Season One, Episode Seven — “El Valero”
by Jarrod Jones. If we’re to take Preacher’s not-too subtle hints as an indicator of things to come, something I’m almost positive the show wants us to do (you can never really tell with Preacher), then Season Two will likely start to resemble the hallowed Vertigo series a little more closely. Why? Well, for one, the citizens of Annville will no longer be around to eat pancakes and stage impromptu gun-n-fun picnics on church grounds. Harbingers abound in this series, like the sinkholes outside the Quincannon Meat Packing Plant, mounting pressure underneath the Custer church, that friggin’ Prairie Dog Mascot — the show hasn’t exactly been hiding the fact that something monumental is coming just in time for the series’ finale, and this week’s episode practically hit us over the head with its Doomsday Clock.
Well, actually it was a pressure gauge, with DANGER screaming at us in giant red letters as a horn blasted through our television sets. Odin Quincannon’s ambitions may destroy the entire town of Annville if he ain’t careful. But then, the man he hired to monitor this impending calamity doesn’t look too bothered by it. (Like I said, it’s damn near impossible to know which absurd aspects of this show we’re supposed to take seriously.)
Odin’s definitely too busy to fuck around with it, having assembled a small battalion of thick-necked meat packers to drag Jesse Custer out of his daddy’s church. (We got some more of the backstory between Odin and John Custer, where the intestines of a cow were compared to the intestines of a little girl. Preacher!) He’s supposed to be taken alive, I’m pretty sure, but Odin’s boys came packing an arsenal, one that Jesse’s only too happy to take off their hands as the meat men enter the church, get their asses handed to them (offscreen), and are sent back without their toys.
An aside for the comic book readers who are just as perplexed by this show as I am: I think the show is trying to tell us that yes, Jesse’s adept at taking down a room full of assholes. To which we would reply: “But they don’t normally come packing machine guns, and Cassidy usually has his back.”
So Odin is forced to cool his heels. (To Miss Oatlash: “Sammiches and sunscreen. It’s gonna be a long day.“)
Preacher spends most of “El Valero” (which I guess means “The Valero”) wandering around outside the church grounds and some of it within, where Jesse — who is either suffering from serious grief over Eugene’s forced descent to Hell or is just really, really drunk — manifests Arseface in his mind. After fetching a glass of water for his new imaginary friend (Hell makes you thirsty), the fake Eugene gets Jesse to accept responsibility for abusing The Word of God and generally acting like a grade-A chump.
And it appears that Jesse’s stuck with Genesis, the source of his newfound power, for the duration. An Adelphi visit to the Custer church reveals that the angel/demon hybrid has grown rather attached to its new host, which sends Fiore and Deblanc moping out the door muttering things to themselves. We’ll just have to go with ‘Plan B’, Deblanc says, which is probably a cagey nod to those Ratwater flashbacks Preacher loves to dole out intermittently.
Eh, whatever works, guys. Let’s just get to the finale.
WHAT WORKED: Ian Colletti deserves a ding-dang Emmy for his work on Preacher. Look at the way he carries himself after being pulled from Hell — his body language projects exhaustion, despair… that’s a hell of a thing when you realize he’s acting through a face mask shaped like an asshole. Gave me goosebumps. When Preacher actually has its good moments — few that they are — odds are Arseface is the reason for it.
WHAT DIDN’T: Preacher sure does like to pick its nose a lot. Tulip’s subplot — spliced sporadically between the Quincannon skirmish — shows her picking out a dog at a local kennel. Is she looking for a new companion now that she’s completely arsed things with Jesse? Nope. It’s hangover food for Cassidy, who apparently didn’t get the absolution he was looking for from Jesse last week. What took an entire episode to convey could have been knocked out for an opening sequence next week, but what the hell do I know. (Also — you know that Annville has a blood bank, right?)
“Mex! Tex-Mex! Oriental! All yours to pick and choose, each and every day! But… there ain’t gonna be no sushis or chimichayngas or pizza pie — no nuthin’ — until you boys march up that hill and drag that preacher outta my church!” – Odin.
BEST MOMENT: The look on Eugene’s face when he’s asked what Hell is like. You can barely hear the word come out of his twisted mouth. It practically rides on an exhausted sigh: “Crowded.”
EPISODE’S MVP: If we can’t have Eugene Root back naturally (guess he’s actually still bombing around Hell), then I’ll take the manic hallucinations of Jesse Custer. Eugene’s fake ascent from Hell led to a genuinely eerie moment between Custer and Arseface. “You dug all the way from Hell with your hands?” Jesse asks, incredulous. “It’s not that far,” Eugene gasps. *shudder*
GONE TO TEXAS:
– Eugene’s comments on Hell being “not that far” underneath our reality made me think of “The Upside-down” in Stranger Things, which you should totally be watching instead of reading this.
– Speaking of imaginary friends, maybe Jesse’s little chat inside his head is a tease for the more authoritative John Wayne to make an appearance in Custer’s noggin next season.
– Fiore: “You’re just a speck of dust, passing through the whole of Creation.” I’m getting pretty sick of Preacher attempting faux-Sagan dialogue when it ought to be embracing the Ennis.
– Emily uses the hairdryer for much longer than necessary just to stare into the abyss. That’s probably another hint that the citizens of Annville are about to meet their untimely end.
– I had to scan through the last couple of episodes to find the moment where Jesse banished the Adelphi from his church. (It was Episode Five.) This show oozes through my head like a blur most days.
– Dick shooting is not without precedent in Preacher: in the comics, it’s Cass who’s on the receiving end of a bolt-action rifle, held against his will and at the mercy of a particularly malicious mafia hitman.
– Prairie Dog Mascot Sighting: seen standing next to the mayor of Annville once Quincannon’s siege of the Custer church is underway.
4.5 out of 10
Next: “Finish the Song”, soon.
Before: “He Gone”, here.