“It’s called Genesis.”
At last, some answers. Not Lost-style question within a question Russian nesting doll pass the parcel mystery-within-a-mystery answers, but definitive ones, straight from Preacher lore as transcribed by Garth Ennis himself. Taking a break from the eternal battle of Darkness versus Light, an angel and a demon made a baby. That baby – that obscene, heaven-sent product of Heaven and Hell – was called Genesis. And it’s Genesis what currently resides within the good (ish) Reverend Jesse Custer, imbuing him with the power to force others to do his bidding.
And it’s the fallout from this which Sundowner largely deals with, spectacular opening aside. Moving quicker than we might have come to expect from the series so far, all of Jesse’s answers come pre-credits sequence (and how good Preacher’s credits are, it must be said, up there with Dexter and True Blood for pure mood setting) before cutting loose with some of the bloodiest action yet.
Jesse’s power is borne from the Genesis symbiote, and DeBlanc and Fiore are legitimate Angels, AWOL from Heaven in an effort to sneakily get it back. They haven’t come alone though – as the three of them learn once pursued by an unstoppable Terminator-esque Seraph. To the Sundowner motel, then, where great use is made out of the entities’ ability to ‘respawn’ after being killed. That’s yet another action sequence nailed by a TV series which hasn’t fluffed one yet – brutal, inventive and hilarious, it might just be Preacher’s best so far (or at least, tied with Cassidy in a plane). We were doubtful at first, but Anatol Yusef and Tom Brooke display fantastic comic timing as DeBlanc and Fiore, and Sundowner really makes the most of it. As Jesse ends their encounter using The Word to get the pair off his back, the door is left wide open for them to call in the big guns as backup. Or rather, the guy carrying the big guns.
But none of this is what really drives episode six. If last week’s Quincannon massacre showed us that there might be repercussions headed Jesse’s way for misuse of the power, here we see the point hammered home. Jesse’s convinced that what he’s doing with Genesis has been the Right Thing thus far, and not Cassidy, Emily or Arseface can convince him otherwise. Setting up a massive amplification system outside the church, Jesse is determined to bring his wayward flock to salvation, by any means necessary (well, hopefully amplification devices will work better for the Preacher than they did David Tennant in Jessica Jones). Say, man of the cloth, you know what they say comes before a fall?
In this case, however, it’s poor Arseface – sorry, Eugene Root – who suffers for Jesse’s sins. “Go to Hell, Eugene!” snaps Jesse, in a moment of wrath. And, with an audible sizzle and a pop, the boy is gone. We can’t imagine this is the last we’ll see of Preacher’s dribbling poster boy, but it’s a Hell (sorry) of a cliffhanger. A savvy ending to an episode which is all about building mood and tension – scenes of poor Eugene at school are almost unbearable to watch. This, we sense, is to be Jesse Custer’s rude awakening.
Elsewhere, other pieces begin to fall into place in the background. Stuck in narrative limbo for as long as Jesse remains in Annville, Tulip is forced to resort to doing Emily’s Church errands in lieu of anything exciting. Still, Ruth Negga is so watchable as the character that even scenes of her delivering wine and gluing together a kid’s art thing are a lot of fun. Also, she had a kid once? That’s news to us fans of the comics.
Less news is Cassidy’s mooning over her, the vampire looking particularly heartbroken at the realisation that Tulip is (or was) ‘Jesse’s’ Tulip. Can anybody say ‘love triangle?’ The rest of it is Phil Collins jokes and the usual non-too subtle suggestions that Jesse should bloody well leave Annville already. All in all, the vampire seems particularly auxiliary in an episode called Sundowner.
That Preacher should instead choose to spend time with Jesse Custer and his (very literal) personal angels and demons is great news. The show has already proven that it can get the characters right – now here’s the reassurance that they can be trusted with the fundamentals of the story too. I know what I like and, hand on my heart, it’s Preacher.