Preacher – Season 1 Episode 8
The eighth episode of Preacher deals mainly with the prolonged siege of All Saints’ church by the forces of Quincannon Meat & Power. Last week concluded with the ominous crew, complete with bulldozer, converging on the isolated church, and what looked like a foregone conclusion ends up in a stalemate, as Jesse Custer attempts to hold off the horde outside, whilst also battling his inner demons in response to his banishment of Eugene. The angels Fiore and DeBlanc are called in as Custer decides that it’s time to give up the power of Genesis. After wrestling with his conscience, and debating the merits of choice when it comes to faith, Custer makes a risky play to buy himself some time.
Quincannon’s well-established disregard for the Church is fully explained in this week’s intro. In an incongruously snowy flashback, far from the heat and dust of Annville, we witness the entire Quincannon family (minus Odin) plummet to their deaths in a cable car. Odin Quincannon receives the bodies in his gloomy cave of an office and commits some fairly grizzly acts of comparison between the entrails of his loved ones and the cows that his company slaughters on an industrial scale. This existential crisis is manifested outwardly towards Jesse Custer’s father, and his representation of God in the Annville community. Quincannon’s bloody delirium and cries for Custer the elder to denounce God explain much about his attitude towards Jesse Custer, the church and the land deal. Quite how it all leads to Custer’s father’s murder remains to be revealed, but this was a breakdown of truly epic proportions (on the Preacher shock factor scale this does not disappoint), as evidenced by Quincannon’s crazed and graphic brandishing of dripping intestines.
Jesse Custer spends the entire episode within the confines of All Saints’ church – splitting his time defending it from the advancing QM&P goons and reflecting on his abuse of the power bestowed upon him by Genesis. At one point he pleads with God to return Eugene from his exile in Hell, promising to refrain from ever using his power again. It seems his prayers have been answered when fan-favourite and emotional heart of the show Eugene bursts forth from beneath the floorboards of the church, but after a few minutes we and Custer realise that this is merely a figment of Custer’s imagination; the embodiment of his conscience, perhaps. It’s a bittersweet misdirect, as the audience is led to believe that Eugene is safe and well, before it’s made obvious that he’s still being tormented in the underworld. The conversation between Custer and imaginary-Eugene is interesting, as once it become obvious that the preacher is talking to himself, it provides a glimpse into his psyche. For example, we learn that Custer imagines that Hell isn’t really that far (physically, and by insinuation metaphorically) from Earth – fake-Eugene confirms that he didn’t have to dig that far to get back. He also believes that Hell is crowded – a reflection on his own questionable past, or a comment on our corrupt society.
The QM&P attack on All Saints’ is one big glorious ode to the often inexplicable madness that is Preacher. After Quincannon’s men are repelled a first time they lay siege to the church in what becomes an outstandingly surreal strategy session/rally/tailgate, attracting many of Annville’s citizens, who along with the QM&P men, proceed to drink, cook barbeque, play hackey sack and congregate for Quincannon’s motivational lectures on the assault. Some of the writing is truly inspired – Quincannon himself receiving many of the best lines. His thoughts on clubs, “billy or otherwise”, and deconstruction of the concept of human shields are hilarious, as is a sequence involving Clive (a minor antagonist from a previous episode) receiving a particularly eye-watering injury. How he and other characters approach this situation is unlike anything else you’re likely to see on TV this year, or ever.
Tulip and Cassidy take a stretch-Hummer-sized back seat this week – barely appearing at all. Animal lovers will not be fond of this brief storyline, as Tulip adopts a dog only to sacrifice the poor mutt to whatever remains of Cassidy (off-screen) after his fiery argument with Custer last week. The episode is definitely hindered by the absence of one of the standout characters of the show thus far; however we have to expect that this is all building up to a starring role for Cassidy in the final two instalments.
DeBlanc and Fiore receive welcome cameos as they show up to perform the strange ritual required to extract Genesis from Custer. Their odd couple banter and all-round weirdness help to make up for the lack of Cassidy’s presence, whilst also informing Custer that there is a way, albeit difficult and dangerous, of retrieving Eugene from eternal damnation.
The Mayor and Emily have had a tertiary plotline running throughout the season that, when compared to the other events taking place in Annville, has unfortunately failed to really get off the ground. He exhibits a fawning devotion to her (and by extension, her kids) and she is dedicated to her work with the church, and not at all interested in reciprocating his romantic feelings. In this episode we see the Mayor finally begin to turn, spurned one too many times, he sides with Quincannon in dispute over the church land. These characters could have been more interesting, and their plot more engaging, but it feels as though they never receive enough screen time and development to fully realise their potential. With two episodes left in this season we’d like to see this storyline pay off somehow – and hopefully it will.
The siege of All Saints’ in all its surreal insanity is fantastic; the dialogue and action is fun and inventive. Jackie Earle Haley excels as Odin Quincannon, and goes some way to make up for the lack of the wildcard Cassidy in this episode. The respective plots surrounding Tulip and Cassidy and the Mayor and Emily are underplayed, which is a bit of a shame, but this episode is really all about the battle between Custer and Quincannon. The stage is set for a finale of biblical proportions.
- the siege turned BBQ cookout – only in Annville…
- Jackie Earle Haley chewing the scenery as Odin Quincannon
- Clive ‘handling’ his injury
- a distinct lack of vampires
- the short shrift given to Emily’s plot