular legacy. To this end, he has struck upon a tactic to bring the town to church, first through a raffle, and then though a public exhibition. Jesse seems bound and determined to make his church full again, and the fact that he taps into his Voice to ensure that means that he isn’t necessarily going to play by the rules. Of course, Jesse believes that his gift is directly from the God that he chastises the people of Annville for turning away from, so he clearly believes that he is doing the right thing.

Tulip’s story has her gathered with the prostitutes of the town, at the Toadvine Whorehouse, first during a quick speech from Odin Quincannon, and then during a small memorial service for Lacey. While we actually saw Jesse’s past, we instead had Tulip’s relayed to us, giving us a reason for her spending time at Toadvine. Tulip’s temper was underscored, not that it really needed to be. The nighttime paintball games, and the bland response to it, sent her off, and she ended up lashing out at a man she thought was Clive, the one who had been specifically chasing Lacey. Of course, that would have been too easy, and instead of killing Clive, she merely wounds Cassidy, and then panics, bringing him to the hospital. It shows that Tulip, while she can get caught up in her own anger too easily, she is also someone who can regret her actions when the wrong person gets caught in the crossfire. Also, Tulip and Cassidy are now more intricately connected, which means that the main three are much closer to working together more explicitly.

As for the Irish vampire, there was a bit of a hint last week that Cassidy might throw Jesse under a bus, with regards to Fiore and DeBlanc, especially knowing that they weren’t vampire hunters. Instead, Cassidy is clearly trying to play these two like a couple of well-tuned fiddles, as he first takes up their time to warn Jesse (to no avail), and then gets himself well-paid, in order to bury himself in drugs and prostitutes. Cassidy warning Jesse shows his true character, and it’s actually too bad that he was dealing both with a man starting to fall to his own hubris, and the barrier of his own manner of speech. Cassidy doesn’t fall on the drug angle until he realizes that he might not be able to convince Jesse satisfactorily, and it’s pure escapism for him. This is exactly what leads to his encounter with Tulip, and the injuries she inflicts on him lead to him indirectly admitting his vampiric nature to her. Another wall separating the leads has been torn down.

But, as mentioned above, this episode featured a lot of side stories being carried forward. Fiore and DeBlanc showed that they’re even less likely to be convincing than Cassidy himself, but they’re also terrified that Heaven will find out where they are, and why. It seems as though Preacher is hinting that the reason Jesse’s entity was out was due to these two, and their Heavenphone ringing at the end of the episode only reinforces that notion. We get to learn a little more about Odin Quincannon, too, and his awkward speech warning everyone to be careful underscores just how disconnected he is from the world around him. The man is power-hungry, however, and Jesse’s little bet to get him into the church was exactly the kind of thing that Odin wouldn’t be able to refuse, even if it did lead to him being a specific puppet in Jesse’s play. And what about Emily, Jesse’s assistant? Well, her desire for Jesse was certainly underscored during the exchange about the raffle, which wasn’t a big revelation (although Jesse’s willingness to use it to his advantage shows a certain lack of empathy on his part). However, her exchange with Miles, the mayor of Annville, shows that maybe she isn’t just hanging on the hope that the preacher will come around. Sure, she may have told Miles that they’ll never actually be together, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t willing to have a little companionship once in a while.

Four episodes down, and we’re getting a better understanding of the world of Annville as a whole, and how everyone fits into it. The “lesser” characters are growing in their own rights, and our big three is moving towards working as one unit. The show is also continuing to balance a certain level of dark humor with the more serious aspects of the story. Cassidy’s exchange with Fiore and DeBlanc was pitch perfect, as none of the men really understood the other side, but Odin Quincannon’s gentle cajoling, in front of the recovered body, really was the strongest visual for the sheer oddness of this world. And ending the episode with Odin being compelled to “serve God”? Jesse is clearly tapping into his memories of his father’s failed time at QM&P, but giving a man of Odin’s mental state such a vague command can only end up blowing up in the faces of everyone in Annville, and we’ll get to sit back and see it happen.