NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “Preacher” are present in this review
Preacher is continuing to hit consistent home runs in the back half of its debut season, and this week’s episode, “El Valero” kept that streak going very well. An especially exciting and sometimes comically gruesome episode, “El Valero” was all about Jesse’s growing remorse, especially in the face of Odin Quincannon, who is poised to seize his church from him.
Despite the harrowing cliffhanger ending from last week’s episode though, Jesse drives off Odin’s men with little trouble, thanks to some exceptional shooting abilities, and one handy molotov cocktail. Odin mobilizes his forces again, announcing that he plans to build a food court (even if he doesn’t initially know the definition of the term), in the church’s space, which, surprisingly, is all the motivation his thugs need to drag Jesse out of the church. As with the past couple of episodes, the balance between comedy and horror elements was done very well in this week’s episode, with a surprisingly hilarious moment coming when the food court promise pushes one of Odin’s soldiers further than the fleeing company, and results in the guy getting his penis shot off. Only on Preacher!
Speaking of Odin, we got some fantastic insight into his character this week, and the reasoning behind his aggressive atheism, as well as why Jesse’s Genesis-powered commands don’t seem to work on him, or, more accurately, not the way that Jesse intended. It’s revealed in this episode that all of Odin’s family members plunged to their deaths in a ski lift many years back, which was why Odin called John Custer to a meeting shortly before the senior Custer’s murder. Odin held up two intestines, then asked if John could identify which belonged to his daughter, and which belonged to a cow. It was a very unsettling moment, but one that beautifully summed up Odin’s character, and his motivations.
This development also managed to fully justify Odin’s bizarre meat fetish, and why he seems to be so fascinated by animal slaughter. When Jesse confronts Odin towards the end of the episode, Jesse asks why Odin didn’t serve God as Jesse commanded with his Genesis abilities, only to have Odin respond that he is serving God; The God of Meat, or what is clearly tangible and physical in our world. This looks like yet another very unintended side effect to Jesse’s careless use of Genesis, though Jesse does initially appear to convince Odin to grant him one more Sunday with his church, where Jesse promises to bring God Himself into the building, to answer the questions of the clergy, and if His answers don’t satisfy, then Jesse will denounce him right there. Nonetheless however, Jesse is taken away by Sheriff Root in the end, particularly after lying about having found the missing Eugene.
Oh, yes, Jesse went a little bit off the deep end at the start of this episode, and this gave a welcome opportunity for Ian Colletti to make a return to the show for a bit, following Eugene being banished to Hell a couple of episodes back by Jesse. Originally, the show makes it appear as if Eugene dug himself out of Hell, which he claims isn’t that far from the human world, but before long, it’s revealed that Eugene is a hallucination, and a manifestation of Jesse’s remorse over his actions. Still, this was a clever device that nicely highlighted Jesse finally having to face the truth of exactly how much, or how little, he’s accomplished with Genesis, something that even DeBlanc and Fiore point out to him when they finally make their return.
Yes, Jesse finally reverses his command that forces the angels to stay away from him, allowing them to try and take Genesis away with the power of song (thankfully, the chainsaw isn’t brought out again), hoping that he can trade Genesis for Eugene’s safe return from Hell. The angels hint that it may be possible to bring Eugene back, but in the end, they simply seal away Genesis again, and attempt to walk off. Genesis again binds itself to Jesse however, and the two angels just… Leave. Wait, what? That’s it? Not even a hint of trying the chainsaw? I know that DeBlanc and Fiore have their coffee can destroyed from Genesis escaping to re-bond with Jesse, but it seems highly improbable that they’d just give up this easily. When they say there’s nothing else to be done, it somewhat deflates their characters, who we may very well not see again for the rest of the season now.
Lastly, there was a small subplot in this episode, which initially doesn’t seem to be of much consequence, where Tulip decides to adopt a stray dog. It looks like Tulip is just lonely at first, idly tossing a ball with the dog, and later hugging it before bringing it into a secluded room and leaving it there. All you hear afterward are the sounds of something munching on the dog, as it constantly cries out until it suddenly falls silent… It’s a horrifying scene, even if you predictably can’t see the gory details, and it was a nice way to exploit the slow burn of an intentionally dry subplot, to round off with an unexpected revelation; It’s almost certainly Cassidy behind that door, and Tulip just sacrificed an innocent animal to get him back on his feet. Tulip uttering, “God damn you, Jesse” immediately beforehand also seems to confirm this suspicion, since it is Jesse’s fault that Cassidy ended up nearly dead in the first place. Does this mean that Jesse did indeed let Cassidy burn in the previous episode? Damn, that’s cold…
“El Valero” is yet another superb episode of Preacher, and continues to have the show riding high as it starts brilliantly setting up for a very promising season finale in a couple of weeks. The main plots between both Jesse and Odin were executed flawlessly, and while the Tulip subplot wasn’t that interesting at first, the way that it exploited that lack of interest for a shocking, horrifying conclusion was also undeniably fantastic. The one troublesome element was the apparent, unceremonious exit of DeBlanc and Fiore, who seem to have transparently run out of uses for the season now, though on the bright side, we won’t have to suffer through a trite plot of Jesse losing his powers this season. That would be a bore, considering just how high the stakes are for both Jesse’s church and his morality now!
- Jesse facing his guilt with Genesis through Eugene
- Brilliant insight into Odin's psychology and history
- Tulip's shocking lengths to put Cassidy on the mend
- DeBlanc and Fiore are seriously giving up this easily?
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