Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of Preacher! Proceed with caution. For reals, if you haven’t yet watched “Sundowner,” we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.
Okay, now we’re moving. After several weeks of spinning its wheels, Preacher‘s central narrative lurches forward in “Sundowner,” the show’s best episode since its pilot. Things pick up immediately after last week’s “South Will Rise Again,” with Jesse having just learned that the entity inside of him is not God, but is, in fact, the product of an unholy union between an angel and a demon. Named “Genesis,” it’s a “mistake,” a “scandal,” and an embarrassment to both Heaven and Hell. Fiore and Deblanc, the two angelic agents (or “custodians,” as they call themselves) who have been hounding Jesse, finally make their intentions clear. But before Preacher Custer can fully process what’s happening, another nastier angel, a Seraphim, shows up, and all hell proceeds to break loose.
“Sundowner” offers what is by far the show’s best teaser to date, with Jesse and the two heavenly helpers engaged in an orgy of violence and bloodshed in the episode’s titular hotel. As regenerated bodies pile up at an alarming albeit hilarious rate, much of the action is smartly (and affordably) depicted through a hole in the wall. Kudos to director Guillermo Navarro, who’s best known as Guillermo del Toro‘s celebrated cinematographer, for staging this mayhem so effectively. It’s the kind of opening that’s so damned engaging, it makes one forget the episode hasn’t really started yet.
The rest of “Sundowner” moves at a slower pace, but it makes good use of its time in advancing the show’s largely neglected plot. Tulip, hellbent on keeping Emily away from Jesse, begins forming a friendship with the soccer-mom organist, and we learn she too once had a daughter; which goes a long way in deepening the sadness and regret she’s been wearing since we met her. (One could have heretofore assumed it was primarily due to Jesse leaving her.) And Cassidy discovers that Jesse and Tulip were/could again be a couple. But the biggest revelation by far occurs when Jesse learns the down side of having “the most powerful force ever known” stuck inside him.
The latter lesson comes at a massive cost. After long suffering scorn, torment, and ridicule from his peers and classmates, Eugene begins finding a kind of acceptance in this episode, the first peace he’s known that’s come from a source other than Jesse. Realizing he can survive on his own, he asks the Preacher to stop using his power to force his will on others, even if it lessens his own pain. It’s a great scene, in which the counseled becomes the counselor, and Jesse finally has, even more so than Tulip, someone who calls him on his shit. Unfortunately Jesse doesn’t very much like discovering he’s been making mistakes, and, in a moment of anger, he accidentally sends Eugene’s soul to Hell.
The implications for both Jesse and the show are intriguing. Can Eugene’s soul be reclaimed? And if so, how? Does the show’s much anticipated “road trip” begin with a visit to the Underworld? Will Jesse still want the power inside him after seeing the harm it can do to others? If he keeps it, can he learn to use it wisely, or is that the sole province of a higher power?
One thing’s for sure. The episode’s final scene, in which Annville’s mayor fakes the death of the Green Acre Group partners whom Odin Quincannon massacred last week, is hugely anticlimactic after the Eugene-Jesse confrontation. But it’ placement represents a crossroads where Preacher now finds itself. Will the show invest more, as it has recently, in the paltry affairs of mankind, or will it it now take the time to more fully explore the realm of the metaphysical? Here’s hoping that, like the comic on which it’s based, it finds a consistent way to do both.
Preaching to the Choir
— “You don’t have to go home but you can’t pray here.”
— Jesse’s reaction to the angel’s revelation shows how different he is from his comic counterpart. While the DC/Vertigo Jesse initially exhibited only disgust for those seeking Genesis, Dominic Cooper’s character is all wide-eyed with wonder and curiosity. He’s at first more concerned with what it feels like to experience death and rebirth at the hands of a Seraphim clone than in actually restraining it.
— “You just broke my kid’s art thing.”
— So Liz Taylor was a shitty tipper, huh? Go figure.
— “Genesis? What, like the bloody band? It’s a terrible name.”
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).