Thursday, June 20, 2024

Preacher Season 1 Episode 4 – Monster Swamp

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Let’s jump right into this week’s episode of Preacher, shall we?

We open with a girl running through Annville in only her underwear and a pair of Ugg boots as she’s chased by a pickup truck. She eventually ends up in a field, where the person driving the truck stops and gets out with his gun. This stuff is shot pretty ominously, with backlit mists and shadows and stuff, but we soon find out that they’re playing paintball. The girl is Lacy (Lacey?), one of the sex workers from the brothel we saw in episode 2, and she’s being chased by Clive, who works at Quidcannon Meat & Power (we also met him in episode 2; you may remember him as the guy who got his head smashed into the steering wheel by Donny).


Apparently this is something the guys at QM&P do on the regular. Clive catches up to Lacy when she stops to catch her breath and shoots her with a paintball. She stumbles backward and falls into a small sinkhole.

After the opening credits we get to a flashback of a young Jesse preparing the church for communion. In the modern day, Cassidy tries to warn Jesse about the strange “government” agents. Jesse’s mind is elsewhere, so he doesn’t even acknowledge the fact that Cass just admitted to killing two people to him. But Cass tries to tell Jesse that he has to leave, and of course Jesse doesn’t want to. Cass tells him that people are going to want the “thing” inside of him, and Jesse, misinterpreting this, says he’s going to give it to them.

Back in the field, they pull Lacy’s body out of the hole. Mr. Quidcannon doesn’t have much to say, except that everyone should be more careful next time. He leaves pretty abruptly after that. The Sheriff shoos everyone else away too, but Tulip thinks there’s more to be said. Mosie, the woman who owns the Toad Vine brothel, tells her to leave it alone, or at least I think that’s what her comment meant (I have no idea what I’m supposed to glean from the statement “It’s Chinatown”, and I’m not sure I want to know). Tulip sees Clive laughing about something with one of his coworkers, and it’s clear that she wants to do something about this. Honestly, the best thing about this scene is that they don’t show us Lacy’s body up close. In this world, that is almost refreshing.

Jesse goes to see Emily about what they can do to get more people into the church. She reveals that she’s kind of worried about him after hearing about him breaking into Linus’s house back in episode 2. She also kind of points out that he’s been acting weird, so it’s clear that people are starting to notice something is up. They have a moment – well, Emily has a moment – where it looks like Preacher is gonna kiss her but instead pulls a band aid out of her hair. This is the second time she’s been faked out, and while I don’t really want to deal with a romance, I kind of feel for Emily here, because she obviously has a crush on Jesse, but it’s a little unclear whether he feels anything back or not. But after they decide on who’s gonna pick up the TV for their raffle, Jesse tells Emily that he’s going to do “something wonderful” on Sunday that will have people at the church every week. I wonder what he’s planning…

We get another flashback, this time of Jesse hanging out with some other kids outside of the church while they smoke. His dad catches them, and gives Jesse a beating in front of the other kids, saying that he needs to be an “example”. It then cuts to Jesse smoking in the modern day. We get a suspicious close up of his ashtray. I’m left wondering if the little girl who was blowing smoke rings was supposed to be Tulip, because she looks nothing like Ruth Negga, but we saw a close shot of her while Jesse was getting beat, which the other kids didn’t get. Would have been nice for them to at least try to match the curl patterns though.

You can fake this with some rollers or a twist out, if you know what you're doing.
You can fake this with some rollers or a twist out, if you know what you’re doing.

Cass speaks to the agents from Heaven (called Fiore and DeBlanc, apparently) about why he hasn’t brought Jesse to them yet. He claims that he only agreed to act as a middle man to get Jesse to come to them. The agents explain their plan to get the entity back, and dodge Cass’s questions about whether they’re angels. Cass then asks about ‘payment’, claiming that Jesse would be easier to lure in with drugs. DeBlanc gives him money instead. We see Cass use that money on drugs and sex for himself shortly after this.

Before that though, Fiore says that he doesn’t trust Cass. He pulls out a box with a portable phone in it and says they need to let someone know what’s going on, but DeBlanc says they can’t because they’re on Earth without permission, so they have no choice but to trust Cass. They play the pronoun game for the whole conversation, so despite knowing that they’re talking about someone in Heaven, we don’t learn who it is.

Mr. Quidcannon has a meeting with the mayor about what happened to Lacy. We’ve seen that the mayor is kind of ineffective, but Quidcannon is very much the immovable object. He seems to know what might be causing the sinkholes in his fields, but is mum on the subject. He then asks Miles about a meeting he had with people from Green Acres, which turns out to be a sustainable energy company, which explains why they’re reaching out to QM&P. Miles tries to talk him into meeting with them, but Quidcannon shuts him up with a story about how his grandfather “took care of” a company that was trying to move in on his territory. Miles pleads with him, but Quidcannon pisses on the Green Acres brochure. Literally.

