Jesse faces his final temptation. Herr Starr seeks to restore his name and beauty.
God is a sick puppy
Ed Jacobson works at a train station, soon becoming obsessed with one commuter's destination: a place which doesn't exist.
Season 1, Episode 9: “Finish the Song”
Directed by Michael Slovis
Written by Craig Rosenberg
* For a review of the previous episode, “El Valero” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Call and Response” – click here
Back in ole Ratwater, we find ourselves discovering more about The Cowboy (Graham McTavish). In a saloon the patrons all listen to a man singing. When The Cowboy arrives, returning for his vengeance, he finds the preacher (Justice Leak) with whom he recently had a run-in before the devastation of his family. The preacher tells everyone about the “Butcher of Gettysburg” a.k.a The Cowboy before them. They’re all horrified. When the holy man asks The Cowboy whether he’ll succumb to the love of Jesus Christ, the reply is not subtle whatsoever: “I love my horse. I love my wife. And I love my little girl. As for Jesus, he can join us all in Hell.” Out come a bag filled with decapitated heads, then his dual-wielded guns. The end for everyone in that saloon is not a happy one. It is bloody, merciless. It is an act of absolute hatred because of what’s happened to him and his family. Even the poor singing man from earlier gets knocked off. As does the man using the player piano. Our Cowboy, he pours himself a drink, as a massive storm bears down on Ratwater.
What a god damn opener. One of the best, if not THE best, so far in this first season. Amazing stuff. Heavy.
Sheriff Hugo Root (W. Earl Brown) is carting Jesse (Dominic Cooper) off to jail. He’s also asking where Eugene (Ian Colletti) is, what’s happened to him. Custer only says he sent the boy to hell. Well, Hugo isn’t happy. He’s giving the preacher a little story about what happens to kid killers in jail, as if Jesse would have actually killed a young man like Eugene. Then with an “I‘ll see you Sunday,” Jesse tucks and rolls out of the cop car leaving Root completely stunned. There’s that old thief spirit.
In other news, the two angels, or whatever they are, DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef) and Fiore (Tom Brooke) are out for a stroll on a rainy Texas evening. They’re looking to go on a trip. “We wanna go to hell,” DeBlanc makes clear after their travel adviser suggests Nova Scotia, Canada, or maybe Tasmania. Fiore makes it clearer: “MUCH further South.” Anyway, they get it all done. Even after Fiore almost has to bang the lady out back. But the arrangements are made, all above board. Or, as above board as it can get with dudes from heaven trying to get into hell.
Over at Tulip’s (Ruth Negga) place, we find her and Emily (Lucy Griffiths) trying to take care of the ole vampire himself. Tulip lets goody two shoes Emily in on the fact Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) is an ancient bloodsucker. Poor guy is trying to regenerate after proving himself to be a creature of the night to Custer. Taking a lot to get him back to good health. Now, Tulip tells Emily she couldn’t care less about Jesse, as he’s done enough to break her trust already. Oh, and Emily even readily admits to dating Mayor Miles Person (Ricky Mabe). Well she does a good job pretending it’s “cool.” Learning a bit from all the liars around her. Tulip? She’s gone to “kill a man in Albuquerque.” So Emily gets left to feed the starving vampire all on her own. When she gets too curious, opening the door more than a crack, Cassidy – still burnt, bloody, a hideous creature – snarls at her.
Chilling under a bridge, having breakfast and a bit of wine, Jesse hangs out with some homeless friends. One of whom is quite curious as to how Jesse plans on bringing God right to church, as he so claims.
DeBlanc and Fiore are worried about being separated, so they don’t want to call heaven and settle things that way. Then they suggest a coin toss for whether they go to heaven, or to hell. When they do a double or nothing flip they get heaven. Excited, they then find out their precious phone is missing.
DeBlanc: “You left a telephone with a direct line to heaven‘s throne under the bed!”
Fiore: “I thought it was clever. Who checks under the bed anymore?”
Miles gets a call from Emily. Turns out Cassidy got out of the room, as he cried for help. A trick? Regardless, the trusty mayor heads over to the O’Hare place. Strange noises, guinea pigs and rabbits in cages squeaking.
