TV Review: Preacher, Season 1, Episode 6 "Sundowner"
SYNOPSIS: Jesse finally comes face to face with Deblanc and Fiore, and learns about the mysterious entity that has taken over his body.
REVIEW: "Sundowner" picks up right where the last episode left off with Jesse talking to the Adephi Angels, Fiore and DeBlanc at the diner as they reveal to him that they need what's inside of him. Jesse still thinks that he has God inside of him, or that it's God's power, but Fiore and DeBlanc are coaxed to tell the whole story (after Jesse uses that very power to make them do so). They explain that what's inside Jesse is a thing called "Genesis", the product of the mating of an Angel in Heaven with a Demon from Hell. "So you're saying this Genesis is some sort of angel-demon baby?"
"If by baby you mean the most powerful entity ever known, the singular force that could shift the balance of power, threaten all of creation then, yeah, it's a baby."
Before they can go any further, Fiore and DeBlanc are distracted by a seemingly unassuming blonde woman who enters then leaves the diner. They move to confront her in the parking lot, leaving Jesse inside. An argument starts and then a fight breaks out, prompting Jesse to run out and assist. However, after the woman chokes Jesse and lifts him into the air, he sees she's more than she seems. But, before the situation can escalate, Fiore shoots her in the head, "killing" her. Jesse naturally freaks out wanting to know what's going on. However, it becomes apparant that the woman is just like Fiore and DeBlanc as she is suddenly back in the same body and walking out of the diner toward them, just like the T-1000 from Terminator 2.
Fiore, DeBlanc, and Jesse make a break for it in Jesse's truck, where it's explained that the woman is part of the Seraphim, Angels of The First Order, who want order and control (In the comics, they're the "Seraphi", Warrior Archangels who sit at the right of God's throne).
They head to the Angels' motel, the Sundowner, and make a plan to get Genesis out of Jesse (DeBlanc: "I'll sing to it, it'll come."), while preparing for The Seraphim to send back-up along with the blonde woman who is on their trail presumably. Jesse says he'll just use "The Word" to stop them, but Fiore and DeBlanc are adament that he not use the power as this would signal to them what he has and the sheer power of it, causing everyone in Heaven and Hell to come looking for Genesis to use to their own advantage. Ultimately, they are the custodians of Genesis (although they don't know how it escaped to Earth) and are being tracked simply because they came to Earth without "permission."
However, it becomes apparent why Jesse isn't to use his power in the following scene, which becomes a kind of Evil Dead style showdown with the blonde angel, who shows up at their room and proceeds to "kill" DeBlanc and Fiore before turning the gun on Jesse. Jesse attacks and we get a taste of his brawling skills that we haven't seen since the pilot episode. It made me happy to see him back in action, as it's a signature trait of his character in the comics, who uses "The Word" sparingly and his fists generously.
What transpires is a fun and bloody sequence that echoes the earlier church scene in episode 2. The three angels basically kill each other over and over again with their resurrected selves coming back into the room to continue the fight after each "death", creating a pile of corpses in the room. Somehow Jesse is never killed, but continues to fight. It's revealed that the Angels must fully die to come back (i.e. can't be resurrected if they are clinging to life after injury), so their aim is to "subdue" the blonde Seraphi, rather than just kill her as she'd just continue to come back. At one point Cassidy shows up and joins the fight (why he shows up isn't revealed).
Eventually, they subdue the blonde Seraphi with a chainsaw (naturally) and turn their attention back to Jesse, ordering him to give back Genesis, saying they'll give him anything he wants if he does. But, Jesse is conflicted as to why Genesis chose him to begin with. Nobody knows the answer to that, though, and Jesse makes a decision. "I'm sorry, I'm keepin' it." Fiore and DeBlanc are desparate and tell him that "God does not want this."
"So if I'm wrong and God wants Genesis back, he can come and take it." Jesse and Cassidy start to leave, DeBlanc and Fiore pleading all the way to the parking lot, warning of the consequences of what he's doing. Jesse responds by using "The Word", saying "Stay away from me." which would ultimately stop them from approaching him ever again. As they drive off, Fiore says "Of course there's the other option", which I'd guess is likely the one we've all been waiting for: The Saint of Killers.
We then segue into an odd new relationship, as Tulip drives to Emily's house, storms in and yells at her to stay away from her "boyfriend". She breaks one of Emily's kids' art statues then storms back out to her car to sit and stew. Emily goes out and yells at her about breaking the statue and Tulip has some kind of moral crisis over it and knocks on the door to come in and fix it. What transpires is a weird bonding moment at the kitchen table, where Tulip offers to help watch Emily's sick kid while she handles her church errands. Emily asks Tulip if she has any experience with kids and she reveals that she used to have one. In the end, Tulip agrees to help do the church errands for Emily, while she watches her sick kid.
We then have a little half-naked bonding moment with Cassidy and Jesse, as they return to the church to wash their bloody clothes. They talk about their collective tattoos, with Cassidy asking Jesse where he got a tattoo in the center of his back with a skull, Texas star, and horseshoe. Jesse replies that "a mean old lady" gave it to him, which could very well be a hint at his Grandmother, Miss Marie in the comics. Jesse is also riddled with scars and has a shoulder tattoo of a Tulip. "That's my Tulip," he says with more affection than we've heard him have for the character in the show thus far, signifying a deeper historical connection to her.
