In this episode of Preacher, “He Gone,” we learn a little more about Jesse’s childhood, and the history he and Tulip share. Plus, Jesse faces several people questioning his actions, and Eugene is nowhere to be found.
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Little Jesse’s Prayer
I’m always fascinated by the flashbacks on Preacher, and this episode very much delivers in that area. We’re treated to several more scenes featuring Little Jesse, but we also get a good dose of Little Tulip as well.
Early on, we see Jesse and Tulip, as schoolchildren, waiting outside the principal’s office while Jesse’s dad talks to the administrator. When he comes out, he asks them why they fought several other students, which is the reason they’re in trouble. Jesse argues that his father taught him to stand up to bullies, which is what they were doing when they got into a fight that escalated into Tulip biting the nipple off of one boy. Yes, you read that correctly.
Long story short, Jesse’s father quickly realizes that Tulip has no safe family to go home with, so she ends up sleeping on their couch for a while. The arrangement seems to be working out just fine, with Jesse and Tulip doing chores and homework accordingly and all that. But one day, Tulip overhears Mr. Custer speaking with someone on the phone about her.
Next thing we know, the Texas Department of Human Services shows up. Despite Jesse’s impassioned protests and subsequent chasing of the car they arrived in, Tulip is taken away by two women who come to speak with her. It looks like they won’t be together “’til the end of the world,” as they had both promised each other.
Jesse questions why she had to be taken away when she was being so good, and his father claims it’s because Tulip is an O’Hare and that there was always going to be trouble with her as a result. That night, Jesse prays for his friend’s safety and, still furious with his father, he prays for the man’s death in the next breath.
At some later point, Little Jesse is suddenly awoken by his father in the middle of the night, and John Custer instructs his son to hide under the bed. The next thing we see after Jesse conceals himself is two men breaking into the house and beating his father, before the two Custers end up outside, with John having a gun to his head. His father tells Jesse to be good and to not cry. Just as Jesse is screaming that this is all his fault because he prayed for it, his father is shot to death in front of him.
A Dark Turn
Jesse’s commitment to his promise, and to saving lost souls, likely stems from what happened to his father as a child. I think it’s safe to say that he’s trying to make up for what he might perceive as his responsibility for his father’s death. But in this episode, he goes a little too far in his quest to rid the world of sin.
Jesse goes through an entire church service after dooming Eugene to Hell and seems completely unconcerned with the young man’s fate. Even when the Sheriff starts asking around about his son, the Preacher admits nothing. Later, Cassidy goes to him and tells him that he saw what happened to Eugene — but rather than rail against him for his actions, he asks how he can help his friend with the situation.
But because Emily is listening in, Jesse doesn’t answer him and quickly leaves. When Tulip comes into the kitchen that Cassidy is left in not long after, they bicker a bit about their respective relationships with the preacher before Cassidy lets her know that he didn’t tell Jesse about what happened between them. Tulip doesn’t seem concerned and turns the whole thing around on Cassidy by asking him whether he’s told Jesse about his true nature.
They bicker a bit, with Tulip establishing that, despite his claims about Jesse being his best friend, Cassidy doesn’t know him at all. He retaliates by saying that the other man can make people do things just by telling them to, but Tulip blows this off and says, “Not me.” But, of course, we all know that’s not true.
Or is it? Is Jesse’s power really as effective as he believes? After watching a rehearsal of a dramatization at the church about Lot’s wife in the Book of Genesis (Jesse suggests that the players need to seem more “terrified” of what’s happening to them), he’s called away to speak with Odin in another room.
To his shock, Odin then presents Jesse with paperwork, signing over his land and the church to Quincannon and his company. Jesse says that that wasn’t their agreement, that he made Odin into a Christian, but Odin calmly replies that he’s no Christian. When Odin won’t back down, Jesse refuses to sign anything, and Quincannon promises to return.
So why didn’t Jesse’s abilities work on Odin? Or did they but only temporarily? Did they ever work on the other man in the first place?
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“I’m No Innocent Either”
Later, Cassidy and Emily are both outside the church before a dinner they’re both attending, along with Tulip and Jesse. They speak briefly, and Emily admits that she knows there are things she doesn’t know about Jesse. But Cassidy reassures her that the preacher is “a good bloke” — but it isn’t long before we all end up questioning his opinion on that.
At the dinner, they’re all pleasantly conversing when the Sheriff shows up. He lets them know that he can’t find Eugene, and he had hoped his son was hanging around with the preacher like he often does. But Jesse completely denies even seeing Eugene, which Emily quickly refutes. She states that they definitely met before the church service. But when Jesse won’t admit to this, she backtracks and claims that she also saw Eugene leave afterwards, which, as we know, simply isn’t true.
After walking the Sheriff to the car and seeing him off, Jesse is confronted by Cassidy, who whacks him with a fire extinguisher. Jesse admits that he didn’t mean what happened to Eugene. But when Cassidy asks to help again, Jesse isn’t inclined to help the man he damned at all.
Jesse then tells Cassidy the truth about what happened with Eugene and Tracy Loach. Apparently, Tracy was a very popular, loved girl in the community, and when Eugene asked her out, she rejected him. His response was to put a gun to her head and blow half her head off, before turning the weapon on himself. So he explains to Cassidy that the boy is not so innocent after all.
When Cassidy argues that that doesn’t mean Eugene deserved to be damned, and that Genesis is completely messing with Jesse’s head, the preacher won’t hear of it. He argues that it’s all part of the “plan” God has, which Cassidy denounces. Finally, Cassidy states that he’s not innocent either, before tossing the fire extinguisher at Jesse, removing his clothes and catching fire in the Texas sun, since he’s a vampire and all.
“Your Daddy Would Be Proud”
The next time we see Jesse, he’s back inside with the fire extinguisher, facing questions from Emily and Tulip. But Tulip figures out very quickly exactly what happened — Jesse let his friend burn after all.
Jesse asks if they knew about Cassidy, which Tulip admits to but Emily is completely lost about. Tulip snarls at him that his father would be proud, and Jesse demands that she stop talking about him, before insulting her and the dinner she prepared for them. “What are you even doing here?” he asks. She replies, “Good question,” before leaving.
Emily, the only one left in the room with the angry preacher, reassures him that she always believed in him. But rather than thanking or encouraging her, Jesse replies that that was stupid of her, before telling her to go home. She readily complies.
Desperate Times, Extreme Measures
Finally, the episode closes with Jesse literally ripping up floorboards in the church, before digging into the ground beneath it. Using his commanding ability, he desperately repeats, “Come back!” By the end of this episode, at least, it’s to no avail.
Meanwhile, not far away, Quincannon suddenly approaches with a bulldozer, headed straight for the church. And he’s not alone. With him is a small army of his employees, and it looks like they’re not about to leave without a fight.
Preacher airs every Sunday night at 9pm on AMC.
(Image courtesy of AMC)