Fiore and DeBlanc get a scare when they think the box phone to Heaven is ringing, but it turns out to just be the room phone. Fiore tries to get a burger at the motel’s front desk, because haha, he doesn’t understand how Earth things work. He has to settle for the vending machine.

Hilariously awkward tall alien is hilarious.
Hilariously awkward tall alien is hilarious.

Emily comes home with the TV that night, and it turns out that Miles was watching the kids for her. He also cleaned up the place a little, which was nice of him. She tries to pay him but he refuses. They end up having a little some wine together and Miles tells her some stories about the people he’s been dealing with, including a guy who pooped in his driveway. They seem to be enjoying each other’s company, but Emily reminds Miles that they’re not gonna become a thing. She’s okay with casual sex, though.

The Toad Vine girls and some guys from QM&P have a funeral of sorts for Lacy. Tulip gets angry and berates the girls for even participating in the paintball match in the first place, implying that they’re better than running around being chased by guys in the middle of the night. Clive gets in her face because of her “girl power bullshit” and Mosie steps in before the two of them start scrapping. She says that the next hour of sex is on the house, in honor of Lacy, and everyone else goes upstairs. Mosie and Tulip talk about the latter’s mother and we learn that she was a Toad Vine girl too. Mosie goes off to make some tea, but Tulip can’t bury her beef with Clive.

Tulip comes up stairs with Lacy’s baton and starts beating the shit out of Clive. It turns out she had the wrong room, though, and the guy she sent tumbling out of a window was actually Cassidy. They rush to the hospital and Tulip freaks out while Cass bleeds in her lap. She actually prays, which shows how dire the situation is, in her head. Once they get to the hospital, Cass wanders off while Tulip is trying to get him a doctor, and she finds him in the blood bank. So Tulip knows he’s a vampire now. That’s cool.

We have yet another flashback to young Jesse, where his dad takes him with him when he goes to see Odin Quidcannon. The ashtray Jesse steals from the side table is the same one we saw him using earlier. Jesse’s dad comes out of the room later as we hear Odin yelling about how he renounces God, and Jesse sees something as he passes by the door. His dad tells him in the truck that some people can’t be saved.

In the modern day, we see Jesse with Mr. Quidcannon, helping him set up a model of a battle, I don’t know which one. Jesse tries to talk Odin into coming to church on Sunday, because he’s planning something and needs a figure that people look up to use as an example. Odin, of course, declines. Jesse tries to scare(?) him by talking about there possibly being judgment after they die, but Odin not only doesn’t care, but one ups him with his descriptions of what Hell might be like. Jesse sort of threatens to “make” him come to church, but instead gets him by offering to give over his father’s land if he can’t convert him.

I'm surprised Quidcannon didn't start jumping up and down, after this incident.
I’m surprised Quidcannon didn’t start jumping up and down, after this incident.

We come to church the next day. Jesse gives a wild sermon about how the world is going to shit, and it’s the fault of people turning their backs on God. Jesse says he’ll help bring them back to God one by one, staring with Mr. Quidcannon. Odin, of course, says no when Jesse asks if he’ll serve God. Jesse uses his power to make Odin convert. This is the big stunt that Jesse was planning throughout the episode, and I can’t help but think that this is going to go sideways very soon.

The last scene of the episode is DeBlanc and Fiore in their motel room. A phone rings, and Fiore picks up the room phone. This time, it turns out to be the box phone from Heaven.

I have to say, I liked this episode a lot. It was really well put together. The flashbacks in particular were done very well. Flashbacks can be hard to do, because they shouldn’t just explain the past – they should also be used to augment the current day happenings in the story. It’s really easy for a show to trip up on that second count, but here they’re effectively used to explain why Jesse wanted to pulled the stunt with Quidcannon on Sunday. I’m also really intrigued by our heavenly agents, though I haven’t the slightest idea what they’re going to do yet. I am left wondering why they used Monster Swamp as the name, considering the context of the phrase from the previous episode, though. Who is/are the monster(s) in the swamp? Is it Quidcannon?

A personal highlight was the fact that Tulip and Jesse were completely separated in this episode. I’m not only saying this because I was getting tired of seeing them fight over and over (though I definitely am). It’s also because, in a show centered on a male character, seeing the main female character do something without him, even for one episode, is great. That means that the writers acknowledge Tulip as her own character, worthy of existence outside of Jesse. This is especially big since Tulip is the only prominent non-white character on the show. I am a little surprised that she met Cassidy on her own, but that’s good too, because she can bond with him outside of Jesse.

But yes, overall this week’s episode was very good. Next week’s episode is called South Will Rise Again, which has me a little nervous because that implies white supremacy, and I don’t know how this show will deal with racism. But I’m hoping for the best.

Images courtesy of AMC

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