After a few weeks of Jesse spreading the good word, Tulip spreading vengeance, and Cassidy spreading the smell of whiskey, Preacher’s fifth episode is a sobering, balancing look forward into what may come.
When Fiore and DeBlanc catch up to Jesse, aside from confusing him a little, they inform him that his new skills might not be the signal from the almighty Jesse was hoping for. In terms of Custer’s newfound goodness and rekindled joy for life, the revelation that he isn’t God’s chosen one will probably lead to some interesting results for the torn preacher.
An equally despairing episode for Cassidy and Tulip, the new pairing trade witticisms before Tulip reveals to the Irish vampire her plans for revenge, then cleverly begins using him to that end. The parting shot of them in a car pangs of Bad Idea and a rift between the two could be an emotional landmine. Considering the one of them that isn’t a murderous sociopath is a blood-drinking vampire on-the-run probably suggests this break-up could get a bit messy in every way imaginable. Joe Gilgun and Ruth Negga, however, continue to spark perfectly on-screen; Gilgun’s charm and Negga’s allure work brilliantly, even if their exchange is far too short.
Having established solid, but isolated, characters, the writers in Episode 5 set about testing them and forcing them awkwardly together. South Will Rise Again is less about life, the universe and everything as it is about how on earth these characters can function alongside one another. Having lost none of the style or attitude, this set of people are probably going to be forced up against some pretty spectacular supernatural forces, and some mean natural forces too (one of which may have just murdered four people with a very powerful shotgun in service of the Lord).
Catlin, Goldberg and Rogen use the episode as a springboard for the future troubles – it’s the small-screen equivalent of an animal pausing and raising its ears in case of predators. Everyone’s just hit the difficult part of a very steep learning curve, it seems.
Elsewhere in the mad, brutal world, our friend from Episode 2 returns. The (ex-)ex-gunman returns to open the episode, and has a much larger part within it. His struggle recalls the animated Tales of the Black Freighter from Snyder’s Watchmen. Grizzled, hopeless and yet relatable, his story is a dusty, solemn warning tale to those trying to fix the world.
The result is a strong episode, but unlike what Preacher has produced before. It’s a slow-burner, a collection of important moments that lay the groundwork for the future of this eccentric and savage town. A functional episode, it is missing a few of the more violent flourishes until the final few moments, thus providing many of the answers fans were hoping for, albeit missing out on some of the intensity in the process.
Preacher is available to watch online in the UK exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription. Episodes arrive every Monday, within 24 hours of their US premiere.