SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't yet watched this week's episode of Preacher, then turn back now! This contains spoilers and key plot points.
After last week's dramatic reveals (and even more dramatic final moments), we knew that this week was going to be a doozy. However, it was a surprisingly cerebral episode, with little of the blood and guts that filled last week. Instead, we were treated to a slew of awkward conversations as everything goes sideways. In amongst them, we also got to see a lot more of Jesse's history, and his childhood relationship with Tulip, right up to the moment that they were separated. Add in multiple call outs to the comics and an incredible finish, and 'He's Gone' is an amazing lead-in to the final three episodes of the first season.
This week we pick up right where we left off - as Jesse sends Eugene to hell. Literally. Shocked, he takes a second... but almost immediately pulls himself together and gets on with the service. He doesn't realize that Cass was standing on the balcony the whole time, and saw exactly what happened.
The service itself is absolutely packed. Jesse's popularity has grown enough that there are even extra chairs and a loudspeaker out front. Jesse, however, is obviously a little bit off this week - sending a teenager to Hell will do that. However, he's clearly doing all he can to pretend that it never happened, even when Sheriff Root is searching for Eugene after the service.
He keeps pretending that nothing is wrong, even when Cass confronts him. He's trying to support Jesse, but before they can really talk about it, Emily comes to get him, and their conversation is cut short. On top of that, we don't know quite how much Emily heard...
A big part of this week's episode centers on Jesse and Tulip as kids, where we learn that their history is even longer than we first thought. Turns out that these two were childhood friends, and that Tulip has always had a bit of a habit of biting people who attack her. In fact, she bit the nipple off a school bully, and Jesse fought alongside her, getting them both in trouble. Tulip's childhood trouble run a little deeper than a school scrap, though. With her mother in jail and her uncle a drunk, she goes to live with Jesse and his father.
Things seem to be looking up for Tulip, for a little while at least. She and Jesse are playing, doing homework, doing dishes. Generally acting like normal kids - but Jesse's dad isn't going to just adopt her. Tulip overhears him on the phone telling someone about her, and she knows that her brief respite won't continue. Later, we see her and Jesse promising each other that they will stick together "till the end of the world" - potentially prophetic phrasing.
Having seen Tulip as a sweet little girl, we get a little reminder of what she's like now. Heels in hand, she's running, and we don't know from (or to) what for a moment. With Tulip, it could easily be either. Turns out that her uncle is passed out drunk on the front steps, and two kids stole his pants. She just wants to get them back, and succeeds - but she can't get Walter inside on her own. So she sits down, lights a cigarette, and watches the neighborhood go past, judging her as they go. There's resignation here, and exhaustion.
Cassidy is just bouncing from awkwardness to awkwardness this week. First, there's his odd conversation with Jesse as he tries to support his friend. Then, the moment Jesse leaves the room, Tulip comes barging in, leading to a second conversation about what happened between the two of them. More accurately, it's a conversation about the fact that Cassidy hasn't had a different conversation with Jesse about him and Tulip. On top of that, Cass confronts Tulip about her plans to go take care of Carlos, and Tulip confronts him right back about Cassidy's relationship with Jesse. Not only does she point out that Cass doesn't know him as well as he thinks he does, but she has his number. She knows that Jesse doesn't know that Cassidy is a vampire, and that he wouldn't be ok with it if he did. Cass, however, knows that Tulip doesn't know about Jesse's power. It's all coming out, from the looks of things.
Where It All Went Wrong
Back in flashbacks, we see a young Tulip being collected by Child Services. Jesse's father has called them, and although Jesse is visibly upset and tries to stop them from taking his friend away, Tulip herself is stoic. Watching a ten-year-old Jesse's heart break as his friend is taken away from him is one thing. Watching his father's explanation is a punch to the gut.
Jesse begs to know why she was sent away when she was being so good. Turns out that Jesse's father isn't the kind and open-minded preacher that Jesse thought - he sent her away because of her family. Because she's an O'Hare, and with them "there'll always be trouble." It's a clear connection to the earlier scene where an adult Tulip faces down the judgment of the town, and it explains a lot about her hostility. When even the preacher of the town writes you off as trash, it's not easy to let your guard down - or be accepted. Jesse, meanwhile, changes his prayers that night and they take a dark turn. He used to thank God for his father, and now he asks for God to kill him, and send him straight to Hell.
Odin On The Warpath
Odin, as usual, is the perfect villain, and we are reminded this week just how disturbing he can be. Right before the opening credits, we are treated to a slow shot of him in his office, with a Civil War model, listening to the sounds of the slaughterhouse and enjoying a drink. As you do.
Later he pulls Jesse away from Bible Study where the parishioners are putting together a play - a distraction that Jesse is probably more than happy to have, at first. His mind is on Hell and death, and a conversation with his most public recruit probably seemed like a welcome distraction - for a moment.
