A stunning set piece to open this week, as Jesse learnt about the origin of Genesis from DeBlanc and Fiore before being set upon by one of the Seraphim. Having the angel appear in the form of a small town soccer mom gave the prolonged and violent sequence a shocking twist, as Fiore, DeBlanc, Jesse, and eventually Cassidy all fought to incapacitate their celestial foe without actually killing it, and thus enabling its resurrection in a new body. Watching Fiore and DeBlanc have to perfunctorily off each other when they became damaged was darkly amusing, as was the mounting pile of identical bodies strewn around the motel room. Some really nice shots in the opening too, especially the restricted view of the action through the bullet hole in the wall.
The ambitious fight scene also provided a nice excuse to have a bloodied Cassidy and Jesse have a heart to heart in their underwear whilst waiting for their gore-spattered clothes to be washed. Cooper and Gilgun have had great chemistry from the get go, and it will be interesting to see how the added complication of Cassidy’s apparent feelings for Tulip will affect their relationship. I also like the fact that an alcoholic vampire seems to have more of a moral compass than our anti-hero preacher. Indeed, this week, Jesse risked tipping over into straight up villain territory, stubbornly refusing to listen to sense. While he may be determined to save Annsville, his motives are seeming decidedly less altruistic, and more to do with being free of a promise he made.
Meanwhile, Tulip revealed her softer side when she went to confront Emily about her crush on the preacher, and ended up offering to help her with her numerous chores. Whether this was a ploy to win over Jesse or genuine remorse for having scared her was unclear. We also found out that Tulip had a child once, a tantalising snippet of backstory which might explain why she’s so determined to have her revenge. It seems that she lost a lot more than a bad boy lover, although the circumstances remain unclear. Her careful repair of the artwork Emily’s daughter had made harked back to the ‘craft session’ we saw in the pilot, and suggested that children might be the soft spot in Tulip’s hard skull.
Both Miles and Eugene turned to Jesse for help again this week. Miles’ conscience over Quincannon’s bloodbath meeting was getting the better of him, and Jesse’s instance that none of the voices guiding the mayor could possibly be God seemed to concrete his decision to help cover up the murders.
Eugene’s story employed one of Preacher’s signature double twists for maximum emotional damage this week. We followed the poor lad through a typical day at school, and expected the worse when he was approached by a group of boys who apparently wanted to be friends. It was heart-breaking seeing the way he flinched and apologised before realising one of them was just saying hello. It’s a testament to Ian Colletti’s performance that we felt the tense dread Eugene did as they asked to join him in the cafeteria, and lured him into a dark tunnel after school to see something awesome. By the time they lit the fireworks, I was watching through my fingers. But nothing sinister happened.
The touching end to this scene made what was to follow all the more hard-hitting, as Eugene, feeling like a cheat for having been forgiven so easily (for what, we still don’t know), begged Jesse to undo his command to Mrs. Loach. Jesse’s anger at Eugene’s ingratitude resulted in an argument, with Eugene calling Jesse’s gift a sin, and Jesse using the voice of Genesis to tell Eugene to ‘go to Hell’. After the protracted visual spectacle of the cold opening, this denouement was equally as powerful for what it didn’t show. We heard a commotion, and saw the realisation on Jesse’s face, but Eugene’s disappearance was largely left to the viewer’s imagination.
Understanding that what he has inside him is the unholy offspring of an angel and a demon has done nothing to dampen Jesse’s sense of self-righteousness. Now he’s condemned one of his flock to a fate worse than death, it remains to be seen if he can find his way back to the light.
Final Grade: B+
+ That twelve minute opening battle was just the right mix of fun and macabre I’ve come to expect from this show at its best.
+ Some genuinely poignant moments between Tulip and Emily, and between Eugene and his new pals gave this episode some real heart.
+ I’m actually excited to find out more about Genesis and the full potential of its power.
– Jesse is clearly not himself under the influence of Genesis, but we need to see a bit more light and shade in his character going forward after that stunt, or he risks losing our empathy.
– While it was good to see another facet to Tulip, I hope Preacher can resist going down the path of portraying her as the archetypal woman driven to darkness by the loss of a child.
– DeBlanc and Fiore are endearing characters, but they seem a little impotent in the face of Jesse’s refusal to give Genesis back. I hope they prove to be slightly more formidable in the future.
Extra Thought: If Eugene really has been sent down below, is it too much to hope for a Harrowing of Hell?
What did you think? Was this episode as kick-ass as the spawn of a forbidden angel and demon union, or – like an angel with no wings – was it missing something? Sound off in the comments or on Twitter!