Preacher "S1E8 El Varelo" - Review: Holy war!

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Preacher "S1E8 El Varelo" - Review: Holy war!

El Varelo – As Odin and his men look to take over Jessie’s church, this Custer is making his last stand against overwhelming odds. Foire and Deblanc make attempt to contain Genesis once more, Tulip has a sudden interest in animal companionship and Eugene may not be as lost as they think.

So last week left us on less of cliffhanger and more a battle-hanger as the Quincannon boys came marching on the church like there’s a Charizard inside. Easily the most enjoyable aspect of this episode is the way it flips such a setup of dramatic peril into a hilarious farce as an intended hostile takeover gets thwarted by a loan Jessie and eventually morphs into a bizarre community afternoon picnic. The comedy on show here is some of the best all season as Odin tries to inspire his Civil War re-enactment garbed men with promises of illustrious staff facilities; or how their numerous advances and assaults all seem to go the way of Monty Python’s Holy Grail taking on a particular rabbit. Although the highest honours go to Clive, for his truly magnificent casual reaction to a rather horrific injury. It almost feels a riff on Sin City’s goon taking an arrow through the chest without any apparent damage. The ultimate resolution has some great twists to it but most impressive of all is an odd shining moment from Mayor Miles that completely shifts the morality into a circle of ambiguity by instigating Odin as the righteous man and Jessie the criminal. Though Odin’s methods are not ideal, his expansion meat plant on Jessie’s land might actually save their declining town. It helps Jessie feeling like more of an anti-hero than a straight up protagonist and explains the rest of the town’s more spectator based reaction (“I hope there’s more shooting”). Even the oddball introduction scene this week plays completely into the main story as through tragedy we get a greater understanding of Odin’s mental instability and connect a few more dots concerning his interactions with Jessie’s father in the built up to his murder.

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The smaller stories and characters are much more of a mixed bag this week. Emily is condemned to borderline irrelevance being little more than a reaction point to Jessie’s actions which makes her feel a bit wasted. Despite a very tantalising payoff, Tulip’s pet adoption scenes have very little to them and in fact would feel nothing but filler if it wasn’t for her final moments. Thankfully, some of wider cast still find their mojo a flowing. The Foire and Deblanc double act is as good as ever and finally getting to see their music based exorcism is just brilliant. If these two don’t return next season, I will be heartbroken. Then of course, there is a mildly surprising “not quite” return of Eugene as either a mental projection from Jessie or some kind of summoned spirit. Aside from the how, just having Eugene back is exactly what then narrative needs to explore Jessie’s emotions by once again embodying his conscience as he rallies against his rash and shunning actions of the last episode. It will be interesting to see where the story takes this as while it would nice to have the real thing back in Annville, keeping him has Jessie’s personal conversation also has a lot of benefits.

It’s an episode that, more than anything to date, feels like it’s laying down the season finale plot points, which is very welcome at this point as opposed to more ambling approach of the prior episodes. Jessie has thrown the gauntlet, the rest of the armour, the blacksmith and his forge all down on the ground with his Hail Mary claim to the town about an exclusive Q&A session. The Angels will be back with a reluctant plan B, Tulip is up on something, and we still have the Saint of Killers to complicate things somewhere. It’s an episode that puts more ground work in than it normally likes to but successfully proves that the show can be structured when it needs to be.  It certainly bodes well for the upcoming final verses in this biblical tale.

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