UK TV review: Preacher Season 1, Episode 4 (Monster Swamp)
Chris Bryant | On 21, Jun 2016
“You know the rules, I don’t talk about how my meat gets made and you don’t talk about your magic man in the sky.”
Odin Quincannon’s words to Jesse might sound tough in Episode 4 of Preacher, but it seems like there’s far more slaughter on the preacher’s side of the agreement so far. Quincannon features heavily, with Jackie Earle Haley, along with the writers, ensuring that he becomes more than his quiet, merciless self. An exchange with Custer while painting soldiers proves that Quincannon is closer to detached than soulless, although Jesse’s influence on Quincannon’s soul proves more powerful than either expects. It’s an odd relationship, and a thoughtful addition to the show’s struggle with right and wrong. The flashbacks from Jesse’s past bathe the scene in a somewhat uneasy light, as fans wonder what terrors he saw in Quincannon’s office as a child; but when did Preacher ever made anything easy?
Elsewhere in the baking heat and dusty light of God-fearing Texas, Tulip’s temper gets her into a little trouble, and leads Cassidy to pause his busy schedule of inter-dimensional negotiations and drug-fuelled sex. It is a joy to see The Gilgun and Negga finally share some screen time, not least to see who can pull off their accent better. Tulip’s ability to create chaos and Cassidy’s unhealthy attraction to it means that the two are an inevitable pairing. The actors produce some excellent beats, while not quite letting their characters’ full potential for anarchy let loose just yet. Cassidy’s revelation of his blood-thirst is more than clear, and can be perceived as a big deal considering his tendency to fear vampire hunters, even if he does find people murdering him little more than a minor interruption to an otherwise fantastic day.
Custer’s ups and downs, his refusal to step over the line towards Tulip, while also employing violence and on-off mind control, means that it’s still not entirely clear what sort of preacher Jesse is going to be. Monster Swamp, however, gives Dominic Cooper material to help with this. Cooper’s drifting, deceiving man-of-God is rarely without an air of falseness. The performance innately requires there to be more to Custer’s history, but in his present, he remains a fascinating character, simply because it’s easy to believe he knows something everyone else doesn’t – a stylish flair that existed in the show long before he became supernatural.
It’s the show’s up-and-coming cast that provide the welcoming and the warm-glow of a show where total disembowelment is a punchline. The cast provide a grounded dimension to their larger-than-life role, while maintaining their individual eccentricities in a story where the angels and the vampires have starring roles. The episode itself is as carefully worn and thrillingly madcap as everyone has come to expect from Ennis’ source material – it’s clever, it’s meaningful, and it’s almost certainly insane.
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.