NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “Preacher” are present in this review
Preacher really let itself off the chain this week, compensating for last week’s drearier, horror-focused direction with an especially fun, brilliantly insane episode this week. “Sundowner” started delving a bit deeper into the show’s supernatural angle, namely by finally explaining the power that’s found its way to Jesse, while also showing off the business side of Heaven in a way that was both intense and funny to behold.
The episode actually begins before the proper conclusion of last week’s episode, “South Will Rise Again”, with Jesse having met with DeBlanc and Fiore in the diner. The two angels are vague about Jesse needing to surrender his abilities, but Jesse naturally exploits them, leading to Fiore spilling that the power inside Jesse is Genesis, a power birthed from the unholy love shared between an angel and a demon. DeBlanc and Fiore are charged with being its custodians, and are on Earth illegally to retrieve it, after it somehow got loose, and bonded with Jesse. This pretty much falls exactly in line with the Vertigo source comics, but it’s still cool to get some answers on just what strange powers have found their way to Jesse in his hour of need.
The episode really soared in the following sequence as well, when DeBlanc and Fiore get targeted by a Seraphim, an angel charged with keeping the peace in Heaven, who is hunting the both of them after they didn’t pick up their holy phone. This results in the show’s most ambitious, large-scale fight sequence to date, and one that also manages to be legitimately funny on top of being exciting. The angels’ power of re-invigoration, which allows them to re-appear in close proximity when they’re ‘killed’, comes into superb focus, leading to a very entertaining opener that has DeBlanc, Fiore and Jesse constantly fighting with the Seraphim, as the angels continually die, and eventually leave a whole mess of bodies on the motel floor. Cassidy even shows up right at the end, though sadly doesn’t participate in the fight for very long.
After all of that nonsense, Jesse is unwilling to give up Genesis however, and this leads into another element that makes this one of Preacher’s best episodes to date; The gradual implication that Jesse is being subtly influenced by the demonic element of Genesis’ power. Jesse uses his abilities to make DeBlanc and Fiore stop following him, then prepares to use his power to forcibly convert his entire church to unflinching love and devotion to God, something that Cassidy quickly questions. The entertaining scenes of Jesse and Cassidy doing things like standing and drinking in their underwear at 10:00 in the morning while their bloody clothes get washed helped to offset the heavy drama and darkness of Jesse’s actions in a very clever way though, and helped the show exceptionally balance cheeky entertainment with a sense of cynicism, which is often when Preacher is at its best.
Speaking of cheeky entertainment, that also got spotlighted in another funny subplot this week, as Tulip goes to Emily’s house to continue tormenting her about her proximity to Jesse. The two eventually fumble their way into a begrudging trust however, when Tulip gets ahold of herself, and tries to help Emily manage her children and perform her church duties. Seeing a more socially awkward side to Tulip was kind of satisfying this week, but what was especially neat was the shocking reveal that Tulip once had a child herself, which she says when Emily understandably doubts Tulip’s ability to look after her kids. Making Tulip more vulnerable could have been tedious, but the show did it well here, especially when Tulip was able to be sympathetic and helpful without abandoning her rough personality. The implication that Cassidy might be feeling his own remorse after learning of Jesse’s history with Tulip also presents some great promise for later, even if it’s only glimpsed briefly before Cassidy is dropped from the episode.
The one subplot that worked to more mixed effect, at least at first, was Eugene’s. Eugene all of a sudden gets a few friends at his school, who just seem to befriend him for no reason, despite all of Annville seemingly fearing and hating Eugene. It might have been better if the show had better explained why these kids suddenly want to hang out with Eugene and set off firecrackers with him, since it’s kind of odd that a hyper-conservative Texas town would suddenly have a random group of seemingly alright children who all of a sudden don’t care about everyone else in town hating this guy.
Fortunately, the subplot had a fantastic end result that made the questionable early stretch worth it, as Eugene comes to Jesse, right as Jesse seems most drunk on power, and asks him to take back the forgiveness of Mrs. Loach, since it needs to be earned, not given to him. The ensuing argument is an excellent moment, as Eugene becomes the voice of reason that Jesse no longer wants to hear, ironically demonstrating a greater understanding of God’s will than even Jesse, with his divine abilities. The argument ending with Jesse accidentally warping Eugene to Hell was a great finisher for the episode too, as was the mayor falsely claiming that the green group’s reps that Odin killed were actually killed in a traffic accident, after avoiding their follow-up calls for the entire episode. Trouble’s certainly brewing now!
Preacher’s had a pretty great debut season so far, but, “Sundowner” was definitely the show’s best episode since the especially awesome pilot. The twisted, yet fun supernatural element of the series was showcased incredibly well this week, and the idea of forming a shaky friendship between Emily and Tulip was also pretty inspired. The most enjoyable element though was seeing Jesse gradually fall victim to his own powers, to the point where one of Annville’s most good-natured citizens ended up paying a high price for it. Will this sober Jesse enough to debate giving up Genesis? Probably not, but considering the way that this week’s episode ended, both Jesse and Mayor Person are going to have some big messes to try and clean up next week!
- Amazing and hilarious opening fight scene
- Emily and Tulip becoming begrudging, unlikely friends
- Jesse and Eugene's heated conflict, and the consequences
- The early parts of Eugene's subplot are a bit faulty