(Spoiler Policy Regarding the Comics: Preacher recaps will steer clear of comic spoilers in the main text, but for comic readers or those interested in learning more, there’s a “Comic Issues” section at the bottom that deals with specifics. As always, be respectful of fellow fans).
Man, Preacher is frustrating. Following Jesse’s standoff with Odin Quincannon’s men in the last episode, he’s carted away by Sheriff Root to the county prison — or else he would have, had he not lept out of the moving squad car. While Root isn’t necessarily as crazy as he was in the comics, I do appreciate the guilt the character has been going through with the loss of his son Eugene. They didn’t exactly end their relationship on stellar termsm and Root’s hatred toward Jesse for seemingly killing his son works for the show, though they sure do put the poor old Sheriff through the ringer this time around. Needless to say, the promise Jesse made last time to “bring God to Annville” has been put on hold, as he has some other reunions to take care of first, in quite bloody detail. Ultimately though, this episode has a severe problem with pacing, which I’ll get into a bit later in this review.
Our main focal point of the episode goes back to the mysterious cowboy and his trials and tribulations in the town of “Ratwater.” It’s here that a lot of my complaints lie, though these complaints of course spread into many other facets of the season, in that the presentation of this story has just been poorly handled across the board. The last time we saw our cowboy, he discovered his wife and daughter had died due to his delay in the shifty town, and ended with him grabbing all the guns and ammo he could. The cowboy’s vengeance on the town is swift and brutal, as he walks back into the bar, and unleashes his weapons that were wrapped in the American flag, laying waste to every inhabitant inside. If you thought this scene was fantastic — and it was — the showrunners agreed, and thus decided to play it about a dozen more times!
There had to have been a better way to do this. I think the telling of the cowboy’s story is essential for Preacher as a whole, but spreading it out over several episodes (along with taking a break from it for several more) was disjointed at best. The reveal that the cowboy is actually in hell, reliving the worst time of his life over and over again, was great. However, it would have been so much better if they hadn’t decided to stress that fact by replaying these events for what felt like an eternity. I had to check my watch at one point just to see how long the scene was going to last. It’s a shame, because it takes away all the importance and weight that we may have gotten from this tale. You do have to feel bad for our pair of angels though, as their visit to hell — that they worked so hard to make happen — ended with one of them dying, and the other’s future uncertain as he makes the request that the cowboy kill the reverend Custer.
Meanwhile back on Earth, a weary Tulip feeds pets to Cassidy in hopes of bringing him back to his jovial Irish self after his “fireworks display” in front of Jesse in the daylight. Having had enough of waiting, she decides to venture forth to bring swift retribution to Carlos, the focal point of her entire story. In order to flee town, she enlists the help of milquetoast Emily to keep an eye on Cassidy and continue to feed him, as he needs living victims to regenerate. Emily, feeling trapped by the town and her overall situation, uses her current predicament to walk on the wild side by feeding the mayor of Annville to Cassidy. Again, having Emily finally do something is great, but killing the mayor seemed entirely out of nowhere, and really, the guy simply didn’t deserve it. I think giving Emily an act of rebellion is a great idea and would help to humanize her, but this was just way too far. This was essentially another step in the wrong direction for the series, to say nothing of Tulip immediately finding and trapping Carlos off screen! (I mean come on now).
Again, I’m venting here, but this episode sure did everything in its power to make you hate the show’s characters. When Jesse wanders over to Tulip’s uncle’s abode and finds Emily, he comes across the horrifying Cassidy with the body of the mayor laying next to him, with his throat ripped out no less. While Jesse is temporarily taken aback by what he finds, he breaks the tension with a moment of levity and then offers to help Cassidy bury the body in an unmarked grave. Listen, the mayor was in over his head and he was annoying, but he was ultimately not that bad of a guy. For Jesse to just brush aside his death and help Cass get rid of his body was just beyond the pale, and makes you really sit back and question, “Why am I rooting for these people again?” In the case of some anti-heroes like Walter White or Vick Mackie, you can get into their heads and understand their characters, not necessarily sympathizing with their actions, but understanding why the characters followed through with them. Here, in Preacher, why on earth would Jesse do this? Not only that, but to be so flippant about the whole thing?
For a show like Preacher, one that deals with insane topics and source material, the last thing you want it to be is claustrophobic and boring, but here we are. Character motivations are all over the place, events are drawn-out to the point of madness, and you just want the series to get its act together, because you know it can. The strengths of the series such as the soundtrack and cinematography are still all present (and save the episode from a one star grade) but even they can’t elevate the series where it needs to be. Perhaps the season finale will go all out, and Season 2 will rectify the mistakes of the present but for now, I’ll just continue to cross my fingers that the series course corrects in time.
Rating: ★★ Fair
– Sheriff Root went through the ringer when presented with the Seraphim — now sans arms and legs — and ultimately killed her. I wonder if AMC is allowed to get away with such gruesome scenes by arguing that the Seraphim isn’t technically human.
– Tulip’s uncle being asleep 24/7 is a joke that’s run a little dry at this point. Surely he must wake up at some point to drink himself back to sleep, right?
– I wish Cassidy had looked a bit more terrifying in his “feral state”. In the comics, he looked downright ghastly.
– Cowboy: “I love my horse, I love my wife, I love my little girl and as for Jesus? He can join us all in hell.”
– Cowboy: “I want you to finish the song.”
– Fiore: “We want to go to hell.”
– Fiore: “You left a phone that’s a direct line to heaven UNDER THE BED??”
– Jesse: “If I killed the mayor, what would you do?
Cassidy: “I’d help you get rid of the body!”
– Cassidy: “No problem there padre, I can get you angel hands.”
– Fiore: “We want you to kill someone.”
Fiore: “A Preacher.”
COMIC ISSUES (AKA Spoiler Town)
– Jeez, where to even start with this? So the Saint of Killers, a.k.a. the mysterious cowboy, is finally being brought into the story proper but it all feels so underwhelming now. So many decisions were made to essentially make his origin seem almost toothless in comparison to the source. Where’s the scene of the Saint’s hatred literally freezing hell? Is the Saint of Killers even the angel of death in the show? Will his guns be able to kill anything that moves? Is he immortal/invincible as he was in the comics since God didn’t choose him?
– When all’s said and done, I feel that the Saint was simply miscast. Giving him a big bushy beard and not making him seem as terrifying as he could be just doesn’t strike up the terror you felt in the books whenever he’d cut a path into the story. I’m honestly shocked they didn’t get a big name for the character when casting started.
– “Until the end of the world.” This is such a HUGE line in the books and now it’s just flippantly being tossed around by Jesse. It’s infuriating as a fan of the comics.
– I feel like a lot of the series is tip toeing around the idea that’s key to the Preacher comics, i.e. “God being an irredeemable asshole,” with him seemingly having no part to play in the Saint’s story at present.