Sunday, June 5, 2016

REVIEW: 'Preacher' - Jesse Tries to Make a Difference While Cassidy Fights the Mysterious Hunters in 'See'

AMC's Preacher - Episode 1.02 "See"

Jesse tries to be a "good preacher," unaware that a mysterious duo is after him. Meanwhile, we meet the enigmatic Cowboy.

Jesse isn't a very good preacher. He wants to be. He wants this new livelihood to give him purpose in this world. He wants to make a difference in this community. But he is battling against a reputation and a community that refuses to listen to what he is preaching. He doesn't know how to make much of a difference in Annville. It's a town riddled with tragedies and people who refuse to change their beliefs. Jesse has been changed by the mysterious entity that hit him in the series premiere. But he's not aware of the new powers he holds. When news hits about Ted Reyerson cutting his heart out of his chest in front of his mother, it's an afterthought of the gossip circuit of the town. Yes, it's a tragedy. But it's no worse or weird than plenty of others things that have happened in this place. Everyone seems to be dealing with something life-changing that forces them to confront any kind of religious beliefs. Jesse is flailing around trying to make his church better. But what he really needs to learn is just how powerful his voice now is.

The power that Jesse has now is very dangerous. He didn't know about in the premiere which led to Ted killing himself. That's how powerful this new and mysterious skill is. Of all the people the entity struck, Jesse was the only one to survive. Was that because he doesn't have a devout and steadfast view of the world and religion like all the other church leaders did? Perhaps. Or it could just be random. Jesse was searching for answers on how to reach out to this community and get them to listen. Now, he has been given that opportunity. It's just a matter of him discovering just how powerful his word now is. It definitely does take awhile for him to come to that realization in this hour. The episode as a whole sags at some points as it's largely building up stories so that they'll be important later on this season. Even Jesse's reveal of his powers isn't the main focus of this episode. It is a vital part of the hour. But it's hardly the most thrilling sequence that happens in "See."

That honor belongs to Cassidy and his fight between the two mysterious and supernaturally-gifted hunters tracking the entity that now resides in Jesse. No one knows why they are in town and who they are after. The audience knows that they seek to contain the entity and its strong powers - through a musical performance it seems. But Jesse is knocked out cold when they finally make their move on him. He still doesn't know that these two individuals are hunting him down. He drank some of Cassidy's special whiskey and passed out seconds later. That's a potent beverage. But it also allows Cassidy to take the focus for a little bit during the middle portion of the hour as well. He really is such a fun and amusing character. He's not too grim or dour about things either like Jesse is. He's upbeat and outrageous. That's what makes him and Tulip such vastly interesting characters in the early going. Whenever they appear on screen, the action lights up immensely. That happens to an extent with Jesse as well. But as the lead character, he's also burdened down by some big issues of grief, depression and doubt. He's hesitant to embrace who he really is in this world. But when he does embrace the reality that Tulip and Cassidy exist on, he's a bunch of fun as well.

So right now, it's significant that Cassidy fights off the two hunters believing they are in Annville for him and not the entity in Jesse. He also tells Jesse about being a vampire - though that's not something that Jesse readily believes nor does he see Cassidy in action to actually believe it. This is a world where so many fantastical and over-the-top mystical things are happening. Cassidy is shot in the chest but is still able to kill the two hunters in an elaborate and thrilling fight sequence. It's the only one of the hour - which is a step down from the series premiere. But it's a particularly exciting and brutal one nevertheless. Cassidy is trying to protect his new friend. He and Jesse have already formed quite a friendship even though they are both a mystery to each other. Cassidy doesn't want Jesse to die in a war that he believes is about him. Of course, that's not true but it's still easy to understand why Cassidy would think that. And now, Cassidy believes he has killed two men and buried them in a box. But even more strangeness is afoot as well. It makes no sense whatsoever that these two hunters are seen alive and well later on talking with the sheriff. And yet, that's exactly what happens - and Cassidy's reaction to seeing them alive should be fantastic!

