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...
Jesse Custer is both an easy man to figure out and a complicated one all at the same time, and the show hasn't always done the best job of portraying that inner turmoil. At least tonight's episode peels another layer from his psyche in one of the flashbacks. Having your prayers for your father to die seemingly answered would mess anyone up. The young actor (Dominic Ruggieri) playing Jesse at 10 does a good job conveying his desperation and fear, and before that, the close bond he shares with Tulip. Dominic Cooper gets to show a few added notes of the emotional conflict, especially in his conversation with Cassidy about Eugene before he watches Cass slowly start to barbecue in the sun.
Tulip seems determined to try to keep doing good this week – retrieving a pair of pants that some wayward youngsters stole, cooking dinner for the group – but the pressure of dealing with Jesse and now Cassidy is clearly getting to her. We know she's a powder keg much like the others, but she's also got a built-in fear of abandonment and trust issues the size of the church. But much like everyone else, a lot of her scenes this episode are spent reminding us what we know and not moving things on a whole lot until the end.
As usual with Cassidy, we get a blend of film critique (he's still on an anti-Big Lebowski kick, but at least he appreciates other Coen brothers movies), other pop cultural references (Godfather alert!) and sass, though he's taken on a darker, more emotional tone, especially towards Jesse. No big love triangle revelation this week, but we do get to see him show his true nature to the preacher via a moment in the sun.
The scenes with young Jesse, Tulip and Jesse's dad work well, if only to deepen what we know about their shared pain. Jesse's guilt is a well unlikely to run dry any time soon, and he has plenty about how Tulip was shipped off into the child welfare system and, as mentioned above, how he's still worried that his prayers got his father killed. We're hopeful we might find out more about the mysterious criminals and their connection to Jesse's father, but that might have to wait until next season.
Just a couple of quick scenes for Odin this week, but Jackie Earle Haley chews on them for all he has. Some suspected that Odin was simply carrying out God's will when he shot the Green Acre people, but, as we figured, he was actually just faking it to win the bet with Jesse about the church. And now he's coming for it. In force. Still, even if he doesn't believe in Jesse's power, does he really think Jesse won't just tell his men to march away again, or turn on each other? But that's a question for next week.
As the past keeps on coming back to haunt Jesse, He Gone, the episode's title, could refer to several things. We haven't yet had the revelation of an errant deity (assuming the show ends up using that particular major strand from the comic), so in this episode at least it encompasses the fact that Eugene really does appear to have been sent straight to the hot place down below, that Jesse's father left his life when he was 10 and that Jesse himself has, emotionally speaking, gone somewhere new. He's still convinced there's a plan for it all (if he's on a mission from God, will we eventually get to hear what Cassidy thinks of The Blues Brothers?), but that is starting to tear him away from everyone who even slightly authentically cares about him. This one is all about putting cracks in a group that had barely had time to start gathering, and while there's some good drama to be had in Jesse, Tulip, Cassidy and Emily arguing, you do have to wonder about the chronic inability of these people to tell each other anything ever. True, the main three are dealing with big problems between them, and it has been the style of the show for them to bottle up their issues (even given how much Cassidy likes to flap his lips), but the bubbling tension still has a tinge of the inauthentic. After last week's burst of activity, it's rather business as usual for the show, lots of people chewing over issues you rather feel should have moved on by now. Tulip says it best when she admits that her mission to get revenge on Carlos is "on pause". Still, at least a couple of the bigger plot lines – the Cassidy/Tulip/Jesse dynamic and the threat from Quincannon – start rumbling along a little quicker again. Not a great outing for Preacher, then, but hopefully laying the groundwork for more.
Highlight: The dinner table conversation.
Lowlight: Seeing Eugene's empty room. He's not there, get it? GET IT?
Kill of the week: Jesse's father dies again in flashback. And we suppose you could count the poor cows Odin is listening to via Slaughterhouse FM. Apocalypse Cow?
Quote of the week: “Your God, if he even exists, is nothing more than a muppet who smells his own farts!” – Cassidy, not helping matters when it comes to his flailing friendship with Jesse.
MVP: Cassidy, for adding barbecue to the menu.
Random thought: Tulip should not enter The Great British Bake Off.
Airing on AMC Sunday nights in the US, Preacher is available weekly on Amazon Prime Mondays in the UK.