Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of Preacher! Proceed with caution. For reals, if you haven’t yet watched “South Will Rise Again,” we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.
Much as I’ve tried to, I can no longer hide from the truth that’s staring me in the face. For even the many who’ve never read a single issue of the Preacher comic book must, after five episodes, admit that its TV adaptation is spinning its wheels. Yes, the pilot was spectacular. A rocket ride packed with action, humor, and horror in generous proportions, it introduced us to Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy, and made us care about each of them. Hell, it did an even better job of establishing their characters than the comic’s first issues; and it certainly made Tulip a more compelling heroine in the early going.
But ever since then, things have slowed, have stabilized, and there’s more than a whiff of the stale odor of repetition in the air. Emily wants Jesse, Tulip wants Jesse back, Cassidy wants drugs, Eugene wants his father’s love, the Angels want the entity inside of Jesse, and Jesse wants to be as good a preacher as possible. All of this was made clear by the the end of the pilot, and none of it has changed since. The only difference is that more and more characters are realizing what the others want. But that knowledge doesn’t seem to be affecting their own goals one whit.
The one major new element is that Jesse has become aware of his “gift” to enforce his will on others, and, in “South Will Rise Again”, he’s using that ability quite a bit. Obviously too much for his or anyone else’s good. Which is made clear by Emily when she calls him out on the change in his personality. “This doesn’t feel like you,” she tells him. The downright dangerous side of his cockiness is found in Odin Quinncannon’s return to evil in this episode’s final shocking scene. Odin, apparently immune to Jesse’s persuasiveness, is the first truly formidable antagonist the show has presented, one who’s a lot more destructive than the dim-witted Donny or the slapstick angels. I’m looking forward to seeing him go mano a mano with Annville’s new golden boy. But I’d be a lot more invested in their conflict if I knew it would get Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy the hell out of town. Small-town quirk has a long proud tradition in American TV, from The Andy Griffith Show to Twin Peaks to Northern Exposure. But putting Jesse’s “word of God” (which, as he now knows, isn’t really God’s word) in this setting for what is now half of the first season feels like a Twilight Zone episode that’s run too long.
The Saint of Killers opens “South Will Rise Again,” though he’s yet to be called that, and his teaser scene offers–thank heavens–a much-welcome break from the usual-usual of Annville. His theme song alone is like nothing else in the show: a disjointed cacophony of brass and noise that’s chilling in its unearthliness. It’s been several episodes since the Saint first appeared, but I have no problem with seeing every episode of Preacher begin with a visit to his world. So long as this show doesn’t forget the fact that no matter how good the appetizer, the customer always comes for the main course.
Preaching to the Choir
— The other major problem with Tulip’s ongoing obsession with Jesse is that it robs her of the free, independent spirit that made her the best damn thing in Preacher‘s pilot.
— “I see linoleum’s hip again.”
— By letting Cassidy, er, sodomize her, Tulip is obviously using him. But I’m unsure as to what end. She’s too smart to think it will make Jesse jealous. So is she setting Cass up for an even greater fall of some kind?
— Preacher needs to give the angels a new angle. Their inability to answer the phone is funny for one scene but it’s unsatisfying as a running gag.
— Am I the only one who thinks Jackie Earle Haley would make a dynamite Dr. Sivana in Warner Bros. Shazam movie?
— “All that’s left to do is go over there and get him, tie him to a table, cut his freakin’ balls off, and, over and over, stab him in the face with a screwdriver.” “And your boyfriend said no to this?!”
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).