Monster Swamp – After thinking back to his father’s congregation, Jessie is determined to make his church great again by whatever means. The Angels don’t find Cassidy as helpful as expected while a girl’s death awakes lost feelings within Tulip.
If there was a single sequence to sum up Preacher’s style and tone, this episode’s opening minutes would be the best choice to date. A night time chase or even hunt that appears sinister before turning out to be just an oddball tradition of the locals mixed with an unexpected darker twist. It superbly plays with our expectations and presumptions to great results. Not to mention the obscure and almost uncaring way the aftermath is treated, with those contributing to the accidental death in question only moderately concerned while the most powerful man in area makes a speech that’s little more than a Dougal worthy, “careful now” while the victim hangs by their ankles from a nearby crane. It all speaks wonderfully to the backwards hick nature of the town and ensures that any viewers just joining the party will know exactly what kind of people they’re dealing with. We continue to get more wonderful examples of this throughout the episode. The comedic combination of Cassidy and the angels, Fiore & Debanc, continues to be a winning combination. In this case, it’s Cassidy playing it straight that makes their hotel scene work; as he goes deadpan in absorbing details such as chainsaw spirit removal and coffee tin storage. Not to mention still being unsure whether the pair is actually robots or clones when explaining things to Jessie.
This episode sees a few very intriguing curtains lifted on the past of Jessie and a little of Tulip too. In Jessie’s case, the childhood flashbacks are highly-effective in reinforcing his present day arc while delivering their own story. In many ways, Jessie drawing form memories of his father and happier times for guidance and the realisation that if he wants to save his community he must be an example to them. Yet it’s the teases over his father’s fate that really gets the juices flowing. We knew from the first episode that things don’t end well for John Custer but now we have our first inclinations of why with implied conflict between John and the OMGH Company. This really pulls things together superbly when considered in contrast to the more comedic meeting between the mayor and CEO Odin. The Mayor suggests ideas of change which Odin dismisses via humiliation because he views the mayor as a far weaker man. Yet he also speaks of his descendants encountering more hostile takeovers and “dealing with them” appropriately. From what we’ve seen on John to date, we know he is a firm man of resolve that would not succumb to intimidation therefore prompting OMGH to take more forceful means in dealing with him. The most interesting question now becomes just how much of the situation Jessie was aware of. We know John was killed in front of him but did he know OMGH were behind it? And if so, will he succumb to revenge against them with his newfound powers? The young girl offering Jessie a smoke in the flashback is clearly implied as a young Tulip of whom we also learn a little more of how her character derived from a harsher upbringing. There’s a good feel of familiarity here with Watchmen’s Rorschach based on her mother’s chosen career.
There’s a couple interesting smaller developments around the edges. The “benefits” friendship of Emily and The Mayor is a curious one. Emily makes it clear she has no romantic interest in said idealistic politician but happily indulges his affections for her whenever she needs a distraction from her ever hectic life. It comes without any judgement towards Emily as the mayor completely knows where he stands and instead forms a nice moment to show that even someone as selfless and resolving as Emily has needs too sometimes. However, one point of frustration is that despite last episode’s tease we don’t see The Saint of Killers in action this episode. Hopefully, we’ll see him going head to head with Jessie next week for a mid-season climax. Also, the general feel is that the series is still more ambling along than progressing. It’s great but the story really needs to start covering some ground less we feel like we’re trudging this monster swamp in circles.