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By Christopher Robin Negelein

First off the apology. The last two weeks have been taken up by deadlines of a nature that I can’t really get into right now*.  But in the short term that meant my Preacher recaps had to go on the wayside just as the last two episodes were airing.

So in a twist of fate, I saw them back to back almost as if they were two-hour movie. And I think that was probably a better way to watch them since I learned that this series is all about the payoffs, even the ones we didn’t know we wanted.

Spoilers ahead.

In episode nine, it’s no surprise that Jessie makes good on his criminal skills and does a hasty dive out of the Sheriff’s moving car using the pen that Odin gave him to sign over the church. Jessie spends the episode running away from the law along with some establishing scenes of him on the lam, like eating pancakes with homeless people.

We also learn the motivation for the Angles, Fiore and DeBlanc. Early on in the series we thought it was all about them covering up their mistakes, but we finally learned that it was about their fear of being separated from each other.

Of course that brings in its own fun of considering whether Angels can be lifelong friends or more, or if there is really any difference after a few centuries of hanging around together.

That love of staying together forces them to go to Hell.  How they get there is cute, evidently all you need is the right travel agent and remember that you can’t bring carry-ons even if they are your favorite comic books.

In another twist, this escape is to find their own infernal hit man, the long-suffering cowboy. What we thought was some historical flashback turned out to be his own personal punishment in the afterlife. Sadly when angels push for leverage, it’s the end for DeBlanc. But the viewer’s reward is pitch perfect for the quiet and confused grief projected by Tim Brooke’s Fiore over losing his friend and partner.

But things upstairs feel the rushed despite having 10 episodes.  It’s to the point that characters start doing things that seem both to prove that no one is innocent in Annville while moving things to a conclusion that needs to happen regardless of an arc playing out as it should.

Most are given some justification. Emily, the meek church mouse who does what she can to survive and get a little bit of happiness despite living in the fairly nihilistic universe, talks herself into committing murder (with some help from Alfred Hitchock.)

Some may say technically it wasn’t a murder, but she phoned Miles the Mayor to lure him into the house and then locked the door behind him to make sure that Cassidy get enough proper humans blood to heal up. To wit, Miles was started to get rather dickish once he felt that Jessie was out of the picture as competition. (One of those typical “I’ve been friend-zoned long enough that I deserve this attitudes.)

And in usual Preacher fashion, Cassidy end Jesse learn to forgive and bond together by burying the mayor’s body in a mass grave with the discarded angels husks, which also lets them snag a dead angel hand. Turns out that Jessie had snagged the Heaven Phone during the awesomely ridiculous hotel fight.   Which still has Terminator Angel sitting in her own blood in the bathtub.

And we learn the driving force behind Tulips vendetta against Carlos. The botched bank heist gave her a miscarriage as Carlos abandoned them. That felt like a very legit motivation but not so much for Carlos when his turncoat moment came from his bitterness over how Jessie/Tulip (Jessulip? Tuessie?) so happy together. So in a show where the redneck bully learns that mercy can be returned by giving the Preacher a hiding place, Carlos feels like the two-dimensional bag that he becomes.

Cassidy, however, is currently in jail without any preamble to find Sheriff Root believes in Cassidy’s vampirehood and uses it in a creative torture technique. Root also seems easily talked into a mercy killing for the young woman in the angels’ hotel bathtub. And thus unknowingly releases Terminator Angel to go hunting again with a fresh body that has all of its limbs. Root has swung all sorts of ways this season to the point I feel like his character was a walking plot plug.  Which was a waste of a both a character and a good actor.

The scene where Jesse dials in God with the angelic telephone is pretty much everything we hope for. From God’s cheesy appearance to the usual platitudes and the eventual reveal that the Angels are playing house while God is AWOL.

The montage of how people eventually deal this fallout feels pretty on point except for comic book fans were hoping for more when it came to Odin’s God of Meat. For those might be tempted to looking to the Preacher comics, I’m going to leave that just as open as I said It.

And here’s where learn that the series tries to make every potential bit payoff from the eventual discovery of the competing team mascots and their secret rendezvous to the comment that the meatpacking plant is also a methane power plant that has release valves all over town.

