AMC

Does Preacher Hate Women (Or Everyone)?

And other smoldering questions from 'South Will Rise Again.'

You guys, I'm getting worried about Preacher. The show began as a darkly edgy delight -- remember how thrillingly we met Tulip, or Jesse's smile as he took Donnie apart? -- but the delight has since leaked out, replaced with a sour and needless nastiness. I'm not asking for Superman or Meg Ryan to join the cast, but is there anyone left in Annville (née Ratwater) to like? (And, no, "pity" is not the same thing as affection.) Are we all expected to spend our Sunday evenings with a bunch of unpleasant people and scenarios? Isn't Sunday night supposed to be our last gasp of escapism before the horror that is Monday? Great, now I sound like Garfield.

But this week, even the solutions are problems, and the cures are worse than the symptoms. I believe Fiore and DeBlanc when they tell Jesse that his newfound power isn't God, but that's mainly because if God exists in Preacher's universe, it's clear that he turned his back on Annville long, long ago. But now, I'm starting to worry that the show's writers have, too, because I'm not seeing a lot of affection from them for anyone onscreen or at home.

Could The Cowboy's tale have turned out any worse?

As with Preacher's second episode, our pre-credit time is spent in 1881, with a taciturn lone rider (the show calls him "The Cowboy") sent to get medicine for an ailing child. But last time the worst thing to befall him was awkward conversation with a bunch of people from St. Louis. This week everything goes to shit, when he arrives in town and is forced to bide his time at a saloon where every day is "take your kid to sex-work day," people (including the St. Louisians) sell scalps (those of Native Americans fetch double those of people from Mexico, we learn), and the town preacher allows the degeneracy to continue unabated.

Why does our lone rider return to town to, of all things, punch the preacher? An act that accomplished nothing good: In return, the preacher's buddies kicked his ass, the preacher shot the rider's horse (I'm of the opinion that killing an animal is often a lazy writer's baddie-building shorthand, and I believe that is the case here), and the rider became a walker, arriving home to find crows picking at the remains of the woman and child he'd left behind. If he'd kept to himself and ridden, would he have arrived sooner and saved them both? The whole thing felt like a deleted scene from Deadwood, but with crappier dialogue and no Olyphant.

Would townspeople really harass the son of the Sheriff the way they do Eugene?

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The show makes a point of showing us the Roots' lawn jockey as we see the Sheriff search his back yard for intruders. But the noise in the yard was a mere distraction, as the miscreants instead broke into Eugene's room, painted the words "finish the job" on his wall, and left him a gun. First, aren't guns expensive and valuable? You'd think that the downtrodden citizens of Annville might value a shotgun even more than most folks, but they can afford to leave a pricey weapon behind for the target of their ire?

Eugene tells Jesse that everyone hates him, and they're right to for whatever he did. We see additional evidence of this hate with remarks as casual as the waitress who insists on referring to Eugene as "it" and "something" and, of course, Tracy's mom's attempt to beat Eugene to death. But we also know from dialogue in the first episode that the position of Sheriff in that town is an elected one so, what, voters still thought the father of this alleged monster was the right man for the job? And would any cop -- innocence or guilt of his son aside -- basically roll over when his home is invaded by vandals?

Would seeing Odin Quincannon turn religious be enough to get this pack of CW-looking kids to join the God Squad?

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Seriously, hipster undercut fade and American Apparel raglan are suddenly feeling the Holy Spirit because the guy who owns the slaughterhouse underwent a conversion? It seems like that's what we're expected to believe when these happy teens interrupt Jesse and Emily's conversation to ask him to rank the Gospels. Marry Fuck Kill, maaaybe, because small-town kids have to find some way to fill the time between break-ins at the Sheriff's house. But this church-camp excitement from one Sunday? I am skeptical.

How we supposed to feel about Donnie's relationship with his wife now?

I've made my discomfort with/confusion by Donnie and Betsy's situation clear in the past, and this week their domestic situation took an grosser turn. We know that Donnie beats his coworkers, threatens to beat his son, tries to beat up Jesse, and beats his wife...at her alleged behest. But now we're being told that she's the asshole, with her threat to have sex with "Russell in accounting" if Donnie doesn't arise from his sickbed. And then there's Donnie's set of breakdowns during Odin's meeting with Miles and over lunch with Betsy. Are we supposed to feel sorry for this guy or something? I don't expect every human relationship to be black-and-white but both these people seem like garbage, so I'm running out of interest in their tale.

Who pees with the door open in someone else's (poorly-secured) house?

In keeping with this week's theme of female degradation, we have a perplexing scene in which Emily takes a pee at Jesse's residence with the bathroom -- which apparently faces the entrance -- door open. As happens in the quarters of a clergyman, someone walks in and Emily is shocked and dismayed. Was it because that someone was Tulip? If Emily is the kind of person who is embarassed at being caught with her pants down, is she the kind of person to urinate with the door open outside her own abode? All this seemed, like much of this episode, mean-spirited and pointless.

Are Tulip and Jesse the real life The Freshman?

Come on, you remember The Freshman, in which Matthew Broderick and Bruno Kirby help hook Marlon Brando and his fancy dining-club friends up with a Komodo dragon, right? (If not, get thee to a streaming platform that offers it for rental or something!) So when Tulip starts told some story about how during a rare reptile "run" Jesse shot a soon-to-be-eaten Komodo in the head because the buyer got fresh with Tulip, I could only assume a nod to the classic film. Or was it supposed to evoke the Ratwater preacher's horse slaying? If so, it's interesting, I guess, that Jesse responds to Tulip's tale by saying, "I've changed, which means you can change too. You can be good...we all wanna be good."

So, in Jesse's mind, using mind control is "good"? Yeah, maybe he's not the man for this -- or any non-Komodo-related -- job.

What is this show doing to Tulip?

It's going to take more than some mind-controlling stuff that lives in a can to make me okay with the direction this show is pointing Tulip toward. Though we were initially presented with a slightly stung but badass and self-sufficient woman, we're now in the fifth week of Tulip complaining that Jesse doesn't want to be with her anymore. I get being mad at the time of the breakup, but it's apparently been a solid while and she's still pining and whining? Move on, Tulip!

...is what I was saying, until I wasn't. Because then we were subjected to the second-most depressing sex act of the show (the obvious winner being the child forced to watch his prostitute mom at work), when Cass penetrates her from behind in the back seat of her car, her face in the blank-to-sad range.

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Tulip, forget Carlos, Jesse, and Cass. Get away from this place. You just hang out at the whorehouse, you don't work there. You don't need any of these -- or any other -- men.

Is Green Acres the place to be?

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Nope!

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