Various elements of the episode will be discussed in this review, so beware spoilers. And watch the episode before you read on, lest you face the wrath of the almighty. Or Cassidy...
Putting aside the fact that Jesse's father has changed from an aged-up Dominic Cooper in the pilot to Nathan Darrow here, we're digging once more into Jesse's past. And it's interesting to see where he came from, even if the scene of him receiving a beating from his father comes straight out of Difficult Father-Son Relationships 101. But it's good grounding for what we know about the man he'll grow into, straying off the righteous path and now trying to make amends (albeit blundering along with his newfound powers.) You do have to wonder why Jesse doesn't make more of Cassidy's talk of the agents/clones/whatevers trying to use a chainsaw on him, but we suppose he was blackout wasted and the vampire has a history of spinning tall tales. We'd also assume his power means Jesse is a little more open to the idea of weird things happening in Annville.
Finally, what to make of his confrontation with Odin Quincannon, with whom he has history? Two great scenes, in the office and the church, give Cooper and Jackie Earle Haley a lot to do, and their connection is sketched efficiently. Now we have to wonder about the fallout from Jesse using his power on the man...
Fiore and DeBlanc
A few good scenes again with the agents – or, as they now tell Cassidy, angels – this week. Their matter-of-factitude in the face of mission complications continues to generate laughs and it's entertaining to see how they're not always on the same page when it comes to talking to others. Their steampunk tech style also continues with the phone, presumably their link to Heaven, which ominously starts ringing at the end. That can't be good. Our only complaint would be Fiore's moment with the vending machine, which plays out a little too long to hold its momentum.
As with Jesse, we get more of Tulip's backstory (she pops up in Jesse's flashback), but also learn that her mother worked at the Toadvine brothel and that owner Mosie (Frances Lee McCain) treats her like a surrogate daughter. Once again, Tulip shows her mettle by calling the Quincannon employees out on their behaviour (when even their boss won't – see lower down the review). She provides the funniest moment of the episode when she storms into one of the brothel rooms, mistakes Cassidy pumping away for one of the Quincannon boys and shoves him out the window. Of course, we know he's not going to die – hello, vampire? – but Tulip doesn't, and he milks it for all it's worth.
Talking of everyone's favourite vampire, he has a few choice moments, including his bartering session with the angels. We don't think he'd really sell Jesse out (he seems to be more interested in the conning the duo so he can indulge in sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll), but you do have to worry about what he'll do when the chips are down. Also, we learn this week that you do not leave that man anywhere near a free supply of blood.
We experience several sides of Quincannon this week. There's his powerful business tycoon side, shown off wonderfully as he proves to Mayor Person (Ricky Mabe) who's really in charge and has a life-altering (at least, we think) chat with Jesse. Haley really inhabits this part, this little man who commands a business and respect in the town, but is seemingly a corrupt troll with his own agenda. And little concern for what his idiot staff get up to on their off-hours.
Lucy Griffiths' Emily has had to wait for more character development beyond the fact that she's a loyal church volunteer, holds a candle for Jesse (but treats him more like family) and is a harried single mother. There's some refreshing, honest steel in her reminding her apparent sex buddy, and occasional babysitter, Person that they sleep together, but won't be together. While she doesn't quite stand up to Jesse about getting the TV for his raffle idea, there’s a hint of pressure building there. And pressure always finds a way out.
Monster Swamp (do they mean the place Lacey falls at the start?) continues its steady pace and builds on the mythology. Now we know what Fiore and DeBlanc are, and we know what they'll do to complete their mission. Jesse's growing use of his powers will have big ramifications down the line and Cassidy and Tulip are still the most entertaining elements in the show. On the downside, that means that Jesse still comes across as less compelling – even with Cooper and the writers' efforts – and sometimes the tone can meander. The comic book had Jesse and co. on the road already; the series could soon feel like it's lagging behind, even if they don't go on a mission to (not from) God.
Highlight: Jesse vs. Odin. Is he actually a convert now? And might that make him even more dangerous?
Lowlight: The gratuitous scene with the prostitutes and the Quincannon boys, no matter how much it led to fun with Tulip and Cassidy.
Kill of the week: Poor Lacey, who is part of that first scene and falls down a giant hole.
Quote of the week: "I'm a big believer in live-and-let-live, but when someone comes up on one of my friends brandishing a bloody chainsaw, I'm gonna have issues." – Cassidy, explaining one of his personal attitudes.
MVP: We're sharing it between Cassidy and Tulip this week.
Random thought: Fiore and DeBlanc could have a spin-off web series where they review motel rooms.
Airing on AMC Sunday nights in the US, Preacher is available weekly on Amazon Prime Mondays in the UK.