TV Review: Preacher, Season 1, Episode 8 "El Valero"
SYNOPSIS: In a fierce gun battle Jesse faces off against Quincannon and the Meat Men to protect his church, while Tulip tries to save a friend.
REVIEW: It was another strange episode for Preacher as we approach the season finale and while that's not uncommon for the subject material, the story is definitely headed into uncharted waters. In fact, this is the first episode that I couldn't find a direct connection to the comics at all, which is something that will matter depending on whether you have or haven't read the books.
We start with a brief flashback that shows the death of Odin Quincannon's family on a ski trip, cutting to another flashback we saw earlier in the season that had Jesse's father visiting Quincannon in his office after their deaths, surrounded by the shipped corpses of his family. Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley) is covered in blood and argues with John Custer (while holding a set of cow intestines and his daughter's intestines), saying that "it's all meat" and that he needs to tell the people, basically, that God does not exist. That he needs to "denounce him". This serves to give some insight into Quincannon's motives, not to mention his twisted and warped perspective.
We then jump into the siege of Jesse's church (of which Quincannon now feels he's the rightful owner due to his and Jesse's bet), where he basically beats up a wave of Quincannon's goons, taking their guns, and sending them back to a flustered Odin Quincannon, along with a re-emerged Donnie (Derek Wilson), once again dressed up in his Civil War garb, arm still in a sling. At this point I'd almost forgotten about him even being in the show, even though we've spent so much time on his story early on (including moments between him and his son, as well as his "abused" wife). I'm left scratching my head as to why so much time has been spent on such an insignificant character at this point. He seems to just be a thorn in Jesse's side, but the scenes we've had to endure with him outside of those interactions just seem like wasted time when so much more needed attention.
Holed up in the church and waiting on the next wave of Quincannon goons, Jesse (Dominic Cooper) spends his time drinking whiskey and lamenting over having sent Eugene (Ian Colletti) to Hell. But, he doesn't mourn long, as suddenly he pulls Eugene from the ground in the church. Relieved, Jesse gets Eugene some water and sits down to talk with him, eventually asking "What's it like?" to which Eugene replies, "Crowded." Jesse then confesses that Eugene was right about everything, including the power being a way for Jesse to "cheat" and that he should "probably give it back."
"Can't use it. Can't be trusted with it. I've figured that much out at least."
That conversation leads to a striking revelation, though. Eugene isn't really there. Turns out, Eugene is like a ghost of himself (from Hell) that's talking to Jesse, but he's still very much in Hell. So, is Jesse going crazy, seeing visions, or what? That much is unclear and, again, a deviation from the source, although Jesse did have conversation with the ghost of John Wayne in the comics, so it's not unheard of for him to talk to the dead, real or imagined.
Later, the recently let go Emily (Lucy Griffiths) is visited by Mayor Person, who informs her of the standoff happening between Jesse and Quincannon. Her commitment to Jesse is unwavering and she naturally decides to head out there.
Meanwhile, Quincannon's goons make another advance on the church, where Jesse fires at them from the balcony and takes out their bulldozer with a molotov cocktail. We get to see Jesse in action a bit and he's revealed to be a damn good shot. A sharpshooter one might say, as one of the men returns from "the battlefield" with some rather disturbing news and a bloody "appendage".
"Preacher shot my dick off."
That got a good laugh out of me and felt well in line with the type of humor that fits the source. We need more weird and hilarious stuff like that. I think Garth and Steve would be proud of that moment. Jesse then gets on the microphone and calls for "The Agents" meaning the Angels DeBlanc and Fiore, who show up with their trusty Heaven trunk, presumably to recall Genesis back into its tin can. Jesse agrees to let them take Genesis back as long as they help to bring Eugene back from Hell. The Angels are reluctant to agree to that deal, but regardless, Jesse finds himself laying on the ground with the can on his chest and DeBlanc singing his tune to drive out Genesis.
Emily eventually arrives at the church, where folks around town have turned up, making it into a kind of spectator sport standoff. The Mayor once again pops up and has a chat with Emily about how Quincannon is the good guy who will make the town better by appropriating the land and that Jesse Custer is a criminal. "The good Preacher, up there in his little church, that's the fantasy."
