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Preacher Review 1.07 – “He Gone”

July 11, 2016 | Posted by Joseph Lee
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Preacher Review 1.07 – “He Gone”  

Warning: This review contains spoilers for tonight’s episode. Don’t read if you haven’t watched it yet.

Welcome everyone to 411mania’s weekly reviews of Preacher! I should provide full disclosure before I begin. I have not read any of the original comics. That means that I’ll have no context for what’s going on and I won’t know if anything is different from the source material. I planned to watch the series anyway because it looked like it’d be something I’d enjoy. So I haven’t read the comics so this is all from a non-fan perspective.

Previously on Preacher, Jesse found out the truth about the entity inside of him, but refused to give it up. It’s a half-demon, half-angel abomination called Genesis. He decided to use his power to force everyone to turn to God. Eugene, who is feeling guilty that his problem was solved through “cheating”, calls Jesse out on his behavior. Jesse eventually lets his tongue slip and tells Eugene to “go to Hell”, who promptly disappears.

Season 1, Episode 7: He Gone

Directed By: Michael Morris

Written By: Mary Laws

Preacher continues to be an uneven show and that’s going to be a talking point for a while. Sometimes there will be a nothing episode, sometimes there will be an exciting episode, and sometimes there will be an episode that’s a little of both. Last week’s “Sundowner” open and closed with big moments but chose to spend the rest of it spinning its wheels. “He Gone” chose instead to be a series of smaller moments and while it does flow better, it’s still not going anywhere.

Last week ended on a pretty big note, with Jesse apparently sending Eugene to hell. While Eugene’s got a dark past, he’s been nothing but nice and remorseful for it in this show. He’s certainly not someone deserving of eternal punishment, which seems to be where he is right now. He’s not featured once in this episode and doesn’t show up in the preview for the next, so they’re at least keeping Ian Colletti out for a while to really sell Eugene’s absence.

This features another twist, in that Cassidy saw exactly what happened to Eugene and is ready to call out Jesse on it. Jesse doesn’t seem to really care that Eugene is gone at first, as he brushes it off and leaves. However, it seems to bother him a little, at least, because he’s unable to go through with his plan to force the citizens of Annville to serve God. This brief flirtation with being a good person is all we get out of him in this episode, as I think Genesis is starting to alter his mind.

Jesse is a full-blown villain this week. He doesn’t do anything evil, per se, but he’s a jerk to everyone around him and may or may not (probably not considering who it is) indirectly allowed the death of a main character. This goes back to the constant shifts of the character from being a “bad preacher” and a “good preacher”. It’s one thing if a character is flawed and has trouble maintaining his good side. The way Jesse is portrayed, however, is jarring shifts from one side to another with little build in each.

It’s not just Jesse, either. Tulip varies between “sarcastic badass” to “emotional and clingy” at the drop of a hat. I don’t know how she was in the comics but there’s no way she was written this poorly. Her saving grace is Ruth Negga’s chemistry with Joseph Gilgun, making all of the Tulip/Cassidy scenes fun to watch. I’d rather see a show about those two than she her constantly pining for the preacher, honestly.

Even Quincannon’s not immune to the show’s curse of suddenly shifting character alignments. Although in his case it looks to be part of the story and not just an inability to keep a character’s personality stable. We learn a couple of things thanks to Quincannon’s appearance this week. First of all, he’s no longer serving God. That means that either the voice has a limit on how long it affects people or a command that big never worked to begin with. I can see either possibility. We also find out that he very much still wants the land that he believes Jesse promised him. At the end of the episode, we see the lengths he’s willing to go to in order to get it.

Speaking of Cassidy, he gets the best character arc this week. After seeing what happened to Eugene, Cass (a mostly amoral vampire, mind you) feels terrible about it and wants to help his friend in any way he can. After a heart-to-heart with tulip, he finally calls Jesse out on his behavior and lets him know that he’s a vampire. He does this in the most dramatic way possible, by stepping out into the sun and letting himself burn. The episode ends with us believing that Jesse may have just let it happen.

This week also takes time to give us some more development for characters in the form of exposition and flashback. For Jesse and Tulip, we get flashbacks to their time as kids when they lived with Jesse’s father. Tulip was eventually sent away and Jesse, angry with his dad, prays for God to kill him. Soon after, his father is shot in the head. It’s easy to see how that bit may have shaped Jesse’s warped sense of religion, which seems to be what Genesis is preying on.

In the case of Eugene, we find out that he’s not so innocent after all. In addition to his own suicide attempt, we learn that he’s responsible for Tracy Loach’s condition, thanks to a shotgun. This raises a good question of if people are deserving of a second chance, especially if they appear to be genuinely remorseful and working for atonement. We get a brief conversation about it, but then the topic is quickly ignored so we can have Jesse insult Tulip’s cooking at an awkward dinner.

The episode ends with Jesse finally showing some remorse for his actions and furiously digging at the ground underneath the church, ordering Eugene to “come back”. He has more immediate problems, however, as Quincannon’s on his way with an army to take the land. That doesn’t really seem legal but he did just murder four people and get away with it so perhaps the law isn’t something he cares about.

Next week’s episode looks for things to pick up and it’s about time. A war between Jesse and Quincannon should be fun to watch, even if the sudden shift to that plot point is jarring compared to what’s happened in this episode so far. As for “He Gone”, it’s more of the same. If you’re not liking the direction of the show, you’ll continue to not like this. I liked what was going on at the start and even I’m finding these episodes to be a bit of a chore, if technically competent.

The entire first season seems to be nothing but set up for the rest of the series. In a way, it’s almost as if it’s one long pilot for what the show is supposed to be down the road. It has a second season, so we know more episodes are on the way. Does Jesse’s quest to find God, the premise of the entire series, finally take place in that season? Does it just remain centered in Annville? The people in charge should figure out what they want it to be soon, because it’s getting hard to sit through the dull spots for the good hidden within.

The final score: review Average
The 411
While a slight improvement from last week, "He Gone" shows that the problems plaguing this show are still present. It had potential to be great. The critically-acclaimed comics, a promising start and a great cast should have cinched it. Instead, it continues to squander its potential with average-at-best episodes featuring flashes of brilliance.

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Preacher, Joseph Lee