Those who have sold their souls throughout the history of folklore and popular culture have always lived to regret it, but what if you could sell a fraction of it and suffer little or no known side effects? That was the question posed by “Sokosha” this week, and also an elegant solution to Jesse’s little Saint of Killers problem…
Although though there has been little to no indication of it until now, it transpired that Jesse’s maternal line were big in the world of soul dealing, and the opening of this week’s episode demonstrated how the old art had been replaced by a more businesslike model. A smart professional man with a reassuring pitch had turned a shady practice into a simple medical procedure, one by which the poor could sell fifteen percent of their spirit to to rich old lady in pill form to pay their bills. Of course, this is Preacher, so the Japanese company with the monopoly on the soul industry was called Happy Soul Go Go!
Back at Dennis’ crumbling apartment in the French Quarter, our trio were back on form and bantering after the dark diversion of last week. Cassidy was apologetic, Jesse was smiling at himself in the bathroom mirror, and Tulip was making pancakes for breakfast. There was a slight air of tension when Cassidy brought up the jazz singer (and unbeknownst to Jesse, Grail member), with Tulip’s jealous streak coming to the fore, and Jesse retaliating that at least he didn’t marry her. Ouch. It’s impossible to know at this point whether Cassidy is deliberately stirring the pot to drive a wedge between his friend and the object of his desire, or whether he is trying to get Jesse to explicitly state that he knows about the vampire and Tulip’s tryst. Either way, the genuine affection between the three looks set to be challenged when that particular time bomb finally goes off.
The relative harmony of their sugar-rush breakfast was ruined, however, when Viktor’s daughter made good on her promise and led the Saint to their apartment block, although she stopped short of complete betrayal, pointing at the wrong door before scampering off, thus giving Jesse and co. a chance of escape. The scene in which Jesse noticed something was afoot by finding a bullet in the fridge was nicely done and cast a spell of near unbearable suspense. And while all three managed to evacuate before the Saint found the right flat, Dennis’ return gave the cowboy the leverage to draw Jesse back to him.
Discovering Fiore dead, Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy embarked on some research on the mysterious cowboy at the local library via a montage of microfiche, news cuttings, book covers, and voice over, which cleverly echoed the visual style of comic books. They managed to ascertain that The Saint was originally the Butcher of Gettysburg, a bad man mellowed by the love of a woman and child, now soulless and trapped in Hell, destined to relive his worse memory over and over, and that assassinating Jesse at the behest of the angels was his ticket out of eternal torment.
This knowledge gave Jesse bargaining power, and he was able to inform the Saint that the remaining angel who’d made the deal was no longer able to make good on it, and to promise to break the cowboy out of his perpetual loop by finding him a soul and sending him to Heaven to be reunited with his family. The face-off between Jesse and the Saint was as surprising as it was compelling, but hope is a powerful thing, and the Saint agreed to the preacher’s offer, keeping Dennis, Cassidy and Tulip as collateral while Jesse went in search of a soul.
It was left to Tulip to decipher Cassidy’s attachment to Dennis, guessing the old man was his father or an uncle. The reveal that Dennis was actually Cassidy’s son not only underscored the fact that Cass is an old and dangerous creature, but reframed all of the previous scenes between the two men and gave this episode a lot of emotional weight. Joseph Gilgun continues to be the shining light of this show, his depiction of the vampire nuanced, complex, and always extremely watchable. Ruth Negga was also excellent this week, allowing Tulip’s warmer side to show through, and portraying her vulnerability and sense of loyalty with a real authenticity. Tulip’s attempt to connect with the Saint over the subject of lost family was met with violence, and although she often uses emotional manipulation as a form of distraction, this time she seemed genuine. And Cassidy had a chance to be the hero, losing some fingers in the process, in a move which appeared to come from a place of real feeling.
As luck would have it, the Happy Soul Go Go van just happened to be parked right outside when Jesse discovered that the Japanese had taken over the soul trading game. A bit of breaking and entering and coercion later and what do you know! Jesse’s soul happened to be an exact match for the Saint’s vessel! With one percent of the preacher’s soul inside him, the Saint was now pervious to The Voice, and Jesse was able to command him at will. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the cowboy, but for now he’s lingering in an armored van at the bottom of a swamp, so Jesse and pals can get on with the task of finding God.
A fun, high-stakes episode which contained moments of real humour as well as a few emotional punches. It was surprising to see the main antagonist dealt with only halfway through the season, but I suspect this encounter will mean that – now it’s personal – his revenge will be all the more savage for it.
Final Grade: B
+ I like the fact that the Saint is no longer unstoppable – the ‘he just missed ’em shtick would have got old fast – and I’m interested to see what affect Jesse’s sacrifice will have on their dynamic.
+ After a couple of slower episodes, the pacing of this episode was a breath of fresh air.
+ Cassidy stroking his son’s hair was one of the most touching moments of the show to date.
– The contrivance of some of the plot drivers this week was jarring. While it was played for comic effect and self parody in the library scene, the appearance of the soul van was a bit too deus ex machina.
– And while I am intrigued about Jesse’s mother being involved with voodoo and soul bartering, and how that fits with what we know about his father, Jesse’s prior knowledge of his supernatural roots is at odds with his scepticism about Cassidy being a vampire.
– Jesse’s arrogance still doesn’t sit well with me. He returned to Dennis’ place late, knowing what would happen to his friends if he wasn’t back within the hour. I am still finding it hard to get to grips with the idea that he is inherently good when so many of his actions suggest otherwise.
Additional thought: It would be great to see some of Cassidy’s backstory in future episodes, especially why he and Dennis are barely on speaking terms.
What did you think? Was “Sokosha” soulless or as sharp as The Saint’s blade? Tell us in the comments, or over on Twitter!