Jesse Custer’s never been your standard-issue preacher, and in tonight’s outing — at turns dark, funny, and darkly funny — he defends his property with extreme prejudice. It’s hard to pick the best part of the episode, so let’s call it a three-way tie between the clever action sequences, the magnificent comedic score, and Jackie Earle Haley’s sly, subtle acting choices.
We open with a flashback to the big-haired Quincannon family plunging to their deaths in a ski gondola, and I hope the other students from my semester abroad were watching and are now ready to apologize for giving me a hard time when I refused to board a particularly rickety looking gondola in the High Tatra Mountains in 1999. I was right all along, jerks!
In Annville, John Custer’s attempting to provide spiritual comfort to Odin Quincannon, whose office is full of large crates containing the bodies of his family. But Quincannon’s grieving in a peculiar way: He butchered a cow and is now holding its intestines in one hand and his daughter’s in the other, unable to tell them apart.
“There is no difference. It’s all meat,” he tells John. “There’s no spirit, there’s no soul. There’s nothing.”
He screams at John to denounce God from the pulpit, but John declines and leaves with Jesse, who’s been waiting in the hallway (as we saw in episode 4). Ooh, this added context makes Jesse’s attempt to convert Quincannon even more high stakes than we imagined.
In the present, Quincannon’s meat men kick open the church door, intent on enforcing the land transfer Jesse refused last week. Another nontraditional fight scene ensues, and we hear a scuffle and see flashes of gunfire through a stained-glass window depicting Noah’s ark.
The team retreats and Donnie demands to know what Jesse told them to do. Nothing, they report, although he thrashed them and kept all of their weapons, which means Jesse now has a machine gun (ho ho ho).
This skirmish was actually a minor inconvenience for Jesse, who’s been working through the stages of grief since Eugene’s disappearance. Last week, we saw denial, depression, and anger. This week, we see bargaining, drinking, and acceptance.
What, drinking’s not one of the stages of grief, you say? Tell that to Jesse, who’s gripping his liquor bottle and swearing he’ll never use the power again if God just brings Eugene back from hell.
Miraculously, Eugene claws his way out of the hole Jesse punched in the church floor. Jesse croons, “I’ve got you, you’re back” and offers him some water. In the most amazing understatement in perhaps all of television history, Eugene says, “Yeah, I’m pretty thirsty.”
Thankfully, Jesse scrounges up a straw, and three glasses later, Eugene’s ready to talk a little, explaining Jesse’s “voice thing” called him, so he started digging up.
Jesse’s impressed. “You dug out of hell with your hands?”
“It’s not that far,” Eugene says in a tone that makes me shudder.
Jesse apologizes to Eugene, acknowledging it’s for God to judge his actions. Unfortunately, Eugene doesn’t take this opportunity to say, “Actually, preacher, that’s a misunderstanding and I’m not really an attempted murderer,” as I was hoping might be the case. Alas.
Jesse’s not done, though. He made a mess of things and tried to subvert people’s free will. Since he can’t be trusted with this power, he decides to give it back.
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Eugene asks if Jesse’s going to call the guys at the motel, and Jesse has the clichéd “But I never told you about the guys in the motel!” realization.
Yup, he’s been sitting next to a full glass of water, talking to a figment of his imagination. (Drunk hallucination? Manifestation of his subconscious? Whatever it is, Eugene’s still in hell.)
NEXT: Jesse shows off his sharpshooter skills