‘Preacher’ delivers in action, feeling, and total weirdness.
“Sokosha,” episode 6 of Preacher, is fast-paced, high-stakes, and engaging. It’s a great return to form.
It’s also a fine return to the supernatural, an element that has always set the show apart. Character building is good, but weird is what Preacher does best. After two episodes of relatively realistic intrigue, it’s nice to have some more full-blown bizarre action.
And the bizarre action starts right away. The episode opens on a crash course in soul harvesting and donation, with no real context or explanation. It’s something totally new to us, a further opening-up of the Preacher universe. It’s a reminder that this world isn’t the same as our own.
Of course, we’ve always known that—this show isn’t exactly known for its high realism.
But after two episodes focused mainly on very real interpersonal relationships, it’s a nice reminder that there are fantastic things at play. It’s also a slight variation on the kind of fantastic we’ve gotten used to.
While the facts about Heaven and Hell always come as a surprise to our main characters, this new business about soul transplants isn’t exactly a revelation. It’s more like the fact that Cassidy is a vampire—people are surprised by it, but they’re not floored. This is a universe in which you’re not likely to meet a vampire, but you’ll know what one is when you do. And you’re not likely to be able to afford a soul transplant, but you know it’s a possibility. Even the “real world” is a little weirder than ours. It’s a fine and an interesting distinction.Papa Bebe Junior (Renell Gibbs), Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper)
And of course, this introduction to a new aspect of weirdness proves essential to the story. That’s part of what makes the episode work so well—it exists as something of a microcosm. In the beginning, we learn about a new element, and by the end, it’s tied into our main story. It’s hardly a complex plot, but the simplicity is what makes it so enjoyable. While a few episodes have felt slightly rambling or slow, this one is much tighter and more focused—it can stand on its own.
It’s also helped by the balance between weirdness and genuine feeling. This show does outrageous and strange wonderfully, but it’s best when it’s smattered with just a little bit of heart.
To date, I think the best episode of the season is still “Mumbai Sky Tower,” and this one follows as a close second. This is partly because both can stand on their own with a clear beginning, middle, and end. But it’s also because the insanity of both is balanced out by a surprising pathos.
Fiore’s death at the end of “Mumbai Sky Tower” is genuinely touching, especially when juxtaposed with the joyful insanity of the rest of the episode. The same applies to the revelation of Cassidy and Denis’ relationship.Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), Denis (Ronald Guttman)
Denis has existed for a while as a great source of comic relief, but it was only a matter of time before his true identity came out. The buildup may not have been overly subtle, but the payoff is still worth it. We’ve known from the second episode that Cassidy is 119 years old, but it’s a fact easily forgotten. Cassidy has two modes: fun and awful. Often the two blend together, and they’re always enjoyable. Now for the first time, we get a glimpse into the tragedy of his life, of his immortality. And it makes his character and the world he inhabits more real.
This pathos of Cassidy’s secret family can be applied just as easily to the Saint.
After knowing him only as a killing machine, our heroes learn the truth about the Saint’s backstory (some of which we already knew). The Saint tried to be good—he tried to find salvation through his family. And it’s out of desperation to be reunited with that family that he’s made the deal to kill Genesis. With the Saint’s complete story comes a lot of the empathy we had for him in the first season.
The manner in which the Saint’s backstory is delivered is lovely. This is the world in which Wikipedia absolutely exists, but a trip to the library is so much more cinematic and satisfying—the last thing we want is three people crowded around a cell phone screen. This way is stylized, but it’s effective. And it means we get a few pages of the actual comic which, in a fun turn of events, seems to exist in this universe.
When they’re trapped in Denis’ apartment, Tulip immediately makes the connection between the Saint’s tragedy and Cassidy’s—a worried father, a sick child, a need for medicine. It’s almost too good of a coincidence.
But of course, the Saint can’t be moved. Any pity we start to have is reigned in a bit by the fact that he won’t see the similarities, that he won’t give Cassidy the chance to save his own child. It’s a good counterbalance to the threat of sentimentality, and it’s a thread that runs strong through the show. Cassidy has to watch his son grow old, but he never bothered to learn to speak to him. Fiore has to die so he can finally find peace, but his last act is a death sentence for Genesis, which is almost certainly his own child.
Kids get a tough break in Preacher, and it’s their parents who bear the brunt of the responsibility.The Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish)
But however we feel about the Saint, Jesse’s treatment of him is incredibly harsh. He manipulates and lies to him, and the only reason he doesn’t send him back to Hell is fear for his own soul. Instead, he sinks him to the bottom of the swamp near Angelville. I won’t get too deep into what this means, but as a fan of the comics I can assure you that it’s a serious strike against Jesse’s quest to “be one of the good guys.”
Jesse’s not all bad—he gives up a part of his soul to save his friends. And considering his familiarity with the family business, he seems to understand the implications of this more than the poor couple at the beginning of the episode. The Soul Happy Go Go proprietor’s visible relief when he finds he’s not a match is enough to tell us that the process isn’t quite as consequence-free as he says.
Whatever Jesse’s lost with that 1% of his soul, it’s changed him. In the beginning of the episode , he smiles contentedly looking at himself in the bathroom mirror. Now, just one day later, he’s staring into the same mirror with a dazed and worried look. Something is very different.Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper)
Touchingly, Cassidy and Denis are actually brought closer together by their ordeal. It’s not very close—they still can’t understand a word the other’s saying—but they do put the batteries in a remote together. Cassidy gets the chance to buy his son a slick new tv, and Denis smiles for the first time ever. Cassidy sure isn’t a good father, but he’s trying.
But that’s the only good news there is. Something has happened to Tulip, and it’s even less explicable that the loss of a soul. Being touched by the Saint has changed her in some way, making her just as quiet and blank as Jesse. And Jesse, as well as being down part of a soul, now shares an inextricable bond with the Saint.
The happy moments eating pancakes together may be gone for a while.Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga), Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun)
“Sokosha” is a great episode. With new world-building, a ticking clock, and the long-awaited convergence of two major characters, it’s an advancement of the plot that’s satisfying and exciting in a way we haven’t seen in weeks. It delivers in both craziness and heart, and it promises some serious shifts in character and action in the episodes to come.
I can’t wait for those Checkov’s guns under the bathroom floor to fire.