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PREACHER Review: Chosen, but for What?

Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of Preacher! Proceed with caution. For reals, if you haven’t yet watched “The Possibilities,” we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.

There’s no greater mark of a show’s quality than confidence. And there’s no better indicator of confidence than the grace note. The little tucked-away moment that, whether scripted or not, has nothing to do with plot and everything to do with everything else that makes a show great. Preacher is packed with such moments.

Take, for example, the scene in this week’s episode in which Jesse is sitting in Tulip’s car, considering whether or not to remain with her on their mission of revenge against the scumbag who ran out on them during the robbery that wound up ruining their relationship. A lesser show would have Tulip off camera as Jesse sits there, with perhaps a song on the soundtrack telegraphing every emotion he’s feeling. Yet Preacher lets the scene breathe, ironically by making it busier, showing Tulip off to the side losing her shit at a hatchback that’s pulled into the station. It takes the weight of the moment off of Jesse’s shoulders, and makes his ultimate decision–to set off on his own–that much more satisfying. As a bonus, we get to spend just a little more time with the show’s always watchable leading lady.

Ruth Negga continues to exhibit solid chemistry with Dominic Cooper. (On a side note, the two dated in real life, so they, like their characters, share a history.) While she’s a free-wheeling spitfire, contrasting nicely with his brooding, there’s an ever-present heartache in her eyes. It’s a testament to Negga’s acting ability that although she looks radically different from her original comic-book incarnation, she’s already as welcome a presence as any on the show. There’s some indication here, when she tells Jesse that his daddy’s dead, that she also initially knows more than comic Tulip. Cassidy, meanwhile, adheres more closely to his counterpart on the page, and displays even greater charm thanks to Joseph Gilgun’s performance. I’m starting to think his casting could rank among the greatest in funnybook adaptations. Wickedly different, but in the same league of sheer perfection as Christopher Reeve’s Superman, Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin, or Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark.

Hey, while we’re drawing page-to-screen comparisons (and, let’s face it, it’s almost impossible not to if one has read the book on which Preacher is based)… Cassidy’s getting a stronger narrative arc than he did in the comic, and a whole lot more humor. After killing and burying the assassins who targeted Jesse last week, he’s dismayed to find they’re alive and well; and cheekily sending their coffin right back to him. But he’s delighted to discover Jesse possesses a gift that’s filled with “Possibilities”, even if he learns about it by slamming himself against a wall. The heavenly hitmen here reveal that they are in fact angels, and that they seek only to retrieve the entity that’s inhabiting Jesse. It’s doubtful, however, that their intentions are noble given their preferred means of retrieval: coffee cans and chainsaws. Cassidy has a big heart, but he’s much too willing to take them at face value when he says he’ll speak with Jesse on their behalf; especially after they had zero problem trying to kill his buddy last week.

As for Jesse’s “Word of God”… “The Possibilities” finds the holy man going through the expected range of emotions as he comes to terms with his newfound power. At first excited, horrified, and delighted, he here reaches a stage of acceptance. It’s fitting that it takes another threat from Donny to help him see the light. Their first confrontation helped him rediscover his capacity for violence, while this week’s more deadly encounter sees him finding his capacity for mercy.

It’s an important lesson for any man who’s determined to inspire as much by example as word. Plus it makes Preacher as much a coming-of-age story as a tale of personal (and metaphysical) redemption. “I get it now,” says Jesse to himself as he spares Donny’s life. I’m a little uncertain if he’s realized exactly why he was chosen by Genesis. But he’s at least now secure in the knowledge that he was chosen, and for what he believes is a particular purpose. The question that remains is will his own renewed faith in himself prove justified? And, if so, will it align him with or against the forces of Heaven?

Preacher 2

Preaching to the Choir

— So Cassidy dislikes The Big Lebowksi but likes Justin Bieber? Never let it be said the man isn’t an iconoclast.

— “Jesus is coming… Run.”

— I love that Cassidy’s idea of going incognito is to wear a coolie hat and a Man-with-No-Name poncho.

— “Losing Cruise: Emotion Impossible.”

— We don’t see any more of Graham McTavish’s ominous horseman this week. But Jackie Earl Haley’s meat magnate makes a return appearance. No wonder he’s creepy enough to order Danny around–the sonuvabitch gets off on the sounds of his cattle getting slaughtered.

— “I think first thing is we take a hammer and break every bone in his body. Then maybe battery acid… Fritos?”

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).

Images: AMC

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