Gimme Something to Watch: AMC’s Preacher (Season 1, Episode 8 “El Valero”)

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Spoiler Warning: This post will be loaded with spoilers from the Preacher comics and television show. You can catch up on write-ups for previous episodes of Preacher here, here, here, here, here and here.

Moonknight doesn’t have anything to do with the Preacher series, but he rules.

“Where the hell are your weapons?”

Preacher’s eighth episode, “El Valero” finds Jesse Custer going full Alamo against Odin Quincannon and his henchman. It unpacks more of the backstory surrounding the villainous Quincannon and his motivations, as well as answering questions about several prominent characters. It moves our “hero” closer to the light, despite a series of setbacks. “El Valero” also nails the tone of Garth Ennis’ Preacher, despite wild differences from that story, and seems to be pushing us to Ground Zero, page 1 of the graphic novel.

“El Valero” features a two part cold open. Firstly, we see a flashback to the entire Quincannon clan (minus Odin, due to his “disgusting” job) die in a freak cable car accident at the Vail mountain ski resort. Odin is shipped their corpses, and in his grief, conducts a gruesome experiment.  It reveals what a young Jesse saw in Odin’s office during “Monster Swamp” – Odin comparing a cow’s intestines to that of his deceased daughter in front of John Custer. Odin says they are the same, that it’s all just meat, that he can’t find a soul, and he demands that John go to church the following Sunday and denounce God in front of his whole congregation. It’s a stark and grisly visual: a man in utter shock and despair, holding the intestines in front of a child. It offers us a look into Odin’s psyche, to his atheism, sadism, and diabolical tendencies. It also offers a parallel between Odin and John to the present day situation with Odin and Jesse, which is part two of the same opening.

preacher-episode-107-jesse-cooper-658The present day story picks up where “He Gone” left us, Odin and his men storming a drunken Jesse’s church. Over a series of assaults, Jesse fights off all of Quincannon’s henchman. Jesse defeats the first squad, in hand-to-hand combat, sadly shown off screen. As Quincannon and his men regroup, Jesse pleads with God to return Eugene, even suggesting he will never use The Voice again. I was thrilled to see Jesse pulling Eugene from the dirt floor. Eugene looked as ghoulish as ever covered in dirt, vomiting blood, and begging for a glass of water. He described Hell as “crowded.” Preacher smartly shirked my expectations by revealing Eugene to be a figment of Jesse’s imagination, after Jesse placed a call to Sheriff Root saying Eugene had come home. It’s sad and chilling, the realization that Eugene is still going through the things his apparition is describing.

After, Jesse climbs the bell tower of his church to defend it from a much larger group, shooting at and disarming several men. One of the Meat Men hilariously and obviously exclaims “Not only can Preacher fight, he can shoot!” This week I digress from Zack Handlen who described Clive getting his dick shot off unfavorably. The reason is that, while perhaps being juvenile, a character losing his dick in a gruesome but comical fashion is the essence of Garth Ennis’ Preacher. The comic was filled with outrageous genital mutilation (Herr Starr comes to mind, lol), and it reads to me like homage to the comic rather than bad television. 

Fiore and DeBlanc return to the church, after Jesse agrees to return Genesis to them. It’s a moment (along with Quincannon’s, in a moment) that gave me the impression I was wrong during my last write up of this. The angels needed Jesse’s permission to “COME IN” after commanding them to keep away in a previous episode. The “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” lullaby is a success, but Genesis quickly returns to Jesse, keeping his original choice. The angels tell Jesse there are no tries left, and refer again to “the other option” (mother fuckin’ Saint of Killers time!) Jesse rebuffs a final night assault on the church, but Donny outsmarts Jesse and gains entry. It’s another reveal, that like Eugene, ends up being smartly twisted on viewer expectations. Donny had previously stuck his head in the trunk of his car and fired a gun. In the moment, I thought he had committed suicide, perhaps acting on previous commands from Custer’s Voice. In reality, he blew out his eardrums, deafening himself, and making himself immune to The Voice. It was a clever move, and Jesse tells Donny that he “earned it.” I thought Jesse’s surrender was a bit out of character given his stalwart defense of the church during “El Valero,” and one of the only reasons I’d dock points from this episode.

preacher-episode-107-jesse-cooper-3-935

That last reveal of the episode really threw me. In one of the final scenes, as Jesse is signing the paperwork over to Odin for possession of his church, he says to Odin, “I thought I told you to serve God.” Odin responds that he has been, devoutly serving the God of Meat, the God of what’s tangible and touchable and true. The Voice worked on Odin in ways Jesse couldn’t predict, another example of his shortsighted use of the power. Jesse created a more monstrous version of Odin than existed before, and in a 1989 Batman sense, created one of his own worst enemies. As Custer is driven away in a police car as Sheriff Root’s prisoner, townspeople crowd the car begging to be saved. We’re treated to another cut scene of the Danger Methane Meter, and Cassidy’s fate is finally revealed.