Then we find out Emily’s figured a way to get Miles out of her life, after watching a bit of Psycho on television and hearing Norman Bates talk about how we’re all stuck in our lives, unable to break free. This single mother has found a way to break free. That involves feeding Miles to Cassidy. Two birds with one stone: Miles isn’t creeping around Emily, forcing himself into her bed + Cassidy can heal. Also, we get a nice shot reminiscent of Kubrick’s The Shining, as Emily keeps Miles locked in the room just like Jack Torrance pressed himself against the freezer door, ranting to his terrified wife outside. And the sounds of Mayor Person meeting his nasty demise.
At the motel, Sheriff Root finds a blood spattered room. In the tub, a woman with her arms and legs cut off. “Kill me,” she begs. Looks like the angelic duo had to leave her behind. As Root contemplates helping the woman die, our awareness makes it a tragic moment. He has no idea the trouble he’s about to cause once he strangles the dying… thing… to death. She reappears behind him before leaving the room.
DeBlanc and Fiore have to leave everything behind after they get on the bus to hell. This is the exact same spot where Walt and Jesse were respectively meant to meet the extractor nearing the end of Breaking Bad.
Over at the O’Hare house, Jesse turns up. He sees Cassidy in his low, dangerous state, curled in the corner. On the floor is the corpse of Miles. We see the two friends discovering everything about each other. Will Jesse accept Cassidy once more? “I‘m not goin‘ anywhere,” Jesse tells him: “You saw me too, Cassidy. The worst part of me.” He apologises for letting the man burn in front of him. “You put me out, that‘s what matters,” replies Cassidy. And then they’re off, getting rid of the mayor’s body. Putting all that’s right in its place.
Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley) is looking forward to seeing the preacher fail inf ront fo everybody at church on Sunday. Should be quite a show when the “greatest lie ever told” gets the rugged pulled out from under it.
The phone to heaven’s throne? Jesse has it. However, not being an angel doesn’t exactly make it easy for him to make a call. He does make a call on a regular phone, though. To Tulip. He recounts having pancakes with the homeless people, which reminded him about a story a few years ago when they were on the run from some Rodriguez Brothers; about pancakes, M&Ms, and essentially about how much he cares for her. “For me, it‘s just you ‘til the end of the world,” Jesse says while Tulip sits in Albuquerque, a man tied to a chair in front of her, a meat tenderiser in her hand.
We flash back through moments with The Cowboy. All those horrific events which led to him killing everyone in that saloon. Like going through his own personal hell.
Back at the bar, him having a drink, the storm starts to rage outside. The walls shake and everything is about to fall down around him. Yet The Cowboy drinks away.
Then we can hear footsteps coming down a dark, barely lit hallway. The feet then step onto the saloon floor, all the bodies, the bloody squishing beneath them. DeBlanc and Fiore stroll up to the bar, as our Cowboy draws his guns. “You want this to end? You want to be free of all this? We have a job for you,” DeBlanc explains to the man. Before getting a bullet in the face. Afterwards, Fiore explains they need him to kill somebody: a preacher. Ah, and things keep on coming together.
In Annville, Jesse and Cassidy dig a hole in the night, somewhere along the desert. They’re digging for angel hands from the bodies Cassidy already buried. Alongside the rest, they lay Miles to rest. So with a line to God now, is Jesse going to use those angel hands to try and convince him to come to church on Sunday? Have mercy.
My favourite episode yet! I’ve said that a couple times, but this takes the cake. Amazing. Through and through. The mystery and suspense of the series has never been better (or paid off more) than in this chapter. Finale is titled “Call and Response” and you can be sure we’re about to see something spectacular, on all fronts.
Season 1, Episode 8: “El Valero”
Directed by Kate Dennis
Written by Olivia Dufault
* For a review of the previous episode, “He Gone” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Finish the Song” – click here
In a ski lift heading up a mountain, the Quincannon family drop off the wire and to their certain death. Odin (Jackie Earle Haley) sits in his office with crates in front of him. Is this his family? He looks dishevelled and worn out.
