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.
Last week's episode of Preacher was a slow burn to a big finale. We were treated to lots of backstory, especially Jesse's history with Tulip. The episode started with Eugene's disappearance, and tracks Jesse as he attempts to cope with what he has done — ending in a dinner that blew up in everyone's face — leaving Jesse alone to deal with Odin Quincannon's approaching army, which brought us to this:
This week, it's all about the big showdown between Jesse and Quincannon, spiced up with a little more local history. The angels return this week as well — although they leave us with more questions than we started with. With only two episodes left of this fantastic first season, 'El Valero' feels like the calm before the storm. A strange kind of calm, though, with a gunfight at its core.
How Quincannon Lost His Religion
We open in a gondola in Vail, carrying the entire extended Quincannon family up a mountain to do some skiing. The family vacation sees Odin's wife, daughter and mother in the group, along with others who we can presume are his siblings, father, niece and nephews. It's an idyllic shot, far removed from the bloody slaughterhouse in Texas, and it's not something that ends well. In a horrible accident, the cable snaps, sending the entire family plummeting to their deaths... leaving Odin, who remained behind to work, the only survivor.
Odin, unsurprisingly, does not take this well. We are taken back to the night that Jesse visited Quincannon's office with his father, where Odin is found surrounded by crates containing the remains of his family — and covered in blood. In one of the most shocking scenes from the show so far (and that's a high bar), Jesse's father stands in shock as Odin holds up the intestines of a cow he has just slaughtered... and to his own daughter.
It's a brutal scene where Odin loses all faith in God, in the concepts of soul and spirit. Instead, he comes to the conclusion that people are simply meat. There is nothing else. And Jesse, as a child, sees this man surrounded by death and clutching bloody entrails to his chest.
Odin Vs. Jesse: Round One
In the present day, Odin and his meat men are outside the church with a bulldozer, facing off with Jesse, who is inside begging God to return Eugene to him. Odin sends in his first crew, armed, to try and bring Preacher out. He's more than up to the task, though. The men limp back out, sans weapons, to tell Odin that Preacher didn't even speak to them. Just kicked their asses.
Eugene's Triumphant Return
Inside the church, Jesse seems unperturbed by the men coming to get him. He's more concerned with Eugene, and is begging God to bring him back. Bargaining, he tells God that he will never use Genesis again, if God will only send Eugene back from Hell. And God, it would seem, answers.
Eugene literally crawls up through the ground underneath the church — surprisingly whole, given where he's been. He's clearly shaken up, but seems otherwise unharmed. Thirsty. Dirty. But unharmed. He and Jesse sit and talk as Eugene drinks glass after glass of water, and for a moment, it seems like everything might just be ok.
Eugene is ok — and says that when Preacher commanded him to come back, it worked. He literally dug out of Hell with his bare hands... leading to the fairly depressing realization that Hell isn't that far from us. Jesse, meanwhile, is a changed man. He has learned his lesson. What he did to Eugene was a wake up call, and he talks about his realization that Eugene was right. Using Genesis is a sin, and it's cheating, and he's going to return it. However, as their conversation continues (and after Jesse has called Sheriff Root to tell him the good news), Eugene makes a comment about the "men in the motel"... and it all starts to unravel. Jesse never mentioned the angels to Eugene. Eugene couldn't know about them. Which means that this isn't actually Eugene. Guilt has driven Preacher a little left of sanity, and he's hallucinating Eugene's return.
Odin Vs. Jesse: Round Two
Outside, Odin is giving the troops a little pep talk, all about the shiny new plant he'll be building on the church land. With Donnie in the lead, the men charge the church, but Preacher is more than capable of dealing with them. Using the stolen guns from the first wave, he manages to stop the charge, shoot a machete into another man, and then blow up the bulldozer with a Molotov cocktail. The men are beaten back, and Clive, who was the only one to keep running (driven on by dreams of a food court) got some of the worst of it. Preacher shot his dick off. Literally.
Emily Finds Out About The Battle
Emily, meanwhile, has no idea that Odin and Jesse are facing off. She's still reeling from Jesse turning her down and kicking her out the night before, so when Miles comes over to tell her about what's happening at the church, she does not take it well. Although Miles is his usual kind and helpful self, she's rolling her eyes at him, and he's losing patience with her. She finally snaps at him, and it looks like things are about the change between these two.
Bring Me The Agents
Having turned back the second wave, when the Sheriff rolls up, Jesse calls for the agents. It's time for the angels to return.
The angels are going to try and get Genesis out of Jesse again. This time, he's on board — as long as they get Eugene out of Hell in return. However, when they are setting up, Jesse is full of questions. Why him? Why didn't he explode? What's God's plan? What does it all mean? The angels, good soldiers that they are, don't care. They just want to get Genesis and go home, and they intend to do just that.
