Preacher S01E05 “South Will Rise Again” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Amazon, new episodes every Monday
Writer: Craig Rosenberg
Director: Michael Slovis
Essential Plot Points:
- Texas 1881: the taciturn cowboy runs foul of the scalpers in Ratwater. The precher there recognises him from Gettysburg where they were on opposite sides. The preacher shoots the cowboy’s horse in the head. As a result, by the time the cowboy returns home with the medicine he went for, his wife and child are dead.
- In the present: intruders break into the Roots’ house, leaving a rifle in Eugene’s room and graffiti telling him to “finish the job”. His dad, the sheriff, realises that Eugene has ignored his advice and gone to see Tracy. The sheriff screams at his son he should finish the job.
- Jesse takes residence at the Flavor Station, where people are queuing up to follow his advice (and he’s surreptitiously using his powers to sort their problems with quick fixes). Emily doesn’t entirely approve.
- Cassidy starts making moves on an initially reluctant Tulip. Him being a vampire doesn’t impress her but she does get out of him what kills him – sunlight.
- Donnie’s wife convinces the broken-spirited Donnie back to work. There he’s appalled to find Odin acting like a reasonable human being. Then he twigs that Jesse must have compelled the guy.
- Odin agrees with the Mayor that he’ll the people from Green Acre to discuss what they can do for Quincannon Meat & Power.
- Fiore and DeBlanc take so long worrying about how to answer the celestial phone, the phone stops ringing.
- Eugene turns to Jesse for help, and Jesse compels Tracy’s mum to forgive Eugene.
- Tulip procures some drugs for Cassidy and they shag, though for Tulip it’s clearly a joyless experience.
- Fiore and DeBlanc run out of patience with Cassidy and visit Jesse themselves, demanding they want their alien out of his insides and back in its coffee tin.
- They tell him what’s inside of him isn’t God.
- The team from Green Acre visit Odin and he shoots the whole load of them dead.
After last week’s rather listless episode, “South Will Rise Again” gets the show back on track, and not just because of that brilliantly unexpected ending.
But was it really so unexpected? We’ve seen time and time again that the thing inside Jesse grants his commands in alarmingly literal ways. Jesse only commanded Odin to believe; he didn’t command him to be nice. And we all know from real world experience that people who believe in God are still capable of horrible, horrible acts (various Medieval Popes, the Spanish Inquisition, Tony Blair…). So, no, it should be no surprise Odin remains Odious. But the sheer callousness of hie actions remain shocking.
There’s lots to enjoy besides Mr Quincannon going postal, though. As with the previous episode there are some extraordinarily long scenes – Cassidy and Tulip quizzing each other, Jesse holding court at the Flavor Station – but this time, they don’t sag. They’re full of sparkling dialogue (see “Good” below) and have decent payoffs. Even the scene where Emily comes home and spends ages doing really banal stuff before going to the loo suddenly takes on a whole new aspect when you realise Tulip has been lurking in the shadows all along. This a show – unlike last week – using longueurs and nuance to considerable dramatic effect.
We also have the (re)introduction of Jamie Anne Allman as Donnie’s wife, Betsy. She was in the pilot but this is the first chance she’s had to shine, and it appears she’s the show’s Lady Macbeth – the real power behind the would-be king. With Donnie’s position as alpha male under threat she’s determined to get him out of his self-pitying fugue and back in action. She’s brilliant, so let’s hope the show has big plans for her.
Tulip and Cassidy continue to impress, and they make a hugely watchable double act, even if Tulip looks like she enjoying sex with Cassidy about as much as a Donald Trump speech. Tulip also gets to deliver the line, “The point is, this guy shot a Komodo dragon in the head,” which makes the entire episode worth watching alone.
Jesse is now the living embodiment of “power corrupts, and absolute power makes you grin like the devil”. It’s difficult to believe , however, that he hasn’t already worked out that his powers come with a line in black humour, so his session down the Flavor Station does come across as highly questionable; shouldn’t he be qualify each command with, “And don’t kill anyone”? Seriously, while Tulip and Cassidy are morally dubious but charismatic anti-heroes, Jesse is simply coming across as a bit of a prick, and we’re pretty sure that’s not the intention.
But now that heaven’s most prevaricating angels have decided that if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing yourselves, it looks like things are about to change dramatically for our preacher. The angels are great value this week, especially Fiore, bullied into practicing various ways of answering the celestial phone… which then stops ringing. He’s such a klutz you have to wonder what he’s done to impress the bosses so much; or maybe, when DeBlanc says, “You’re the sweet one; the love you up there,” he’s only talking matters of degree.
This may well have been the best episode since the pilot. Let’s hope it’s a good sign for where the show’s going next.
- That ending. Wow. Suddenly things are a whole load more interesting.
- Cassidy and Tulip are an endlessly entertaining double act:
“Turn into a bat?”
“Sleep in a coffin?”
“Not if I can help it.”
“Afraid of the cross?”
“It’s a 2,000 year old symbol of hypocrisy, slavery and oppression but it won’t burn me face off.”
“That’s a werewolf.”
“Oh yeah, that’s legit.”
“Well, the invention of suncream, that was a nice bonus, but I just gotta be careful. I can’t just go wandering out. I’ve gott bundle up – sleeve, hat, shades and that – otherwise it’s trouble.”
“You kill people?”
“Not if they don’t deserve it.”
“But you drink blood?”
“Yeah, it helps me heal. All things being equal I’d rather have a single malt.”
- “It took two years to track him down. Now I have. Now I’ve found him. All that’s left to do is go over there and get him. Tie him to table, cut his freaking balls off and, over and over, stab him in the face with a screwdriver.”
“And your boyfriend said no to this?”
- Fiore’s various attempts at saying hello.
- Donnie’s wife using sex as a weapon; specifically threatening to have it with someone else if Donnie doesn’t go back to work.
- Tulip emerging from the shadows to menace Emily on the bog.
- Jesse’s downright freaky smile when he tells Eugene, “We’ll think of something.”
- The Ratwater stuff is fine in itself, but why the Game Of Thrones-style way it’s being inserted randomly into episodes?
- Eugene’s storyline isn’t exactly the home of subtlety, is it?
- Surely Jesse has had enough warnings about the way his commands are granted all-too-literally at times not to start using his powers willy-nilly?
And the Random:
- According to the subtitles Jesse is whistling “Wynken, Blynken & Nod” while in the car with Eugene at the end of the episode but, to be honest, he’s whistling so tunelessly it could be anything.
- The names in the church cash box ledger are those of production crew members.
- Did you spot the sign saying “HEX LIVERY” in the Ratwater sequence? Surely a reference to fellow DC supernatural gunslinger Jonah Hex?
Review by Dave Golder