Simultaneously we hear him talking to John Custer (Nathan Darrow), as we switch to Odin covered in blood, organs in his hands; either his daughter’s organs, or the dead cow’s next to him. In those boxes are his family, indeed. He’s looking for proof of God, though Custer will not denounce his faith. Outside waits a young Jesse, catching a slight glimpse of the horror inside before leaving with his father.
Whoa. Preacher steps up the game with this one.
At the church in present day, Odin finds his guys aren’t having much luck infiltrating the church of Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper). Speaking of the preacher, he’s inside drinking, brandishing guns and speaking with God. Or at least speaking at him.
When he makes a deal not to use his powers again, he manages to lift Eugene (Ian Colletti) right up from out of the earth beneath the floorboards. He’s back! Poor dude has been places. He’s alive, though. When they talk, Eugene says that hell was pretty “crowded.” Not surprising.
Outside Odin and his gang are frothing at the mouth. Inside, the preacher doesn’t sweat it. He’s busy trying to lay bare his ego, though I’m not so sure if that’s going to last. Either way he admits, for the time being, Eugene was right about God being the only one to judge him re: Tracy Loach. In this moment Jesse has clarity. He knows that DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef) and Fiore (Tom Brooke) were right to come take the power from him. But then we start to see that Eugene isn’t just thirsty because he’s been in hell for a little. He’s FROM hell. An apparition of Jesse’s guilty mind.
The ever fun Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga) is on the look for a dog. She finds one named Brewsky. Perfect. At the same time, Emily (Lucy Griffiths) is experiencing a slight crisis. She’s also got Mayor Miles Person (Ricky Mabe) sniffing around, as usual. Plus he drops the bombshell about Jesse supposedly giving up his church to Quincannon. Man, is Miles ever a creepy dude. Sure he helps out around the house, but that’s not exactly his place.
Donnie (Derek Wilson) leads the charge for Odin’s men on the church. They head in, weapons ready and bulldozer going hard. Except Jesse can shoot a rifle like nobody’s business, as well as tosses a few molotov cocktails. When Odin thinks the preacher won’t hurt anybody he’s swiftly proven wrong: one of the boys, Clive, had his dick shot “clean off” by the renegade Custer. Oh shit. Is this Custer’s last stand? Too on the nose.
Jesse asks for the agents – our heavenly hitmen. They go to see him with all their equipment in tow, as Sheriff Hugo Root (W. Earl Brown) stands out with Quincannon, wondering about his kid inside. He also doesn’t like that Odin is trying to tear down the church. We know, from that vicious opener, he is not a religious man. Not for a long time.
Everyone’s worried about Jesse and his mental state. He still sees Eugene. Although Fiore lets sleep there is actually a way to bring a person back from hell, which DeBlanc doesn’t seem too pleased about. Outside, Mayor Miles talks a good game about Quincannon and his plans to Emily, conning her in. He’s got blood on his hands, literally, so I wouldn’t trust him. That’s for sure.
DeBlanc and Fiore plan to use their little tune to draw out Genesis. For his part, Jesse wonders why he was chosen. Why he didn’t explode like the others. “No one understands God‘s plans at first,” Jesse wonders to them aloud, trying to hold onto Genesis awhile longer. “And what good have you done with it?” questions DeBlanc. Good point, dude.
Just about the whole of Annville is waiting outside to see the show at the church. They’re all hoping for more shooting. Y’know, yeehaw! Fitting that Donnie is dressed in his Civil War reenactment costume. Looking like an asshole. Then he heads over to his car, puts his head in the trunk, then places a gun inside before pulling the trigger.
It seems like Genesis has been pulled from out of Jesse. With DeBlanc and Fiore heading off, not planning on helping with Eugene, or not so concerned really, Jesse is not playing nice. Not to mention Genesis isn’t done with the preacher. It’s found a home, even blowing the can apart. Then they’ve given up. What’s the next step, though? Is there a more extreme measure DeBlanc and Fiore will take now that their basic methods aren’t working?
Now a gunfight is raging. Bullets fly through the walls of the church, as jaded Texas residents stand watching; some in awe of the violence, others nearly sexually aroused by the carnage. Jesse holds tough inside, shooting back between swigs of liquor. Then Donnie shows up. Whaaat? Has something taken hold of him? No, he’s popped his ear drums. He can’t be forced to do what it is Jesse (and Genesis) wants him to do.
