Previously on Preacher, “Monster Swamp”
Preacher – S1E5 – South Will Rise Again | Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, Joseph Gilgun, W. Earl Brown, Lucy Griffiths, Ian Colletti, Anatol Yusef, Tom Brooke | Writer: Craig Rosenberg | Director: Michael Slovis
And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD.
2 Chronicles 12:14
Now that we’ve gotten the mild disappointment of the series being totally unlike its source material, it was definitely easier to parse expectations from revelations in “South Will Rise Again”. From what can be gathered, showrunner Sam Catlin is focused on the ambiguities of evil and how the questionable actions one takes for the good of a cause or his people, remain evil nonetheless. In the arid, barren West Texas landscape, the only thing that flourishes are the distasteful practices of Annville’s citizens. Written by Craig Rosenberg, “South Will Rise Again” examines the deep psychological wounds Custer and his growing flock bear, and the monsters that lie underneath the pleasant smiles and empty gestures.
Before diving waist deep in the increasingly sordid exploits of Jesse’s service to God, we follow the Saint of Killers as he endures the depravity of Ratwater’s citizens. Currently known simply as “The Cowboy”, this old rustler is no angel by any means. The men that creep about the shit-filled streets of Ratwater can attest to his bloody past; still it doesn’t compare to the depravity they are capable of inflicting on others. The Cowboy may be a grim, hateful bastard, yet what prowls in the shadows and whorehouses of Ratwater are the absolute worst humanity has ever spat out.
Beaten, bloodied but far from broken, The Cowboy’s effort to return to the homestead were for naught. Arriving to find his wife and child a feast for crows, you can bet your last dollar that The Cowboy’s revenge on their killers will be a level of brutality that hasn’t been witnessed by anyone within Ratwater’s limits. It’s likely many viewers feel The Cowboy is justified in gaining vengeance for his loved ones by wiping out an entire town. What most may not catch is his story is foretelling of sorts for Jesse Custer if he were to succumb to his baser instincts.
No, he won’t be gunning down half of Annville anytime soon. Actually, Jesse’s overly charitable turn toward his followers may be far more destructive than any form of retribution.
Once a no-frills preacher lacking direction and ability to inspire his flock, the direction which Dominic Cooper is leading Jesse Custer has been peculiar to write the least. It was immediately obvious that showrunner Sam Catlin and his writing staff were guiding the series down a wholly unique path, nevertheless the choices Custer made in “South” have been disturbing.
Somewhere along the line, Custer has become so obsessed in building his church and leading parishioners to a righteous life, he’s effectively stripped them of their agency to find God on their own. Jesse’s liberal use of The Voice is concerning because it doesn’t feel like preacher is attempting to better the lives of his congregation than he is attempting to justify his choice in “being good”. Rather than allow Terri Loach (Bonita Friedericy) to eventually find the patience and integrity to forgive Eugene Root (Ian Colletti) for ruining her daughter’s life with their botched suicide pact, Jesse uses his voice on the second member of the family to have his way.
Custer isn’t evil in the traditional sense yet the power he commands hasn’t exactly created any good so far. A church member has killed himself in front of his mother, a pervert had his mind wiped and a handful of others have been forcibly compelled to “do right” according to Jesse’s questionable morality. Donnie Schenck (Derek Wilson) is the perfect example of how Custer’s power can leave one distraught and unable to recover from their experience.
Little was given for Ruth Negga to work with this week as Tulip’s growing frustrations about Carlos living yet another day have begun to compromise her better nature. It doesn’t take much for Cassidy to find opportunity that suits his needs and O’Hare is more than willing to do whatever unsavory job or shifty degenerate to take her mind off what ails her.
The most surprising development was saved for last for the newly touched Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley). Funny how things work out. One minute you’re Annville’s number one asshole for the eleventh consecutive year, then you suddenly have God forced into your life and now you’re somehow worse off. Quincannon’s uh, hasty meeting with the Green Acre Group makes us wonder what exactly the hell happened? Did the power of The Voice fade? If not, how does this “serve God”? Obviously, Odin’s interpretation of The Man Above is the old testament version. Whatever the case, Quincannon’s story line has immediately become the most intriguing element of Preacher, as every other character’s arc has tempered in order for each of them to receive sufficient screen time.
Considering how effective Odin was in dispatching his enemies in the name of God, Jesse will finally learn more about what lives inside him – and if it’s even heaven sent. Custer gains some knowledge from a pair of rogue angels in “Sundowner” next Sunday at 9/8c on AMC!
Preacher S1E5 = 7.3/10