Characters and Character Development: 9
Aesthetics and Style: 8
Overall Plot: 7
Audience Assumptions: Some familiarity with series (or my Preacher graphic novels reviews)
Episode Six: Sundowner – *****
Part One: Okay, This Wins. I Declare It “Best Opening Sequence”
This episode opens with one of the most memorable scenes in the whole series, and this series isn’t exactly bereft of memorable scenes. Jesse finally has a talk with the angels Fiore and Deblanc, who we learn are on Earth without permission and want to keep their presence here a secret. They explain to Jesse that the thing he believes was given to him by God to save the town is in fact an angel-demon baby called Genesis that accidentally escaped its confines (namely, the coffee can). Their chat is cut short by the arrival of a bounty hunter angel whom Fiore and Deblanc proceed to murder.
As we learn, whenever killed, the angels just pop back to life somewhere nearby, leaving a dead corpse behind. Jesse, Fiore, Deblanc, and the bounty hunter reach the angels’ motel room wherein a bloody fight begins, the bounty hunter trying to kill the others while they try desperately to restrain her without accidentally killer her or dying themselves. This proves difficult, and as they continue to fail, the corpses pile up in the room, leading to a zoom-out shot of the motel room filled with about twenty corpses – all of people who are at that moment alive and continuing to fight. Like much of the action in the series, it’s a hilarious display of gore and absurdity with little consequence that epitomizes a unique comedic tone. The credits roll, after which Jesse, Fiore, and Deblanc finally have the bounty hunter angel subdued — until Cassidy comes in and shoots her in the head, starting up the process all over again. By the time the conflict is resolved and all four of the major characters have sat down to talk, Jesse has decided to keep Genesis, angels be damned.
Part One: Wait, What?
Most of what happens in this episode outside of that opening fight is one-on-one conversations, but these are wonderful character-building moments full of tension and expression. The episode primarily alternates between a conversation between Tulip and Emily and a conversation between Jesse and Cassidy. The first comes about as Tulip continues to try to determine how to convince Jesse to kill Carlos, perceiving Emily to be competition for his attention. After storming into her house and throwing one of her children’s clay sculptures against a wall, she apologizes and the two ladies are forced to make small talk while Tulip fixes it.
In many ways, this scene is uncomfortable, as both of these people clearly dislike one another and even as they try to find subjects to relate to, their personalities continue to clash and they make little jabs at each other. It feels very reminiscent of scenarios when two characters who don’t outright hate each other but who have nothing in common are forced to spend time with one another on an infrequent basis, like at a family reunion, and have to pretend to be nice even though neither is trying very hard to maintain the ruse.
We learn something interesting through these superficial conversations, though, when Tulip reveals that she used to have a child. There have been a few hints about this earlier in the series, but the revelation frames Tulip’s character in a slightly different light. We have little information beyond Tulip had a child once and no longer does for whatever reason, but that loss alone is a lot for a person to contend with. Making the logical assumption it was Jesse’s child too, the news implies that their relationship might have been deeper and their falling out more loaded than the audience has assumed until now.
Part Three: Did You Really Need to Take Off Your Clothes, or Did You Just Want to Bond with Your Man Friend in Your Underwear?
On a lighter note, we have the second major conversation scene, which involves Jesse and Cassidy sitting around in their underwear bonding over tattoos. This scene is the more light-hearted of the two but still brings up the dilemma the two characters face in clashing over how Jesse should use Genesis. Cassidy insists that he is delusional and should give it back to the angels, while Jesse not only decides to keep using it, but sets up a plan to use it during a big upcoming church service to influence the whole town. The setup for this service has been framed in an ominous way through the installation of a megaphone outside, and the mention of two hundred people predicted to come, the same number of people in the church when it blew up in the graphic novels.
Later in the episode, Eugene also questions Jesse’s assertion that he should use Genesis. Eugene has come to recognize the scope of Jesse’s abilities, like Donnie, after Jesse forced Mrs. Loach to forgive him during the last episode. Throughout the series, the disfigured teenager has been an overly nice person with a guilty conscience and people have treated him like a piece of trash, even his father going so far as to suggest he should kill himself. Although the details of the circumstance are left unclear in this episode, we know that he was in some way responsible for Tracy Loach becoming comatose, and that this event might be linked to him being shot in the face and ending up disfigured. After being assaulted by Mrs. Loach and then hugged mere minutes later when Jesse forces her to forgive him, Eugene starts to be treated like a human being again. Kids at school start to hang out with him, and in a genuine way, too.
This disturbs him, however, and he confronts Jesse about it, claiming that the means he used to improve Eugene’s quality of life feel unearned and unnatural. He claims that Jesse using his power to artificially solve the town’s problems is a way of cheating, not actually resolving what the cause of the issues were in the first place. This is pretty much on point with what Jesse has been doing, but the claim clashes with his worldview that his power is divine and meant for good. To admit he ever made a mistake in using it would nullify the confidence Jesse has in both the power and himself to make those life-altering decisions. He’s not especially willing to do that, but Eugene continues to press the issue, and Jesse turns on him, telling him to go to Hell. Which he does.