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PREACHER Review: The Bloody Battle of “El Valero”

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

Any lingering fears I had that Preacher was still somehow spinning its wheels have been all but obliterated by “El Valero.” This week’s episode finds things getting hotter than ever in Annville, thanks to a round of Molotov cocktails Jesse serves Odin Quincannon and his Civil War-obsessed Meat & Power boys.

We finally learn the origin of Quincannon’s misanthropy here. And it’s entirely in keeping with the black humor and cartoon ultraviolence that’s become Preacher‘s hallmark. It turns out that the meat mogul’s entire family was killed when the cable carrying them up an icy mountain on a ski trip snapped, hurtling them into oblivion. The image of their remains after they’re shipped to Quincannon’s office in coffin-sized crates is alternately gruesome and hilarious. As is much of this episode. From the battle between the QMP platoon and a drunken Jesse, which ends with someone getting their penis blown clean off, to the sight of Donny sticking his head in his car’s trunk to fire his revolver and deafen himself to Jesse’s power.

But Jesse’s own anguish over unintentionally sending Eugene’s soul to hell remains the crux of the story, as well as his ever-evolving feelings about Genesis. In just a few short weeks he’s gone from the shock of learning what’s inside him, to his decision to keep it there, to his joy at finding what he can do with it, to his horror at damning Eugene, to his desire to have Genesis removed, to his confusion over learning it can’t be removed, to his determination to use it to confront God himself. Not a bad buffet for any actor to eat at, and Dominic Cooper takes full advantage of the meal to showcase what’s turned out to be a most impressive range.

Tulip, meanwhile, lays low this week, surfacing only for a subplot in which she feeds a stray dog (with whom she finds herself identifying) to an offscreen Cassidy. It’s the first episode in which Joseph Gilgun’s fan-favorite character hasn’t appeared. But I’m confident that once Jesse’s intentions regarding the Almighty become clearer, the show will forge an ongoing alliance between Tulip, Cassidy, and Jesse that gives the Texan wildflower and the Irish vampire a steadier amount of screen time.

That’s assuming, of course, that Jesse finally brings an end to his feud with Quincannon. But where does the control room we see at this episode’s end enter into all this? And just whose side will Emily end up on when all is said and done? (She can’t side with the mayor! I won’t allow it!) With only two episodes left in this season, it’s likely we’ll get some answers soon. And if those two episodes are as good as the three we’ve had since this season’s midpoint, the wait for season 2 is gonna be… well, Hell.

Preacher 2

Preaching to the Choir

— “It’s all meat! I’ve looked! There’s nothing else!”

— Did the scene of the QMP employees launching their attack on the church and then quickly retreating in terror remind anyone else of a similar scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail?

— I realize that the “Eugene” we see in this episode is one who exists only in Jesse’s tortured mind, but that makes his understated line about how he crawled out of Hell–“It’s not that far”–no less chilling.

— “You washed my sneakers?”

— I guess Cassidy’s less likely to get into trouble if he’s only downing brewskies now… Sorry. Too soon?

— “What the hell’s a food court?!”

— Has there been a more damning indictment of small-town evangelical hypocrisy yet on this show than the sight of Annville’s citizens picnicking while they watch their husbands and fathers prepare to slaughter a preacher and steal his church? I can’t help but wonder how this show plays in the Bible Belt.

— “Oh, here’s your penis.”

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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