Donnie gets the upper hand. Inside the church, Jesse signs over the deed to his father’s land, the church. “The God of Meat” is now a thing, ruling over the tangible and everything genuine. Well, in this comics universe, God does exist. As does the Devil. As does some other intense creation, Genesis. And so all of that logic Odin tries using means nothing. Jesse opts to make a double or nothing deal, of sorts. He says he’s literally going to bring God to Sunday’s next service. If not, he’ll denounce his faith, God, all of it.
And that dog Tulip picked up? I think she’s fed it to Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun).
Sheriff Root takes Jesse off to jail. He’s also still wondering about where his boy has gone with no answers from the preacher, either.
Down in a dark room, Pappy (Biff Yeager) stops a pressure overload, working in Quincannon’s factory. What exactly’s happening, and where is this leading? Another good bit of mystery.
Loved this episode. Very different, very cool. Also, we’re seeing the ego of Jesse come out, more and more. Likewise we’re starting to understand the power of Genesis. And all the mystery, the intrigue, it’s so gradual in the right kind of way that I dig the writing so much. Next episode is titled “Finish the Song” – the penultimate Season 1 finisher.
Season 1, Episode 6: “Sundowner”
Directed by Guillermo Navarro
Written by Nick Towne
* For a review of the previous episode, “South Will Rise Again” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “He Gone” – click here
After a whopping last episode, “Sundowner” begins with Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) at the table with DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef) and Fiore (Tom Brooke), as they’re explaining what’s inside of him. “It‘s a mistake,” says DeBlanc. Ominous. But the preacher wants more. He wants to know its origins. He starts using his powers against them: “It‘s called Genesis,” explains DeBlanc unwillingly. Lots of talk about heaven v. hell, an “endless war” and such. An angel and a demon conjoined. Something never meant to come into existence. The whole thing is beyond powerful. A comic, dark opener that I love. When DeBlanc and Fiore start stomping on a woman outside, Jesse rushes to her aide – only to find she’s a mad woman with superwoman strength. Fiore does the job and kills her. But damn, Jesse has gotten himself into a situation over which he holds no control. Well, at least the heavenly duo have found their phone again. Because it’s time to go: the woman regenerates and they’ve got other trouble to worry about. Seraphim are on Earth. Looks like DeBlanc and Fiore aren’t doing the greatest job, someone isn’t happy. And Jesse just keeps learning more and more about the holy world.
We discover Fiore and DeBlanc are on Earth unauthorised. Thus the reason for their predicament. When the Seraphim woman tracks them down at the Sundowner Motel, she blasts the two heaven-sent hitmen before getting into one bad ass fist fight with Custer. An amazing little sequence sees Fiore and DeBlanc regenerate, as they all try and take the woman down. They do. For the time being, at least. She regenerates and comes back for more. Poor Fiore takes the brunt of most of her assault. Problem is if they keep killing her, she keeps coming back. They’ve got to keep her down, restrain her, then deal with the aftermath somehow. I couldn’t get enough of this whole sequence. It hilarious, a bit bloody, filled with action. The first twelve minutes of this episode are a complete kick in the face, in the best possible sense. One of my favourites of the first season.
Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) arrives, only to mess up all their hard work by killing the woman off. Although the deed gets done soon enough. After a ton of blood and mess. Now DeBlanc and Fiore need Genesis back, so they can get on with things. Jesse wants to know more, though, and wonders why it chose him, how it did. Then reveals he’s keeping it. He feels Genesis is part of his duty. “God does not want this,” DeBlanc pleads. Oh no. The hubris of Custer is becoming dangerous. I wonder how this is going to play out for him after the two heavenly beings take the next step; and what IS the next step from here?
At school, Eugene (Ian Colletti) finds DIE scrawled on his locker. All the same somebody says hello to him; his first response is to apologise. I’m hoping nothing bad happens to him. Still, I keep wondering exactly what it is he did to Tracy Loach. We’ll figure more of that out, those of us who haven’t read the comics yet. In other news, Tulip (Ruth Negga) barges into Emily’s (Lucy Griffiths) place and threatens her, ordering her to stay away from her boyfriend. You know who. Initially Emily doesn’t say much, but doesn’t hold back when bitching Tulip out. They have a strange little moment after Tulip agrees to fix what she broke in her rage.
