Preacher

Eugene’s gone, and that ain’t good. That pretty much sums up this week’s episode of Preacher, which followed last week’s slam-bang action thriller with a deep breath episode that provided some more backstory on the relationship between Tulip and Jesse, while also showing that Jesse’s power may have limits. The obvious message is straight out of Superman and Spider-man: with great power comes great responsibility.

This week’s recap:

*** We flash back to last week, when Jesse’s frustrated “Go to Hell, Eugene,” utterance seems to have sent the puckish boy to that place of eternal torture. That bothers the, er, hell of out of Cassidy, who sees it as a sign that Jesse’s power is out of control. But the Preacher himself is not yet ready to give up on things, noting that Eugene was not an innocent and may have even deserved to be banished, since better men than he have been consigned to the fiery pit.

*** Tulip seems still determined to win back Jesse. She’s attending his church sermon, and cooking a processed dinner for him and his team. We see in flashback the roots of their match. It seems that Jesse’s family briefly took over guardianship of Tulip, whose mother was in jail and uncle a hopeless drunk. But the girl’s willfulness led to a fateful decision by Jesse’s father – she would be better off in foster care. As she’s taken away by the state, Jesse trails helplessly behind, and when he questions his father as to why she had to go, his answer is that she is an O’Hare, a name that means trouble is inevitable.

*** That night, young Jesse has a different focus in his nightly prayers – he asks God to kill his father for sending Tulip away. His prayer contains a passion that has rarely been seen in his prior requests.

*** Back to the present. That Sunday in church, Jesse has an overflow crowd anxious to hear the word of God. But the Preacher declines to use his power of persuasion to convert the souls, giving them merely a listless “serve God” as his message. He’s troubled by the Eugene situation, and that’s later reflected in a tension-ridden dinner with Emily, Cassidy, and Tulip. With a few harsh words, Jesse manages to drive them all off. It’s lonely being a powerful being, and the unforeseen consequences he was warned of seem to be weighing heavily on him.

*** Cassidy has been trying to get Jesse to talk about what happened to Eugene, but it’s all in vain. So he tries one last, desperate tactic – he takes off his shirt, tossing Jesse a fire extinguisher. As a vampire, he can’t withstand the sun for long. As Cassidy bursts into flames, Jesse stares at his flaming corpse, but apparently doesn’t act on extinguishing it.

*** One of the reasons why Jesse is so deeply disturbed is that he’s guilt-ridden over causing his father’s death. Shortly after invoking his prayer for his father’s demise, a visitor to their home beats up his father. With Jesse watching, the father is forced to kneel with a gun to his head, but given some last words to his son to be strong. Jesse wails that he’s the cause of this, since he asked for his father’s death, but he gets his wish, as the unseen stranger pulls the trigger on dear old dad.

*** Eugene’s status as a missing person has his father, the local Sheriff, asking around. He arrives at the dinner table to inquire, since Eugene was supposed to have visited the Preacher before disappearing. Jesse denies meeting him, but he’s contradicted by Emily, who reminds him that yes, he did meet with the boy. The Sheriff perks up and it looks like there’ll be some ‘splainin’ to do, but then Emily lies and says she saw Jesse leave. Is this her last gasp at becoming Jesse’s girlfriend?  Or is it done out of faith in his mission of salvation for the town?  Either way, she’s dispatched at the ill-fated dinner, told that her belief in the Preacher is “stupid.”  We see that Jesse has finally snapped, though – he’s tearing at the floorboards of the church where Eugene was presumably banished, yelling “Come back!”

*** The next day, Odin Quincannon pays Jesse a visit. It seems that there’s two different opinions on the deal they made, one where Jesse asked Odin to visit the church, putting up his property as collateral to convince him. Once there, he was hit with Jesse’s power and told to “Serve God!”  He apparently converted, albeit briefly, but now denies that he’s a Christian, which would mean that Jesse’s power either has a time limit or Quincannon was never really affected. Now he wants Jesse to sign over a quit-claim on the church and its property, but Jesse denies him. “I’ll be back,” Odin tells him. And in the final scene, we see him and an army of employees advancing on the battered church in the middle of the night, all toting shovels and Quincannon astride a bulldozer.