Serious question: Jesse’s supposed to be the hero of Preacher, right? Because there are heroes struggling with right and wrong, and then there are mean-spirited, power-tripping, self-righteous cowards.
In other words, this week isn’t kind to Jesse.
We pick up in the church immediately after Eugene’s disappearance, as the bulletin he was holding floats to the floor. Jesse stares at the empty space in shock, and you can see the moment he convinces himself to just move forward. Do the service, convert the masses, don’t look back.
But you know who is looking? Cassidy, with a front-row seat from the balcony.
The congregants converge, singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” while a bored Tulip props her legs on the pew in front of her and Sheriff Root looks anxiously at the empty seat next to him, wondering where on earth his son is. NOT ON EARTH, AMIRITE?
Jesse’s clearly rattled, because when he urges his flock to serve God, he opts not to use the Word, despite the presence of the loudspeaker to share it with those seated on the front lawn.
After the service, Jesse walks back into the church and pauses over the spot where Eugene disappeared as the camera pans down, down, down to the floorboards. Then we hear odd, rumbling noises, almost like cries, which reveal themselves to be the poor, doomed cattle on Quincannon Meat & Power’s killing floors. Geez, what a depressing work environment.
Then come the flashbacks. Ten-year-old Jesse and Tulip sit outside the principal’s office after putting three bullies in the infirmary (Tulip bit off one of their nipples). Jesse covers for her as best he can, and Papa Custer agrees to take her home with them because her mom’s in jail and her uncle’s drunk.
That night, Jesse’s kneeling by the bed saying his prayers, asking God to take care of his mom — wherever she is — and promising he’s trying really, really hard not to be bad. So he’s been struggling with that for a while, then.
In the present, Tulip kicks off her fantastic orange heels to chase down the youths who stole her drunk uncle’s trousers, then tries to move him inside from the front stoop where he passed out. But she only succeeds in drawing hostile stares from the good folks of Annville, one of whom is the prairie-dog mascot walking a dog (which is interesting if you subscribe to this so-bonkers-it-must-be-true theory).
Across town, Eugene’s room sits empty.
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In the parsonage, Cassidy corners Jesse to tell him he saw what happened to Eugene, but Jesse blows it off and leaves for Bible study. Then Tulip breezes through the back door with dinner fixings, which Cass mocks. He also taunts her for not getting out of town to rain down hell on Carlos, and assures her he didn’t tell Jesse that he and Tulip hooked up.
“Well that’s good. He’d probably kill ya,” she says. But would he? Have we seen any signs Jesse actually loves Tulip and could be provoked into a jealous rage? She seems to be an embarrassing irritant to him, rather than the great love of his life she is in the comics. For my money, this is the worst change from page to screen. (The best? Ditching Jesse’s white jeans.)
NEXT: So THAT’S what Eugene did