Chainsaws and dead Native Americans, pop culture references, and prostitutes: The second episode of Preacher really felt like it was making a statement about what the show it going to be. Namely, it’s going to be weird. You’re going to be confused and you’re going to be grossed out, but you’re also going to smile.
Honestly, there was so much packed into the series’ second episode that it felt like it may become a problem. The avalanche of new characters and odd situations certainly created a danger of things feeling disjointed and insignificant. However, directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg presented everything with such a unique, quirky, and kinetic tone, so even if it’s a bit confusing it’s very hard to not enjoy. From the chainsaw battle to Jesse’s frightening use of his new power, Preacher was once again firing on all cylinders, continuing to set up a much larger world.
And it all started, once again, with something totally out of left field in the episode’s very first scene. Out of nowhere, it’s 1881 and we’re in the old West. A mysterious, quiet cowboy is traveling to save his dying child. Along the way, he runs into some verbose settlers, scalped Native Americans, and eventually, the town of Ratwater—atown that, years later, happens to have a whiskey named after it, whose bottle is emblazoned with a mysterious cowboy silhouette. This mysterious man doesn’t come back for the rest of the episode, but trust me, he’s important and fans of the comic are freaking out.
Someone who oddly wasn’t freaking out this episode is Jesse. We don’t know his reaction to the end of the last episode (where he inadvertently killed a man with his words) but it doesn’t seem to have phased him. He’s performing baptisms and generally embracing his new role as a caring preacher. He even seems to be somewhat forgiving to a man who admits to having bad thoughts about an underage girl. In these scenes, we get a glimpse of Jesse’s dark side, but he holds it back.... at least for a while. As he and Cassidy have a fascinating conversation about their philosophies on life, we get a physical glimpse of the thing inside him (which looks like a viscous, chaotic, piece of almost abstract art.) Despite this, things seem to be mostly okay for our title character.
Jesse’s true self is also in question when Tulip kidnaps him to try and get him on board with her still mysterious plan. “It’s only a matter of time till you’re you all over again,” she says. “Deep down you’re a bad, bad man.” Sounds ominous and probably true. As for how bad Tulip is, it’s still unclear. Obviously, she can kick some ass, but during the kidnapping, she doesn’t tie up Jesse. She just pretends to. It’s a subtle way to show she has power, but doesn’t quite need to use it. Sounds kind of like Jesse, no?
In the vampire section of the episode, Cassidy luckily catches the guys from the end of last week’s episode as they’re trying to cut Jesse’s chest open with a chainsaw to extract Jesse’s power. The result is a cool, gross action scene you have to believe pushes the boundaries of what’s possible on TV. It’s Evil Dead in a church: severed limbs, gaping gun wounds, and a rogue chainsaw all play a part in the intense scene, which results in Cassidy killing the men. Notably, Jesse is passed out throughout the battle, so no one besides Cassidy knows what these guys were about to do. And only the audience knows they first tried, and failed, to extract the power humanely by using a coffee can and by singing “Winkin’, Blinkin’, and Nod.” There are already lots of mysteries on Preacher but these two characters, Fiore and DeBlanc, are the best one.
In the end, after struggling with his power and trying to be good, Jesse says fuck it. He aggressively, dangerously goes after the would-be pedophile and completely erases the girl from his mind, which is actualy terrifying because the pedophile knows a piece of his mind is missing, but he doesn’t know how it happened or what it is. Feeling cocky now, Jesse then goes to the house of an invalid girl whose mother has lost her faith and, just before the credits role, he tells her to open her eyes.
Will those eyes open? We’ll find out next week. But this episode, chaotic and all over the place as it may be, was highly educational. There’s some weird cowboy in 1881. Jesse is trying to be good, but maybe can’t do it. Tulip really wants to get Jesse to relive his past, no matter how much he wants to escape it. Some people really want whatever it is inside Jesse while Cassidy, who is warming up to the preacher, will gladly stop them. And we’ll gladly continue to keep watching. Let’s just hope things get a bit more clear and focused as the show moves ahead.