It was something that seems so inconsequential that I never really mentioned it my past recaps. Once or twice per episode the power plant would edge towards being over pressurized only to have an old, fat old man bring it all under control at his console. Now knowing that God was gone, this fellow decided to go out via death by prostitute. Leaving the poor woman unable to deal with the eventual pressure cooker of a power plant.

So while comic book fans were probably disappointed by Odin (which by no means does it mean Jackie Earle Haley turned in a slouch of performance — his awesome acting was a  highlight for the series – if not for the year), they got their thrill in seeing the town explode in a methane-fueled Fist of God explosion.

And in a bold ass move, pretty much wiped out 80% of the cast. I’m not over worried, though. This is TV land and a supernatural series. So if we see these faces again, it will be surprise, but not a shock.

That just leaves us with our main three of our five main characters deciding to go on the road trip that starts the comic book series off. Cassidy still secretly pining away for Tulip, and Jessie finally showing off his power in a creepy fashion to Tulip. Who promptly rights his ship over it. Eugene hangs on as a hallucination for now, as a way to keep Ian Colletti on contract until his Arseface shows up for real.

The fifth and final one is the cowboy, which I’ll just call him by his proper name the Saint of All Killers, who introduced in an appropriate ruthless fashion as we get ready for season two.

Overall the series was good, but with so many characters and stories to juggle it felt like we should have either gotten more episodes to let them play out or do massive pruning and make it an even smaller season down. Netflix’s Stranger Things showed that you can do a successful series in eight.

So we can hope that with a tighter focus on less characters that Preacher’s next season will set a new bar for the series and keep us riveted in our seats to see what new craziness comes next.

*But cross your fingers that I might be able to say something soon.

By Christopher Robin Negelein

This week’s episode of Preacher (El Valero) went back to its Wild Weird West roots even though we didn’t see the Cowboy this time. Jesse got the lion share of the episode since he would lose the church if he  didn’t face off with the rest of the town either figuratively or literally.

Quite frankly, doing this alone was his fault. The last episode he pushed everybody away as he finally wrestled with what it meant that he had sent for Eugene to Hell.

The actual Hell, not a figurative one.

One would think that being drunk and having hallucinations of a resurrected Eugene would’ve made him a poor lone defender against the guns and bulldozers of Odin’s Meat Men.

But now we can add sniper and ambush expert to Jesse’s fighting resume. But man, do you really have to shoot off a fellow’s third leg to make a point?

Sometimes, I feel the episode goes too far when it shows a cynical view of small-town life. The case in point here was all the townspeople turning the church shootout into a BBQ. In the weird world the preacher, I get that things get bizarre quite quickly. But I wonder if it’s also a little bit of a smarmy comment by Hollywood City Slickers.

On the other hand, we now have the puzzle pieces in place to understand where Odin’s bitter atheism comes from. And you can’t fault him for it.

Better yet, in the masterstroke, the show now links that motivation back to a highlight of the comic book. I’m guessing that quite a few Vertigo fans are giggling with glee.

Our angels come by for another visit just when Jesse has his lowest. He offers these divine visitors a deal: Genesis for their helping get Eugene out of Hell.

This time that bizarre ritual with the giant music box and the antique coffee can works just as we are getting afraid that Jesse is going to explode like those before him. The mindfuckery of Eugene hallucination here was a great bit here to ratchet up tension.

The second that Genesis is back in the can, though, the angels start to renege — or to be more accurate. show their general apathy towards humanity. But maybe it’s an apathy that’s well warranted. When Jesse keep stalling by saying he has more questions the angel DeBlanc says he has a question. (And I’m paraphrasing)

“You had Genesis for a while now, what good have you done with it?”

But it seems that Genesis knows that Jesse’s upset and completely destroys his prison to reemerge with the preacher. Which makes the angels just give up and leave. That gives me a sad face as they were a highlight of the show and I hope they come back.

And maybe Jesse wouldn’t have so much trouble of during this standoff if he hadn’t let his best friend and vampire, Cassidy, roast out in the sun last week. Tulip is taking care of her onetime lover, though, in the most heartbreaking way possible. Seriously girl, you couldn’t use goats? Nobody cares about goats. And it’s a redneck town on top of that, so no one would give a second thought about goats in your backyard.

