In Philosophy, Free Will is the designated doctrine that our collective conduct as humans is bathed in personal choice and not providence, whether physical or divine. No matter whether Jew or Gentile, Atheist, Believer or somewhere in the middle, I think we use it as comfort- a kind of Thunder Blanket for the Soul. Whether you’re in the milieu of Fatalists or the preserve of “God’s Plan”, you still may find momentary solace in that there’s the possibility that your outcome in is your hands. This is what makes the philosophy so great… and so scary as well.
It is within the fifth episode of Preacher (AMC), “Bleak City,” that I’m beginning to fear both the characters and the writing staff are beholden to a fate worse than illusory freedom- and that’s boredom.
We open in on a PowerPoint Presentation showing the wonderment of Australia in the offal splattered Melbourne Information center. As the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) waits for Jesse to ping on his radar through Genesis, Eugene (Ian Colletti) prays for the deliverance the wave of mutilation surrounding him. Though I love their dynamic, it seems to be showing signs of wear. Nothing’s changed for five episodes between the duo up until this point. Since we’re at the turn of the season, could this all change?
Elsewhere in the city, Jesse (Dominic Cooper) looks for some reliable wheels. Hitting a hiccup when he is found out as a fugitive by Jaxon (Shaun Goss), a stuttering employee, Jesse finds himself at a crossroads. He chooses to offer the option of free will instead of taking by force. As a reward, Jesses forces Jaxon not to stutter anymore through the power of Genesis. Your boy has blipped and the Saint is now on the movie with Eugene in his slipstream.
Out of the parking deck and nearly hitting a garbage truck, Jesse is face to face with a gob-smacked Eugene. Before they can make sense of the moment that’s lead them there, Preacher peels away before the Saint of Killers could fill him with them lead there.
As Custer continues out of city limits, grappling with whether he should go back for Eugene, he comes to a literal crossroad. Attempting to continue, he’s again thwarted by an oncoming right from the right. This appears to be all the sign Jesse needs, as he relents and makes that yoU-Turn. I mean, he decides to be better, right?
Back at the Holy Bar and Grail, an elated Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) is reunited with a seemingly happy and vindicated Tulip (Ruth Negga). Over drinks, Cass and Tulip relay stories about the Vamp Troupe is Louisiana and a Blitzkrieged bus ride to Hell with a group of Nazis, respectively. As Jesus Christ (Tyson Ritter) slays on a vintage Asteroids cabinet, a newly freed Archangel (David Field) asks the barkeep Kamal (Miritana Hughes) for a room to change in and a phone for a special date. I’m going to let that entire paragraph set in. Honestly, if I could have an entire bottle episode just set in the Holy Bar and Grail, I’d happily take it.
After some prodding, Cassidy admits to Tulip that he did tell his boy, Jesse, that he and Tulip did stuff. Now, there are three ways I would take it amongst each character. Tulip would say they fucked. Jesse would say Cass betrayed. Cassidy would say he and Tulip had ‘a moment.’ Oh, Cassidy, never fucking change and stay golden you ole’ softie. At least his nose is hard enough to take a snook from Tulip before she learns that her man is now a wanted fugitive for killing a seemingly innocent cadre of ‘sex tourists.’ Believe it or not, that’s a legitimate term!
Meanwhile, at Masada, it’s found that Jesus Christ is playing hooky. This presents a problem to Herr K. Starr (Pip Torrens), with Featherstone (Julie Ann Emery) offering the Grail as a whole her life in penance to negligence, letting both Tulip and Cassidy slip through her spindly fingers. As the Grail is always in servitude to someone higher in the rungs, Featherstone stands in contention to being done in by Hoover Two (Aleks Mikic), though the task is handed to him. Hoover Two is sycophantic to a poetic rather than Featherstone’s militant degree, so this becomes a battle of wills betwixt who is more loyal.
As she’s about to meet her demise for a second time, the phone rings, giving her a figurative and literal window of time to jump out of, deploying her interesting flying squirrel/parachute raiments more application once again. This gives me pause. Are all Grail suits equipped with this feature? If not, are only the upper echelon given these suits? If not, because it’s Featherstone, a clever and pedantic soldier? If so, did she customize her suit for evasion and escape? Curious and curiouser.
Back on the all-white court (how apropos), we find Hitler (Noah Taylor) playing squash with possibly a Nurse called Betty? Anyway, Herr storms in, shoving his possible Nazi sympathizer to the floor and proceeds to show the Fuhrer the more ‘McEnroe’ points of what is a SET! I mean, how dare Adolf sneak a peek into the Not-Ready-For-Primetime-Player Humperdoo! Oh, and if you’re wondering, according to Hitler, he’s a go for the Apocalypse and someone everybody can believe in. I mean when’s the last time you trusted a world leader? Yeah? Me neither.
As another victim had Bitten the Dust, the Saint of Killers is convinced Jesse will rear his head again because of Eugene and Eugene alone. It so turns out that Jesse is scoping out a particular construction site and through a tracking shot, we don’t know what he’s doing but we know he’s hatching a plan as he uses Genesis on the entire worksite. This sparks the interest of the Saint of Killers and Eugene like an abused puppy continues to follow.
