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Review: ‘Preacher’ Brings Us Jesse At His Worst

Season 1, Episode 7, 'He's Gone,' takes a dark turn.

Dominic Cooper, Lucy Griffiths and Joseph Gilgun in "Preacher."

Dominic Cooper, Lucy Griffiths and Joseph Gilgun in “Preacher.”

Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: ‘Preacher’ Pairs Bonkers Violence With Some Big Secrets

Say The Word

Why do all these people love Jesse Custer? As the non-titular main characters gathered for dinner together towards the end of “He’s Gone,” each seeking to secure the affections of the morose, preoccupied preacher at the head of the table, this was the question that loomed largest.

Tulip’s affections make the most sense, since she and Jesse grew up together in one of those cliche star-crossed romances where Jesse’s dad didn’t approve of Tulip’s family. But then Tulip’s entire character is defined as “loves Jesse Custer,” so she at least better have a good reason. Meanwhile, why are Emily and Cassidy so drawn to him? Throughout “Preacher,” Jesse’s been sullen at best, and an irredeemable asshole at worst. And he’s at his worst throughout “He’s Gone.”

Jesse spends most of “He’s Gone” knowing he sent Eugene to literal Christian hell and not much caring. I get giving your hero a low point to come back from, but this is so despicable a move (on top of Jesse’s abuse of his powers from the last several episodes, all in the name of God’s plan) that it’s tough to walk it back by the end. When Odin Quincannon’s men marched on the church in the episode’s final moments, I thought, “Sure, take the church. Jesse lost that bet fair and square when his attempt at literal mind control failed.” When you don’t care when your main villain is about to square off with your protagonist, something’s gone wrong. (Oh, and if you’re still wondering what’s up with Quincannon, either in regards to Jesse’s powers or to the quadruple homicide he committed, no answers are forthcoming.)

Jackie Earle Haley in "Preacher."

Jackie Earle Haley in “Preacher.”

Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Still, the episode at least tries to give Jesse a reason for his behavior, finally revealing his father John’s death in full, killed by assailants whose faces we never see (but who share Jesse’s distinct tattoo) after Jesse prays for his father’s death. Jesse’s seemingly still consumed with guilt over this moment, although one would think a mature adult would realize that a child’s prayers are incapable of summoning gun-wielding madmen, but then I’m not particularly religious. Jesse seriously needs a Robin Williams intervention tout de suite. At least Jesse decides not to use his power on his entire congregation as he was intending, but still, that’s literally the least he could do.

And just a quick note about Eugene. It’s established that Jesse can’t make people know things they don’t already know, so how can he command Eugene to go to hell? Wouldn’t Eugene just kill himself and go to hell that way, rather than a magical hell portal opening up beneath his feet or whatever exactly happened? It was a cool cliffhanger at first blush, but it doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny.

Tulip Does Cool Stuff

She tells Jesse he’s a dick and walks out on him, which is her smartest move to date. Of course, before that she still refers to Jesse as her boyfriend and messes up cooking dinner so she winds up feeling inferior to Emily to continue their tiresome rivalry for a wildly undeserving suitor. But hey, at least she ends strong!

Nathan Darrow, Dominic Ruggieri and Ashley Aufderheide in "Preacher."

Nathan Darrow, Dominic Ruggieri and Ashley Aufderheide in “Preacher.”

Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Most Bonkers Moment

No multi-body angel massacre this episode, but Cassidy does finally come clean to Jesse about being a vampire after some needling from Tulip. See, while Cassidy proclaims that he’s Jesse’s best friend, Tulip realizes that Jesse’s the sort of uptight jerk who wouldn’t be cool with Cassidy being a vampire, and immediately calls Cassidy out for not telling him. So Cassidy heads outdoors with Jesse, tosses him a fire extinguisher, and exposes himself to the sun. His fate is unclear, but Joseph Gilgun is second-billed in the credits, so I wouldn’t hold my breath. This isn’t just a test of Jesse’s loyalty, though, it’s a test of his character, since Cassidy has reason to doubt it.

This Week In Backstories

It turns out Cassidy witnessed the whole “sending Eugene to hell” thing and wants to convince Jesse to undo it however he can. Note to Jesse: when the drug-addicted vampire is the voice of reason? Yikes. Jesse counters that maybe Eugene deserves his fate, and finally tells Cassidy (and us) about Eugene’s tragic story: after Tracy Loach rebuked his advances, he shot her and then himself. And yeah, that’s terrible, but Eugene seems to have genuinely repented, so Jesse’s going with a real Old Testament punishment here. Hey Jesse, maybe be less of a dick.

Grade: C

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