Differences between the graphic novel, speculations, and stray observations:

  • In the comics, Odin Quincannon had a kindly twin brother named Conan who came after his death, but he never had his entire family eliminated in a freak accident if I recall correctly.
  • In the comics, Genesis found Jesse and stayed with him until the end of the series; in the show Genesis was drawn out by DeBlanc’s lullaby but chose to inhabit Jesse Custer once again.
  • In the comics, Tulip was never really Team Cassidy until Jesse’s presumed death; in the show they seem to be setting an early shift in the love triangle dynamics.
  • The corruption of Mayor Miles has been a little disappointing to watch.
  • Here’s hoping Jesse does something cooler with Chekhov’s Loudspeaker next week.
  • Cassidy, while not shown onscreen, is alive and “well.” He’s gonna be pissed.

“El Valero” 4.5 / 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

NEW_TOILETSCALE_4-5_of_5

 

Stay tuned for the next write-up of episode 9.

For anyone having trouble watching the series, the first season is available on the Playstation Store.

Images via AMC.

  • Ok guys, this is the last shot. Make sure you guys don’t look directly into the camera… Ok? Right, annnnnnnd ACTION!

    “GODDAMNIT STEVE!”

    https://s31.postimg.org/pjtuf6ekr/preacher_episode_107_jesse_cooper_2_935_copy.jpg

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      “We aren’t doing another take, just fucking use it!”

    • CyberneticOrganism

      A.D. screams “FUCK!”, walks off set

  • Joaquin Stick

    Ohhhhhhhh. I was so confused about the dong thing. Finally makes sense. Thanks Ed!

    Edit: Dog. Shit.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      Wait a sec, I just walked in the door. What did you mean before (and after) your edit? Lol

      • Joaquin Stick

        The dog that Tulip bought, I had no idea what that was about, but you made me see the connection. I just typed dong instead of dog the first time.

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          Oh yeah, poor little guy.

          “God damn you, Jesse Custer” (for not saving Cassidy and making me feed him this dog to recover)

  • Waynecro

    Thank you for another great write-up! I was wondering whether Odin’s actions were the result of his serving some god other than the one Jessie wanted him to serve. I guess you have to be specific when you use Genesis. My first thought when Eugene was a figment of Jessie’s imagination: Shit, I hope they don’t use imaginary Eugene to fill the role that imaginary John Wayne had in the comics.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      Oh damn, I never even considered that as a possibility. Tulip did reference The Duke in… last week’s episode? I’m hoping he comes on in season 2. As many people have commented in previous weeks at the AV Club (I did NOT have time to peruse those comments this week) it really seems to be heading towards to the very beginning of the comic, like season 1 is all just a prequel to madcap road trip adventures.

      • Waynecro

        Yeah, I thought The Duke would show up after that reference, so I was surprised to see an imaginary Eugene. Maybe they couldn’t get the rights to John Wayne’s likeness (or didn’t think the kids would recognize him) and figured that Eugene could function as a suitable replacement. I mean, in many ways, Eugene has tried to be a sort of moral compass for Jesse, so I can see why they’d put the character in that role. They may not go that route, but I think it’s a possibility. The show does indeed seem to be leading up the events of the first comic. I’d almost bet money that the church blows up by the end of the season.

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          If not the church, possibly the whole town! A lot of people have suggested (and they may be on to something) that staying in Annville during the first season could have been due to budgetary restrictions.

          I legitimately thought Eugene had come back, and was saddened when he was still stuck in Hell. It was really cool to see a Jesse centric episode this time around, Tulip and Cassidy were barely a blip on there.

          • Waynecro

            Yeah, they have been indicating that underground gas poses a threat to the entire town. The budget thing makes sense too. The comics take place all over the world, and they probably didn’t want to spend a fortune on shooting at multiple locations without seeing how viewers react to the show first. I feel really bad for Eugene and even his dad.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            So Jesse pulls a stunt with the Voice and his congregation, SoK wakes up, town explodes, God is missing?

          • Waynecro

            That seems like a pretty reasonable prediction. It’ll be interesting to see what causes the explosion and how Jesse finds out God is missing. I’m psyched to see the SoK in action. That guy is a bad motherfucker.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            They could also show more of his backstory and that could be the big season ending – the “other option”, Fiore and DeBlanc in their desperation waking him up.

          • Waynecro

            I’m looking forward to seeing what they decide to do with the last few episodes of the season. Lots of big stuff is bound to happen.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            AGREED. First season pretty much has to end with a bang!

          • “You crawled all the way up from Hell?” “It’s not that far.” That was a great line, and I’m amazed at that kid’s ability to sell lines like that with just his eyes and voice, since the rest of his face is basically unable to emote.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            Yeah, agreed, he’s very convincing especially given that limitation. I think so far he’s also one of the best written characters and the most consistent.

