A few running storylines have emerged as the most important ones in this first season of Preacher. The most obvious involves Jesse realizing what kind of responsibility he has in using Genesis. Another involves giving shape to Tulip, Cassidy and Emily to a lesser extent. The third is the presence of Odin Quinncannon. Oh yes, there are those angels too, but the first and third have seemingly become the most important in this first ten episode stretch. The great thing is seeing this show own its sense of pacing and continuing to steer its craziness in the right direction.
There is no signature moment of craziness in “He’s Gone” that rivals the virtuoso action sequence at the beginning of last week’s “Sundowner,” even if we do see Cassidy set himself on fire and an army of employees dressed as Confederate soldiers marching towards the church. No, this episode wisely holds back from the extreme weirdness that has defined the early episodes of Preacher and puts focus on the event that ended last week’s episode.
Eugene is gone. Whether or not he is coming back is something to deal with at another time, but “He’s Gone” keeps its focus on how Jesse handles the situation and what the others do around him within the same day. It allows time for flashbacks to give us more of a sense of why Jesse behaves the way he does. There’s also the continuing building of tension around the series’ trifecta that is Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy.
How about that Cassidy? He began this series (and has mostly remained) a source of comedic relief with an ‘I don’t care’ attitude. While the character is still responsible for the most humor, this week allows Cassidy, the foul-mouthed vampire, to be the voice of reason. The cold open cleverly reveals Cassidy standing in the balcony during the whole Eugene ordeal and it puts a strain on the friendship Jesse and Cassidy have been sharing since episode one.
It could be argued that seeing Cassidy make a turn this dramatic is forced, but I would argue it’s fitting for a show like this. We are dealing with a graphic novel come to life, with a heightened sense of reality clearly on display. Having wild character turns just makes sense sometimes and this show does well to provide a great confrontation scene, where Cassidy argues with Jesse about the use of Genesis. It gives Jesse a lot to play off as well, but he is certainly one-upped once Cassidy decides to reveal that he is in fact a vampire by walking into the sunlight and daring Jesse to prove he’s a good man.
This reveal (and the ambiguous results) is certainly going to change things up some more in the world of this show for Jesse, but it is a smart play. Given how I only mention the comic occasionally, it’s worth noting that this series has now taken shape as a hybrid of what was originally seen on the page and an origin story for how these characters got together to begin with. Sticking exactly to the source has never been my problem with the show and I have only gone on to admire it more for finding its footing in terms of tone, characters and other elements.
That certainly applies to Jesse, who is being pushed very hard by Cassidy, Tulip and his own past in how to deal with his abilities. While we do not actually see Eugene in hell, the episode does have us feel his absence, something Jesse clearly wants to avoid feeling. With shots of an empty room and the Sheriff having concern, this event has created a shift that has at least provided a minor push on Jesse who goes from delivering a sermon concluding with his use of Genesis, to buckling under the pressure and eventually smashing through the floorboards.
Meanwhile, Quinncannon is presenting himself in what appears to be a continuation of his truest form now beset by a drive to serve God. After Jesse considered himself a savior in the eyes of Odin, the realization is made that Odin is still an ambitious land grabber (and still the same guy who shotgunned a group of people). The bet made in a previous episode that would result in signing over the church still stands in Odin’s eyes, but Jesse’s choice to reject this acknowledgement is spelling trouble in a way that will help in winding down this season.
Also out and about is Tulip. I’ve mentioned before how Tulip is a great character the series has struggled to allow in, but last week started something and this week follows it up. While a romantic divide between her and the other lead characters can seem contrived, the writing is good enough to take this concept in a fitting direction. Tulip’s knowledge of who Jesse really is and her involvement with Cassidy and Emily make her a great foil. The do-gooder attitude of a woman who is dangerous also adds to the potential of where everything could go.
“He’s Gone” does a lot of good in the way it treats the Eugene dilemma with respect. There’s no comedic brushing off of something that was legitimately shocking, but we still get the same attitude Preacher has wonderfully delivered on all the way through so far. It just helps that the show has gotten better as the weeks have gone on. Putting us on a true path with the story was always going to happen, but continues to be what the show needed to make it the thing I really wanted out of this TV adaptation. Hopefully Jesse will also get close to getting what he really wanted, even if it means battling Confederate soldiers on his turf.
Preachin’ To The Choir: