by Logan Cox
Cassidy: I think you're wrong. I think boring's the worst.
Though occasionally introspective, "slow" and "boring" don't seem to be words Preacher has any intention of applying to itself. And that is as it should be.
Admittedly, they are taking their time to flesh out the characters and the story's atmosphere before offering much clarification for what we are seeing. We still don't know what exactly the supernatural entity possessing Jesse is, or who or what the two strangers hunting it are, or why we flashed back to 1881 to meet a dark and mysterious "cowboy."
Still, what we're seeing is certainly entertaining.
Jesse Custer's new mission to be the preacher Annville deserves is off to a rocky start. Three of the people he baptized (Tulip, Eugene, and Linus) experienced no real spiritual change. His words of hope do nothing to heal Mrs. Loach's grief for her comatose daughter. And finally he can't turn a blind eye to Linus, who was way too happy to confess in confidentiality his desires for one of the girls on the school bus he drives.
After his faith rings hollow several times in one episode, Jesse reverts to his dark side once more. He breaks into Linus's home and assaults him, forcing a steaming hot baptism on him before using his newfound power of persuasion to apparently purge the thoughts of pedophilia from the man's mind. At last truly knowing what he's capable of, Jesse returns to the Loach residence in the hopes of using his powers to awaken Tracy from her coma. Whether this works as he wants it to, or Tracy wakes up as a total brain-dead zombie due to her caved in skull remains to be seen.
There are several things that remain to be seen.
Tulip is still trying to wrestle Jesse back into the life of a free-wheeling outlaw. She's working out some plan to get one over on the rather corrupt employees of Quincannon Meat & Power at the Toadvine Roadhouse, something that she claims involves an old friend of hers and Jesse's named Danny. She's increasingly frustrated with Jesse's stubborn refusal to join her, but seems very confident that he will come around eventually. And in her ability to make him do what she wants without him knowing it.
We do get a bit more clarity on Cassidy's character and backstory now that he's officially Jesse's drinking buddy. So far they're adapting the Jesse and Cassidy friendship very well. The way they're so different and critical of one another, but they're also kindred spirits who are protective of each other. Cassidy definitely proves this when he encounters the two enigmatic strangers, named Fiore and DeBlanc.
These two foreign weirdos find Jesse passed out in his church and, I guess, attempt to loll the angry baby monster in his stomach to sleep with the combination of a funny little song, an ancient looking musical device, and what looked like an empty coffee can. When nothing happens, one of them laments, "It doesn't make any sense." I'll bet that's what the audience was thinking too. Anyway, when that fails they opt instead to just cut it out of Jesse with a chainsaw. This leads to their fight with Cassidy, who assumes they are vampire-hunters looking for him. Once he's brutally killed the both of them, narrowly saving Jesse's life, he proceeds to hastily saw Fiore and DeBlanc up into little pieces, stuff them in their music box, and clean up the mess in the church before the break of dawn. That's bloody impressive.
This offers us a couple more cliffhangers in addition to the possible revival at the very end. First, when Cassidy has the opportunity to get rid of the box of corpses, he buries it beneath the large Indian Christmas Tree we saw the Saint of Killers pass in the opening sequence. So we know we're not done with that story. And right after this burial, we cut to Sheriff Root addressing someone. It turns out to be Fiore and DeBlanc, miraculously alive and none the worse for wear. They claim to work for "the government."
We've got a lot of strangeness as of now, but the show is clearly building up to something greater. There's more here than just stylistic flair and gory fight scenes. Let's stay with it, shall we?
Bits and Pieces:
* Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg continue to do a great job as directors. It was great the way this episode's cold open scene was filmed. As well as adding to the show's acid western feel, it got me really excited for the show's portrayal of the Saint of Killers. I love how they avoided showing his face, keeping him at a distance, out of focus, shadowed, or cast in a silhouette until he finally had a line. The grisly image of mutilated Natives hanging from a tree immediately after the Saint quietly dismisses the homesteader's idealistic beliefs about how great America is felt like something straight out of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian.
* Last episode, we were stealthily introduced to the Texan slaughterhouse business, Quincannon Meat & Power (QM&P), through Donny and Betsy. Here we meet the business-owner Odin Quincannon in an abrupt scene in which he persuades/strong-arms an older Mexican couple to sign over their property to him. He immediately has their belongings removed and the house bulldozed, apparently to make way for another slaughterhouse to add to his enterprise.
* Donny now has to wear a full-arm cast after what Jesse did to him, which means we get to watch him fail at being Quincannon's head henchman as he struggles to work around his injury. He's also still quite violent with just the one arm, breaking another QM&P grunt's nose for drawing further attention to his foolishness.
* Fiore and DeBlanc's musical number prior to the fight in the church was a very odd moment. I think I got it, but I'm betting there were a number of viewers scratching their heads.
* Watching Cassidy desperately scramble trying to reach the chainsaw with a severed arm still attached as it revved across the floor toward the sleeping Jesse was the best part of the episode.
* I made a reference to True Blood in my review last week, and then I realize Emily looks so familiar because her actress starred in that show as Eric Northman's sister, Nora. It's total role reversal; now she gets to be the Southern human put upon by troublesome European vampires.
The Saint's Wife: Stay the horse. Keep to your affairs. Come back to us.
Father: You don't say much now do you, mister? No harm in that. Silence is as deep as eternity, and speech shallow as time. But this country... it's more than just trees and rivers, it's a promise. An ancient contract 'neath these new lands and particulars, but its terms are everlasting and made payable to the righteous. What do you say to that, sir? Do you agree, yes or no? That this is paradise?
Saint of Killers: It ain't.
Cassidy: What the bloody hell happened there?
Jesse: Shotgun. He tried to kill himself.
Cassidy: He's walkin' the earth with a face like an arsehole. He should've tried harder... Was that an un-Christian thing to say, was it?
Jesse: Pretty much.
Cassidy: Alright, haha! Poor lad.
Odin Quincannon: More units, more positions. You got your packers, your herders, your sorters (distant stare)... Butchers... And the like.
If he's even a little bit like his comic counterpart, Jackie Earle Haley will probably be a lot of fun to watch as this character.
Tulip: What happened, preacher? Jesus take your wheel?
Cassidy: I've been wondering who taught you how to fight like that. Was that your dad?
Jesse: To fight...? No, that was someone else.
Cassidy: Oh! There's a tale to be told there, I think.
Yes. Yes, there is.
Cassidy: I'm a 119-year old vampire from Dublin City. I'm currently on the run from vampire-hunting religious fanatics who somehow keep finding me. What else? I'm a right-handed Sagittarius, I love Chinese food, I've never seen the Pacific Ocean, and I think The Big Lebowski is overrated.
Jesse: In the end, the change in us always comes from God.
Eugene: But, preacher... What if this is the me that God wants? No matter how hard I try, it's just... I stay the same. I'm always the same. You get what I mean, preacher?
Jesse: Yeah. Yeah, I do.
Sad as it is, I like how Eugene is serving as sort of a mirror for Jesse.
I'm liking what I'm seeing, but I think that may just be because I was a fan before the show even started. Everyone else might have to be a little more patient. Three out of four bloody chainsaws.