Throughout the episode Donnie has shown that he still fears the preacher’s Voice, but has given up on getting anyone to believe him. His final solution is pretty drastic and the visual transition from Donnie self-inflicted fate to the bloody, spinning energy of Genesis inside Jesse is a bit unsettling and confusing at first. But that’s what this show thrives on.

United with Genesis, Jesse’s loath to use their Voice. You can see he’s done good on holding out in the church but he stopped holding on to his faith. And when a deaf Donnie shows up with gun next to Jesse’s head the preacher is begging for Dpnnie to pull the trigger.

But in the end Jesse lives and Odin wins. And in a bizarre way things settle back to how they were before the first episode.  Odin gives the same “There is a balance” speech before before church demolition while Jesse is herded into the back of the police car.

All of which puts things in an interesting spot just before the penultimate episode where most series whip everything into a frenzy and a cliffhanger before the last episode.

As usual Preacher leaves you completely befuddled to where they’re going to go next.

 

By Christopher Robin Negelein

One of the joys of  watching a TV series is when you see a little detail that seems minor in the mythology taken to it’s bat shit crazy, but logical, conclusion.

So it’s a bit of fun dark comedy in Preacher’s sixth episode, Sundowner that comes after the two angels in the diner finally explain to Jessie what up exactly with the Voice, now called Genesis, inside him.  A creature that’s Heaven and Hells dirty little secret, a love child between an angel and demon during the divine wars.

Because during this bit of exposition, Jessie learns that the eavesdropping young lady in the diner is actually a seraphim — one bad ass angel.

And now we go back to that little detail bit I mentioned earlier. Through several episodes, we’ve discovered that angels in Preacher can “reinvigorate” in a flash of light after being killed, leaving their old corpse behind like a disposable red party cup.

So when you get three of them fighting over Jessie in a cramped hotel room, you get pile of bodies, a landfill of angelic mistakes, before the opening credits even roll.

Oddly enough as Jesse’s storyline is getting literally knee-deep in the supernatural, our Irish vampire, Cassidy, is having more mundane romance problems. He comes at the picture this week at the tail end of the angel fight. Later he gets some Jessie bonding time over their shared bloody laundry, but doesn’t piece together that Jesse’s tattoo for girl named Tulip is the same girl he’s fallen in love with and confessed his true nature to.  (And we still don’t know if Jessie knows about Cassidy’s condition.)

But in true high-speed Preacher fashion he finds out soon enough while also discovering just how hard Tulip can be look can be when it comes to trying to get Jesse back. She so hard that she’ll break a kid’s toy art project before realizing what she’s done. But the resulting guilt become a mirrored bonding moment between her and Emily. They don’t talk about the man between them, but we uncover that Tulip allegedly had her own kid at one point. But considering who were talking about it’s worth asking if this is just one more little bit of manipulation to get Emily on her side.

We also finally see what Jesse’s had planned beyond just getting more people to church with a tempting raffle for a TV.  It involves a giant megaphone. If you’ve been keeping up with the show or our recaps, you know this can’t be good.

But as Sunday gets closer, Jessie gets more distracted from his alleged focus of bringing more people understanding God. He pretty much blows off the mayor’s crisis of faith over what to do about the dead bodies that Odin made out of the Green Acres people. (To be fair, vague confessing mayor is vague).

But we get the mayor’s answer when we see the manufactured car accident. This is a guy who likes his role so ordered that he has to pick this take time to pick between three pairs of beige pants in the morning. This is the sort of brittle human being is not going to handles this guilt for long.

And for those who been wondering about Arseface/Eugene’s story arc compared to the comic books, we finally got our answer.

Since Jesse’s miracle with the comatose girl, the townies have been split over Eugene, some of them treating him even more like an unpunished murder while others are warming up to a him. It’s a roller coaster ride the sweet kid can’t take anymore, so he goes back to the preacher to ask if the miracle can be undone.

At this point, we get confirmation that Eugene knows Jessie did something paranormal and may not understand said consequences of his miracle. But Eugene, my young man, it might not be the best time to confront Jesse about such things before the preacher’s big sermon with the megaphone.

