AMC hasn’t been afraid to use explicit gore since The Walking Dead became their highest rated show. Yet, it’s rare that said use of gore has more than a passive affect of killing a zombie or shooting anyone in the head. This week, Preacher kicked itself off with a simple yet powerful use of gore. In a flashback, the entire Quincannon family fall to their death while on a skiing trip. Odin, horrified, asks for the help of Jesse’s father in distinguishing between the entrails of a cow and his own daughter. Though Father Custer tries to help, it just leads Quincannon to a rage, ordering Custer to denounce God. This is revealed to be a full glimpse of what Jesse previously saw in the episode “Monster Swamp,” giving us a full grasp of how young Jesse first became weary of the church before becoming our titular Preacher. There was no explanation for Odin’s attitudes in the comics, but Preacher‘s decision to give him one doesn’t necessarily remove any mystique. It’s another example of the show revamping the comics and giving us a bit more to chew on. Even if it is cow and human intestines.
Jesse himself has a solid amount to chew on himself. As Odin’s forces move towards bulldozing Custer’s church, our Preacher defends his property with brutal merciless force. Most of “El Valero” is set around the attempted siege, which is admittedly disappointing in as much as it gives Tulip and Cassidy little to no involvement. They are only featured in a relatively unneeded subplot involving the former getting a dog to feed the latter. But the huge spotlight is on Jesse, dealing with the direct threat of Odin and his inner turmoil over his actions against Eugene. Preacher plays with its reality in a relatively loose fashion this week compared to others. Jesse flops between seeing Eugene as an imaginary guilt albatross while also literally shooting someone’s dick off. It’s a tough balancing act, but the dark humor and emotional turn over plays pretty well on Dominic Cooper‘s face and breathy delivery. It makes his decision to remove the presence of Genesis more believable, even if it’s laid on pretty thick.
After exhausting most every opposition option, we see a return of DeBlanc and Fiore, who Preacher Custer has summoned to remove Genesis. They try the non-confrontational angle of playing their ballad “Winken Blinken and Nod” and it initially works. Jesse is free of Genesis and seems like he might be rid of their interactions. But it’s not so simple. Moments later, Genesis hops right back into Custer. Fiore and DeBlanc looks frustrated, but note to each other that the only course of action left is Plan B. Jesse, befuddled by all of this, stands in shock. It mirrors the audience, wondering why we got this sequence that does little to nothing in advancing Preacher‘s plot. It’s like a better version of the first four episodes, actually using the idea of the character to introduce aspects of the universe in an engaging fashion. It’s Jesse’s crisis of identity and faith mixed into one disturbing connotation: Jesse now is given the true power of the faith, but can the main wield such power without being corrupted?
It’s not enough to make this stand shoulder to shoulder with either previous episode, but “El Valero” at least keeps clever ideas in play. Hell, we get something interesting with Donnie for once in Preacher‘s history as he works around the nature of Jesse’s powers. Deafening himself by shooting near his ear is a blackly comic way of getting close to Jesse and breaking Odin’s siege. It gives more reason as to why Donnie has progressed as much as he has in Odin’s eyes, more so than any previous Preacher episode has. “El Valero” also leaves us on another cliffhanger note as Jesse promises to given Odin the land he’s fought for under one condition: let Jesse keep the church for another Sunday so that God himself can be called out to the congregation. It’s a circular form of Preacher addressing the tangible nature of truth. Odin wants hard results, Jesse is searching for any kind of truth. Their conflicts of a criss cross in the form of Custer using his powers to get ultimate results. Only two episodes of Preacher remain this season, so hopefully it can stick the landing.
Rating: (3.5 / 5)