You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Preacher’ Recap: Jesse Custer Teeters Between Duty and Justice

This post contains spoilers for “Preacher,” Season 1, Episode 2, titled “See.” To refresh your memory of where we left off, read the first “Preacher” recap.

Taking a page out of Quentin Tarantino’s playbook, ominous music and desolate landscapes set the stage for the second episode of “Preacher.” We open with a reticent ranger on a mission to find medication for his daughter, coming across a chatty caravan of settlers who have traveled from St. Louis out into the wilderness, believing it to be “paradise.” To illustrate that paradise “it ain’t,” as the ranger puts it, we cut to a chilling shot of a tree riddled with hanging, mutilated bodies as the mystery man heads on towards the “Towne of Ratwater.” You may have noticed “Ratwater” labels on alcohol bottles in the premiere, so we’ll likely see a deeper connection soon.

Back in the present day, the episode shows us the measure of a certain alcoholic vampire. Just when Cassidy is starting to seem like one of the good guys, we get a real taste of his selfishness as he abandons Custer, after a fun and existential (and inebriated) chat, passed out on the church floor. Remember, he’s on the run. But the quirky vampire soon proves he has at least a little conscience because, before it’s too late, he rushes back to the church to find DeBlanc and Fiore. These two are trying to capture the entity inside Custer, using a creepy musical version of Eugene Field’s “Wynken, Blynken and Nod.” When that doesn’t work, they try some harsher tactics, but before they can effectively use a saw to dismember Custer, Cassidy butts in and gorily dispatches the two henchmen, chopping them up and burying them outside. It’s worth noting that Cassidy has some major cleanup skills, leaving only a small, bloody print on one of the church pillars as evidence of his activities. Being 119 years old is definitely worth something. The hilariously vile Cassidy is often unintelligable, but he’s still a breath of fresh air amid all the religious vernacular. A fresh, gory breath, just like the doctor ordered.

But, wait — it looks like DeBlanc and Fiore aren’t stuffed in a box underground somewhere, despite Cassidy’s efforts. Claiming to be from “the Government,” they’re alive and well in Annville and ready to continue their mission to capture that force. Truth is, the only one who knows they were chopped into taco meat is Cassidy, so they’re free to pop up elsewhere and continue their duties. But what are they? “Preacher” apparently still has many mysteries left to uncover. Which also brings up the fact that this episode almost wholly ignored the fact that a parishioner took out his heart in front of his mother, aside from a throwaway line. You’d think that Custer would have more cause for concern on that front.

So far, the show feels like a perfect fit for AMC, in line with the other violent but savvy shows that have become their hallmark, like “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead.” The cheeky banter between Tulip and Custer promises a real spark, but so far we’re only getting Tulip unsuccessfully trying to convince Custer to take on whatever job she has on the docket. I’m guessing we haven’t seen the last of her attempts to persuade him; if she’s willing to drug and chain the holy man to try and convince him, she probably has a few more sadistic tricks up her sleeve.

Custer keeps trying to be a good preacher, and we see that he’s taking his duties seriously, baptizing his parishioners into an outdoor tub of holy water at the top of the hour. But the idyllic illusion won’t last forever. After his baptism, Eugene feels momentarily better, declaring, “You washed my sins away, Preacher, I’m saved!” But ultimately, the act is only ceremonial, because it’s not long before the disfigured teen is back to feeling bad again. He just can’t seem to change, questioning whether his current state is exactly how God wants him to be. The show’s emotional core pivots at the expense of poor “Arseface.” He questions his worth, God’s plan and faces bullies – can’t he catch a break? Slurp, slurp.

Even a dunk can’t clean the worst sinners of their darkest secrets. Linus is clearly a pedophile who drives a school bus and who also thinks that as long as he confesses, he’s good to go. Although Custer tells him that truly repenting and not acting on those urges will save him, you can tell that the preacher’s blood is boiling with disgust at this man. The chillingly tense scene culminates with a forced hug from Linus — is that it?

This can’t go unpunished, that would be too easy. Custer gives in to his own darker urges and we continue to get glimpses of a more violent man, a mercenary. He confronts Linus him at his home. Custer dunks him into scalding water, an ironic funhouse mirror twist on his earlier baptisms, and orders Linus to forget about the young girl. Custer’s power kicks in and blasts away Linus’ memory. This is the first time that Custer becomes fully aware of his power. He chooses to visit Tracy Loach, a comatose girl, and orders her eyes to open — but in typical AMC fashion, whether or not the girl wakes up is a mystery left for next week.

Before you leave:

We meet meat-processing businessman Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley) in this episode, but aside from tearing down a house and setting up shop in Annville, we don’t get much else. Curiouser and curiouser…

What did you think of “Preacher” Episode 2? Weigh in below.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • The Mentalist

    #NotWorthLess: 'I Was Great and Deserve to Be Paid the Same'

    Women writers, producers and assistants across Twitter turned the hashtag #NotWorthLess into a trend Wednesday, shining a light on issues of pay inequality in the entertainment business. Sparked by screenwriter Adele Lim’s recent decision to walk away from the “Crazy Rich Asians” sequel in protest of being paid less than her male co-writer, dozens of [...]

  • does self-described "family brands" business Hasbro

    With Hasbro Acquisition, Is eOne Planning to Offload Family-Unfriendly Properties?

    Hasbro’s $4 billion acquisition of eOne in August instantly put the Canadian toy giant in the league of major entertainment and content companies thanks to eOne’s arsenal of IP assets in music, television and film. But does the self-described “family brands” business that’s home to The Game of Life and My Little Pony align with [...]

  • Mariah Carey Tracee Ellis Ross

    Mariah Carey, Tracee Ellis Ross Celebrate Biracial Heritage at “Mixed-ish” Premiere

    Mariah Carey and Tracee Ellis Ross embraced their “ish” at Tuesday night’s series premiere event for ABC’s “Mixed-ish” by reflecting on how their biracial identity makes working on the new show even more personal. “I’m just so thankful that this show exists,” Carey told the assembled crowd during a Q&A with series creator Kenya Barris. [...]

  • THE BACHELORETTE - "The Bachelorette: Season

    'The Bachelor': ABC Reality Boss Talks Ratings Success, Diversity Backlash

    Last night, Peter Weber was unveiled, perhaps unsurprisingly, as the next Bachelor during the season finale of “Bachelor in Paradise.” Weber’s selection coincided with a season-high rating for “Paradise,” and caps a solid ratings summer for the “Bachelor” franchise. As ratings have been in decline across the board this summer, “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in [...]

  • Raising Dion

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Releases 'Raising Dion' Trailer

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix releases “Raising Dion’s” trailer and announces a number of premiere dates for its original series. DATES Netflix announced the premiere dates for several of its new and returning original series: Season 2 of “Carmen Sandiego” will launch Oct. 1; Deon Cole’s standup special “Deon Cole: Cole Hearted” will launch [...]

  • Jim Parrack

    '9-1-1: Lone Star' Adds 'True Blood' Alum Jim Parrack

    Fox’s “9-1-1: Lone Star” continues to round out its main cast. Jim Parrack has joined the upcoming drama in a series regular role. He joins previously announced series leads Rob Lowe and Liv Tyler. In the series, Lowe stars as Capt. Owen Strand, a sophisticated New York fireman who, along with his adult son, re-locates [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content