Preacher – Season 1 Episode 6
In last week’s episode of Preacher, incompetent angels Fiore and DeBlanc finally caught up with an incredulous Jesse Custer for a frank face-to-face discussion about the nature and origin of his recently acquired and frequently used (or abused?) power. The second half of that conversation opens this episode, and serves to explain to Custer, and by extension the audience, what the power is and why the angels have been tracking it down. Ever since it was revealed that the pair was sent from Heaven to retrieve the force that had inhabited Custer, we began to question whether the seemingly-sentient power was acting in the interests of Good or Evil. If Heaven wants it back so badly, could Custer’s use of the Word be against God’s will?
As it turns out, the power we’ve been calling ‘The Word’, is actually named ‘Genesis’; the result of an affair between an angel and a demon, and according to Fiore and DeBlanc is the most powerful entity ever known. Why it’s kept in a coffee can is yet to be explained. Heaven wants Genesis back, and is sending powerful Seraphim (angels of the First Order) down to Earth to retrieve it. As its custodians, Fiore and DeBlanc are attempting cover up their mistake of letting Genesis out, hoping to set things straight without too much fuss. Tom Brook and Anatol Yusef have been doing a great job portraying Fiore and DeBlanc throughout the series, and their weary implorations to Custer perfectly illustrate the plight of the common downtrodden man. Even angels have bosses to answer to, and they, like us, just want an easy life.
Discussion of Genesis, and those that seek to return it to Heaven, leads to a fantastic fight sequence with one of the Seraphim. Of course in true Preacher style, the badass angel takes the form of a diminutive blonde woman, whom Fiore and DeBlanc attempt to jump in the diner’s parking lot. The incongruous image of two men stomping and kicking a small woman would be horrific in any other setting, but here Preacher is back to its insane best. The ensuing fight scene in the angels’ room at the Sundowner motel is incredible. Equal parts violent and hilarious, Custer and the angels attempt to subdue (not kill) the Seraphim, because every time one of the otherworldly combatants dies they are ‘reinvigorated’ and return to the battle. All manner of weapons and implements are employed, and spent copies of the bodies of Fiore and DeBlanc begin to pile up in the small room as the chaos increases. Cassidy even shows up to ‘help’, misconstruing the situation and setting Custer and co’s efforts back in the process. The location, mayhem, and hilarious use of heavenly reincarnation results in pitch black comedy certainly deliver what Preacher has been teasing us with for the last couple of episodes. Oh, and all of this takes place before the opening credits.
Throughout the remainder of the episode, Custer and Cassidy debate the merits of retaining Genesis. Custer believes that he’s carrying out God’s will whilst Cassidy, as he has from the outset, thinks that the power should go back where it belongs. Fans of Tarantino (and of half naked men) will be pleased by the overt Pulp Fiction reference, as Custer and Cassidy strip to their underwear in order to wash their bloody clothes from the earlier fight. There’s also a nice nod to the scars scene in Jaws, as the pair discuss their respective tattoos. Cassidy’s admission that most of his are the result of a “period of low impulse control” is another funny character moment played well; one of many from the guy that consistently gets the best lines.
In this episode Tulip takes a different approach in her attempts to reconnect with Custer. Previously she had become physically involved with Cassidy, but here she helps Emily with church errands as an excuse to show up at All Saints’. There she bumps into Cassidy and they share a “what are you doing here?” moment. Cassidy’s realisation that Tulip and Custer were once lovers reveals his true feelings for her as he’s afforded a rare dramatic moment of rejection and reflection. Some of the interplay between Tulip and Emily seems a little slow in comparison to the rest of the action, but previous episode have been far more guilty of pacing issues.
Elsewhere, Eugene aka Arseface is beginning to see the benefits of Custer’s intervention last week. Since Mrs Loach forgave Eugene he is accepted by her son and his friends at school. An outcast until now, this is a completely new experience for Eugene. Where he used to sit alone with only the abusive graffiti for company, Eugene now has buddies at lunch and to hang out with after school. Despite clearly enjoying the approval and company his peers, something doesn’t feel right. It’s a tough situation for Eugene, as he doesn’t want to be marginalised, but he also feels that what Custer did for him (and however he did it) just wasn’t right. Colletti continues to impress as Arseface, embodying the emotional heart of the series. Ironically, his monstrous introduction and shocking appearance dehumanised him at first, but of all the characters in Preacher, his emotional journey is the most relatable.
Towards the end of the episode it’s Eugene that confronts Custer about his (ab)use of Genesis. He questions the preacher’s motives, and whether forcing people to act in a certain manner is really God’s will, going so far as to describe Custer’s actions as “cheating”. It seems odd to be discussing the central tenets of religion in the review of a show that features a 119-year-old Irish junkie vampire, but themes of faith, belief and free will are all examined as Eugene appeals to Custer, “People need to choose, that’s the whole point!” Custer’s angry response seems to confirm that he has been corrupted by his power. Is there a way back? Will he continue his fall into sin or can he achieve redemption?
The opening third, all pre-credits, is amazing – a return to Preacher at its absurd best. As the rest of the episode plays out we’re treated to more character development and the progression of the Custer/Tulip/Cassidy love triangle. Arseface continues his emotional journey and Custer is revealed to be twisting under the weight of the power of Genesis. Some heavy themes are introduced, but so far Preacher has proven capable of carrying the load.
- the opening fight sequence
- everything Arseface
- Custer and Cassidy as Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield
- a lack of pace during the middle third