Meanwhile, Tulip is still determined to get Jesse to help her with her latest job. It's still a mission shrouded with secrecy. It does provide some insight into the past they share together. But that's something Jesse is trying to avoid and run away from right now. So, it largely remains a story told in cryptic details. And yet, it still works because of how engaging Tulip is as a character. She's a woman who plays by her own rules and succeeds at that. She walks around this town with confidence that no matter what she'll come out ahead. She's a disruptor to the natural order of things. That's an exciting presence that can also be so unnerving to Jesse. It's a huge accomplishment for him to get to baptize a number of people in his church. But when Tulip asks to be a part of the sacrament as well, it just shows just how easily she can get into his psyche and change the earnestness of what he wants to be doing. She's having a blast with that. She loves playing mind games with him - including stealing the stirring wheel on his truck and kidnapping him only to lock a chain to his leg. She's fun and mysterious though she'll likely gain more importance as Jesse is more willing to embrace his true self again by the end of the episode.

The moment that Jesse decides to change comes once again whem a parishioner confides in him with a dark, horrifying secret. The school bus driver has fantasies about molesting one of the girls on the bus. That's despicable and the man only seems to talk to it with Jesse because of the rules of confidentiality with confession. But Jesse finds himself haunted by the bus no matter where he goes. It's something he becomes fixated on. He wants to make a difference and he is defeated at every possible moment. No one wants his help and he hasn't changed a thing. His words are all he has and they mean nothing to the people of Annville. So, Jesse believes he has to take action to stop this bus driver from doing something terrible. He breaks into the man's house and wants to drown the thoughts out of his head. It's a brutal sight for a preacher to do. But it's during this moment where Jesse realizes the true power he has been given. He tells him to forget the girl and after awhile that literally happens. The man has no idea what the preacher has just done to him nor does Jesse know how he did it. But nevertheless, he made a difference in this community. His words had weight to them and he saved a young girl from a traumatic experience. That's something he immediately wants to share elsewhere. So, he returns to a girl in a vegetative state with a severely bashed in skull. Her mother accepted the preacher's pleasantries. But his words carried no significance for her. And yet, his newfound power might. He asks the young girl to open her eyes. The episode ends before the audience sees if it happens or not. But it seems fairly certain that it will and Jesse will have accepted this new gift that he has been given. What he ultimately decides to do with it could be very meaningful or potentially destructive to this town.

Some more thoughts:
  • "See" was written by Sam Catlin and directed by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg.
  • Jackie Earle Haley makes his debut as Odin Quinncannon here as a man buying a vast amount of land in order to expand his business. It's just a brief tease of a plot here. But it's also significant that Donny works for Odin and is still quite abusive despite his recent injuries.
  • Cassidy meets Eugene and is immediately taken aback by his harsh look and is pretty blunt about it as well. Jesse later tells him Eugene looks like that because he survived a shotgun suicide attempt.
  • Eugene is one of the people Jesse baptizes. He's so happy to be able to hear God again. But it's not long at all until he starts questioning things once again and believes he messed the sacrament up. He fears that this is the person God wants him to be.
  • In her spare time, Tulip likes to hang out at the local whorehouse, gamble with a couple of the guys, take all of their money and then tell a fictional story about her uncle being so drunk that he drove into a petting zoo and killed two kids and a goat.
  • Emily sees Cassidy as trouble and nothing else. She doesn't understand why Jesse allows him to hang around the church sleeping all day and causing mischief at night. But it's a good thing he's there to protect Jesse from those hunters.
  • That cold open made no sense whatsoever. But it was still a very evocative and engaging scene. It made sure the audience was unsettled heading into the hour. It will probably make more sense later on. But it was still powerful to see all of that horrifying imagery of bodies hanging from the tree with one guy calmly leaving the scene.