Preacher – Season 1 Episode 3
Preacher kicked off its debut season at a blistering pace, but was unable to carry the same breakneck speed through its second episode. It did however develop the mad cast of characters we were introduced to in such frantic strokes during the pilot. The town of Annville also became something of a character in its own right – a dreary, dusty, washed-out Texas town with a very strange and macabre atmosphere, full of sinners just waiting to be saved by Jesse Custer. You might not want to live there, but you could put up with spending an hour there every Sunday night for the twisted entertainment on offer. Unfortunately, this week Annville failed to serve up many of the thrills we’ve come to expect.
In previous episodes Custer has had specific people with their own problems to help, a device that has allowed the crazier elements of the narrative to play out around the main theme. It’s worked well so far, as flashbacks and lunatic fight scenes are peppered throughout the episodes, but here there’s no such central story. We check in with characters we’ve seen before, but without a strong plot there’s no structure to hang the rest of the episode on.
Tulip’s pursuit of Custer is played out for another week, flashing back to a betrayal in their past by a man named Carlos. We learn that Tulip wants revenge and that she’s been trying to recruit Custer for this purpose. We still don’t know exactly what went down, just that Custer’s sticking to his new life as a man of the cloth (for now). To be fair, he comes closer than ever before to rekindling his partnership with Tulip, but is once again reminded of his promise to clean up Annville and walks away as they are en route to deal with Carlos. The relationship between Custer and Tulip hasn’t changed much since the first episode: she shows up, tries to talk him into joining her, and is rebuffed. There’s only so much longer this can carry on.
Cassidy and Custer have fun exploring Custer’s new power, discovering the extent of his ability to control others with the Word of God. Cassidy gets to do his slapstick routine, as well as admitting his love for Justin Bieber. His pop culture references are becoming a calling card, and it’s always funny to hear him rattle off the name of another familiar film, connecting the otherworldly Annville to our own. In his scene it’s interesting for the audience to learn about Custer’s abilities along with the characters as they not only display what he can do, but also discuss what it feels like for Custer to have such power within him – a theme that can be overlooked in the superhero/supernatural genre.
Like a filler track on an album, episode three of Preacher seems to exist solely to bridge the gap between what came before and what comes next. Odin Quincannon is granted a little more screen time, but only enough to develop a few more of his strange characteristics, and he still remains something of a mystery, as nothing we see here particularly relates to his previous appearance. Donnie gets to confront Custer once more, but is again dealt with easily by the preacher, now aided by the Word of God. To be fair, this scene does well to exhibit Custer’s nerves of steel, and his badass nature whilst staring down the barrel of Donnie’s gun.
Another great shame is that this episode is lacking the trademark action that we’ve come to expect from Preacher. Some of the best moments of the series so far have been the bloody, inventive fight scenes and here all we get is build up without payoff as the heavenly hitmen tool up to the gills in order to take down Custer, before being intercepted by Cassidy (where they let slip about their divine origin). The episode definitely suffers without the visceral highs provided by the action scenes, and feels far flatter than its predecessors.
Yes, this episode is scattered with the usual comedic moments, and will raise a few smiles and laughs throughout, but it just isn’t as consistently joyful as we’ve come to expect. There’s some character development, but not a whole lot, however the performances remain consistently strong. Hopefully this is a momentary lapse, a lull after such an explosive start to the series. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it’s the relative calm before the storm, and that we make a swift return to the hectic madness next week.
- more strong performances from the central cast
- pop culture references a-plenty
- not living up to the high standard set by previous episodes
- a lack of signature action
- a weak plot that holds back the rest of the episode