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Preacher: Season 1, Episode 8 – El Valero Review

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★★★★

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

If you were worrying that we were in for another week of Moping Jesse, wipe that idea from your brain. Here we get Action Jesse with just a side order of Guilty Jesse. Sure, you could probably see the Eugene reveal coming from across those wide open Texas (well, New Mexico) fields, but the way it was used still worked well. It made more sense for Jesse not to be able to just call the lad out of hell. The gunplay was certainly fun, even if the rules in Annville seem very odd as to what is legal. Small towns have their own laws, we suppose. And in Preacher's amped up, fantastical landscape, anything is possible, even a preacher defending his church from a pack of marauding meat packers.

Tulip

The Tulip storyline seemed designed to keep you guessing this week, unless you put two and two together and started to wonder whether poor old Brewski was going to come to a bad end. It was an odd subplot to insert into another otherwise active episode, but it worked with that horrific twist at the end. No Cassidy... Well, except for behind a door. We did miss his witty and charismatic input this week, but fair play to the team for keeping him off screen for a week.

Odin Quincannon

Odin was the one who enjoyed the most character development this week – that initial flashback (within a flashback we've already seen: clever!) – brought to light part of what powers this insane lunatic. Family tragedy shocked the faith right out of him and replaced it with and overriding worship of the God Of Meat. Non-existent, perhaps, but no less a drive. The scene of Odin comparing his squashed daughter's intestines with that of a freshly-slaughtered cow had horrific energy, all pushed to the right level by Jackie Earle Haley's manic delivery. And then, during the siege of the church, we see what that tragedy truly wrought: the conniving, calculating killer we know and sometimes love. And in related Quincannon drama, poor dumb Donnie finally figured out how to overcome Jesse's power in the worst way. Anyone else wonder briefly if he'd committed suicide?

Fiore and DeBlanc

After a week off (thanks to Jesse ordering them away with Genesis Speak), the boys are back, and this time they actually manage to get Genesis out of Jesse. For about three minutes, at least. Kudos to the pair for their joint swearing when their charge returns to its favourite host, and for the "bad boy" exchange, which was the episode's top chuckle. Given that their main option didn't work (didn't they bring the chainsaw?), you have to figure that they're going to unleash one of the more famous elements of the comic books, but we'll leave talk of that to if or when it actually happens.


Remember the Alamo! Odin Quincannon certainly does, and it's also where this episode unsurprisingly draws its name. American history buffs might note that El Valero was the mission that became known as the Alamo, site of a prolonged and bloody battle. After a quiet week, it's back to flashes of the crazy world Preacher can deliver and it's good to see the plot finally picking up a little steam. Not that we hated the slow build, it's just that given the shorter seasons for shows like this, the accelerator pedal has to be pushed at some point. In Jesse: action man, Dominic Cooper has the chance to bring more of the character's criminal past out, flashes of which we've only seen sparing before. Here it's more Die Hard in a church, even if Custer can't quite overcome his personal Hans Gruber. Once again poor Lucy Griffiths is left with the scraps, with Emily standing idly by while the Quincannon boys shoot up her beloved church, and Tulip is relegated to a subplot that doesn't seem to be going anywhere until it suddenly and brutally does. Would you really befriend a dog you know you're about to feed to Cassidy? That would seem to be heartbreaking on a level even everyone's favourite criminal isn't quite ready to deal with. Finally, what the hell is up with that pressure gauge? Talk about a long game...

In summary

Highlight: Genesis' return.

Lowlight: Watching Emily and Miles Person stand around in a kitchen while much more interesting things are happening elsewhere.

Kill of the week: RIP Brewski. The televisual embodiment of this sketch.

Quote of the week: "It's a lie, and I'm going to tear it down, peg by peg." - We won't be seeing that Odin Quincannon Tours Historic Churches spin-off series any time soon, then.

MVP: Jesse. Yup, you've earned it this week, buddy.

Random thought: Custer could be up for membership in the A-Team given how creative he got with objects in the church. Wonder if he can build a cabbage gun?

Airing on AMC Sunday nights in the US, Preacher is available weekly on Amazon Prime Mondays in the UK.

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