Preacher – Episode 8 – “El Valero”: A Review

Posted: 07/22/2016 in Uncategorized

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Well damn. This was something. Gun fights, a pretty in depth  review of why Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley) is well…insane…, angels, possible demons and more wildness than one can fit in a tight forty-five minutes. Gone is the slow burn. Here is the madness. My opening delivered – on to my review.

Well. We ended last week with Odin and his Meat Packing civil war re-enactor army making its way to take the church from Jessie Custer (Dominic Cooper). The intimation that Mr. Custer is a former bad-ass is punctuated succinctly with his response to their attempted incursion. This was a mad, mad episode. Jesse now repentant for his actions against Eugene Root aka “Arseface” (Ian Colletti) literally attempts to call him back from hell with his “Genesis” voice. His bringing him “back” was an incredible visual. Eugene’s being constantly parched and referring to hell as “crowded” is delivered matter of fact-ly, making his ordeal seeming more real. His acknowledgement that “it is closer than you think” is somewhat chilling. A few of Odin’s men make it into the church in an attempt to collect on the meat plant owner’s bet with the preacher. Their return somewhat battered to Mr. Q is evidence of Jesse’s physical abilities. One must bear in mind that while administering his response to the men, Jesse has been drinking heavily.

Tulip’s (Ruth Negga) actions in this episode are puzzling at first as we see her going to a dog pound and ‘adopting’ a bloodhound named “Brewski’. We know she isn’t a bad person but this action including playing fetch with the dog for a prolonged period is a little out of character. There is as always a payoff in a big way for her apparent benevolent act. Her later cursing Jesse and a ‘visual queue’ explain her true purpose and open the field to next weeks 9th episode. This segment also restores some faith in Jesse Custer as a decent human being. We’ll leave it at that.

From the little I know (deliberately) about the source material, the series in this ep takes a deep departure from the source material. Even constant readers will therefore be surprised by what direction this series will take. The Odin Quincannon back story was masterful. The story-telling was terse, taut and formidably unsettling. You may not be able to justify the madman that Odin has become but with one brutal sequence, you understand him a heck of a lot more. One might even be given to a mild dose of sympathy. The connection between Odin and the Custer family is clarified fully as prior sequences featured a man shouting behind a door while Rev. John Custer (Nathan Darrow), Jesse’s dad, walks away saying some people cannot be saved. Quincannon shouting “denounce him!” is delivered with heart wrenching fury.

Haley plays OQ as darkly comic, from his standing literally on a box to address his men to his rhapsodic, inspirational speeches, one cannot look away. His counsel that “he’s a preacher, he won’t hurt you” seems short-sighted particularly after one ‘demonstration’ of Custer’s sharp-shooting skills.  His human shield battle tactic is equally gallows humor funny, “I’m not saying you are human shields…” to his front line “army” before continuing with “but you are human and you are shielding…” Donnie Shenck (Derek Wilson) proves mvp in this run with an absolutely crazy, but brilliant counter attack plan to Jesse’s “Genesis” power. Jesse’s reaching out to Deblanc (Anatol Yusef) and Fiore (Tom Brooke) is a desperate move but he trades on their assistance with Eugene. The dull duo’s success in excising Genesis is met by the entity’s own reaction and the acknowledgement that neither of the angels is particularly divine or merciful.

All the Eugene segments are good, including the revelation about who he truly is. His counsels to Jesse are powerfully mitigated by the preacher’s own guilt. An admission from Sheriff Root (W. Earl Brown) demonstrates he is not as hard-hearted and far gone as had been implied. Miles Person (Rick Mabe) throwing in with Odin, presenting his taking the church to build a “food court” as a necessary change casts down any hope we might have for his being decent. His counsel to Emily (Lucy Griffiths) thankfully is equally cast down. She believes in Jesse but she is part of a sad minority. The gathering of the town in the form of a bbq, fun event during Jesse’s stand-off with Odin speaks volumes, echoing the earlier episodes in which he questions who is worth saving.

The face to face with Odin brokered by Donnie yields the answer to Jesse’s question about the old man not falling under his sway and request to “serve God”. Odin’s “I serve the god of meat” is well, insane, but his explanation that he serves “a god that is real” and palpable is not. The response of Jesse who calls this declaration “batshit crazy” is ably parried by Odin’s saying “no more crazy than serving a God who is silent”.  Jesse offers one more play; charging Odin and the town, with giving him one more chance to keep his church as he promises to call down God himself. His declaration of what he will do should He not appear nearly mirrors Odin’s early cry to John Custer. The stage is set and a bizarre end sequence with a man adjusting valves at an industrial sight leaves far more questions than answers.

As Preacher hurtles towards its final two episodes, it unquestionably attains the status of being simply outstanding and well worth your time. It is refreshing to watch a show where you have no earthly idea how things will play out.  Like the man himself while besieged at his church, Preacher stands.

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