Season One, Episode Six — “Sundowner”
By Jarrod Jones. It’s time, I fear, for a confession. Forgive me, DoomRocket faithful, for I have sinned.
*Pauses* Actually, y’know what? I don’t particularly feel like I need to apologize to any deity or power for dropping Preacher these last three weeks. That minor kerfuffle over in Westeros kept my attention so thoroughly that the very idea of shifting tonal gears just to write up what was ostensibly I’m really not enjoying ‘Preacher’ had the grand sum of zero appeal for me. So I skipped it, swearing that I would return once I found out what happened to Ramsay Bolton. (Worth it.)
I’m back now, having spent my Fourth of July marathoning the previous three episodes of Preacher so that I could get back into the groove of recapping the rest of this short season. Patriotic duty or foolhardy waste of time? Let’s recap and see.
It seems that my gripes about Preacher‘s first two episodes have transmogrified into a horrible narrative golem: Jesse’s grand plan for Annville still hasn’t revealed itself (somehow), Cassidy continues to inexplicably pinball between every major bloodbath in this season thus far (save for a brief visit to the Quincannon slaughterhouse last week), and perhaps most egregious of all, Tulip has become a DEFCON 5-level shrew not above stalking and manipulating Emily (a narrative black hole if there ever was one) to get closer to “her boyfriend.” Which includes some backseat action with Cassidy, apparently?
This week teased a reckoning for that particular love triangle, though considering Cassidy has only now just found out what Tulip’s name actually is — well after playing backseat bingo with her and only just after seeing Jesse’s pathetic shoulder blade tattoo — you can bet that the imminent fireworks will only exist because the show will insist that they exist. As of episode five, Jesse still doesn’t want much to do with Tulip, and Tulip’s stalker behavior certainly ain’t winning anybody over. But, if this show’s good at anything, it excels at throwing kerosene on a candle.
It’s strange that Sam Catlin, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg would go so far out of their way to make Preacher work in the sandbox they’ve constructed when the comics series already has arguably one of the most TV-friendly narratives ever committed to parchment. (Which is far more than I can say for AMC’s other four-colored adaptation, The Walking Dead.) When bloggers and columnists reflect on the first season of Preacher, much will be made out of the series’ damn-near poetic visual language (the hanging tree at Ratwater, for one) and its frequent bursts of violent hilarity (this week’s brutal fight spans from a diner to a hotel room, and it is beautiful). But when it comes to coherence? Getting this mess sorted will be a miracle unto itself.
WHAT WORKED: Preacher often makes good use of its clever set pieces, but the bloody fracas inside that tiny Sundowner Motel room — where the camera is slowly drawn through a bullet hole in the wall, thus minimizing the amount of actual onscreen gore (of which there would have been so much) — this episode found itself hitting a Daredevil Season One strata with its exquisite artistic choices. Well done.
The entity inside Jesse Custer gets a name this week. It’s name is Genesis. (Not like the band.) What it is, where it came from, and how it came to be is related to us by a rather pleasant infodump from angels DeBlanc and Fiore, who I enjoy more than I ever thought I would.
Even though he’s only present because this show’s name is Preacher, Joseph Gilgun’s Cassidy is still one of the show’s greatest innovations. Hiding in the closet and keeping his feelings far from his best mate while Tulip continues to do whatever it is Tulip is doing, hit a heart string I did not expect. Not because of the situation — that’s one for WHAT DIDN’T — but because Gilgun’s such a fine actor. This show would be nothing without his Conrad Veidt smile.
WHAT DIDN’T: Somebody needs to crack the code when it comes to Tulip. She’s as hardassed as she’d ever been in the comics (though a lot of that hardassery came from a well-documented experience), and there’s vulnerability there too — but like Gigun’s Cassidy, Ruth Negga is far too good to let this material bog her down too much. Right now, Tulip is depicted being about as awful a human as anyone she’d pick a fight with, and if you’ve ever read an issue of Preacher, you’d know that is a special kind of indignity. (Why is she fucking Cassidy? Does anyone know? Is she lying to Emily about having a baby? And why does she hang out at the brothel?) Tulip’s actions in this series have done nothing to further the story of Preacher. They’ve only contributed to stalling it further.
What’s even more galling is that Tulip is now around to justify the existence of Emily, who is about as superfluous a character as any I’ve seen.
After a mountain of viscera and gore with nary a raised eyebrow in the entire town of Annville (what does Sheriff Root do around here?) Jesse is warned of the consequences that will come by keeping Genesis. Excuse me? What consequences? So far Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy have engaged in all sorts of hellraising insanity, and it’s amounted to a bunch of fuck all when it comes to consequences.
“God may not make mistakes, but people are bloody famous for it!” – Cassidy.
BEST MOMENT: Showdown at the Sundowner. DeBlanc and Fiore have already popped back into existence after Cassidy’s chainsaw confessional four episodes ago, so you’d think that the “huh?!” factor that comes with their resurrection would be long gone. But the ensuing bloodbath between the two angels, Jesse Custer, and a vengeful Seraphim angel — where death is only met with a blue-tinted flash of regeneration — is probably one of the funnier and more mystical moments of mayhem Preacher has given us yet. (Best bit: “How do you do that?” Jesse asks after Fiore comes back from a rather gruesome death. His reply: “It just happens.“)
EPISODE’S MVP: Arseface. Eugene’s newfound friendship with three nameless high school urchins (who look notably younger than Ian Coletti) doesn’t resonate much beyond a moment of self-reflection, but his insistence that what Jesse’s doing to the members of his parish is entirely wrong is Preacher‘s one source of true emotional turmoil.
GONE TO TEXAS:
– All Saints Says: “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t pray here.”
– So why does Jesse have that hideous, Leto-esque tattoo on his back? “A mean old lady gave it to me.” A matter for Season Two, perhaps.
– The only Seraphim to ever touch Earth was the father of Genesis, who was cast out of Paradise for his folly only to be later captured and tortured by The Grail. (More on them later, probably.) Dunno what’s up with the Soccer Mom disguise, though.
– In fact, it appears that Preacher is taking all sorts of liberties when it comes to the angels in general. (When angels are killed they die for good, for one example.)
– Cassidy’s crack at Genesis’ name (“You mean, like the band? What a terrible name!“) has origins in Garth Ennis’ dialogue.
– If Jesse really sent Eugene to Hell, then that is a definite first for the character — Arseface has done many things in the comics, but going to Hell was never one of them.
6 out of 10
Next: “He Gone”, soon.
Before: “See” here.