Cassidy wants to know what Jesse is going to do with Genesis and it's obvious he's got bigger plans, but the only thing he'll reveal is "more". It's very obvious that the power within him is starting to corrupt his faith and ideals. Absolute power and all. Later, Jesse is seen installing a loudspeaker on top of the church, while Cassidy (covered up in a hoodie to block out the sun) is arguing with him about using Genesis, especially in the obvious way he is planning to use it. "This is why Genesis was given to me, Cassidy. This is what it's for. God doesn't make mistakes."
"God may not make mistakes, but people are bloody famous for it!"
There's a subplot going on throughout the episode that has a group of kids seeming to befriend Eugene (Arseface). Eugene is naturally suspicious, as most people are always regarding him in horror and telling him to "finish the job". At one point, Eugene follows the kids into a fenced-off tunnel where we expect the worst to happen, but instead they just set off some fireworks inside and watch them, at which point Eugune seems to have a bit of a revelation, which comes into play at the end of the episode.
Jesse is setting up for an outdoor sermon, preparing to unleash the full power of "The Word" on the town with his newly-installed megaphone when Miles, the Anneville Mayor, shows up seeking advice. Miles is suffering with covering up the murders of the Green Acres executives that were committed by Odin Quincannon in the last episode. In the end, he makes the decision to follow through with the cover up, as we see the bodies of the Green Acres execs in a turned over, burnt out car as Miles calls the headquarters to advise of the "tragic accident". Miles takes a step to the dark side here and things are sure to catch up with him after this.
Inside the church, just before service, Tulip arrives and drops off a bunch of "church stuff" for Emily, much to the shock and dismay of Jesse, who didn't expect to see her there. While dropping off the supplies, Tulip runs into Cassidy and it becomes very clear what's going on. "You're HIS Tulip?" Jesse suddenly enters the room, but Cassidy is hidden behind the door. Jesse and Tulip have a brief exchange, while Cassidy stays in hiding, conflicted over his friendship and burgeoning relationship with Tulip. Ah, the drama.
Prior to the service beginning, Eugene enters the church to talk to Jesse. After his revelation in the tunnel he's had a change of heart about being forgiven by Jessica's mother in the last episode, saying he doesn't want it, as it feels like "cheating." He seeems to have a grasp on the power that Jesse wields and very quickly takes to trying to stop Jesse from abusing that power. Jesse becomes angry at this. "This is God's will, what I've done. What I've done for you. What I'm about to do. Understand? It is not cheatin'!" Eugene asks him what he's going to do.
"I'm gonna save the damn town!"
Jesse asks why Eugune keeps coming to him, to which he replies, "Because you're the Preacher." Jesse says he's going to make the town see the light and then he'll be free, but Eugene says that it's wrong, implying that using the power of "The Word" to make people see the light is not the way to do things. "People need to choose. That's the whole point." Jesse lets his nasty side loose as Eugene continues to argue with him and at the peak of that argument yells, using "The Word", "Go to hell, Eugene!" which promptly makes Eugene disappear.
While I hate to be a broken record about the slow pace, this is another episode that falls into that category. It's not that we need a break-neck speed in each episode, but in terms of the actual story, everything is sluggish and progressing at a snail's pace. Considering that Jesse's mission in the comics is set up within the first few issues and the origins and stakes of what he's dealing with are laid out in a way that's easy to understand. However, even non-comic fans are scratching their heads at just where this story is going and why any of it matters. It feels like the series is headed toward getting to Jesse's mission by the finale, which really feels way too late in the game.
There's been some criticsim of comparing the show to the comics and holding it under that scrutiny, but if we can't compare it to the source material then what's the point of adapting it to begin with? If it's just going to use names and likenesses and just "do its own thing" then what's the point of adapting the story to begin with? There had to be a reason to want to make it and if it was just to nibble at the source and then run with your own take on it then it feels pretty haphazard to me. As someone who has read the comics over and over, I know what gems await, and I know where the deviations occur and at this point, we're headed into some very uncharted waters and I continue to struggle with why so much has been changed when the source material worked so damn well.
While I am pleased with the actors and the general style of the show, I feel like it is going to need some serious course correction to be a proper adaptation at this point. I'm happy that it's been renewed for a second season, but my fear is that this will allow the showrunners to stretch out the slog rather than pick up the pace. I hope they choose the latter. Right now, it's an enjoyable watch that simply isn't measuring up to the pace, edge, and humor of the comics. You know it's not firing on all cylinders when even non-comic fans are complaining about a lack of coherency and direction. Preacher has all the elements in place, but they just aren't fully aligned in perfect working order and quickly heading away from what makes this a story worth adapting. Here's to hoping the next four episodes get us back on track.
- DeBlanc & Fiore reveal the true nature of what is inside Jesse: Genesis, the offspring of an Angel and a Demon, who fell in love during "The Endless War" in Heaven. This is, thankfully, exactly as it is in the comic, but would've been punctuated to a greater degree had they shown some of this backstory, rather than just told it. Additionally, Jesse uses "The Word" to make them tell the truth about this, again an aspect from the comics, albeit in a very different situation (after his first altercation with The Saint of Killers).
- While waiting for their clothes to wash and comparing tattoos, Cassidy asks Jesse where he got the one on his back, a skull of some sort, and Jesse replies from "a mean old lady" which could very well be a hint to his sadistic and evil Grandma, Miss Marie.