Back in the church, Jesse is still arguing over why he was chosen by Genesis, even as he reluctantly agrees to let The Angels take it back. "I just have questions," Jesse says, wondering aloud if this is what God wants. Fiore and DeBlanc are focused solely on getting Genesis back and offer nothing in terms of the how and why of Genesis escaping and/or choosing Jesse. DeBlanc puts it all in perspective, though, asking that since Jesse has had the power all this time, what good has he actually done? Not much to be said there, as it's evident that Jesse has truly made a mess of it all.
Outside, Odin Quincannon gives his final assault battle plans, while Donnie sneaks off, puts his head in the trunk of his car, pulls out his gun, and fires off a shot. Presumably, this was to kill himself, but we later find out what he's up to.
We then cut back to The Angels working their Heavenly magic to bring out Genesis, but are having trouble. Fiore says Jesse is resisting. DeBlanc tells Jesse: "You're just a speck of dust passing through the glory of creation. Give it up." After that, Jesse calms down and Genesis is able to be pulled out, back into the can. Relieved, Fiore and DeBlanc begin packing up to leave, done with Jesse and Earth itself. But, Jesse wants to know about their end of the deal in getting Eugene out of Hell. The Angels don't seem to really care, causing Jesse to get angry. He wants to know how it's possible that he could even have done that. The Angels don't know. "Then tell me who does!"
This causes Genesis to once again escape the can and re-enter Jesse. It appears it ain't going anywhere. Fiore and DeBlanc methodically pack up and relent that they won't get Genesis back that way.
"The other option then."
I'm certainly hoping (and counting on) the "other option" being The Saint of Killers.
The night siege kicks off right after this with Jesse once again repelling the assault. "That it?" It's great to see Jesse in his badass glory, which is way more in line with his source. Cooper, when allowed, can really echo the Custer we deserve in this show, but all too often he's playing a much more toned down version and afflicted version of him.
While Jesse continues to drink up after stopping the latest attack, we see Donnie's "gun in the trunk" moment come to fruition, as he apparently blew out his eardrums so that Jesse can't use The Word on him. Jesse decides to let Donnie have his way and tells him to shoot him but Donnie instead just knocks him out. When Jesse awakens, he's sitting aside from Quincannon and his goons in the church. Quincannon hands over the deed paperwork for Jesse to sign over the church. Jesse holds the paper in his hands and wonders aloud why The Word didn't work on Quincannon and why he isn't serving God. But, the literal power of The Word comes to play as Quincannon reveals that he is devoutly serving God. "The God of Meat."
Jesse laughs and calls Quincanon's belief "batshit crazy" to which Quincanon replies that following a God that is silent crazy. This strikes Jesse. "I agree." Jesse then asks for one more Sunday where he's going to bring God directly to church and make him answer all their questions. "And if we don't like his answers, I will denounce the bastard then and there."
Throughout the episode we followed Tulip rescuing a big dog and taking care of it throughout the day, before, in the evening, taking that dog into a room in her house, where it appears to be killed. This is obviously Tulip helping Cassidy get better after his "fiery" situation last episode.
So, we're nearly to the end, with two episodes to go and I'm still feeling doubts about where we're headed. At this point, we're so far away from the books that I'm working hard to just follow it as it is, but it's hard to do that when you have such weak back-up players like Donnie, Emily, The Mayor, etc. and the key characters are hardly in play (Tulip, Cassidy). That's not to say the show isn't entertaining; It is. It's just not the best possible show we could get out of the given material. Last episode gave us some great teases to Jesse's past (and presumably future storyline) and had some great callbacks to the source, while doing it's own thing. I can respect that (just as I can with Walking Dead and Game of Thrones), but unfortunately none of that is present here as this one goes completely off the rails and into it's own territory. All that said, I'm still in for the long haul and am very curious to see where it all goes. In that, the show is doing its job.
I definitely feel that, especially after this episode, Preacher will be a show better appreciated in a binge watch. Now, we could say that binging ruins the episodic value of a show, but I'd argue that it allows you to fully absorb and appreciate the story at your own pace, no different than reading a book. I binged Stranger Things over the weekend and felt like I had a fully immerseive experience and I think (hope) that Preacher may deliver the same in that format.
Aside from the already established connections, nothing new pops up this episode.