  • tigeraid

    The poor puppy. 🙁

    Digging the shit out of this show tho. Jackie Earle Haley is awesome.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      Never compromise, not even in the face of Armageddon.

  • RustyShackleford

    Idk why I haven’t started watching this yet. Think I missed most of the writeups while I was abroad so I should probs catch up/start watching. Gotta finish Stranger Things though now that I’ve started that… Yep!

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      I need to start watching Stranger Things, my internet kinda blew up about it out of nowhere. I also heard HBO’s The Night Of started out bomb…

      • RustyShackleford

        You definitely do! Wow just looked that up and looks tight. John Turturro >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          Same dude from Nightcrawler, he was dope in that.

          • BobLoblaw

            Gameshow>>>>>>

          • Watched Nightcrawler the other week.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            So good.

      • BobLoblaw

        Stranger Things is absolutely wonderful. I cant wait for either a continuation of the story or something completely different, not sure it will be linear or something like Fargo/True Detective.

        • Incontinent Gorilla Rodeo

          Lol, so how did your speech at the RNC go, Chachi? 😉

          • BobLoblaw

            Somehow Third Eye Blind upstaged me.

      • more beer

        The Night Of has been very good so far.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      I’ve heard Stranger Things is pretty good. I’m cautiously optimistic.

      • RustyShackleford

        Definitely worth checking out. It has a lot of 80s references and nostalgic stuff which I personally think is cool but I do know some people are more turned off by that stuff. Also has a bit more horror to it than I thought. I spooped myself

  • Abradolf Lincler

    you know . . . when we move here in a month, ill have cable again. maybe i can actually watch these.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      Do it BB!!!

      • Abradolf Lincler

        im not even close to a comic book guy, ed. so the show will have to be good enuff on its own merit to keep me interested. but i may, just for you 😉

        • Abradolf Lincler

          Side note: Watched Ip Man 3 the other night. Perfect exemplar of how having Mike Tyson in your kung fu movie for less than 10 minutes can create a suspension of disbelief.

          • Figured I’d drop this your way. Killer atmospheric black metal from Spain.

            https://negativa0.bandcamp.com/album/untitled-i

          • more beer

            I took me long enough. But I just ordered Human Garbage.

          • I just got the email, thanks man!!!

          • more beer

            My pleasure. I told you I really liked it, grabbed that Smut also.

          • Abradolf Lincler

            ooooooOooOoo

          • Abradolf Lincler

            glad this wasnt the other Negativa

        • Joaquin Stick

          I’m not a comic book guy at all either, it is good enough without that background. If you didn’t know any better, you wouldn’t even guess that this is from a comic book.

  • TrundleTheGreat

    This show is flatout amazing. Haven’t been this dedicated to a show since the last season of Fargo. Outcast on Cinemax is also really good. Bit of a slow burn but it gives you enough to keep you hooked.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      I think it’s safe to say this is the best show I am currently watching. Season 2 of Fargo was solid but lacked BBT. Haven’t heard of Outcast!

      • TrundleTheGreat

        I thought season 2 was just as good. Imo, the three leads in Season 1 carried the show, where as in Season 2 the whole cast was amazing as well as having standouts like Kirsten Dunst, Ted Danson, and Bokeem Woodbine.

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          Bokeem was my dude in s2! His ending was also hilariously realistic.

          • TrundleTheGreat

            I was really expecting something else for his ending, but I’m in no way disappointed in it.

          • more beer

            Bokeem is pretty great in all of his roles.

      • more beer

        I mentioned Outcast to you in one of the first articles you wrote on Preacher.

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          I remember that now!

          • more beer

            It is very good you should check it out.

    • more beer

      Outcast is excellent.

      • TrundleTheGreat

        Started binge watching it today after seeing the pilot a few weeks back. Nearly caught up now.

        • more beer

          I have to catch up I am a couple of episodes behind. But man what the episodes I have seen have been very good. Also what is more metal than demons and possession?

          • TrundleTheGreat

            Not much, or at least not anything that’s as nearly well written on television.

          • more beer

            Except maybe Ash vs The Evil Dead.

          • TrundleTheGreat

            Haven’t watched that but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. I’m sure I’ll get around to it eventually.

          • Abradolf Lincler

            recommended

          • more beer

            I f you liked the movies you will certainly like the series.

          • TrundleTheGreat

            Was a fan of the first film, never saw the sequels or the remakes, but I’ve heard enough about them to know that I’d enjoy them.

          • more beer

            You should definitely check it out then. Season 2 starts In October. The trailer was to gory for Comic-Con. Here judge for yourself..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzeJTAwqEJ4

          • TrundleTheGreat

            This is definitely up my alley.

          • Abradolf Lincler

            if you only ever saw Evil Dead 1, you have missed the meat of the series.

          • TrundleTheGreat

            I know the sequels are vastly different from the first.