Preacher episode 8 review: El Valero

Quincannon is the star of this week's well-written, funny, dark, absurd Preacher episode...

This review contains spoilers.

1.8 El Valero

I cannot say enough good things about Jackie Earle Haley’s performance. This episode is basically the Odin Quincannon show, and it’s incredible to behold as he takes that character and somehow makes him the world’s most menacing middle manager. It’s really funny the way he organises his assaults on Jesse Custer’s church; the moment when he gives his men a speech telling them to drink water before their night assault on a sniper in a high position was just really funny, and it only gets funnier when he gives his men a later speech about how some of them were going to be serving as human shields, not in so many words, and faceless assault waves, due to it being dark, and not to get their penises shot off.

The crucial point isn’t just that Quincannon was menacing and funny, but that we also got a little crucial character development as to just why the Voice didn’t work on him. Quincannon isn’t the kind of person who believes in God, because after his entire family died, he stopped believing in a God that doesn’t answer in favour of a god who he can see and interact with: the god of meat, a tangible thing. After all, we’re all just bones and organs, not all that dissimilar from the cows that Quincannon sends to slaughter every day. The Voice, as we’ve seen throughout the show, doesn’t always work in the expected way; Jesse told Quincannon to serve God, and Quincannon chose his God, not Jesse’s God.

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That’s a good combination of elements from Olivia Dufault’s script. It’s funny, it’s dark, it’s absurd in a good way, and it still managed to do a little thought-provoking stuff when it’s not mining violent assault for comedy purposes. The violence this week is more implied, even the penis removal. It’s a strange bit of comedy, and it doesn’t quite work as well as Clive’s earlier moment where he runs towards the church with the mantra “food court” as a battle cry. The initial surge of fighters is hinted at more than shown, but it’s still pretty funny to see that Jesse is able to manhandle a dozen men with relative ease in between belts off a bottle of hooch.

The only person, strangely enough, who is smart enough to combat Jesse is Donnie, who has learned the power of The Voice first hand and deafened himself to avoid its use against him. Of course, the show doesn’t exactly play it out that way. Donnie’s deafening is played out in a perfectly misleading way. It plays as though Donnie, overcome with the inability to stop Jesse and with lingering depression over losing control of his own body courtesy of the Voice. It works as a suicide fake-out because, as we’ve seen, this is a show in which anything can happen and in which the most shocking thing is usually the choice the show is going to make. It’s also staged very well; it feels like a final moment, even though Donnie’s a fairly major character on the show.

Would you put it past Preacher‘s creative crew to kill off Jesse’s principal physical antagonist? That’s one of the benefits of the show; there’s no limit to the diversions it might take. Tulip adopting an old dog only to bring Cassidy slowly back to health? Sure, why not. Incompetent angels and a powerful being that refuses to stay cooped up in a coffee can? Hey, whatever works.

There’s an overall narrative, and a greater story arc, but at the same time, there’s freedom in the series for little diversion episodes like this one. It’s character development, kind of a comic-style one-shot, and a little black humor after sending an innocent character to hell and leaving another character to burn to death in the hot Texas sun.

Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, He Gone, here.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan loves a good food court, be it in a mall or in an train station. Nothing like a tour of the world’s foodstuffs without even leaving the city. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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