“Please. Please kill my dad and send him straight to hell” – Jesse
The history of comic books and television shows are replete with anti-heroes. There’s a certain charm to them. But there are anti-heroes, and then there’s Jesse Custer this past week on Preacher.
“He’s Gone” picks up in the immediate aftermath of Jesse sending poor Arseface to hell. Apparently. You would think that would make Jesse feel a little, you know, awful – but you’d be wrong. Unfortunately, there was a witness hiding in the balcony who saw Eugene vanish. Cassidy.
Jesse is trying not to be perturbed – but it’s clear he is. He doesn’t use the Word while delivering his sermon and after the service, he stares at the spot Eugene disappeared with a far off look on his face. Turns out he’s reliving his past.
Flashback time. We see the circumstances that originally put Jesse and Tulip together. Jesse’s dad took Tulip in, despite her having some “behavioral issues.” We see little Jesse praying, telling God he’s trying to be a good man. Man, he’s been struggling with this for a loooooong time, huh?
Back in the present, Cassidy tries to confront Jesse about Eugene – but our Preacher’s got no time for it. As Jesse leaves for Bible study (that must be a fun class), Tulip shows up, having prepared dinner for Jesse. Cassidy mocks her, and Tulip counters by asking if Cassidy has told Jesse about his v-card. Cassidy says he trusts Jesse not to judge him, but his face tells another story.
Flashback time, part 2. We see young Tulip overhearing Jesse’s dad talking in hushed tones on the phone. She crawls into bed with Jesse:
“To the end of the world, right?” – Tulip
“To the end of the world,” – Jesse
Next thing we see, the Department of Children and Family Services is dragging Tulip away, despite Jesse’s objections. Jesse’s father admite he called them, because she’s an O’Hare, and O’Hare’s are trouble. That night, Jesse prays again:
“Please. Please kill my dad and send him straight to hell.” – Jesse
In the present, Jesse is keeping himself busy by being a total d-bag to everyone he encounters. I think we can all tell his guilt over Eugene is manifesting as anger, but man, he’s really being a dick. Things go from bad to worse when Quincannon shows up with a deed to transfer the church and land, as per their agreement a few weeks back. Jesse refuses to sign, and Quincannon promises he’ll be back. That’s something to look forward to.
You know what would make everything better? An incredibly awkward dinner featuring Jesse, Tulip, Emily and Cassidy. Yikes. Jesse is brooding, Emily is slyly (but not really) insulting Tulip’s cooking, and Cassidy is rambling about the Coen brothers. Suddenly my awkward Thanksgivings seem positively delightful.
Thankfully Sherriff Meat Loaf shows up to replace the awkward with more awkward. He wants to know where Eugene is. Jesse denies knowing anything – pretty impressive considering the withering glare Cassidy is giving him. After the sheriff leaves, Cassidy calls him out on the crap he’s feeding everyone, including himself. And that’s when Jesse snaps:
“I didn’t mean to. I said the words, and he was gone.” – Jesse.
Cassidy wants to try to figure out how to save Eugene, but Jesse has already moved on. But Jesse’s washed his hands of Eugene.
“You just sent an innocent kid to be forever poked by piping-hot pitchforks. I think acting like you give a damn might be a good start, man.” – Cassidy
Flashbacks, part 3. We finally get the full story on the making of Arseface. Turns out, he loved Tracy, but she didn’t return the favor. So Eugene shot her, then shot himself. So he botched a murder and a suicide. Huge divergence from the comic, and I’m not a fan.
“So Eugene is not that innocent.” – Jesse
Cassidy still doesn’t think Eugene deserves hell. Is Cassidy the hero of this show? One could make a case. Anyway, Cassidy makes a drastic move. He gives Jesse a fire extinguisher, and steps into the sun, bursting into flames. Does Jesse saw him? We don’t know yet (we kinda do, because Joseph Gilgun isn’t going anywhere)
But wait, Jesse’s a-hole parade isn’t done. When Tulip asks about the vampire, clueing Jesse is that she knows what he is, he responds ambiguously. Jesse looks at Tulip’s attempt at home cooking, and sneers: “What are you even doing here?” And Tulip walks out. Because obviously. Good job bro, you’ve alienated everyone.
Final Flashback time. We see two men dragging Daddy Custer him and Jesse outside. We see his father’s murder again. As his dad dies, Jesse cries that it’s his fault. After all, he prayed for it.
Back in the present, Jesse has finally, it seems, realized what he’s done. He’s ripping up the church floorboards, trying to use the Word to force Eugene to come back. But it doesn’t seem to work that way.
As Jesse is struggling, the episode ends with Quincannon leading his men toward the church — ready for a fight.
This episode was a mixed bag for me. The pros: we got much needed backstory on Jesse and Tulip’s relationship, which lends some emotional gravity to the present day. And we also find out, from Jesse’s past, why he is so fixated on “being a good man.” The cons: I really hate what they did with Eugene. I get that the TV show is different than the comic, but turning him from a pathetic suicide attempt survivor to a murderer is a drastic step, and not one I’m comfortable with.
2.5 out of 5 Arsefaces
- The two guys who killed Jesse’s dad, although their faces were covered should get readers of the comic books attention. They are two of Garth Ennis’ more despicable characters, and that’s saying something.
- The most hilarious moment of the show was Cassidy, while attempting to guess Jesse’s favorite actor, suggests Ryan Phillipe. Why is that funny? I don’t know, but it is.