Preacher S01E06 “Sundowner” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Amazon, new episodes every Monday
Writer: Nick Towne
Director: Guillermo Navarro
Essential Plot Points:
- At the Flavor Station, Jesse uses his power to force Fiore and DeBlanc to explain what’s inside of him: an angel/demon hybrid of immense power called Genesis.
- Fiore and DeBlanc are its custodians; they let it escape.
- They want it back. Jesse refuses. He still thinks he has been chosen for a reason.
- Their “mission” is not sanctioned by heaven. They are wanted angels.
- Another angel, searching for them, arrives at the Flavor Station. They kill her.
- She’s “reinvigorates” (the angels’ term for their resurrection – which seems to be a bit random in the way it operates, as far as how long it takes and where they reappear).
- Fiore, DeBlanc and Jesse flee back to the angels’ motel. Killer angel (who’s amusingly credited as “Susan”) follows them. There is a spectacularly funny fight in which Fiore, DeBlanc and Susan die more repeatedly than Spinal Tap drummers.
- Part-way through, Cassidy turns up and joins in.
- Eventually they subdue Susan. Fiore does something unspeakable and offscreen to her (which may include dismemberment and definitely requires a chainsaw) to keep her from causing trouble.
- Jesse still refuses to give up Genesis and drives off with Cassidy who’s not sure this is a good idea.
- Fiore suggests using the “other method” on Jesse; DeBlanc firmly says, “No!”
- Eugene suddenly has friends at school who treat him like he’s normal. But the self-flagellating guilt-addict can’t handle it.
- Tulip pays Emily a visit intending to shout her out about making moves on Jesse. Instead they end up bonding rather sweetly. Tulip even starts running errands for Emily.
- Jesse starts putting his next plan into action to save the souls of the people of Annville – something will go down at the next church service.
- Miles pays Jesse a visit wanting some advice over a decision he has to make but he’s so vague on details Jesse is pretty much at a loss what to tell him.
- Tulip comes to the church to deliver some of Emily’s leaflets. There she’s surprised to meet Cassidy and he realises her “boyfriend” is Jesse. When Jesse turns up, Cassidy hides.
- On Sunday morning Jesse is just about to open his church doors to his congregation – and carry out his plan – when Eugene arrives. He wants Jesse to reverse whatever he did to Tracy’s mum because he doesn’t want forgiveness.
- Jesse is furious and refuses. Eugene guesses he has some plan and warns him not to go through with it. Jesse tells him to go to hell. Eugene vanishes.
- Miles organises a fake car accident in which it looks like all the members of Green Acre that Odin massacred have been burnt to a crisp.
Okay, so Preacher gives us a brilliant fight scene that would be the barnstorming climax of an an episode of any other shows (hell, it would be the barnstorming climax to a season on some shows) and gets it out of the way before the opening credits roll. That’s ballsy.
The lunatic fight scene – with bodies of the same three angels piling up over and over – has to be the individual highlight of the season so far. This is Preacher at its bizarre best, combining farce (people pop out of cupboards!) with gore to produce something that – even if you’re not enjoying it – you have to admit is unique. And unique is a rare thing on TV these days.
Of course, you could quibble. How come the angels die multiple times but Jesse proves surprisingly invincible? Then again, you could argue immortality would make them more careless.
It’s amusing, too, that Fiore and DeBlanc are remarkably laissez-faire about the details of their existence. When Jesse asks them what it feels like to reinvigorate they react like it’s a question they’ve never considered. And why would they? It would be like asking most human beings what it’s like to have a spleen. Similarly, they’re vague about where and when they reinvigorate, which could simply be a handy get-out clause for the writers; on the other hands, there may well be a science behind invigorating, it’s just that Fiore and DeBlanc don’t really know. They’re a bit clueless all round.
So that opening sequence leaves you in a good mood for the rest of the episode. Conversely, you could argue it leaves the rest of the episode a little bit of an anti-climax. Certainly, less seems to happen this week than usual, and there are a lot of bonding scenes (Emily and Tulip talking art things, Jesse and Cass comparing tats) that could be a lot shorter. Especially when, after that cliffhanger last week, you really want to know what’s going on in Odin’s head. Odin’s a curious no-show here, though. All we get is Miles agonising over the order he’s clearly been given to do something with the bodies. This makes for a great final scene with the fake accident, but it would have been nice to get more of a sense of quite how loopy Odin has gone.
