Standing firmly on its own two feet as its own thing, Preacher this week improves over its pilot and presents some really good television.
Right off the bat I can say Jesse is indeed a more interesting character since Genesis has inhabited him. Still not a big fan of the show sticking in Annville, but I’m starting to see some story blocks take shape there as to see the patience of Jesse and Genesis wear thin can lead to the big moment where they’ve had enough with the town and go elsewhere to try and save people. Maybe like road trip, perhaps? It’s a far better use of Jesse than the pilot where he just wandered from side character to side character. This week gives him an actual arc in seeing how Jesse deals with his new powers and it is compelling rather than just wading through the motions and coming off as an uninteresting character. Especially since it makes dealing with one church member’s obsession with a girl on his school bus a great slow burn plot that is expertly paced and has a great payoff near the end of the episode when Jesse uses The Word to simply make the man “forget her”. Jesse’s horrified reaction to the use of his power is well played on the part of Dominic Cooper who got to loosen up a bit this week and it helps a lot in making him be a lead worth following on the show.
Now while Jesse improved, Tulip and Cassidy are still very much stealing the show. Tulip continues to be the best thing on here. Her character is still far improved upon from the comics and Ruth Negga you can tell is having an absolute blast with her role. When not hounding Jesse about “the job”, still no specifics as to what that is, she’s hustling people out of money in whorehouses and kicking all kinds of ass. Her scenes with Jesse do help to add a bit more insight as to who they were together before the series took place, the baptism and “kidnapping” scenes in particular being standouts. Negga’s chemistry with Cooper takes a step up this week too since we gotten all set-up out of the way and can let the characters breathe.
Tulip is the wild card of the show and with someone like Cassidy involved, that’s saying something about how good a character she is.
Speaking of Cassidy, he’s still well used here and helps factor into what is easily the best scene of the whole episode. The angels, Fiore (Tom Brooke) and DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef), are in full force this week in hunting Genesis and after Jesse and Cassidy have another heart-to-heart in the church, (the show is rather quickly getting to their friendship, but like-minded people seem to bond pretty fast) go to extract Genesis from a blackout drunk Jesse. When that doesn’t work, its chainsaw time and wouldn’t you know Cassidy shows up again and bloody hilarity ensues.
Director of the episode, Michael Slovis makes the fight between Cassidy and the angels feel violent, disgusting, and hilarious. The timing and choreography of it all makes it exciting to watch. Joe Gilgun in particular plays it up very well and gets a great bit of physical comedy in at the end when trying to stop a runaway chainsaw from making its way into Jesse.
Back to the angels for a moment, they do slightly feel like akin to the mysterious cousin’s from AMC’s own, Breaking Bad and a far departure from their original bumbling selves, but it works since it helps add to the tension of the episode and still adds to the bigger picture of the world outside Annville.
Slovis to me is the MVP of the episode. His direction feels far smoother and defined than Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s of the pilot. From the opening back in 1881 with the fantastic introduction of the Saint of Killers, (perfectly casted Graham McTavish) it goes. The episode had a true western like feel to it throughout and it did help in making this a far better experience than what we got last time. His movements and placements of the camera are excellent. He’s able to place us in the settings nicely and let’s us absorb it all, even with all the craziness that’s going on around it.
That said, I still don’t care one bit personally for Donnie or anything related to him. It’s a weakness carried over the pilot and all he does this week is help bring in Jackie Earle Haley’s Odin Quincannon. Its a scene that to me kinda adds nothing to the episode and really just serves to make sure he’s involved with the story instead of bringing him in organically.
Arseface does get called a murderer when leaving church, so maybe there could be something there? I still like his use so far, even though I’m still personally having a huge disconnect of perfectly understanding the character while there are still subtitles on screen.
With a more involved and interested Jesse, excellent direction, and promising story progression, Preacher finds itself forgiven for some of its sins, but has a long way to go for full redemption.