We’ve reached the penultimate chapter of Preacher‘s first season, and this heady cocktail of violence, horror, emotion, and comedy was the episode I’ve been waiting for. Hallelujah!
Setting the scene for what promises to be one hell of a finale, there were twists and turns galore (as well as buckets of blood) as the flashbacks to Ratwater were finally anchored to the story of present day Annville. We opened with the bereaved Cowboy (a scarily measured Graham McTavish) wreaking revenge on the townsfolk who conspired to delay him getting medicine back to his daughter and wife in time to save them. And what a revenge it was. Gunning down a bar full of men, women, and children while a pianist and a solo singer performed a swansong before being shot and beheaded respectively, The Cowboy sealed his fate, as became hideously apparent a little later…
Following the standoff at the church with Odin’s men, Sheriff Root took Jesse into custody, seemingly convinced by now that Eugene had met with foul play at the hands of the preacher. Which, of course, he had. The sheriff’s dismissal of Jesse’s blasé confession that Root Jr. is in Hell was a nice touch, as was the gruesome story of the suicidal child killer in the state penitentiary. Interestingly, Jesse chose to jump from the moving vehicle rather than use the voice on Hugo, perhaps showing he’s learnt some lessons at last.
Back at the perpetually paralytic Uncle Walter’s, Tulip was concerned that Cassidy wasn’t healing, despite a constant supply of furry snacks. She enlisted Emily’s help looking after the invalid vampire while she finally went to Albuquerque (sans Jesse) to take care of the business she’s been about since the pilot. While Emily was apprehensive at first, it wasn’t long before she was entering into her role as bloodsucker babysitter with gusto, luring the hapless Miles to Walter’s house to become Cassidy chow. This is a head-spinning development for Emily, who just a few moments previously was telling Tulip the mayor was her boyfriend, although this could have been a ruse. I cottoned on to what she was planning when Miles got her fake distress call (the fact she had been watching Psycho previously was a giveaway), but it was still shocking to see her calmly shut the door on her would-be suitor and the starving predator.
Speaking of surprises, Fiore and DeBlanc checked out of their motel, leaving an almighty mess and a little gift in the bathtub for the sheriff. The limbless seraph, being kept barely alive was a pretty gut-twisting sight, as was Hugo Root strangling her with his bare hands after she pleaded with him to kill her. Unaware that death was a requirement for her resurrection, the sheriff essentially carried out a mercy killing in the least merciful way possible, giving us an insight into his own troubled state of mind and inner darkness.
Meanwhile, the wayward angels were busy trying to buy a couple of return tickets to Hell from a seedy travel agent, following their failure to keep Genesis out of Jesse Custer. This followed some discussion on whether they should just come clean to Heaven instead, before the fact that Cassidy had half-inched their special celestial phone thwarted that plan. It was adorable that the pair’s main reason for avoiding Heaven was the worry that they would be split up. This combined with DeBlanc’s refusal to let Fiore have sex with the travel agent as payment, and his use of the term ‘my dear’ to soften the blow of Fiore having to leave his comic books behind added a surprising and genuinely touching new dimension to their relationship.
Speaking of which, Jesse and Cassidy’s reunion was equally bromantic. We’ve not really felt Cassidy as a palpable threat since the pilot, so the sense of danger which pervaded the scene when Jesse first entered the gory bedroom was a welcome reminder of what he’s capable of. Jesse’s apology for letting him burn, and Cassidy’s immediate forgiveness felt authentic and organic, and for the first time I really felt the chemistry from both sides. Until now, Cassidy’s love for Jesse has always felt slightly unsubstantiated, but this scene really worked. Nothing says friendship like willingness to aid in the disposal of a local politician’s body, so Jesse and Cassidy killed two birds with one stone by burying Miles in the pit with the dead angel clones, harvesting a couple of hands to operate the Heaven hotline while they were about it.
This episode’s denouement finally gave us the missing pieces needed to see where The Cowboy’s backstory fits with the present day. Stuck in a perpetual loop, and forced to relive the death of his family and the subsequent massacre of Ratwater, The Cowboy now occupies Hell, and it was him Fiore and DeBlanc were seeking to help them finish Jesse Custer.
So with the the sheriff, Quincannon, a resurrected seraph, two angels, and Hellbound soul on his tail, Jesse’s sermon next week looks set to be a firecracker. The question is, will the Big Man Himself make an appearance…
Final Grade: A
+ This episode had a Tarantino-esque vibe to it, from the wrestling scene at the meat plant which recalled Django Unchained to the Pulp Fiction style banter at the graveside. And I dug it.
+ Good to see Tulip finally taking decisive action without waiting around for Jesse to make good on his childhood promises. The close up of her face as Jesse promised her voicemail it was the two of them “’til the end of the world” and the pan to reveal her sitting across from Carlos with a meat tenderizer was chillingly effective.
+ Fiore and DeBlanc choosing ‘serial killer’ and ‘architect’ as their fantasy jobs made me laugh out loud.
– The repetition of the Ratwater massacre as a device for showing us the mechanics of The Cowboy’s personal Hell may have been deliberately drawn out to drive home the point that he is stuck in an unending torment, but it messed with the pacing of the show a little too much.
– Jesse’s message to Tulip was genuinely poignant, but it may be too little too late, as his coolness towards her up until this point has undermined the magnitude of her love for and obsession with him.
– Slightly disappointed that Donny got his hearing back so quickly after the drama of his actions last week.
If Hell is a unique construct or perception for each individual, I wonder what Eugene is experiencing, and whether we’ll get to find out…
What did you think? Was this episode as jolting as a pitchfork to backside, or as lifeless as poor Miles Person? Sound off in the comments or send us a tweet!