Jesse survives a gonzo angel fight and grapples with God's will for his power
Credit: Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Television/AMC
S1 E6
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That fight scene, you guys! We all knew Preacher had the potential to balance stylish violence and quiet character beats, but the show’s never done it quite as well as it did tonight.

We begin in the diner, where Jesse Words the heavenly cowboy duo into spilling the dirty secret about the power inside him, and oh boy, it’s a doozy. In the middle of an endless war between heaven and hell, an angel and a demon fell in love, and the result of this forbidden pairing is an entity called Genesis.

“So you’re saying this Genesis is some sort of…angel…demon…baby?” Jesse clarifies.

Killjoy DeBlanc sets him straight. “If by ‘baby,’ you mean the most powerful entity ever known, the singular force that would shift the balance of power, threaten all of creation, then yeah, it’s a baby.”

Genesis escaped its coffee-can domicile, and DeBlanc and Fiore want to stuff it back inside like the never-meant-to-be abomination they think it is. Jesse’s still trying to wrap his head around this reveal when the two cowboys — and okay, for authenticity and simplicity, let’s call them what they are in the comic, which is Adelphi, a.k.a. bureaucratic angels — follow a blonde woman out of the diner.

In the parking lot, the Adelphi start to viciously beat the woman, who’s dressed like every soccer mom ever in a cardigan, khakis, and sensible running shoes. Jesse rushes out to pull the Adelphi off of her when she attacks him with supernatural strength. Fiore shoots her in the head and the Adelphi stuff her body in their car. Then a flash of light pulses from the diner, and the same woman comes striding outside in the same immaculate khakis.

Jesse immediately hustles the Adelphi into his truck, and on the way back to the Sundowner Motel, they explain that the woman’s a Seraphim, an order-loving angel of the first order, and like all angels, she respawned after death through a process called reinvigoration.

Jesse’s awestruck-yet-blasphemous take on the confirmation of a cornerstone of his faith? “Goddamn. Angels.”

The Adelphi explain that Soccer-phim’s after them because they’re on an unsanctioned mission (we even see the heavenly “wanted” poster!) to recapture Genesis before anyone realizes it escaped. In fact, most of heaven and hell don’t even know about Genesis’ existence, as the leadership agreed to keep it a secret lest both sides go to war.

Before they can convince Jesse to turn Genesis over to them, the Soccer-phim bursts into the room and shoots the Adelphi. Jesse stays absolutely cool when she turns the gun on him, waiting until he sees his chance to attack. When it comes, his punches don’t hurt, but hers sure do. Fiore respawns and gets killed again, giving Jesse time to grab a knife from the Adelphi’s insane bag of weapons. (Hammer! Chainsaw! Marital aid — they didn’t know what they might need!) He slits Soccer-phim’s throat, and Fiore kills a wounded DeBlanc so he’ll respawn, too. He explains to Jesse (and us) that sometimes reinvigoration happens immediately and in the same place, but not always.

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Respawned Soccer-phim chooses that moment to punch through the paneling of the wall next door, and DeBlanc screams at Jesse to restrain her, not kill her. But Jesse accidentally shoots her dead, allowing her to respawn. And then all hell breaks loose, and we pan back to watch the chaotic fight through the hole in the wall. Identical bodies pile up, lights flash as angels respawn, gouts of blood fly, furniture gets smashed, somebody screams, “She’s got an axe!”

This entire scene is fantastic. Why have the neighbors not called the police? What will the police make of all those identical bodies? How is Jesse not seriously injured in the melee? Who cares! It’s the best five minutes of the show so far, and certainly the most evocative of the comic’s gleeful, slam-bam violence.

NEXT: Cassidy shows up and makes things worse

Soccer-phim’s almost restrained, but still holding a knife to Jesse’s throat when Cassidy strolls into the chaos. Without missing a beat, he picks up a gun and shoots her in the head, to everyone’s dismay. She respawns, and the fight starts again. They finally get the upper hand, and Fiore disarticulates her so she’s alive but immobile. Gross, yet clever!

In the middle of the destroyed hotel room, Jesse asks Genesis’ custodians how it escaped and why it chose him, but they don’t have any answers. So he announces he’s keeping it, and if God wants it back, he can come down to Earth and take it. As Jesse strolls out, leaving a large pile of bodies behind him, DeBlanc warns about unwelcome and unforeseen consequences — but Jesse just Words them to stay away from him.

“Course, there’s the other option,” Fiore says as Jesse leaves, but DeBlanc won’t consider it. Let’s assume we’ll eventually get to hear about that alternative.

Amazing fight sequence over, we now get to the character-building when Tulip bursts into Emily’s house, yelling at her to stay away from her boyfriend. Emily stammers that she’s not doing anything with anybody, so Tulip throws an ugly figurine and storms out. But when Emily looks outside, Tulip’s immobile in her car in front of the house, so Emily runs out to confront her, hollering, “You just broke my kid’s art thing!” Tulip, obviously still struggling with Jesse’s suggestion that they can both choose to be good, returns to the house and offers to fix the statue she broke.