Tailgate At The Stand Off
While the "agents" are busy inside, Odin's meat men have invited their families down for a picnic at the stand off, and it's turning into a tailgate party! Sheriff Root is talking to Odin about Eugene, and how glad he is to have his son back (obviously, he doesn't yet know that Eugene is Preacher's hallucination, and that his son is still missing). He also attempts to point out that Odin perhaps shouldn't try and tear down a church, given that it's God's house and all... but in a moment reminiscent of the opening scene where Odin learns that people are just meat, he replies that the church is just wood.
Miles Finally Grows A Backbone
Miles has followed Emily to the church, and he's not on her side. He tells her that not only are Odin's actions legal, but they might be right. Patiently, calmly, he tries to convince her that letting Quincannon build on the church land would be the better thing for the community. For jobs. For tax income to go to her kid's school. Plus, of course, Jesse Custer is a criminal, and Miles is clearly getting sick of Emily mooning after him all the time. It might be a quiet, polite conversation for most, but for a doormat like Miles, this is a huge leap forward for his character.
Donnie's Shocking Decision
As Odin lays out the plan for the next attack with brutal honesty, Donnie does something drastic. He walks away from Odin as he speaks, waves at his wife, and heads to the car. He opens the trunk, takes off his hat and sling, kneels down, and puts his head inside. Then he pulls out his gun, brings it in to his head, and pulls the trigger.
The Angel's Promise and What Genesis Wants
Back inside the church, the angels are trying to sing Genesis out of Jesse, and when he stops resisting — it works! The power rips out of Jesse and into the coffee can without even leaving a mark. Of course, that was a little too easy. As the angels wrap up, they reveal that they never intended to help Jesse get Eugene out of Hell. They begrudgingly say that they would help, but it's clear that they don't care. They also don't know why things happen the way they do, and when Jesse starts to question them again, Genesis bursts out of the coffee tin and back into Preacher.
With that, the angels leave. Calmly. They've decided on "the other option." And just like that, Eugene is gone.
Odin Vs. Jesse: The Final Showdown
The meat men are giving it one last try, as the town watches and Jesse defends his father's church. It seems like an even battle, and Jesse has the advantage, until someone sneaks into the church from behind. Donnie.
Who isn't dead. Who is deaf. He wasn't killing himself in the car trunk, he was blowing out his eardrums so that Preacher couldn't use Genesis on him. It works, too. Donnie is able to knock Jesse out, winning the day — but not before Preacher tells Donnie to shoot him.
The battle won, Quincannon is sitting in church with Jesse, handing him papers to sign. It's a scene that recalls one of the earliest ones in the season, when Quincannon brought his meat men to bulldoze a small home. Now we know — he'll do anything to get what he wants. He's also got some pearls of wisdom for Jesse. When Jesse asks him what happened, Odin tells him that he is serving God, just like Jesse told him to. The God of Meat. That is, the God of everything tangible, with no faith in a silent God who cannot be seen.
It's a speech that hits home to Preacher, especially after his questions to the angels went unanswered. He makes a new deal with Odin: give him one more week in the church. Jesse intends to bring God to Annville, forcing him to answer for everything that has happened. If he can't, if God doesn't come, Jesse will denounce him. Forever.
Tulip And Brewski Save Cassidy
Throughout the episode, Tulip makes small appearances that initially make no sense. She's at an animal rescue, picking out a dog. She's playing fetch with the dog. She's telling the dog that he's a good boy. It's completely incongruous, but there's a reason for it. The dog, Brewski, is a furry, heartbreaking sacrifice — to help Cassidy heal! Jesse may have let him burn, but Tulip saved our favorite vampire junkie, and as Preacher is led away from his church in handcuffs, we see Tulip leading the dog behind a closed door, where all we hear is the sound of feeding.
Questions We Want Answered
- What's That Gauge? The final seconds of the episode bring us back to the mysterious room with a panel full of switches, where an alarm is going off. What. Is. Going. On? There is a man whose job it is to manage this, but we still don't know what it connects to.
- What's The Other Option? The angels have now officially chosen "the other option", but what is it? It's clearly not to retake Genesis, because they chose not to try singing it out again. What are they going to do?
- What Happened To Cass? He's alive, and Tulip is taking care of him, but what happened with Jesse? Did the Preacher even try to save him, or was he willing to let him die? And how badly hurt was Cass?
- What Are The Limits of Genesis? Donnie's choice proved that Preacher's gift only works on people who can hear him, and Odin seemed to show that there is no time limit to commands — but that they can be taken different ways. What are the other limits Preacher will deal with?
- What Does Genesis Want With Preacher? Clearly, Genesis wants something from Preacher specifically — but what? It returned to him when Jesse was questioning the angels. Is Genesis looking for answers too?
What's Next? Episode 9: 'Finish The Song'
Next week is sure to be setting up a big finish, and wrapping up some questions that we have been asking over the past eight weeks. The cowboy is back in Ratwater, and we are going to see how that (seemingly unconnected) story fits with the tale of modern-day Annville. Odin is looking forward to seeing Jesse make a fool of himself, but Jesse has a plan. We just don't know what it is yet. Emily is going to be let in on the secret about Cassidy, which also means that we should see him again (fantastic!), and the angels are fleeing to Mexico. It's going to be a good one!