TV Review: AMC’s Preacher 1×04, “Monster Swamp”

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Well if it is not one already (I checked, it isn’t), “Monster Swamp” would definitely be a good name for a horror movie. As it stands, this is simply the title for the fourth episode of Preacher and while we don’t see any swamp monsters, we do get a nice look at things slowly taking shape. The show has gotten by so far on its ability to throw a lot at the wall and have it stick, mixed with style and a solid cast. Now we are getting some plot movement, while still sticking with the weirdness that is ideally working in its favor.

I imagine many (and mostly the non-comic readers) are very happy whenever they get more Cassidy or Tulip. This is not to put down Jesse, who adds plenty himself along with carrying a powerful ability, but it is a lot of fun to see these other two interact with the world that is this series. This week Tulip and Cassidy get a chance to interact (in one of the bloodier ways we could see) and it leads to the reveal of one’s true self to another. It comes as a result of something else I will get to, but it is nice to have these two key characters learning of one another.

This will lead to the core trio of characters all getting together soon, ideally, which is when the show will really take off in terms of seeing the character dynamics in action. For now we can enjoy seeing more of what makes Tulip tick. We have to actually back up a bit, because her drive stems from the opening scene. There is plenty of cool horror atmosphere built up in the opening minutes, only for us to find out we are watching some kind of weird game involving workers from Quinncannon Meat & Power and women from a brothel. It concludes with a woman getting hit by a paintball and her sudden drop into a sinkhole, killing her instantly.

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We don’t quite know what this game was or how Tulip factors in exactly, but she’s not happy with a random death like this or the (hilarious) speech Jackie Earle Haley’s Quinncannon gives to make things right. It all leads to Tulip mouthing off at the paintballer (Clive) most closely involved with the incident. This then leads Tulip tossing who she thinks is Clive out a window. It turns out to be Cassidy and as much as Tulip tries to apologize and own up to her mistake, it matters not given Cassidy’s true nature – being a wild, Irish vampire.

Cassidy is having plenty of fun this week. You can even see it in the smile he gives, while bleeding out in Tulip’s lap, while being driven to the hospital. After making a deal with the angels last week, he attempts to explain things to Jesse only to not quite get the message across. It leads to him basically extorting money out of the angels and getting more time to talk to Jesse. Cassidy has become good enough friends with Jesse, where it appears he has not real plan to actually turn Jesse over. Still, that doesn’t stop Cassidy from having a lot of fun with the money he received.

While all this is happening, we have Jesse, who appears to have a lot of drive to bring God into his town. Flashbacks appear throughout this week and involve Jesse’s father, who was also a preacher (Happy Father’s Day), keeping his son in line and having a steady hold over his congregation. Jesse has acknowledged from the start of this series that he is no good in this line of work, but at this point we are certain he really wants to make a difference. The issue is just how effective will Jesse’s ability be in achieving his goal, if he doesn’t use it right.

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While Jesse currently has a power to control people with his voice, if he chooses to do so, his choice this week could lead to a backfire. After making a deal with Quinncannon to attend church, in addition to having Emily develop some kind of raffle to bring in a bigger congregation, Jesse uses his ability to make Quinncannon promise to serve God. Clearly the intention is noble, but Jesse is not thinking all of this through.

Preacher has only given us so much to understand at this point, given all the characters and subplots, but we are very aware that Quinncannon is a weird guy. Various plot threads are still developing (slowly), but one has to wonder where all this is headed, especially if the show’s odd nature could take things down darker paths if it wants to. Given that we can only take so much away in a given week in terms of plot momentum for the series arc thus far, that’s just the kind of place my mind is focused on at this moment.

“Monster Swamp” provides another entertaining hour of television for a series that really has the chance to do almost anything. So far we have established vampires, angels, a powerful voice and plenty more. It is filled with style and seems to be preparing us for some even crazier things down the road. I like how this week started to move things along a certain kind of path, so I can only hope the crazy goes down a road I can be happy with, as we get to the mid-point of this season.

Preachin’ To The Choir:

  • The angels do a lot of sitting around this week, but they do have some sort of steampunk telephone likely connecting them to heaven.
  • Quinncannon enjoys both recreating the Alamo and Q*bert
  • Evoking the film Chinatown is used as a way to shut Tulip up. It didn’t work.
  • This week we see the Mayor and Emily have a lot of endearing conversations. Not adding up to much yet, but we’ll see.
  • Cassidy really isn’t shy about people knowing he’s a vampire, yet he wonders how those after him keep finding him…

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Aaron is a movie fanatic. He is from Orange County, California, but earned a degree or two at UC Santa Barbara. He describes himself as a film reviewer, writer, podcaster, video game player, comic book reader, disc golfer, and a lefty. There are too many films, TV shows, books, etc. for him to list as favorites, but he can assure that the amount of film knowledge within his noggin is ridiculous, though he is always open to learning more. You can follow Aaron on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else he is up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com, and check out his podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.