Frustrated by being told by the boy that he may be committing a sin by assuming to know what God wants, Jesse uses Genesis to tell Eugene to go to hell.

And the boy vanishes.

At this point, I think we can safely say that Jessie is going to learn things the hard way, and the town – along with the good and bad that live in it – is going to pay the price.

The halfway episode, “The South Will Rise Again,” starts off dark and keeps getting darker as the episode continues. Some might assume that “dark” means even more violence, but it’s more of a pall on the soul of the town. That things are going to get really effed up soon.

There are light bits where the angels,  Fiore ( Tom Brooke) and DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef), comically rehearse their upcoming call with Heaven and then eventually meet Jesse to explain that what’s inside him has to go into the dented coffee can prison. Not that Cassidy’s shenanigans (he’s an Irish vampire, I am totally in my rights to use the awesome word “shenanigans”) has helped either side understand what’s going on.

The Cowboy

While we’re waiting on pins and needles from last week to see how Odin is going to twist Jessie’s Voice command to “Serve God,” we’re finally back with The Cowboy (Graham McTavish) as he moseys into Ratwater for his family’s medicine. The music and the camera’s dingy tint builds a lot of gravitas to just a cowboy coming into town.

The Cowbory tries to keep to himself as he sees atrocities all around the saloon. Or maybe it was all his imagination or TV land PSTD?

Either way, he’s out he’s pissed off the wrong people and ends up walking home to find his family dead. Then crows go flying and guns get grabbed before we jump back to the present.

So for non-comic book watchers, there’s a lot of buildup for what’s obviously now an origin story, but we’ve only seen The Cowboy in two episodes.

Arseface and Jessie

Arseface/Eugene is helping his dad, the Sheriff Hugo Root (W. Earl Brown), flush out some trespassers on their land only to find that someone snuck into their house with spray paint. Horrible words and an arrow pointed to a shotgun seems especially evil with the actor Ian Colletti making Eugene as heartbroken and sweet as possible. He’s trying to make up for his sins while he sees his family pay for it every day.

But most townsfolk don’t care, calling him an “it.” If you ever hated bullies or were the weakling outcast, your empathy for Arseface/Eugene is strong.

Jessie’s arc is a build up to an Arseface meetup. The Preacher has set up shop in the local Flavor Station, turning his weekly business meeting with Emily into an counseling station. When the answers to his parishioners’ problems become clear — to him — he uses the Voice to spur them to action. We haven’t seen what those actions have wrought yet. I’m getting a Needful Things vibe here.

But it emboldens Jesse to take Arseface to the comatose girl, only to have the mother scream “Murderer” at the disfigured boy. It takes Jesse several tries with the Voice to get the woman to finally forgive and hug the boy, her own eyes looking perplexed.

Cassidy/Tulip

Tulip is even less of a happy camper. While her character is pretty blase about Irish boy being a vamp, she too focused on getting Jesse to give up the cloth. They have great chemistry with their social showdown at the Flavor Station (that poor komodo dragon), But Jesse says he’s changed, so Tulip can too.

Tulip’s all “screw that,” and thus she takes up Cassidy’s offer for some drugs and romance, mostly so she can get a vampire to help with her Carlos vendetta.

Donny and the Mrs.

Marriage is complicated. When we first heard about Betsy Schneck (Jamie Anne Allman), we thought she was a victim. But now that her man is paralyzed with fear of his boss, Odin, and Jessie’s powers, she steps up and makes ultimatums — be a man or she’ll find someone who can. On the surface she seems to accepts Donny’s confession of Jessie’s powers, but I’m not feeling it. So far, Donny’s storyline is the closest to the Kilgrave’s victims we saw in Marvel’s Jessica Jones late last year. The difference is that you can tell that Betsy doesn’t have time for group therapy.

Odin

A man changed. Odin is apologetic and see life in a new light. His new merciful disposition scares his employee, Donny even more than old Odin. But the pressure was building in an office that seems to get bigger each time we visit. But we do finally get our answer from last week as he graciously invites his competition to sit down to a nice glass of brandy and shotgun wounds.

Makes you wonder how the rest of the town is going to fare. Don’t it?