‘Preacher’ Continues to Ramp Up Towards Conclusion (TV REVIEW)

 “He Gone”

With “He Gone,” Preacher has officially moved into the third act of its seasonal arc; the bigger picture is starting to come into focus as the dangling threads of its narrative are becoming more and more tied together. Though the second act felt, at times, like a drunken way fairer stumbling through an unknown terrain, the series has managed to defy any mid-season doubts as it makes a beeline straight towards its inaugural climax.

“He Gone,” represents the best of what Preacher seems to be capable. It was, in turns, taut and hilarious, emotional and irreverent, frightening and fun. It also poised some questions which seem to be leading us directly into the end of this season.

First and foremost, what happened to Eugene? Well, we’ve got a pretty good idea. Last week seemed to indicate that Jesse was able to send him directly to Hell, an event that Cassidy witnessed, it was revealed this week. From his perch above the nave, Cassidy saw the fiery pit open up and swallow poor Eugene, a fact that seemed to not bother Jesse so much.

This of course is indication that Jesse’s moral compass has been swayed due to his possession by Genesis. That’s been a running theme of the last few episodes, as Jesse has been forced to deal with the unintended consequences of uncareful wordings when using The Voice. But we also learned a bit more about the backstory of Eugene, tearing a hole right through the sweet guy façade he’s had the entire series up to this point.

It seems that Tracy Loach, the girl in the coma, was once the object of young Eugene’s affections and turned him down when he made his advances. Rather than take the rejection lightly, he grabbed a shotgun, shooting her in the head before turning it on himself, leaving Tracy in a comatose limbo and Eugene with a face like an arse.

Hearing this story didn’t dissuade Cassidy from rising to the boy’s defense. In an effort to remind Jesse that no man is above redemption, he came out of the darkness to reveal his true, vampiric nature to the preacher. Stepping into the sun, he burst into flames as Jesse looked on, horrified to find out that Cass wasn’t just talking shit when he told him he was a vampire.

We’re left wondering what happened to Cassidy; the idea that they might’ve killed Cassidy so early on in the series seems unlikely, though clearly that’s supposed to be what we think. Jesse dismisses questions about his presence by stating, simply, that he’s gone. Of course, prior to engaging in his self-righteous immolation, the vampire did provide the preacher with a fire extinguisher, further lessening the likelihood that we’ve seen the last of Cass. Although if we’re being honest, after hearing him disparage the genius that is The Big Lebowski, I honestly don’t care if we ever seem again.

Elsewhere, still doing his best to hide the fact that he murdered four people in cold blood, Odin Quincannon came to visit Jesse about signing over the deed to Jesse’s father’s church. A visibly confused Jesse refuses, reminding Quincannon that the deal was that if he left the church a Christian then Jesse would keep the church. Quincannon insists that he most certainly did not become a Christian.

That’s probably true; when Jesse used Genesis to try and bring Quincannon into the fold, he said, simply, “serve god.” He never specified which god, did he? This goes a long way towards explaining Quincannon’s actions over the last few weeks. It also, once again, displays the importance with which one must use the right words when using the powers of Genesis.

We have no idea what Quincannon is capable of now, though it’s certainly going to be violent. We also now know that Quincannon is serving some nefarious deity, using his newfound righteousness to justify previously unimaginable brutality. Quincannon has always been a bad guy, but now he’s heading into the realm of downright evil.

Between all of these happenings, we also got some more information about Jesse and Tulip’s backstory as children. Tulip, it seems, has always been the troublemaker of this relationship, dragging Jesse into fights and generally encouraging the worst parts of Jesse’s personality. There’s probably a lot to be said about the fact that her mom was in prison and her uncle, as we’ve seen repeatedly, was an insufferable drunk. Still, through it all, they’ve always remained thick as thieves.

Until, that is, Jesse’s father had social services come take Tulip away. Young Jesse’s response to this was to pray for his father’s death, a prayer which God seemed to answer in the form of two home intruders coming to execute Jesse’s father before the young boy’s eyes. We know this wasn’t just a random act, however. There was an air of vengeance about the scene that suggests something else going on. Curiously, while we did not see any faces, one of the assailants had a tattoo on his arm—one which matches the one Jesse explained last week that was given to him by “a mean old lady.”

There’s plenty more to this story, of course, though I doubt we’ll get to that until the second season. That’s a thread for another time, though I will say that as a reader of the books I can’t wait to see how that storyline plays out. For now, the important part is the reminder of Jesse and his father’s last conversation, which we’ve seen in brief glimpses throughout the season so far. “Be one of the good guys, Jesse,” his father says. “Because there’s way too many of the bad,” young Jesse responds.

The words must have finally eaten away at Jesse, who spends the closing moments of the show tearing up the floor of the church in an effort to dig Eugene out of Hell. The stresses of the events so far are starting to get to Jesse, and he’s clearly losing his mind. Unluckily for him, Quincannon chose this moment to make another attack on the church, riding up the driveway in a bulldozer surrounded by an army of Quincannon Meat and Power henchman, ready to go to war.

With three more episodes remaining until the end of the season, the narrative still feels wide open. As we’ve learned, anything can happen on Preacher, surprising even people like myself who’ve read the books multiple times. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle the final confrontation between Jesse and Quincannon, as well as what role Cassidy continues to play in the unfolding narrative. Still, if they can manage to keep up the intensity of the last couple of episodes, Preacher will most likely be solidified as one of the best summer shows of 2016.

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