Preacher: Season 1, Episode 7 – “He Gone”

Jesse continues to push people away in an episode that delves deep into his guilt-ridden past.

Last week, Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), the complicated namesake of AMC’s Preacher, finally found out the nature of his immense power. As the uncle of our favorite super arachnid loves to point out, great power comes with great responsibility. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear Jesse’s familiar with this credo, as last week ends with him accidentally sending Eugene “Arseface” Root (Ian Colletti) to hell. But, as we learn throughout this week’s episode, titled “He Gone”, this isn’t the first or last time, powers or not, that Jesse let his emotions get the best of him and pushed away those he loves most.

As it turns out, “He Gone” might actually be the least eventful installment so far, as the real-time events take place over one Sunday, exclusively within the Church. The more revelatory action comes in flashback form, giving us a bit of an origin story to both Jesse’s massive guilt and his and Tulip’s (Ruth Negga) long relationship.

We knew that Tulip and Jesse had a checkered and passionate history, but seeing them sitting outside a principal’s office as young children gives us a much better picture of just how heartbreaking it must for Tulip to be summarily ignored by her life-long best friend. “Till the end of the world,” they promise each other as children, days before Jesse’s dad calls child services and finds Tulip a steadier home away from the trouble that is her birth family.

With recent events, the end of the world may be sooner than either of them planned, but that doesn’t mean Jesse’s ready to forget what happened after Tulip was taken away. Fiery with his explosive temper, the young Jesse retreats to his bedroom and plops down on his knees, cursing his father and wishing aloud that he would die for what he’s done to his best friend. As we’ve seen through short flashes throughout the series, Jesse’s father does die, but it’s with this moment and this wish to God that we finally understand the symmetry between Jesse’s childhood and his current state of God-like ability. Jesse was haunted, and probably still is, by the fact that he was able to wish his father to death, but now that he actually has the tangible ability to get things to go down just as he wishes them, he can’t help himself.

“He Gone” culminates in a dinner party of sorts with the three people that, whether or not he would like to admit it, understand Jesse most; Tulip, Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), and Emily (Lucy Griffiths). The expected awkwardness abounds, with Cassidy taking the reins of the conversation and expounding upon his previous disagreements with the Coen Brothers’ classic The Big Lebowski, while admitting Miller’s Crossing is one hell of a movie. It’s the kind of random banter that makes Cassidy, and actor Joseph Gilgun, so damned enjoyable to watch, but it appears Jesse’s in no mood, an idea furthered when Eugene’s father Hugo Root (W. Earl Brown) shows up looking for his son.

Only in a series like Preacher could a drug-snorting, booze-swigging vampire be the moral center, but here we are. Cassidy saw what happened between Eugene and Jesse, and implores Jesse to do something to help Eugene. Jesse continues to assert that God must, after giving him this power, have a master plan for him, making everything that happens along the way, conveniently, fit into that plan. When Cassidy can’t seem to change his mind, he turns to finally telling, or rather showing, Jesse what he truly is, stepping into the sunlight and spontaneously bursting into skin-simmering flames.

Whether Jesse puts Cassidy out is unclear, but his anger is written all over his face as he slams the fire extinguisher down in disgust upon returning to the already ruined dinner party. In a fury that mirrors his childhood anger, Jesse then dismisses both the women that clearly love him most in an unceremonious and cruel fashion. For a man who seems to pride himself as someone with a cowboy-like lack of emotional attachment, he’s finally pushed away all his friends, and his timing couldn’t have been worse.

Just as Jesse angrily rips apart the Church’s floorboards in an attempt to find Eugene, we zoom out to find a confederate-uniform clad army, led by Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley), on its way to Jesse’s doorstep. Quincannon promised he’d be back to win the land he felt was rightfully his, and apparently he’s a man of his word. He’s also a man of impeccable timing, as Jesse has just lost his violence-inclined former lover and his friendly neighborhood vampire due to his own pride.

We’ll see whether this battle, which let’s face it, Jesse will almost certainly escape from, will perhaps knock him down enough to rid him of his pride and allow him to see that this power isn’t to be used without great thought and consideration. Maybe he’ll realize just how important Tulip, Cassidy, and even the loyal and trusting Emily are to his success — even if he’s seemingly an all-powerful God — but until he does, we can expect a lot more to go wrong before anything goes right.

RATING 7 / 10