Gimme Something to Watch: AMC’s Preacher (Season 1, Episode 5 “South Will Rise Again”)
Wounds doesn’t have anything to do with the Preacher series, but this album rules.
“I was just a puppet. I was just… cow in a maze!”
“South Will Rise Again,” Preacher’s fifth episode, propels several pieces of the plot forward. It’s a strong but uneven episode, which is fairly representative of the first season so far. It should not come as a surprise that Preacher was just renewed for a second, larger season (13 episodes), as the first season is averaging 3.3 million viewers per episode. “South Will Rise Again” reveals more of The Cowboy’s/Saint of Killer’s origin story, and wastes no time in defining one of Preacher’s most important relationships.
This episode’s cold open takes us back to the town of Ratwater, 1881. The Cowboy arrives there seeking medicine for his daughter, and through the long scene we learn just how vile Ratwater is. The saloon is a hub for scalp hunters, and a child is forced to watch his mother’s rape. It’s an over the top scene, but reminded me of several of the comic’s more controversial tiles. After the Cowboy gets what he came for, a moment of conscience drives him back to town, with dire results. The town’s preacher remembers the Cowboy from the Civil War, and says “I’ve never seen a man more in love with killing than you” before shooting his horse. When the Cowboy finally returns home, he finds his wife and daughter as a feast for crows. He grabs the guns he left there, presumably to return to Ratwater and seek revenge.
In Annville, present day, Jesse’s sermon has inspired the townspeople around him, which is shown as he spends most of the episode at Flavor Station tending to his flock. Jesse, who believes his powers have been given to him by God Almighty, uses the Voice to offer guidance and solutions to many of Annville’s residents. It’s unclear to me, but I don’t think Jesse is unaware of what happened to Ted in the first episode, so he’s unaware about the potential consequences of using the Voice haphazardly (more on that in a second). Jesse explains once again to Tulip that people can change, and that people just want to be good, and I believe he has the best intentions. This reaches it’s pinnacle when Jesse orders Mrs. Loach to forgive Eugene/Arseface (“FORGIVE HIM“), and we discover Eugene likely had something to do with Tracy’s coma.
Speaking of Eugene/Arseface, he had what I think is the saddest scene in Preacher to date. After a cruel prank instructing Eugene to “finish the job,” he hears the same thing from his father, Sheriff Root. Root throws his breakfast against a wall and screams at Eugene, and Eugene, in his typical helpful fashion, picks up the broken plate. It’s a scene that is given more heft than any to do with that pair in the comics, given that Root has stood up for and taken care of Eugene so far.
“South Will Rise Again” has an awesome scene where Cassidy explains to Tulip about being a vampire. It’s been done a hundred times before, but the back and forth dialogue between both characters really makes it work. Their relationship goes from strangers in the last episode, “Monster Swamp,” to sexual partners in this one – I absolutely hated how quickly it happened. It may be an early explanation to Cassidy’s obsession with Tulip, but the scene lacked the gravitas of Jesse discovering their relationship after his presumed death depicted in the graphic novel. Tulip delivers Cassidy a bottle of opiates and fucks him, presumably to exert some kind of control over him to deal with Jesse or deal with Carlos.
Fiore and DeBlanc bring some levity to “South Will Rise Again” – they spend several scenes planning how Fiore will field the call from their Heavenly superiors. “You’re the sweet one Fiore, they all love you up there.” As Fiore is finally ready to pick up that ringing telephone, it cuts off, prompting them to seek out Jesse to meet in person for the first time (he was unconscious last time!). Previews for the following episode indicate their conversation will continue into “Sundowner,” but DeBlanc informs Jesse that the power in his possession is not that of God. As the pair has been in their hotel room for the last two episodes, it’s exciting to see them confront Jesse face to face.
This episode shows just how much psychological torment exists in Annville, shown by the various townsfolk seeking Jesse’s aid, Sheriff Root, and Mrs. Loach. “South Will Rise Again” also shows the effects of Donnie’s last encounter with Jesse, as he is plagued by Jesse’s power over him. It’s a scene where I actually felt bad for the guy, as he compared himself to a cow before slaughter. His wife offers encouragement, saying that Jesse will get what he deserves. We also see the effects of Odin’s transformation to “SERVE GOD.” It’s a new Odin, who makes amends to the mayor and comments on his many flaws and failings, with a brand new outlook on life. Miles, the mayor and “VP of taking care of business” (hahaha) facilitates a meeting between the newly “reformed” Odin and members of the Green Acres Group. Everything appears to be on the up and up, until Odin goes on a murder spree with a tactical shotgun, shooting and killing all four Green Acres reps in front of a stunned Miles. As the episode ends on this cliffhanger, it’s yet to be revealed how Quincannon is serving God with his actions, but it’s more of the tragic unintended consequence of Jesse trying to do good. Halfway finished with season one, “South Will Rise Again” appears to be setting up Preacher for a big finale.
Some differences between the graphic novel, speculations, and stray observations:
- As mentioned, in the comics Tulip and Cassidy begin a relationship after Jesse’s presumed death; in the show, they’ve slept together prior to Tulip and Jesse’s rekindling of their relationship. Hated it!
- In the comics, the first action Fiore and DeBlanc take is to wake the Saint of Killers; in the show (and I am speculating here) it seems their Heavenly superiors might take on that task.
- In the comics, Annville’s church and Jesse’s congregation were destroyed by his merging with Genesis; in the show (again speculating) it appears they are setting up Annville to be destroyed by an abundance of methane gas produced by Quincannon Meat & Power.
- In the comics, Odin Quincannon never went on a murder spree, instead using his hired goons and the KKK to help; in the show, no reference has been made to Odin’s connections to the KKK (which the showrunners may cleverly be avoiding entirely).
- In the comics, Jesse Custer didn’t use the Voice to tend to his flock (as his church was destroyed almost immediately), so it’s been interesting to see the ramifications of using the Voice much more in a psychological manner than in just giving orders.
- Although we haven’t found out how the Saint of Killer’s family has been killed yet, the showrunners are really nailing his origin story.
“South Will Rise Again” 4/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Stay tuned for the next write-up of episode 6.
For anyone having trouble watching the series, the first season is available on the Playstation Store.
Images via AMC.