Oh and poor Mayor Miles Person (Ricky Mabe). He recently watched Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley) gun down a bunch of people whom he hoped were to be business associates. Now there are calls coming in about the folks that never returned from their business trip. Yikes. That can’t mean anything good, and I feel bad that such a mild-mannered guy like Person is wrapped up in Odin’s (and partially Jesse’s) madness.
At home, Cassidy and Jesse drink morning beers, stand around in their underwear while their clothes is in the wash, and catch up on what’s happening lately in their respective lives. “You look like a men‘s room wall,” says Custer re: Cassidy and his ink, as they each talk about tattoos. Jesse even has a tattoo for Tulip. That’ll be a wedge between them if they ever talk about Cassidy and his latest friendship with Ms. O’Hare. They get on to discussing Genesis. The vampire doesn’t think it’s a great idea to keep. Whereas Jesse thinks it’s best to keep it, keep on as he did before, and use it to make things better. Oh, so sadly misguided: “God doesn‘t make mistakes,” he tells Cassidy. And with that, Jesse is setting up a loud speaker outside the church. Just downright begging for trouble.
We also figure out more from Tulip – she once had a child. Once upon a time. That’s sad. Was it her and Jesse? Or someone else? Tragic, heartbreaking if it was with Jesse. For now, Tulip helps Emily out after they develop a small bond over motherhood. Fun to see these two women together, even if it’s a tenuous friendship at best. More like Tulip wants to keep her close, to make sure there’s nothing going on between her and the preacher.
Eugene finds some people willing to sit with him at lunch, as he slurps down a liquid meal. Two of the boys are slightly apprehensive, though one says he’s a good guy. Is this for real? I keep thinking something bad and terribly high-schoolish is about to go down. After school he goes with the trio of guys to a drainage tunnel where there’s supposedly something interesting. The closer Eugene gets, the more he’s apprehensive. The more it feels dark and dangerous. Then the boys light off some sparklers, as it lights up the tunnel, and Eugene revels in its beauty.
Setting up for an outside service of some sort, Jesse receives Mayor Person for a visit. He’s, of course, on edge, sweating not simply from the heat, but also the heavy guilt on his shoulders. The Green Acre Group are still calling, wondering where their people went. Miles gives a semi-confession, very vague, to the preacher, and tries to seek out “the right thing to do” without opening up too much. There’s a great parallel between their conversation, what Miles wonders about God and his own ego – telling “one from the other” – and what Jesse is feeling about Genesis. There’s just no guessing what will happen from here re: Miles and Quincannon’s mess.
We’ve also got Cassidy and Tulip being awkward – he’s finally figuring out about her and Jesse. A whole lot of messy stuff, from dead bodies to emotional baggage. Worst part is that Cassidy seems genuinely hurt, despite being a vampire; they’ve got feelings, too!
When Jesse has his next service there are lots and lots of worshippers. All hoping to get saved. Eugene goes to see him first, saying he wants the preacher to reverse whatever he did with Mrs. Loach. “I don‘t want it,” says Eugene. He doesn’t feel worthy of redemption, clearly. You can already see the ungrateful side of Jesse, the hubris and the ego when confronted by Eugene saying that it’s cheating to be forgiven like he was, to have it all go away and be forgotten. There’s a dark side to Jesse waiting to burst forth onto Annville.
Then the unthinkable – as Eugene argues with the preacher, Jesse utters: “Go to hell, Eugene.” And nothing is left of the boy. He’s gone. Where? Oh, you know.
And Miles Person, the trusty Mayor of Annville, he gets rid of those pesky bodies. They’re all burned to a crisp now, and he plays the fool on the phone to Green Acre. There’s an amazing edit that cuts between Eugene disappearing and the burned bodies in the car that’s absolutely PERFECT. This show is so solid on every angle.
What a great episode. One of my favourites this season, so far. I can’t wait for more with “He Gone” up next. Where’s Eugene? Will we see him actually in hell? Oh, god damn, I’m excited!