Preacher – Ep. 4 “Monster Swamp”: A Review

Posted: 06/23/2016 in Uncategorized

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Well, this week took a step back in my opinion, at least as regards Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) current vessel for the “God force”. Honestly, his behavior in this ep was just dim. John Gilgun’s “Cassidy”, however, is magnetic and the scene stealing star of the show. He is truly what makes it worth watching. Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga) is almost equally engaging. My opening salvo delivered, on to my review.

We open with semi-clad women being chased in a field by men with guns, apparently hunting them. This assumption is quickly clarified, but is no less disturbing up to and including the end result of one woman’s accidental death. We discover that this hunt was for fun, featuring local workmen pursuing the brothel’s ‘employees’ with paint ball guns in a grand guignol game. This practice is more or less endorsed by the brothel owner and slaughter house magnate and town’s greatest employer, Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley).  His literal soapbox speech is galling and indifferent. Haley’s performance is profoundly disaffected and detached. He plays Quincannon as immensely disenchanted and cruel. Haley’s got the chops to make this hateful character incredibly watchable. The scene in which he demonstrates his disapproval with commensurate “look away now” is jarring and riddled with contempt. Odin is an obstreperous, nasty old man.  A later moment in which we learn he has a not unpleasant history with Jesse is a cool plot point.

Jesse’s treatment of Emily (Lucy Griffiths) is a major sticking point. His absolute dismissal of Cassidy’s counsel is just silly. In the first case, he appears at her home with a plan to bring up church numbers. She is clearly tired from her numerous jobs and responsibilities. He charges her with picking up a big ticket raffle item even though she is looking after her three children and is obviously overrun. Equally obvious is her love for him; obvious to all but Jesse. His reaching out to her in what looks like a potential kiss is simply him removing a colorful band-aid from her neck. Her disappointment is palpable. He speaks of being a good Christian but his behavior toward his loyal right hand, church-wise, is anything but. His telling her he has a plan to bring numbers up however is filled with awful promise. The revelation that Emily is engaged in a “friends with benefits” relationship with the mayor, with the acknowledgement that she will never truly be with him, surprises. It give further evidence that Jesse really doesn’t see what is going on around him as he initially pushes her to be “available” to the mayor, as her husband has been deceased for three years. With the mayor she is partly available but tragically waits for Jesse. Griffiths’ put upon performance is powerful.

Cassidy’s advising him later that two men were looking for him is completely dismissed as Jesse is focussed solely on maintaining and expanding his congregation.  The one hundred nineteen year old vampire tells him at length that he needs to get out of town until they can figure things out. Jesse assumes Cassidy is “on something” and takes none of his proclamations seriously. In Jesse’s defense, Cassidy is nigh incomprehensible the majority of the time, though the assurance that he is “his mate” is solid. He has the Preacher’ s back even if the man of God is too self-centered to grasp what is at play.

So with all this negative; was this ep salvageable? I have to give a resounding yes purely due to Gilgun’s performance, particularly his hotel meeting with the two men/angels. His note and paper act “to get it all down” is hilarious. Whoever these agents are, they are not bright. Cassidy is crass and outrageously wild but absolutely no fool. He is a master manipulator and with prey as dim as this duo, he manipulates well. His speech on Jesse’s weaknesses and subsequent scene in which he enjoys the spoils of his chicanery is just awesome. The duo of Fiore (Tom Brooke) and DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef) are seeming half-wits charged with bringing in whatever force/creature inhabits Jesse. The knowledge that their mission is not endorsed by the almighty allows for some comedic moments with a phone in their hotel room.

Cassidy’s path intersects with Tulip’s in a pretty outstanding way. She is furious after the recovery of the dead prostitute is handled so disrespectfully with her body hanging from a crane as they hose the effluent off her. Tulip’s is a righteous fury as the follow up ‘service’ by the brothel’s employees is awful. One can see the anger build in her as the life of this woman, Lacy, amounted to so little. We learn of her mother’s employment at the location which informs Tulip’s friendship of sorts with the owner/hostess, Mosie (Francis Lee McCain). Negga’s performance is taut. We know she will do something we are just not certain as to what .She does not disappoint. Her explosive action leads to a John being thrown out a window and getting his neck pierced with a piece of glass. The results would have been fatal, were it not for the fact that the John she mistook for Lacy’s earlier pursuer and unwitting cause of her death, turns out to be Cassidy. A cab ride to the hospital with a frantic Tulip begging God to save the man she has injured, yields to yet another manipulation on Cassidy’s part and a later actual outing of what he is to her. The results of this encounter stand to be epic and might create the bridge necessary to reach Jesse.

Jesse’s meeting with Odin is interesting and his offer to get the old man in his church for Sunday plays well. The two spar over the notion of an afterlife and when Jesse makes no headway, he offers the added temptation of relinquishing a piece of land from his family that Quincannon still desires. The series is thus far very much a study of faith and knowing one’s self. With the preacher’s bold move and enforcement of his will in church to get his way, the notion of what he truly might have unleashed stands to be disturbingly profound. Preacher is still quite watchable but not quite outstanding as yet.

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