Gimme Something to Watch: AMC’s Preacher (Season 1, Episode 7 “He Gone”)
Chain Gang Grave doesn’t have anything to do with the Preacher series, but this album rips.
“With God all things are possible”.
As several characters make dangerous gambles, the creators of Preacher continue with a dangerous gambit of their own in its latest episode, “He Gone”. In previous writeups for this series, I’ve referenced one of TV’s all time great dramas: AMC’s Breaking Bad. If you haven’t seen it yet (shame on you), over five seasons Walter White, the show’s protagonist, becomes the main antagonist to the rest of the supporting characters. How does that work? How did they do it, and how the hell did they get away with it? Walter White earned enough currency with the viewers early on, that however despicable his actions became, many of us still rooted for him. I’m aware that by the end of the second season, and certainly by the end of the fourth, many viewers despised Walter and were decidedly on Team Pinkman – not me. I stayed on Team Walter during the entire show. Walter let Jane asphyxiate on her own vomit? Team Walter. Walter forced Pinkman to kill a rival chemist through sheer manipulation? Team Walter. Walter again manipulated Pinkman through nearly the worst means possible, by poisoning a child? Team Walter. I could argue why it was necessary for Walter to commit all of these acts, but the truth is his character was such a badass genius and did so much cool stuff early on in the show that he earned a lot of character currency with me. The series ending was a little weak, but the two episodes leading up to it were magnificent, and I always rooted for Walter White to achieve whatever diabolical ends he was going for. A common complaint about HBO’s Vinyl, cancelled after its first season, was that nobody liked Richie Finestra, the show’s main character. He was an unlikable scumbag pretty much right away, and didn’t change much if at all during the entire season (for what it’s worth, I kinda dug Vinyl).
This is the stuff of Preacher’s gambit: Jesse Custer has become really unlikable, and it might have happened too soon. Jesse, blinded by his righteousness, spends “He Gone” alienating and antagonizing the closest people in his life. It appears the only moment of contemplation Jesse has during this episode is the decision not to use The Voice on his whole congregation. He even goes as far as to browbeat members of his church during a play rehearsal. Odin Quincannon shows up, dressed symbolically in black, to collect on the bet he and Jesse made after the short-lived powers of The Voice have worn off, and Jesse denies him. Jesse made a dangerous assumption about his power, without knowing how quickly it would fade away from Quincannon’s consciousness. Jesse even goes as far as to verbally abuse both Tulip and Emily, before casting them both away. It’s not a good look for the character, who hasn’t built up a lot of trust with viewers. On the showrunner front, another gamble they’ve taken is changing Eugene/Arseface’s origin from a suicide pact to an attempted homicide/suicide. Knowing the lovable Eugene attempted to kill the object of his affection after being spurned by her changes our stance on him, if even ever so slightly. Luckily, it didn’t change Cassidy’s view of him.
Eugene’s absence is prominently displayed this week. Sheriff Root leaves his hat in Eugene’s place at church, and asks around about him. When he questions the group at dinner about his whereabouts, a baking accident engulfs the church oven in flames. The reveal in the beginning of the episode shows Cassidy as witness to Eugene’s banishment, lurking above the entire conversation on the church’s second level. He then spends “He Gone” as the voice (pun intended) of reason to Custer’s increasing fanaticism. Jesse reveals he used The Voice on Eugene on accident, but shows little interest in considering the gravity of his actions. He pesters Jesse about how they can get Eugene back numerous times, before finally taking a dangerous bet against Jesse’s good side. He both reveals himself as a vampire to Jesse (which, how, at this point, did Jesse not suspect) but also depends on Jesse’s good will to save him from self-imposed immolation by sunlight. His fate is left unknown by the end of the episode. I’d bet money that 1) Jesse did in fact save him before casting him away as well or 2) he managed to survive the incident somehow on his own. No way they’re killing off Cassidy!
Flashbacks to Jesse’s childhood reveal more about his friendship/relationship with Tulip. An altercation with bullies leads to a lost nipple and Jesse’s father taking Tulip in for a short time. “Until the end of the world, right?” John Custer eventually calls the Texas Department of Human Services to have Tulip taken away. Childhood Jesse prays to God that his father be killed. Coincidentally, thugs break into the Custer home the same night, take Jesse and John away, and execute John in front of his son. John and Jesse reveal the graphic novel’s mission statement, as yet to be revealed by the protagonist.
The episode ends with a desperate Jesse pulling up floorboards from his church, shouting to Hell for Eugene to “COME BACK!” We also see Odin amassing his goons from Quincannon Meat & Power, with a Civil War dressed Donny leading the charge. The show did a nice job building to this over the last few episodes, showing Odin setting up his figurines of The Alamo. “He Gone” delivers. The dialogue is sharp, it’s funny when it wants to be (Gilgun’s facial expressions are still priceless), and pieces are being moved into place for a dramatic finale. I just hope Jesse is able to earn some currency with us viewers before this season is over. You gotta be one of the good guys, Jesse.
Differences between the graphic novel, speculations, and stray observations:
- In the comics, The Voice could have long lasting effects (such as in the case of Agent Hoover, months); in the show, the duration of The Voice appears to be very short by comparison.
- As mentioned, in the comics Eugene shot himself in a suicide pact about Kurt Cobain (the comics came out in 1995); in the show, Eugene shot himself after shooting Tracy Loach and turning her into the vegetable we’ve seen her as.
- In the comics, Jesse and Tulip met as adults and romantic interests in a bar; in the show they are revealed to be childhood friends.
- “Who’s his favorite movie star? “Ryan Phillipe!” “It’s John Wayne“.
- In case you didn’t catch it, Jesse’s tattoo from “Sundowner” is the same as the gunman who kills his father. Yo, that’s definitely Jody.
- No angels this week, and Mayor Miles is only referenced by Odin Quincannon.
- Anyone else hoping the title “He Gone” was a reference to God leaving his post?
“He Gone” 4 /5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Stay tuned for the next write-up of episode 8.
For anyone having trouble watching the series, the first season is available on the Playstation Store.
Images via AMC and Garth Ennis’ Preacher comic.