As Tulip’s doing arts and crafts, Emily offers her something to drink. Tulip turns down beer (“It’s 10 in the morning!”). They embark on some uneasy small talk, and when Emily gets up to tend to her sick daughter, Tulip looks on covetously. Emily laments being stuck at home when she’s got so many church errands to run, so Tulip offers to babysit. Emily takes a hard pass, wondering if Tulip has any experience with children.

“I had a kid once. That count?” Tulip asks. Emily’s shocked, we’re shocked, I imagine Jesse would be shocked, but we don’t get any information this week about when and how (or why her admission was in the past tense). Let’s assume we’ll ultimately find out about Tulip’s missing child. Anyway, Emily agrees to let Tulip take care of the church errands.

At the church, Jesse and Cass strip to their skivvies to wash the angel blood off the rest of their clothes. Jesse offers him a beer, and they both accept — despite it being 10 in the morning. They engage in equally mundane chitchat, with Cass complimenting the flower tattoo on Jesse’s shoulder.

“That’s my Tulip,” Jesse says. Uh, did Tulip and Cass never exchange names? Apparently not. Also, in addition to being handy with a gun, Jesse’s got some wicked scars on his back — more hints about his pre-preacher life.

Now that he knows about Genesis, Jesse plans to carry on as he always has, using his new power to juice his godly mission. To that end, he installs a loudspeaker on the outside of the church, ignoring Cass’s warnings that it’s a mistake. After all, God gave him Genesis for a reason.

As Jesse’s setting up for an outside church service, Miles the mayor shows up in the grips of a crisis of conscience. The Green Acres home office has been calling, wondering what became of their people (Quincannon shotgunned them, you’ll recall), and Miles doesn’t know what to do. Jesse tells him to pray for direction, but Miles frets about telling the difference between God and the voice in his head telling him what he wants to hear.

Jesse says he can’t help without more details, then gets distracted when Tulip arrives with “church stuff.” She’s stowing it in the storage room when Cassidy corners her, teasing that she just couldn’t stay away. And then he hears Jesse calling her name.

“You’re his Tulip?” he asks. She physically pushes him away with an old…mini-golf club? Jesse finds her, and with Cass hidden behind the door, Tulip tries to get Jesse to admit he kept the club for sentimental reasons. He denies it and they exit, leaving Cass pressed against the wall, looking wounded. Let’s assume we’ll get to hear the mini-golf story eventually.

Man, I hope they don’t go down the love-triangle road with these three — although it’s a little too late for that, isn’t it? Miles loves Emily, Emily loves Jesse, Tulip loves Jesse, Cassidy likes Tulip, Jesse loves God. And also Tulip? But also his congregation? It’s a whole love octagon involving the divine.

NEXT: Eugene has a surprising day

As the adults were fighting for their lives and enjoying morning beer and whatnot, Eugene’s been having a surprising day at school. First, a kid says hello in the hallway. Then a group asks to sit with him in the cafeteria, where he’s drinking his lunch shake alone. His confusion changes to nervousness and then tentative optimism when the same group asks him to come with them after school to see something awesome.

Wondering if it’s a trap, he follows them into a tunnel, where they set off a fireworks fountain. Eugene, surprised and pleased to be part of a group, declares it beautiful. All praise to Ian Colletti here; he conveys leagues of emotions with just his eyes. It’s a marvelous thing.

And now it’s Sunday morning. Jesse’s nervous about the number of people coming to the service. Emily also looks uncertain, and they try to convince each other that everything he’s done is for the good. Then he says, “You and Tulip done a great job setting this up.” Emily agrees, too politely, and clearly leaves the room to scream into a pillow for 15 minutes.

In the church before the service gets started, Eugene approaches and asks Jesse to take Mrs. Loach’s forgiveness back. He doesn’t think God wants him to be forgiven this way. “It’s cheating.”

Jesse disagrees and says what he’s done for Eugene is God’s will, just like it’s God’s will that he save the whole town. Like Mayor Miles, Jesse has God’s voice and his own desires battling it out in his head. He reminds Eugene he’s the town’s preacher, and it’s his job to make them see the light. He’s creepily intense here, and Eugene warns Jesse that making this choice for others is a wicked, terrible sin.

Jesse’s had enough by then and snarls at Eugene to go to hell. There’s a burst of ominous noise, and when Jesse turns around, Eugene’s gone. The next shot is a horribly burned body.

Psych! Miles apparently staged a car crash to cover Quincannon’s murders, and he’s on the phone with the Green Acres employee spinning a story about an accident, having embraced the voice he wanted to hear.

Meditation points:

  • Apparently Miles never watched CSI, because burned bodies still have gaping gunshot wounds in them.
  • If Jesse couldn’t make Cassidy fly in an earlier episode, he also couldn’t make Eugene magic himself to hell, right? Still, it didn’t sound like Eugene vacated the premises without some kind of divine help. Let’s assume we’ll find out eventually.
  • Any other comic readers spot the Nirvana smiley-face sticker in Eugene’s locker?
  • Oh, man, that loudspeaker isn’t going to lead anywhere good. Given the literal nature of Jesse’s commands, telling his flock to “see the light” could result in some seared retinas at the very least, and possibly even the event that kicks off the Preacher comics. Either way, pride (in putting his will before God’s) probably goeth before Jesse’s fall here.

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