Back at the Holy Bar and Grail, Cass takes all of the blame (surprise, surprise) and wants to go back to rescue Jesse. This is sounding either like a pattern or something so close to a prix-fixe meal I don’t know if God was the chef or just the writers wanting him to really drive in the fact that he’s still at war with himself. Hasn’t the poor lad suffered enough? He’s a fan favorite. Does he finally break free and make a choice or is that his lot he feels he’s dealt?
Tulip refuses his mission to rescue Jesse. He’s created a shitstorm for her all of her time of knowing him and she is grabbing free will by the horns in not being betrothed to his plights. Cass is free to come with her and Jesus to Vegas, but it’s up to him and his time is wasting. Sorry, Cass, but that’s a sticky wicket.
Moving along the road to the construction site Jesse had basically set a beacon out to, the Saint of Killers and Eugene arrive. Oh, wait a minute. Yep, it was a trap. The Saint of Killers gets the wrecking ball and Jesse gets a few moments to rescue Eugene before the Saint could put spurs to dirt again and walk among anyway he wants to kill.
As Tulip tunes up her ’72 Chevelle Super Sport, she gives J.C. one last chance to opt-out. His reasoning is actually flawless. He was born a man and he was to be without constraints. He was made to walk among the earth, so what better a person to take a walk than with Tulip? Tulip, still finding a reason to rid herself of the shit agrees. They just need Cass on board.
Back in the Holy Bar and Grail, the now dapper Archangel tries to convince by word that Cass has a good thing going and that he has feelings (which I believe he does.) He’s called a ‘gob-shite’ by Cass, but maybe it’s the visual played out that Cassidy needs more. Up comes the Demon from Hell the Archangel fell for as a verboten, a more special love. They engage in a dance compliment of Queen’s ‘Love of My Life’. Cass at the end seems moved.
Meanwhile, over in the city of Melbourne, Jesse after breaking into a car with Eugene shares a heartfelt apology. It seems heartfelt, as he’s been harboring the damn thing for seasons. The moment is cut short though through Jesse’s incompetence of hotwiring foreign vehicles, causing them to flee.
Outside the Holy Bar and Grail, Tulip and Jesus get vulnerable through a shared joint, waiting for Cassidy. We learn that Jesus actually did commit two sins by sleeping with a woman (who was married). Hey, he’s human! If the Almighty wanted his only begotten Son to be perfect, he would have created a fucking robot or some shit.
Anyway, we learn that Humperdoo is pure, unabashed innocence and is his favorite son. Tulip reflects what Jesse said last episode: God is an asshole. The only thing is that Jesus doesn’t take well to that. We get it. We can talk shit and lament about our families. If you say it? We take offense.
As Tulip honks and waits for Cass, our favorite hopeless romantic Vampire is still at war with himself. He compares his plight to Han and Luke and brilliantly so… BUT calling his bluff is all about Tulip’s thing. She absconds with Jesus to the open road. At first, it’s exciting, but then the high comes down and Jesus imagines himself in a bank robbery upon Tulip’s suggestion as to what to do. Ensues this interesting dream sequence J.C. wants no Penny in. Frustratingly, Tulip drives him back to Masada.
As the Archangel at the Holy Bar sits his Demon down for a nip of champagne, he approaches an intent Cass. The Angel’s face is forlorn as if happiness had lept from it. Cass, inspired will take his advice about love. Shame. The Archangel extracts his sword and pitches it into the forehead of his beloved. I mean, she is a Demon after all, and the balance must be maintained. As demons are angels gone left, they can regenerate and thus ensues their knockdown, drag-out fight in the place they just shared ‘a moment’ with.
Jesse also shares a moment with Eugene, as he chokes out a cop. Thinking that he’s freaked out, Jesse assures him he’s taken the high road and he’s not dead. They enter the car and proceed onward.
Across town, in a more permanent means of sleep, the Saint of Killers listens to the radio of his latest victim. Jesse so happened to respond and now this retro Terminator has another ping to connect the dots. I feel that either Jesse has some plan or no plan, feeding on what he feels is God’s plan and testing it.
At the outskirts of Masada, Tulip gives Jesus a little bit of playful guff, being the Boy Scout and all. Despite his refusal, he cannot argue with that. Is it free will he’s doing it or is it his dad’s plan? No matter what, Tulip maintains that his dad is a fucking asshole. As a Fatalist, I say the universe can be as well.
At the bar, as bedlam is all about, Cassidy, garbed in a jacket and a shemagh with a pair of bad-assed Aviators that would make Tom Cruise jealous makes his exit. He finds Tulip outside and continues the journey to Terras Australias.
Back at the Summit, a worried Herr and Hitler make contact with an approaching STAR. Jesus refuses to shake hands with the Fuhrer, but rather gives him an unsolicited hug. Now back to business.
As Jesse crawls out of his stolen Police Car, Eugene revels. Apparently, no amount of apology could take the place of anguish and pain, though you might be tied. I think that’s called a ‘Deuce’.
However, I call this episode a Love. It’s a zero score. I honestly didn’t care for it. Now, if they happen to get over the berm, it might be different, and I have faith it will deliver. So right now, the jury is out. It’s dazzled me, set a fire in my heart, then put a little water on what is supposed to be a turning point.
Can it deliver in the last five? Stay tuned to find out!