Preacher Season 2, Episode 6
This Preacher review contains spoilers.
I admit, for the first several minutes of “Sokosha” I wondered if I’d tuned in to a new sci-fi show about soul trafficking. It’s an interesting premise, this commoditization of the human soul by a mysterious Japanese company named Tamashii Ureshii Iku Iku (or Soul Happy Go Go). In this black market economy, people willing to sell even just fractions of their ineffable essence are guaranteed a big payday. As for side effects, they’re nothing some aspirin and a sedative won’t fix, at least in the short term. As for the long-term effects, well, there’s that whole ineffability thing. While Soul Happy Go Go might be cutting the checks, the devil tends to be in the details. And it’s here, in the nitty-gritty details of voodoo economics, that “Sokosha” ties this Charlie Kaufmanesque premise to the vengeful, blood-drenched world of Preacher, resulting in an intriguing episode that delivers the kind of soul-searching that’s anything but enlightening.
And there is an awful lot of blood and gore—which is to be expected when the Saint of Killers is involved. Preacher has been building up to this confrontation over the course of the season, with the occasional near-misses and violence from afar. It’s well-established that the Saint is an unstoppable killing machine, a murderous monsoon of a man destroying anything that gets in his way. So the fact that he and Jesse achieve a sort of détente is a bit unexpected. Genesis affords Jesse the sort of power that is useless against the Saint, but reading, on the other hand, affords him the sort of power that ultimately leads to the cowboy’s undoing. Kudos to the show, by the way, for turning to the source material for the Saint’s backstory—using actual pages from the Vertigo comic to bring his tortured past to life in a way that isn’t forced or redundant with what we already know of him from season one. My only gripe—and it’s a minor one—is that they don’t use more of the late Steve Dillon’s artwork.
In any case, Jesse and the Saint strike a deal that will somehow grant both men what they want. In Jesse’s case, he wants the Saint to leave them alone. And the Saint simply wants to be reunited with his family in Heaven. And for a while, it seems like Jesse is hell-bent on making that happen. Sure, a lot of his motivation comes from wanting to save Tulip and Cassidy, but it’s nice to think there may be an underlying altruism to his mission. He is a preacher after all, and helping people achieve eternal bliss is part of the job description. So he literally gives of himself—in his case one percent of his soul—to refill the Saint’s spiritual abyss.
But, as we find out, this is simply a means to an end, a way for Jesse to finally unleash the power of Genesis upon the unsuspecting Saint. I’ll admit that this scene is emotionally satisfying. As pure as the Saint’s motives may be, he’s still committed countless atrocities. Still, does this give Jesse the right to act as this man’s judge, jury, and executioner? Honestly, I think not. Collar or no collar, Jesse Custer is no saint himself. By the end of the episode, he’s not happy with the man he sees staring back from the mirror. This is a different kind of soul-searching, and it’s left this man of God wanting.
As for the Saint of Killers, sinking him in a swamp is merely waylaying him. Think of him as Chekhov’s gunslinger, if you will. This terminator will be back. In the meantime, Preacher needs to pick up the pace a bit, as its search for God has lost some of its urgency. As much as I love this episode and last week’s brilliant “Dallas,” neither hour does enough to move the relatively simple plot forward. Still, if we finally delve into Jesse’s troubled childhood, I’m willing to put this quest on hold for a little longer.
Some closing thoughts:
It’s nice to see Cassidy in a whole new way. I never once thought Dennis could be his son. Knowing this casts the shoe-tying scene in a new light. He’s trying to be the da he never was to a son he doesn’t know. And it’s good to see Cassidy truly care about someone else other than himself. He may care about Tulip, but it’s not selfless.
There are some truly inspired jokes in this episode, including the sign outside Mumbai Sky Tower that reads, “The Day the Dying Died: A Tribute to Ganesh.” Another inspired moment is the American Psychopaths audiobook Tulip is listening to. The next chapter? Dick Cheney.
What became of The Grail’s Agent Hoover, who was stationed outside Dennis’s apartment complex a few episodes back? It seemed like he was put there to keep an eye on Jesse, but now he’s nowhere to be found.
This idea of free market souls is compelling—it’s the sort of thing a whole movie could be built around. Just consider the somewhat impoverished circumstances that lead Edwin to sell off part of his soul in the first place. He and his wife live modestly, in a home that’s seen better days. This transaction is their way of trying to stay afloat. Edwin is paid $150,000 for his fifteen percent. Meanwhile, the upscale client, wishing to reverse the effects of dementia on his elderly wife, pays nearly $3 million dollars for a surefire cure. In the end, Edwin is the biggest loser in this exchange—he just doesn’t know it. As to that fateful day when he finds himself at the pearly gates, is 85% of one’s soul enough to gain entry into Heaven’s waiting embrace? To that end, is 99% enough?
What does it say about Jesse’s moral integrity, that his soul is such a close match to a heartless killer who bankrupted his own soul so long ago? Jesse has committed reprehensible acts, but does he deserve eternal hellfire? In a universe where its creator is absent, is such a question even relevant?