The lengthy character scenes are solid, though, and don’t outstay their welcome. Although the Emily/Tulip heart-to-hearts are in danger of failing the Bechdel test (they do talk about things other than Jesse but he’s the reason they’re talking at all) Lucy Griffiths and Ruth Negga play it all with entertaining subtlety and a sense of irony; the moment when Tulip tries to return a compliment and mutters, “Nice ashtray,” (it’s actually a sugar bowl) is so brilliant because it’s so real.
Elsewhere the show indulges extensively in its favourite theme: that God is whatever you want him to be. Jesse practically says as much to Miles when the mayor comes to him for advice, totally oblivious of the fact that he’s guilty of the very same thing. Jesse needs to believe God has given him this power. Miles needs to believe the voice he’s hearing is God. Eugene needs to believe God wants him to suffer. Basically, they all project onto God what suits them. Tellingly, Jesse now knows that Fiore and DeBlanc have a hot line to God, but he doesn’t seem interested in asking them to give him a call and go, “So, how do you actually want us to act?” Presumably because he’s afraid he might not like the answer.
(It’s an interesting point to ponder; what if God did answer your prayers and the answer was, “No!”?)
Because, let’s face it. Jesse is losing it big time. When he tells Eugene to go to Hell – and by now he must realise what he’s (potentially) done – he looks as worryingly unconcerned about it as he does about trampling over everyone’s free will. Though you do have to sympathise with him for not giving Genesis to Fiore and DeBlanc; they are so obviously monumentally inept you have to question if they really were ever trusted with being its custodians.
On a more practical note, the episode looks utterly gorgeous, with some evocative framing and use of colour. Perhaps that’s the advantage of having an Oscar-winning cinematographer behind the camera (see below).
- The fight scene is gloriously bonkers; it’s rare to watch something on TV that you can genuinely say you’ve never seen it’s like before but this is one of those occasions. And full credit to the show for having the balls to keep running with it! It was easily trimmable, but somehow the repetition made it even more insane.
- Jesse telling Eugene to go to Hell, and presumably sending him there is one, erm, Hell of a moment.
- You have to love the way neither Tulip or Emily know what to call the “art thing”.
- It’s a pleasant surprise when the schoolkids take Eugene down the storm drain to show him something wonderful and they actually do show him something wonderful. The whole scene was set up like they were going to kick his head in or something. (We’re a bit confused, though: we thought Jesse’s command to “forgive” Eugene last episode was directed solely as Mrs Loach – and a line Eugene says at the church this episode backs that up – but the storm drain scene seems to suggest the whole town has forgiven Eugene.)
- We’re loving the way that Fiore is becoming ever more bloodthirsty, which makes us even more suspicious of DeBlanc’s assertion last week that Fiore is regarded as the “sweet one” in Heaven.
- We loved that Cassidy hated the name Genesis because of its association with the band, but we were really hoping he’d lay into “invigorating” as well for sounding like something out of Harry Potter.
- Odin is conspicuous by his absence this week; the only fall-out we get from last week’s amazing cliffhanger is Miles wrestling with his conscience, which feels like we’re being a little shortchanged.
- Although it’s fun to see Emily and Tulip bonding it’s slightly annoying that Tulip is now a female character almost completely defined by her relationship to Jesse. Surely her role in the show isn’t just to be the “love interest” albeit a feisty ass-kicking one? Sure, she loves Jesse, but moping about him all the time doesn’t have to be her only reason to be in the show.
- It’s slightly irritating that after raising the idea of using his powers to compel “Susan” not to kill them all, Jesse then seems to forget he ever had the idea.
And The Random:
- Director Guillermo Navarro has only recently moved into directing having been an acclaimed director of photography on many huge movies, especially ones directed by Guillermo del Toro, including Hellboy, Pacific Rim and Pan’s Labyrinth.
- The “art thing” looked bizarrely like the love child of Morph and baby Dren from Splice (2009).
- This week’s vandalised church sign:
- We genuinely didn’t know if the scene below belonged in “The Good” or “The Bad” but it was certainly something… so it’s going in random. (The line, “You look like a men’s room wall,” was definitely “good” though.)