Now we’re talking. After two episodes spent dealing with Tulip’s marriage to Viktor (RIP) and what happened during the aftermath of Dallas (ugh), Preacher sets itself back on the path to righteousness. As every great episode has since the show’s return, Sokosha kicks off with the Saint of Killers kicking a door in. Led to the vicinity by Viktor’s daughter, he wastes little time in locating his preacherly prey.
Where Viktor and Dallas ambled between their revelations, taking their sweet time to establish history both recent and ancient, Sokosha is fast-paced and uproariously fun. There’s an immediacy that the Saint brings to every episode that really helps the show with its pacing problems. Forced to flee Denis’s apartment after the Saint fills his neighbours and the fridge (plus yoghurt) full of bullet holes, the trio head to that bastion of genre TV: the library.
Pleasant Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibes abound as our meaner, older Scooby Gang hit the books in search of information on The Saint. Times have changed since the 90s though, and researching the weakness of one’s supernatural enemies has never been easier: in this case, books on tape, pulp literature and literally reading Preacher comics (putting Vertigo’s Saint of Killers special to great use, even if there’s a sad lack of Steve Dillon artwork on display). In an episode packed to the rafters full of little conveniences, this one gives Jesse a clue which might just lead to The Saint’s ultimate downfall…
Armed with this knowledge, Jesse agrees to a tete a tete with the Saint(e). At this point, we’re less than half way through Season Two, so their reckoning came far earlier than this reviewer had anticipated. Jesse gets The Saint to temporarily holster his pistols and promises him two things in exchange for peace – a soul, and therefore entry to the Kingdom of Heaven, where his dead family live on without him. The Saint agrees, but he drives a hard bargain. One hour to find a soul for The Saint of Killers, or Tulip, Cassidy and Denis die.
If the library full of books on the Saint of Killers wasn’t convenient enough, the following action takes the convenience biscuit. Conveniently, Jesse Custer just so happens to know how and where exactly to acquire a soul for a man. This, conveniently, is because his family happen to be in the soul trade business. And conveniently, he’s already in New Orleans, the capital of selling one’s soul. And although those businesses have all themselves been put out of business by a big bucks Japanese corporation (damn Starbucking, always killing the little guy), one of their trucks conveniently happens to pass right by where Jesse is standing. Jesse hijacks the vehicle and, although soul merchandising is a little more complicated than one might expect, Jesse conveniently happens to be a match for The Saint. And so Jesse Custer donates 1% of his soul to The Saint of Killers.
Less conveniently for The Saint, this now makes him vulnerable to The Word. It’s a smart bait-and-switch, and a con that John Constantine himself would be proud of. It also gives Jesse and the show some breathing room, The Saint seeing Sokosha out buried in a seemingly inescapable watery grave, Jesse Custer triumphant.
This is the show playing to its strengths, with great action, funny character interactions, and well-judged use of the source material. Fans of the comic will notice Jesse dropping his family name (L’Angell), as well as a brief trip to Angelville. As The Saint’s watery grave is almost certainly inspired by the L’Angell family favourite punishment, it can’t be too long before we see Jesse’s family up close and personal.
Jesse’s isn’t the only family that matters either – the mystery of Denis and his hatred for Cassidy is almost casually explained, the old timer being Cassidy’s son. Referred to under the wrong name and speaking a language his father never even bothered to learn, the Denis reveal is a welcome moment of poignancy in a show which too often trades in cynicism and nastiness.
Even that abates this week though, as the characters show a little warmth and affection to themselves and others. All three of them risk their lives for Denis’s, Cassidy loses some fingers in saving Tulip’s life, and even Jesse begins to show some mettle again. It remains to be seen what the loss of 1% soul will do for Jesse, but, given his actions thus far, it can hardly make him more of an asshole… right?
With the Saint of Killers out of the way for the time being, Preacher had better learn to do without. At least until the star attraction can get here, anyway.
PREACHER SEASON TWO, EPISODE SIX: “SOKOSHA” / DIRECTOR: DAVID EVANS / WRITER: MARY LAWS / STARRING: DOMINIC COOPER, RUTH NEGGA, JOSEPH GILGUN / AIR DATE: 24TH JULY (USA ON AMC); 25TH JULY (UK ON AMAZON PRIME)