This Preacher review contains spoilers.
Preacher: Season 1, Episode 4
This was certainly a more Jesse-centric episode than we’ve seen so far this season. While he may not have been in every scene, “South Will Rise Again” was about the people of Annville (including a couple of wayward angels) coming to terms with their preacher in one form or another. His star is certainly on the rise since winning Odin Quincannon back to the faith, that’s for sure. Jesse is more confident now; happier, too. Emily has certainly noticed a change in him as of late — and it’s left her feeling uneasy. Emily’s opinion matters, considering she’s one of the more normal people in Preacher. Which is why it’s so interesting when she and Tulip cross paths. But more on that chance encounter in a bit.
In the meantime, Tulip has another run-in with someone in Jesse’s inner circle, namely Cassidy. In “South,” we see the other side of Tulip’s meet-cute with him. Unlike Jesse, Tulip clearly understands that Cassidy is indeed a vampire. She’s quick to sort him out, peppering him with questions about what does or does not a vampire make. It’s helpful for viewers to understand what makes him tick, too, given that Preacher’s take on vampires is a tad different from that of Bram Stoker or Anne Rice or even Stephenie Meyer (and yes, I just mentioned the Twilight author in the same breath as Bram Stoker).
Cassidy doesn’t crave human blood per se, but he wouldn’t turn his nose up at it either, as we’ve seen. Blood does help him heal, which makes sense — the iron-rich liquid is quite literally his life’s blood. Sunlight is the real danger for Cassidy, not crosses or garlic. Hence the strange attire whenever he ventures outside during the day. (And is it any wonder that the invention of sunblock would be a real boon to vampires?) The only thing drinking blood can’t cure is a spurned heart — Cassidy’s fallen hard for Tulip, but the feeling isn’t mutual. At the end of the day, he’s just a means to an end, a way for Tulip to rebound from her own spurned affections.
Which brings us to Emily, who’s stopped by Jesse’s to pick up the collection money. She straightens up a little while she’s there, too, folding the preacher’s clothes in an innocent moment of caring and kindness. We already know she harbors feelings for Jesse, even while secretly getting it on with the mayor. In any case, it’s because of Jesse that these two cross paths. Emily may seem more vulnerable in this moment, but it’s actually Tulip who’s brought up short. Emily and Jesse are not a couple, but they do share a kind of intimacy that Tulip doesn’t (and may never) share with him.
It’s because of this that Cassidy takes on a different sort of appeal for her. We learn in “South” that it took Tulip two years to track that no-good Carlos down. Which means it’s been two years since Jesse returned to Annville, turned to God, and turned his back on a life of crime. Cassidy hopes to (unwittingly) step into the vacuum created by Jesse’s absence. An interesting development, to be sure—and I do wonder how Cassidy will react when he discovers that Jesse is Tulip’s reluctant ex.
As for Donnie, he knows the terrible truth about Jesse’s power. His is the only first-hand account we have about how this power affects a person’s mind, how one is made to feel like a puppet — or worse, a cow in a maze being led to its slaughter. Just talking about it with his wife is enough to reduce Donnie to a blubbering, fearful mess. He needn’t worry about Odin Quincannon, though. Brainwashed or not, Odin is still the same man before Jesse “converted” him. Not only does he meet with his competition, he summarily removes them from the equation by wiping them off the face of the planet. Yup. Which makes me wonder what trouble is still in store for Jesse where the head of Q.M. & P. is concerned.
Which brings us to Jesse himself, who is using his power more frequently and more openly—all in the name of the greater good. Sooner or later this is going to catch up with preacher, noble intentions aside.
Some closing thoughts:
Another episode, another breadcrumb — Jesse’s power is of otherworldly origin, yes, but it’s not divine, if LeBlanc and Fiore are to be believed. If I were Jesse, I wouldn’t be so keen on using this power anymore—at least without knowing who or what is truly behind it.
Returning to the Ratwater storyline is another breadcrumb, but in this case, the trail seems to grow cold. Who is the mysterious cowboy who once fought for the Confederate army, and why does his dark reputation for violence precede him? I don’t need everything spelled out for me, and it’s fun seeing how this storyline will marry up with Jesse’s in the present.
Another episode, another breadcrumb regarding Eugene, too. Ian Colletti portrays him as a sweet, loving kid, but Eugene is held in contempt by everyone else, who sees him as less than human, who openly refers to him as “it.” And his plight isn’t played for cheap laughs—Eugene is a tragic character, as someone who tried and failed to take his own life (and it would seem he actually did kill somebody, though the show is playing this close to the chest for now). Since then, Eugene’s tried to find his way by finding God, but he feels he’s failed in this regard, too. Which is why he continually turns to Jesse for guidance in all things spiritual. Along the way, he’s helped the preacher to understand some things about himself as well—namely understanding his own true nature…