However. Quincannon's choice of conversation topic quickly veers from the mundane (he finished his model), to the disturbing (an enormous slaughterhouse in Brazil), to the truly important. Quincannon has decided to try and expand his family empire, and has brought a deed transfer. He claims that he won the bet he made with Jesse, and that he's not a Christian, so Jesse owes him his father's land. Jesse, obviously, refuses. It's possibly not the smartest move, though, and Quincannon leaves him with the words "Victory over Death."
The Most Awkward Dinner In The World
Tulip, Cassidy, Jesse, and Emily are sitting down to dinner together, and it is absolutely cringe-worthy. Jesse isn't saying a word, Tulip is attempting to be a homemaker (with vanilla in hash browns, of all things), Emily is taking little jabs at Tulip, and Cass is rambling on about The Big Lebowski. As though that weren't enough, Sheriff Root has stopped by to ask about Eugene - and the baking tray catches on fire. Still, Jesse doesn't say a word.
Even when the fire is out and Sheriff Root directly asks Jesse if he has seen Eugene, he lies. He says that he hasn't seen him all day. For a second, it seems as though Emily is going to ruin his story - she knows that he saw Eugene, and knows that Jesse did something (turns out she heard him and Cass, after all). But she's willing to lie for him, and says that she saw Eugene leave.
Innocence and Judgment
Finally, Jesse talks about what happened. Cass confronts him again, this time with a fire extinguisher to the face to hammer the point home, and Jesse says that he didn't mean to do it. But while Cassidy wants to help Jesse get him back, Jesse seems happy to simply leave Eugene where he is. It seems callous, but Jesse is in denial - he's looking for justification, and he finds it in the story of Tracy Loach.
It turns out that Eugene didn't just try to kill himself with a shotgun. He tried to kill Tracy first, after she rejected his advances. Obviously, he failed on both counts - leaving Tracy a vegetable, and himself looking the way he does now. Just in case we were thinking that anyone in Annville is innocent.
Jesse's speech on innocence doesn't win Cassidy over, though. Jesse is obsessed with the concept of God's plan, and Cass wants him to give Genesis back - he thinks that it's messing with Jesse's head. To prove a point, he talks about himself. About how God isn't doing anything to him, and that he's far from perfect. Then, he makes his point a little more powerfully, as he steps out into the sun to show Jesse what he is. To ask him if he'll let Cass burn, too.
The Final Breakdown
We don't get to see Cassidy's fate. Jesse storms back in with the fire extinguisher, but we can only guess as to whether or not he used it to save his friend. Back at the table, he quietly, brutally, drives Tulip and Emily away. He lashes out at Tulip first, accusing her of knowing about Cassidy. And when Tulip fights back, Jesse hits her where he knows it'll hurt the most - her background, her attempts to be better. Emily, meanwhile, tries to be there for him. She tries to tell him that she believes in him, that she always has. But Jesse doesn't even bother trying to hit her on a sore spot. He just kicks her out, which has to hurt enough. Is it self-flagellation? Self-destruction? Fear? Or just plain anger?
On his own, Jesse remembers the night his father died, and we get to see a few moments more of it. We see him hiding under the bed as his father is beaten, and then dragged out to watch his father get shot. We still don't know who killed him, but do know that Jesse blames himself. After his father gives him a final pronouncement to be one of the good guys, right before he is shot, young Jesse says that it's his fault, that he prayed for this.
In the final moments of the episode, Jesse cracks. He starts to rip up the church floor where Eugene disappeared, digging at the ground underneath, trying to command him back, but it doesn't work.
And while Jesse is losing it inside, Quincannon is doing the same outside. He's marching on the church with his workers (some of them in Civil War uniforms) and a bulldozer, and it seems like war has been declared. It's a serious mob, and Jesse is left all alone to deal with it...
Questions We Want Answered
Why all the comic book references? Not that we're complaining, but this week was chock-full of comic book references, and thus far, Preacher hasn't played that game. From Cass calling Eugene "Arseface" (technically, arsey-faced, but we'll take it), to John Wayne coming up in conversation, this felt like a very reference-heavy week. Is this foreshadowing? Or just the writers having a little fun?
- What happened to Quincannon? This week, Odin was back to his usual tricks, and Jesse's command seems to have lost its effect on him - but why? Is he obeying some perversion of the original command to "serve God"? Or does Jesse's power have an expiration date?
- What are the limits to Genesis? Not only is Quincannon going off-book, but it seems that no matter how much Jesse commands it, his voice cannot bring Eugene back. So what are the limits of his power? It seems like the person needs to be within earshot for Genesis to work, but what else?
- Who killed Jesse's father? This has been a question since the start, but it's becoming more pressing as the show continues. Who are the two men who kill Jesse's father, and why did they do it? Why did they make Jesse watch?
What's Next? Episode 8 'El Valero'
Next week: the angels are back! Fiore and DeBlanc are drafted in to try and help Jesse bring Eugene back from Hell, and they want him to give up Genesis to do it, but Jesse is still unwilling. In the meantime, Quincannon's army has set up outside the church, and we're actually going to get some gunfighting as Odin tries to take the church from Jesse... things are not looking good for the Preacher.
The next episode of Preacher is on AMC, Sunday July 17th.