As the end draws near for the first season of AMC’s Preacher, consequences arise for many of Jesse’s actions. Though he may have thought he had been doing good with the power of Genesis, as the angel DeBlanc says, “you’ve had it there, right on the tip of your tongue, this whole time, and what good have you done with it?” Much of “El Valero” stands as stark reminder of just what chaos has been wrought from Jesse’s actions, as Odin Quincannon’s men attempt to lay siege to the preacher’s church.
The true horror of “El Valero” is not just in its depiction of the violence brought upon Jesse by his actions, but by the episode’s tendency to provide moments of hope, just to rip them away. Early in the episode, Eugene makes his triumphant return, shaken and thirsty from his time in Hell, but not quite ready to regale the preacher with his exploits, (only providing that Hell is “crowded.”) The veneer fades, however, when it’s revealed that Eugene was never really there at all, only a hallucination that Jesse’s guilt manifested. In much the same way, there are various moments when Jesse seems to have won the fight against Quincannon’s men, only to have the tide turn by the episode’s end. Even the adorable side-story of Tulip adopting a dog ends violently, thanks to Jesse’s actions towards Cassidy in the previous episode.
For a true visualization of the destruction brought about by the preacher’s actions, however, one needs only watch how insane the battle for his church becomes. Even in the early stages, a man has his privates blown off, and that’s only the beginning of the bloodshed. Though no lives are lost in the process, many lives are changed irrevocably, not the least of which is Donnie’s, who goes to extreme measures to not fall victim to Jesse’s power.
As the episode draws to a close, the fight seems to be all for not, as Jesse is forced to give up his church, with the promise of one more Sunday, where Jesse will bring God to his parishioners or renounce him on the spot. Jesse is broken and losing his faith, hoping for the one Hail Mary pass that might reinvigorate it. As it’s proven in its previous episodes, Preacher is not a show that markets in hope, and all that Jesse has left in his wake so far is a boy sent to Hell, a lost church, broken relationships and a dead dog.
Ryan E. Johnson (@atxtheaterguy) is a theatre and film critic from Austin, TX. He enjoys the films of Sion Sono, Wong Kar-Wai, Ingmar Bergman and loves experiencing films told from bold, new perspectives.