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Preacher: El Valero


This show is so beautifully crazy. I love it. It's just my cup of tea.

Preacher has a very good thing going for it with its opening scenes for every episode, finding new ways to slowly baffle us with twisted, dynamic imagery.

This episode explores Odin Quincannon's madness. The opening shows us where it began, with the tragic deaths of Odin's entire family in a ski vacation in Vail. This drove the businessman mad, causing him to mutilate his family's remains along with that of a cow in order to determine the difference. Odin sees no real difference, which leads him to believe that his family's lives were no more significant than the cows he regularly slaughters. It all becomes meat, in his eyes. This epiphany leads to the falling out with John Custer that we saw in a flashback a few episodes ago.

More importantly, "El Valero" answers the question of why Jesse's command to "Serve God" only made Odin more violently proactive, and not a good Christian like he thought. It's because what Odin perceives as God is not normal. He now worships the God of Meat, which he sees as representing physical and material life, things that are "tangible", "touchable" and "true."

It's totally nuts, a mindset that leads Quincannon to lay siege to the All Saints Congregational Church. He has his small army of meat men repeatedly attack the church, only to be consistently repelled by Jesse Custer. Though most of it takes place offscreen, this episode illustrates how much of a badass the preacher is. The Meat Men find out fast that he's a master hand-to-hand fighter and an expert marksman. He doesn't even really need the supernatural power he has as a trump card. Still, even with all his skills, he makes a point of not killing anyone.

Jesse almost catches a break when he believes he's successfully called Eugene/Arseface back from Hell. He's elated, hugging him, digging through drawers to find a straw for his water, calling up his father to tell him the good news. Too bad this Arseface is just a figment of Jesse's guilt-ridden imagination; then again, it might also be Genesis affecting his mind.

The bummers continue when he brings the angels, Fiore and DeBlanc, to the church. They refuse to help Jesse rescue Eugene or answer any of the numerous questions that he(we) has until Jesse relinquishes Genesis back into their custody. He complies, and this time their routine with the funny little song works and Genesis goes back into the coffee can... I mean, its domicile. Until it pops right back out, re-enters Jesse and destroys the coffee can in the process. With the can gone, Fiore and DeBlanc agree that the "other option" they disagreed about earlier is all that remains to them now, and they leave to attend to it. And Jesse is left alone, without the angels or even the illusion of Eugene.

While this is all going on, Tulip spends the episode with a dog. She buys a lovable bloodhound from a shelter, and plays with him outside all day. She shows the dog all this love, but, in the end, she does it for a purpose. I wasn't sure what it was until she brought it to that room. I knew the dog was not long for this world from the start, but I was not expecting it to serve as the bloody reveal that our dear friend Cassidy is still alive.

The situation is eventually resolved when Donnie sneaks in through the back and gets the drop on Jesse. Thanks to Donnie's retarded yet inexplicably brilliant idea of deafening himself with his pistol, Jesse's power has no effect on him. Not wanting to kill anyone, Jesse surrenders to Quincannon. This is where Jesse learns of Odin's god, and where he makes his ultimatum. He proposes one more Sunday of church, where he will call upon God and have the almighty lord speak with his people. He's going to make God answer all of our questions. It's a noble effort - and what Jesse sees as his last chance to use Genesis for something good - but I think it will be sadly in vain.

What the episode really does is highlight the people of Annville. Specifically, how crazy or awful they all seem to be, with very few exceptions. The citizens flock to the church to witness the Meat Men and the submissive police attack the town church, treating it like a social event. When the huge gun battle takes place toward the end, we only see the faces of the crowd, nearly all of whom react as if it's a Fourth of July fireworks show. Even the kind, idealistic Mayor Miles has been scared by Quincannon into abandoning his principles and feebly accepting the tyrant's perspective. It makes me wonder if Annville is even worth saving?

Between the imminent arrival of God, Quincannon's madness, and the pressure system that keeps threatening to go off the charts, it looks as if the show is heading for an explosive finale. I cannot wait.

Bits & Pieces:

* "El Valero" is apparently an allusion to The Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution. Fitting, since that is essentially how Odin Quincannon views his war with Jesse Custer.

* The crates and cow in Quincannon's office is a pretty impactful image. The whole scene, really. Wow. The only reason Odin didn't die tragically with the rest of his family is because he was preoccupied with his business and didn't attend the trip with them. His wife even joked that his disgusting job was like a second wife to him.

* The song Wynken, Blynken and Nod is a children's poem written by Eugene Field in 1889. It's about three children sailing through space in a wooden shoe and fishing in the stars. Given how it came to Earth, it's easy to see why Genesis might like that song.

* Sadly, this episode marks the end of the infamous coffee can that is carried around by the angels. Rest in peace, coffee can.

Quotes: It's Quincannon week in the quotes section. Jackie Earle Haley killed it this episode.

John Custer: Odin, you have experienced a terrible loss. Your entire family, gone. You need to let God help you.
Odin Quincannon: Oh, that's good. You and God can help me with a question. Somethin' that's been consternatin' me all night... (holds up two bloody intestines) Which is my daughter, and which is the cow?

Jesse: You dug out of Hell with your hands?
Arseface: It's not that far.

Clive: Preacher shot my dick off.
Okay, now it's like the comics.

Sheriff Root: Preacher called me, said he had my boy.
Odin Quincannon: Your boy? With the, uh...
Sheriff Root: (offended) With the what?
Odin Quincannon: You know, the ass-face. (to Ms. Oatlash) Sunscreen and a sandwich, looks like we're gonna be here awhile.

Jesse: See, this is my point. What else don't we know?
Fiore: We don't know.
Jesse: This doesn't make sense. I mean, how did this happen? Don't you have questions?
Fiore: No!

Jesse: I just have questions.
DeBlanc: Preacher, we have a question for you: Genesis, the greatest power ever known, and you've had it all this time right there at the tip of your tongue... And what good have you done with it?

Odin Quincannon: We're gonna give Jim and Joe Friday just a few more minutes of diplomacy, and then we're gonna go in one last time. Now, just so everyone understands, this is gonna be a night assault over open ground against an expert marksman in an elevated position. So, you know, drink lots of water... Lighten up, boys. I was joking. Water ain't gonna make a damn bit o' difference!

Odin Quincannon: Now I don't want you to feel like you're human shields, but... Let's not mince words. You are human, and you are gonna be actin' as shields of a sort.

Odin Quincannon: (after explaining the God of Meat) You think that's funny, do you?
Jesse: No... It's bat-shit crazy.
Odin Quincannon: You wanna know what's crazy, preacher? What's completely, banana-balls insane? Following a god who is silent. That is crazy.
Jesse: Hmm. You're right...

Only three episodes to go after this. I'm certainly eager to see how they conclude this wild first season. Four out of four blasted coffee cans.

1 comment:

  1. Crazy episode..it appears Cassidy is alive..so yay! But Tulip feeding him a dog was icky. Wonder if Jesse gets real Eugene back..


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