‘Preacher’ Recap: “El Valero” — It’s High Noon!

     July 17, 2016

preacher-recap

(Spoiler Policy Regarding the Comics: Preacher recaps will steer clear of comic spoilers in the main text, but for comic readers or those interested in learning more, there’s a “Comic Issues” section at the bottom that deals with specifics. As always, be respectful of fellow fans and avoid spoilers in the comments).

What a bizarre and grotesque episode. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m saying “grotesque” because of the sheer amount of blood and gore that the episode hurls at viewers. Overall, the episode manages to be solid though again struggles with its overall sense of time management, and giving its characters who lurk outside the borders of the main conflict  something to do. In terms of that  main conflict however, there’s a lot of meat to be found, even outside of the Quincannon factory. Our episode begins with a horrifying accident involving a cable car/ gondola lift at a ski resort. This keeps with the tradition of Preacher starting its episodes strong, albeit idiosyncratically, as the car snaps off the wires, killing the dozen of patrons who just so happen to be Quincannon’s kin. With this, we’re given a reason for Odin’s madness, as he is literally sent crates of his family’s remains to his office.


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Image via AMC

From here, Odin denounces God, and we are shown the past scene from a previous episode of Jesse’s father visiting him. In his grief, Quincannon has killed a cow, ripped its intestines out, and pleads with the reverend to tell him the difference between the remains of the cow and the remains of his daughter. YIKES. In the comics, Odin worshipped meat to the point that he fashioned a giant woman made of meat, so something like this well within Preacher’s wheelhouse. However, you still have to be taken aback by the absurdity of him being mailed the corpses of his dead loved ones. I was seriously taken aback by this, and another scene which we’ll get into further down in the recap, but in a sense that’s Preacher for you. The comics were never afraid to pull punches, and I have to admire the fact that the series isn’t afraid to go for the more grotesque aspects of the story such as this one. Needless to say, Odin’s insanity is laid bare and totally understandable now.

Back to the present, Jesse is struggling with the loss of Arseface as a result of his own misuse of Genesis. Custer doesn’t have much time to mourn, however, as the first wave of Odin’s men come to claim the church that Jesse had foolishly bet in an earlier installment. When Quincannon’s men enter the church, Jesse promptly beats the holy hell out of them, takes their guns, and sends them packing back outside. I think a major complaint that people who love the comics have with the show are the changes to Jesse Custer’s character, but with this episode, we see glimpses at the man readers know. While I can understand presenting the series as something of a prequel, the show still needs to figure out the best way to work around its problems with pacing, and this episode is something of a step in the right direction.

After dealing with the first set of Odin’s men, Jesse seemingly is able to pull Eugene from the ground, and Hell, to return to the land of the living. Arseface is still an aspect of the show that shines, despite the horrible change to his origin story revealed last week, and he’s a welcome return for sure. Ultimately, the twist involving Eugene actually not having returned at all and actually being a projection of Jesse’s guilt-muddled mind is a good one. It keeps Eugene in the picture while also retaining the direness of his current predicament. Jesse doesn’t have much time for reunions, however, as the entire town assembles to watch the siege on the church. It’s another scene that’s so outright bizarre that you can’t help but laugh.


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Image via AMC

Odin attempts to rally his men, in some great acting shown off by Jackie Earl Haley, with promises of food courts that will be built in the place of the current church. As Jesse begins shooting at the oncoming hoard, poor Clyde runs past and returns to the group, holding his severed penis that Jesse had blown off off-screen. Yes, you read that right, and I’m shocked they managed to get away with that even if it was still never actually shown. Things change up when the angels return and bargain with Jesse that they can help bring Eugene back should he relinquish Genesis. The duo sing their song and Genesis is placed into its “containment unit,” only for it to immediately bust out and slam back into Jesse. He freaks out and the angels leave, stating that there’s only one way to get Genesis now, implying they have to kill Jesse. Then Odin’s right hand man manages to sneak into the church, and knocks Jesse out with a hit to the noggin (as he managed to deafen himself with a gunshot in the trunk).

Finally, we get a face to face between Jesse and Odin, with Quincannon flat out saying that the “Word” had indeed worked on the factory owner, but his god was the one of “meat.” I actually think a better approach to this would have been to leave it ambiguous, but it is what it is. Jesse asks Odin to give him one more Sunday to bring God to the town by any means necessary.

You may have noticed in this recap that I haven’t touched much upon the supporting characters of the series, and there’s good reason for that, as they do basically nothing at all! Tulip gets a dog that she hangs around with for the sole purpose of eating screen time, only to feed it to Cassidy (which is implied), telling us nothing more of her character and giving us nothing interesting to sink our teeth into (so to speak). Emily continues to simply exist, and her presence just doesn’t add anything. The show needs to reassess its time management and start cutting away some of the chaff, as you know it can soar to great heights. We’ve seen it before.


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Image via AMC

Ultimately, the episode manages to have a strong core focus, but falls apart whenever it leaves the central conflict of Jesse versus Odin. Hopefully, the stakes can continue to ratchet higher as we move toward the season finale.

Rating: ★★★ Good

COLLIDER SCRIPTURES

– Eugene’s description of Hell legitimately sent shivers up my spine. Fantastic dialogue there.

– Quincannon: “It’s all MEAT!”

– Goon: “He didn’t say nothing, he just kicked our asses!”

– Jesse: “You dug out of Hell with your hands?”
Arseface: “It’s not that far.”

– Quincannon: “Ain’t gonna be no chimichangas or pizza pie until we drag that Preacher out of that church!”

– Clyde: “FOOD COURT! FOOD COURT!”

-Quincannon: “So you know….drink lots of water.”

COMIC ISSUES (a.k.a. Spoiler Town)

– Arseface taking the role of John Wayne moving forward in the series is actually pretty clever, and it’s a nice divergence from the comic series if we couldn’t go with the source material.

– I understand that trying to humanize antagonists in popular fiction is pretty common, but you know sometimes a villain can just be a crazy asshole! I’m not a huge fan of making Odin be stricken by terrible grief.


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Image via AMC

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Image via AMC

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Image via AMC


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