This review contains spoilers.
1.7 He Gone
Jesse Custer has had a sudden realisation as to the full abilities he has within himself. Not as a criminal or a person or a fighter, but as the carrier of Genesis, AKA The Voice. He can use it for good, as when he ordered Mrs. Lorch to forgive Eugene, and he can use it for bad like, you know, sending Eugene to Hell for annoying him with some righteous indignation regarding Jesse’s abuse of his power. It’s interesting to watch him come to terms with what he’s done, as he does throughout this episode.
Of the characters on Preacher, the one that kind of draws the least attention is Jesse Custer himself. He’s the lead, and yet as far as I can tell, side characters like Tulip and Cassidy get the most attention, if only because it’s difficult to be a main character struggling with some sort of internal dilemma. Comic relief vampire and gun-toting tough broad are easier to draw attention to, but a man struggling under the weight of guilt and responsibility is a little more difficult (or a little too real) to pull people in.
However, Jesse’s moral dilemma is the focus of both this episode’s A and B stories. On one hand, Jesse is wrestling with the fact that he sent Eugene to hell for basically being too upbeat and positive. On the other hand, we get more back story as to the death of Jesse’s father and just why he’s obsessed with making this struggling little church actually successful and why he’s trying so hard to be the good guy rather than the person his instincts (and Tulip) want him to be.
It’s interesting to watch the build as Jesse slowly but surely begins to lose his cool. Cassidy reveals that he’s a vampire, Emily tries and fails to confess her feelings for him, and Tulip tries to make dinner and insert herself into Jesse’s life. All the while, Jesse is trying to come to terms with the fact that he sent an innocent man to Hell—in spite of Jesse blaming Tracy Lorch on Eugene, I’m not buying it because it sounds like fiction—and learning that The Voice has limitations. Dominic Cooper deserves praise for how he handled it; Jesse’s fuse shortens over the course of the episode, ending with an epic explosion that drives away pretty much every friend he’s got. That’s the problem with The Voice. It can change people’s actions, but not who they are; Jesse might think he can change into a good man, but that’s not who he is.
Hence, Odin Quincannon coming back to take possession of the church in spite of Jesse’s command. It’s a clever bit of writing from Mary Laws and the showrunners. Jesse told Quincannon to serve God, and while that doesn’t mean Quincannon goes to church, that does mean that Quincannon is going to double down on his quest to restore his family to greatness and make Quincannon Meat & Power the glorious exercise it once was. He feels that his actions—murdering, stealing land—are righteous, thanks to the Voice. Jesse tried, and failed, to control the other man’s actions; The Voice just made him more powerful and single-minded in his pursuits.
That single-mindedness provides the best visual of the evening courtesy of Michael Morris, who was more busy handling child actors than setting up big action scenes (to his credit, the kids work really well, and the visuals are haunting, particularly Jesse’s ankle view of his father’s beating). The episode serves as a set-up for a bigger episode next week. Jesse’s frantically tearing boards up and digging into the dirt under his church. Odin is riding a bulldozer with the entire workforce of Quincannon wearing mining helmets and carrying weapons. They’re going to take the Custer church, and it’s up to Jesse to defend it like the Texans defended the Alamo.
Of course, William Travis didn’t have Genesis on his side. Jesse might be mature enough not to use it on his congregation, but we’ve seen his willingness to use it on troublemakers before. Just ask Donnie, who is still nursing a broken arm. He might have gotten off light, all things considered.
Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Sundowner, here.