Season One, Episode Seven — “He Gone”
By Jarrod Jones. When it was said that Jesse Custer might be the meanest sumbitch to ever come out of Texas, I think the legend was referring to his ability to kick the bad guys’ asses up and down both sides of the street. With the seventh episode of Preacher, titled rather indeterminately as “He Gone”, Mr. Custer’s legend, which is finally being beamed into homes around the world courtesy of AMC, finds itself curiously morphed into something closely resembling villainy. In this series, somehow, Jesse Custer has become the show’s primary antagonist.
And this is not just your run-of-the-mill “the world will tremble” villainy (though there is some of that lurking in Dominic Cooper’s eyes), there’s a far more sinister and disgusting domestic villainy at play here too. When Sheriff Root comes a-knockin’ on Jesse’s door asking after poor Eugene, who was just last week sent presumably screaming into the Lake of Fire at Custer’s insistence, all those who pass for his friends — the timid Emily, the borderline Tulip, and the hard-drinking Cassidy — are only too willing to cover up for him. Why? If you look close enough, it’s because they’re all afraid of what Jesse would do if he was outed as a superpowered religious crusader of 15th Century proportions. (Quick question: does Emily even know? Like, really know?)
Jesse as the abusive leader of this particular motley crew might have made for an intriguing conceit, had we enjoyed more of his rough-and-tumble, vaguely altruistic bar fightin’ days earlier in the series. (Be it television or comic books, there has always been a thrill in seeing Jesse bring fisticuffs to the various ne’erdowells that come his way.) It would have certainly made his transmutation into an inherently unlikable, hilariously shifty-eyed asshole more shocking to witness. As we watched a heap of Jesse’s backstory come oozing our way via flashback, we now know with a grim certainty that wishing people to go straight to Hell isn’t exactly out of character for Preacher‘s leading man.
That’s right, we saw Jesse watch his father die again, only this time with some added context: Jesse not only prayed that God would kill his father, but that the Almighty would send him to Hell to boot. That should act as a small comfort for Eugene, knowing that there was at least a precedent set. But that’s not the only thing we learned about Preacher this week — Jesse’s noted ambivalence towards Tulip appears to be something that has always come rather naturally to him. We may have watched him scream and beg to keep his best friend as his father stole her away from him, but Jesse’s first utterance of Preacher‘s #1, all-time, most important catchphrase to the person he loves the most could barely be said without the kid dozing through it.
‘Until the end of the world,’ Jesse, Tulip demands from her sleepy-eyed bestie. Say it.
Yeah, yeah, ’til the end of the zzzz… he sleepily retorts. Insofar as reverence to source material goes, Preacher has officially nuked the fridge.
WHAT WORKED: Um… I think it would be for the best if we just considered WHAT DIDN’T this week.
WHAT DIDN’T: Cassidy assures Tulip that he hasn’t spilled the beans on their backseat tryst. Good thing, because Jesse’d kill you, Tulip fires back. Which Jesse is she talking about? Because the Jesse Custer in Preacher looks pretty annoyed whenever Tulip enters the room. With the flashbacks liberally peppered throughout “He Gone”, it’s established that Jesse and Tulip grew up together, which, fine. (That wasn’t the case in the comics.) Their present interactions, with Tulip’s near-pathological attempts to screw up Jesse’s relationship with Emily (whatever relationship that’s supposed to be), lead me to believe two things: that Tulip is undergoing a severe emotional meltdown that actually has very little to do with Jesse Custer, and that these two might actually just be life-long friends. Soulmates, Tulip? You can get the fuck right out of here.
In fact, the incredible leaps everyone has to make to justify their own logic leaves me breathless every week. Tulip’s convinced that Jesse will come around to being her renegade boyfriend once again, while Cassidy is confident that if he ever told his “best mate” that he’s actually a vampire, Jesse’d totally be cool with it. (This line of rationale comes after Cassidy just witnessed Jesse send Eugene to the Inferno Below just for asking him to not brainwash an entire town.) Your best friend is an incredible asshole, Cass. I wouldn’t.
We’re finally let in on what happened between Eugene Root and Tracy Loach. It seems that our beloved Arseface was born of a botched murder-suicide attempt, which makes Eugene less of the pathetic but still loveable wretch of the comics and more of monster who is visibly eluding justice — a fact that is even more galling considering his father is the goddamned sheriff. Well, great. Not only is this an awful idea, it just doesn’t make any level of sense. If Sheriff Root is fostering rage and regret towards his murderous son (remember, he asked Eugene to “finish the job” not too long ago), then why doesn’t he just throw him in prison, where an ignominious death would only be inevitable?
“You just sent an innocent kid to be forever poked by piping-hot pitchforks. I think acting like you give a damn might be a good start.” – Cassidy.
BEST MOMENT: Cassidy has had it. After covering up Eugene’s, erm, displacement for Jesse, Cassidy has finally given up watching his friend act like a raging jackass. So he smashes Jesse’s face in with a fire extinguisher, a wholly appropriate act that is all but washed away moments later, when Jesse returns to the dinner table with the extinguisher alone. And our hearts sank just a little further.
EPISODE’S MVP: Odin Quincannon. Jackie Earle Haley’s Quincannon may be early to the Preacher party (for devoted readers, anyway), but his bespectacled meat mogul is a perfect foil for Jesse Custer. Or, at least, he will be, once the show decides to make Jesse a hero worth rooting for.
GONE TO TEXAS:
– Young Jesse prays for the safety of his mother, who is presumably in danger elsewhere. Perhaps she’s being held against her will somewhere? (I’m guessing we’ll find out in Season Two.)
– Where did Emily’s kids disappear off to? And wasn’t one of them sick?
– Of all the narrative changes that have taken place so far, that Arseface reveal is the most hideous thing Preacher could ever do to Vertigo purists.
– Prairie Dog Mascot Sighting: whoever’s in that really stuffy suit was seen walking a dog outside of Tulip’s home this week.
– I just find it funny that Preacher would take The Big Lebowski to task about it’s lack of coherence, when its own shit is far beneath par. Pots and kettles, Preacher.
– Somebody finally mentioned John Wayne. Here’s hoping he pops up again soon.
– Odin Quincannon’s day of reckoning is finally at hand. Maybe Preacher will finally address why his meat packing plant has been quietly covering up the increasing amounts of pressurized gas that’s been swelling underneath the town of Annville. (And why there are so many sinkholes popping up all of a sudden.)
2.5 out of 10
Next: “El Valero”, soon.
Before: “Sundowner”, here.