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“Preacher” Recap: Jesse (Slowly) Deals With the Aftermath of Last Week’s Explosive Ending

by  in TV News Comment
“Preacher” Recap: Jesse (Slowly) Deals With the Aftermath of Last Week’s Explosive Ending

SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers from the latest episode of AMC’s “Preacher” (and the Vertigo comic series it’s adapted from) follow.


Maybe it was naive to think that Jesse Custer would start tonight’s episode by atoning for last week’s “Preacher.” Of course he wasn’t going to plunge headfirst into the bowels of Hell to find Eugene. After all, it’s his arrogant (and incorrect) fixation on goodness that led him to condemn Eugene in the first place. Rather than try to save the damaged teenager, he spends a great deal of “He’s Gone” (more than a few meanings in that title) ignoring the issue, then blaming him.

When Cassidy confronts Jesse about what he’s done, the preacher’s immediate response is about how Eugene wasn’t as good a person as people think; how he blew off the top half of Tracy Loach’s skull when she wouldn’t return his advances, then shot himself. Quick side note: I’m not sure if I believe that story because a) He’d probably be in jail, or at least run out of Annville if he did something like that, and b) I just can’t see Eugene — even in a former life — being murderous over romantic rejection. I could very well be wrong, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some kind of coverup or if his act of violence was actually a mutual suicide attempt.

Either way, Cassidy rightfully points out that it’s Jesse’s job to help those who have sinned; to not give up on people like Eugene and especially not condemn them to eternal damnation. Wanting to test his friend’s self-righteousness, he reveals his vampirism by walking directly into the sun to see if Jesse will extinguish him. He doesn’t, or at least we don’t see him do so. Even if he did, Cassidy’s already fully ignited within seconds.

I’m sure the Irish vampire isn’t dead, but that isn’t the point. The point is that Jesse’s only good to people when it’s easy, but never when it requires work outside of his Genesis power and never when it counts. As gets revealed in a series of flashbacks, this stems from not being able to save Tulip from getting hauled away to a foster home as a kid, then later not being able to save his own father from getting killed (by swamp thugs Jody and T.C. from the comics, perhaps?) in the middle of the night. To make matters worse, little Jesse actually prayed for his dad’s death since he wouldn’t keep Tulip in the house.

Ironically, it’s his desperation to save people as an adult — this idea of giving a quick-fix to someone’s soul no matter the cost — that’s resulted in his spiritual apathy. Jesse’s afraid of what he’d really need to do steer someone towards redemption. He’s afraid because he knows he doesn’t have it in him. He’s been too traumatized.

If you can’t tell from all the rambling above, “He’s Gone” is big on character exploration, but not on plot. While that makes for a thoughtful episode, all of the pontificating is also somewhat of a comedown after last week’s kick in the groin. As important as Jesse’s descent will undoubtedly be down the line, it also feels a little unfair to send Eugene to Hell, then not send someone down there to try and get him immediately afterwards. Judging from the preview, it looks like Jesse will get there next week, and let’s hope he does it sooner rather than later. The longer he waits to act, the harder it will be to save Eugene, not to mention himself.

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