This Preacher review contains spoilers.
Preacher Episode 6
While last year’s Mad Max: Fury Road was an amazing film from a visionary director, many people still accused George Miller of a bait and switch. Namely, the movie focused more on Charlize Theron’s Furiosa than it did on its titular hero, who many thought played second fiddle in his own movie (there are many arguments for and against this idea, but personally I don’t think Fury Road suffers for Max’s diminished role). In any case, I bring this up in my “He Gone” review for two reasons: One, Preacher is the kind of show that appreciates a good pop-culture reference. And two, up until this episode, Jesse Custer was affected by change rather than effecting change.
Through Genesis, Jesse the preacher found his voice, figuratively and literally speaking. And through this power, Jesse the character found his narrative, taking on a more vigilante stance. This is all well and good in the face of clear-cut right and wrong. Linus the pedophile school bus driver was clearly in the wrong. Even so, the idea of laissez-faire morality was an issue from the moment Jesse wielded a power he didn’t comprehend.
The moment he crossed the line in its use was when he learned the truth about Genesis in “Sundowner.” From that point forward, any time he’s used that power, he does so from a place of gross irresponsibility. And one could argue that doing so in God’s name is pretty much blasphemy. Eugene knew this, and look at what happened to him. Cassidy isn’t about to let Jesse’s slippery morality slide, but more on this in a bit.
As for God, the way Jesse talks about His plans for him has changed over the course of the season. In the beginning, Jesse’s belief in divine guidance was genuine; he had a heartfelt belief that he needed to save the people of Annville, even if he himself had no idea or the means to accomplish a seemingly impossible feat. He was an underdog in this way, a murdered preacher’s son grappling with demons that had plagued him his whole life. But now, God’s plan has taken on a more sinister tone, becoming a crutch for a holy man with an unholy agenda.
Sinner or no sinner, Eugene was right when he told Jesse that people need to choose the manner of their own redemption, if they ever do. This Plan has always become a means for Jesse to justify keeping Genesis’s power for himself, which calls to mind Bilbo Baggins’ (and later Frodo’s) many justifications for keeping the power of the One True Ring for himself in Tolkien’s Middle-earth novels. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, as the old saying goes, and Jesse is not immune to such things.
Which brings me to my earlier comparison to Fury Road. Up until now, Jesse has been a more passive presence in the show that bears his name. But lately he’s had more to do, whether it’s wielding Genesis’s power, or helping battle a seraphim, or (supposedly) taking Odin Quincannon down a notch. But in “He Gone,” Jesse’s not only battling with members of his inner circle, he’s at war with himself. With Eugene gone, Jesse finally seems troubled by his actions, but is he remorseful? Dominic Cooper’s performance suggests that he is, but the preacher’s deeds say otherwise. Did he let Cassidy burn?
This brings us to a pretty fantastic scene between two otherwise likable characters. They’ve been mates up to this point, but Cassidy knows the truth about Eugene, just as he knows the truth about Jesse’s terrible ability. He calls him out on it, which is brave, given that Jesse could just as easily make him disappear with a single word, if he so desired. This doesn’t stop Cassidy from pressing forward about Jesse’s slipshod ethics. Getting Jesse’s attention with the wrong end of a fire extinguisher doesn’t hurt, but its existence in this scene screamed Chekhov’s gun. And, sure enough, the fire extinguisher comes into play as Cassidy basically self-immolates in the sun to prove a point. Which brings me back to my question above—did Jesse let his friend burn?
Some closing thoughts:
Looks like Jesse’s plan to convert Odin Quincannon has backfired in a major way. Perhaps this means Genesis’s power only works on the weak-minded (much like a Jedi mind trick—which would mean Odin is a lot like Jabba the Hutt, who was immune to mind games). Or maybe the effects of Genesis’s power are only temporary. Odin did slaughter several people in “Sundowner,” after all.
There were so many callouts to eternal hellfire peppered throughout this episode, from the fire safety poster outside the principal’s office to the kitchen fire caused by Tulip’s doomed dinner.
Donnie lost a nipple to Tulip in a schoolyard fight? No wonder there’s so much bad blood. And yet Tulip is battling her share of demons; indeed, her main weakness seems to be the world’s low expectations of the O’Hare name. She may be able to take down a helicopter with a homemade bazooka, but Tulip can’t seem to overcome her tumultuous past.