AMC isn’t afraid to get gory. If you’re like me, you view them as synonymous with The Walking Dead, which redefined the way blood and guts can splatter across a TV screen. Well, now AMC has another series that will ramp up the weird, and that’s Preacher.
I’ve always been a major fan of the allegorical; the creepier, the better in my book, and boy oh boy, does Preacher do creepy well. The show’s origins as a graphic novel by Garth Ellis explain a lot, and although I’ve never read the book myself, I’ve read comments by fans that prove the show’s outrageous demonstration of strange thus far is only the tip of the iceberg.
I’ve devoured every episode of Preacher since I discovered it a few weeks ago, and now I’m elated to review the latest episode, “El Valero.”
If you managed to stumble across this review and haven’t seen the past episodes, stop now. Major spoilers are up ahead and believe me, this is a show you need to experience firsthand.
Vacation Officially Ruined
Family vacations can be tough to swallow, but they’re especially nasty when the ski car you’re all travelling in falls off its track and sends everyone plummeting to their deaths. That’s how this episode kicks off and if that isn’t bad enough, we discover exactly why Odin has such an issue with religion.
Devastated after the tragic accident, he has his family’s remained shipped to his office where he literally takes apart their bodies in search of their souls. In walks Justin Custer, who urges Odin to put down his daughter’s large intestine and let God help him. Odin demands Custer denounce God because as he holds his child’s organs in one hand, he clutches a freshly slaughtered cow’s in another and emphasises the lack of difference. “It’s just meat,” he says, horrified.
John refuses to denounce God and leaves with young Jesse in tow, who glances into the office and sees a bloodsoaked Odin with fistfuls of internal organs and a dead cow next to him. You’d think this would freak Jesse out, but he just sort of stares before following after his dad. This is what kicks off the episode and officially closes the mystery behind the Custer family and Odin Quincannon.
To Hell and Back Again
Okay, so he may have gone psycho and shot his high school love before turning on himself, but I missed Eugene. He’s a good kid, despite what he’s done, and seeing him get sucked into the floorboards of the church in episode 6 was as heartbreaking as it was shocking.
As a disillusioned Jesse sits and drinks in front of the cross, he pleads, rather exhaustedly, with God just to bring Eugene back. He even offers to never use Genesis again. And what do you know, God happens to be a sucker for a good deal and Eugene comes clawing out of the same spot he disappeared.
He’s pretty shaken up (hell tends to do that to a person) and asks the preacher if this is all just a trick. Jesse assures him it’s not, gets him some water and the two sit down to discuss exactly what it’s like down there. This is where the episode delivered some of the best lines of dialogue I’ve ever heard, simply because they are so simple and cutting that they made me literally stop the show and reflect on them.
“You dug out of hell with your hands?”
“It’s not that far.”
When Jesse asks Eugene what hell is like, he just responds with “Crowded.” There’s a lot of weight in his words, and if the fact that one of the greatest confirmations of God’s existence comes from Eugene’s firsthand account of hell is an incredible paradox that I found incredibly powerful.
The greatest shock of all, however, comes when we learn that Eugene isn’t Eugene at all, but rather a manifestation of the Preacher’s guilt-ridden mind.
This is War
Odin wants the church and he’s willing to literally assemble an army to get it. A large portion of this episode was filled with Jesse fending off groups of men. There are some shocking moments in the battle, like when Jesse manages to ignite tractor and also shoot another guy’s willy clean off, though the entire war itself bored me.
Throughout the whole ordeal, we get a glimpse at other characters like Miles, Odin’s partner who is in love with Emily and for some reason thinks good payback for her not wanting to date him is serving her kids spoiled milk. What a winner. It turns out that the real reason he’s willing to follow Odin to the ends of the Earth – or at least the Texas border – is that the town is in deep financial trouble and without the new food court Odin wants to construct on All Saints’ land, it will all go under.
We also see Donnie, who is still dressed in his dumb Civil War uniform. He’s still terrified of Jesse Custer after the bathroom incident that almost cost him his life and is deadset on getting some proper revenge. he wants to come prepared, so he does what any sane person would do when your enemy can control you with words and deafens himself. Literally. I actually thought he’d committed sucide and was a bit freaked out to see him reappear later in the episode, but then it all made sense.
Donnie is a weak man, one who can’t overcome his own faults, let alone kill Jesse Custer. His decision to blow out his eardrums instead of just walking away from the whole mess is proof at how illadapted he is. I don’t see things panning out well for him in future episodes.
Who’s a good boy?
Everyone loves dogs. Even if you’re a cat person, you root for the dog on TV and in movies. That’s just what all logical human beings do. And that’s exactly what we all did in this episode. Tulip takes a break from Jesse’s BS and gets herself an adorable Bloodhound named Brewski. The episode is interspersed with adorable cutscenes of her playing fetch and snuggling up to the dog,because wook at dat widdle face.
But then the worst thing happens. She leads Brewski past her drunk uncle, down the hall and gives him a big hug before closing him into her room. And what happens next? We hear the horrifying splats and howls of pain as Brewski becomes monster chow. Probably for Cassidy, who I love dearly, but still. Why Brewski? Why?
DeBlanc and Fiore are called in by Jesse in the midst of the war outside to remove Genesis from his body. There’s just one condition: They have to bring Eugene back from hell. There is a moment where Jesse pleads with them to go about this in a different way. He ponders aloud if his Genesis possession is God’s will and has been part of the Big Picture all along, but the angels are having none of it.
They sing the weird song the demon/angel hybrid inside the Preacher loves so much and it eventually winds up back in its prison cell/coffee can. Except Genesis isn’t one to go down easy and just as the Preacher is getting pissed that the angels aren’t holding up their side of the bargain, it breaks free yet again and flings itself right back into Jesse. Ah, home sweet home.
If Preacher’s weird scale were one of those carnival high strikers, this episode would have blasted the bell straight off and sent it hurtling into outer space. It would win you a huge teddy bear that you’d have to buy a separate seat for on the Ferris Wheel.
But it’s a good episode, if you’re into that sort of thing. Carnivals aren’t for everyone, what with the relentless lights, constant smell of fried dough, clogged arteries and squealing children pervading the air, and neither is this show. But for those who find themselves sucked into the strange and unpredictable storyline that the writers of Preacher have created, this is just a predecessor of the sure-to-be weird AF episodes to come.