Monkeys Fighting Robots

Preacher Feature is a weekly look into the AMC show Preacher based on the comic book of the same name by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. In this column, Josh Versalle gives a breakdown of the events from the show, including how they relate to the comics, and speculates as to what’s going on and what might be coming up. This is to say that standard SPOILER rules apply.

Need to catch up on last week’s action?  Look no further.

“It’d be real bad if you missed a payment”

“Sonsabitches” kicks off with a flashback to young Jesse Custer ( played by Will Kindrachuk), collector of souls.  Marie had her grandson out selling spells (in this case to Hal, a perverted and ambitious school teacher, who wants to cover up an affair he had with a student).  She has spells to fix everything, but the price is steep.  When Hal falls behind on payments he gets his ass kicked, then gets hooked up to “the machine” mentioned last episode, and eventually ends up in the Tombs (more on that later).  The machine in question is a soul extractor, like the one Jesse used in season two.  It turns out swamp consommé isn’t the only thing Miss Marie uses to keep her skin looking so young.

Soul Extractor Preacher

Tulip is still struggling to recover from her death at the hands of the Grail’s Featherstone (Julie Ann Emery) and to remember what happened after that.  She wants revenge on that “mom-haired lyin’ bitch” and nearly gets a chance when she finds Featherstone stalking her in Angelville’s backyard.

Tensions are escalating between Jesse and Cassidy.  Cass wants to go after the Grail immediately, but Jesse is reluctant, since Starr still holds a piece of Jesse’s soul and with it Genesis, the source of Jesse’s power to control people with his words.

When Tulip and Jody capture Featherstone and Hoover, Hoover (with help from Jesse) escapes and Jesse lets Featherstone follow, so that they can deliver a message to Starr:  Jesse wants to meet and he wants his soul back.

Jesse has Tulip and Cass start a battle with the Boyds (a rival clan of mystics) so that he can sneak away and parlay with Starr.  The Boyds hate Jesse, but the reasons are unclear (murder or sex, depending on who you ask).  The two sides exchange gunfire (and one cannon-launched goat) and Cassidy takes a bullet in the chest.

Shootout in Angelville

“That predictable spasm of juvenalia”

Starr pulls the old switcheroo, giving Jesse a placebo instead of his actual soul.  Jesse finds this out when he tries to use the Word of God to command Starr to eat his own dick.  When the Word fails, Starr leads Jesse to the driveway, where the real soul awaits in the hands of the Grail.  Tulip, seeing the empty soul vial and remembering God’s command to “get those sonsabitches”, opens fire on the Grail, who retreat before the exchange can be made.

The episode closes on Jesse in the underground Tombs, a storage place for those unfortunate folks who owe their souls to Marie (including a godforsaken Hal, missing an eye and chained by the neck).  Tulip clutches Starr’s business card, thinking that making a deal with the Grail may be the only way she can fix things.

Starr's business card Preacher

“Last chance, hippie.”

One trademark of the show is the creative use of classic songs and “Sonsabitches” is no exception.  Director Michael Slovis uses the hippie anthem “Get Together” by the Youngbloods to lend an ironic soundtrack to a violent clash between the Grail and a group of Krishnas.  The result is a clever and visually impressive sequence, albeit one that seems only tangentially related to the overall plot.

One hesitates to use words like ‘tender’ in regards to a cold-blooded killer like Jody, but there are moments (the proud look he gives Jesse after beating up Hal, the shared interest in firearms with Tulip) that are touching.  We all tend to latch onto anything that resembles family, and Jeremy Childs imbues the role with flashes of a certain humanity (in between horrific acts of violence, of course).  Writer Sara Goodman utilizes these types of unstable relationships to powerful effect.

Whether trading punches or insults, it’s a joy to watch Tulip and Featherstone’s back-and-forth.  Behind Tulip’s anger is the sting of betrayal and the self-reproach that comes from knowing that Featherstone wouldn’t have been in the position to hurt her so badly if she hadn’t let her get close enough.

Likewise, Colin Cunningham brings a charming quality to TC in the episode and watching him and Cassidy bonding (“You like drugs?”) is a lot of fun, assuming you can get past the vile nature of TC’s dreams.

From Panels to Screen:

While most of the episode is an original story, longtime fans will probably recognize the wound Starr suffers in Tulip’s attack as one of a series of disfiguring and humiliating injuries he suffers in the comics.  Originally a knife wound inflicted by Jesse, it bears a certain phallic resemblance.

Dickheaded Herr Starr - Preacher Comic

Dickheaded Starr Pip Torrens Preacher


The L’Angelles, the Boyds, Cassidy, or the Grail?  Who will strike Jesse first?  Let us know in the comments.

Josh is a writer and a lover of The Simpsons, Monty Python, The State, Breaking Bad, Arrested Development, and Preacher. He spends probably too much time reading and has lately been attempting to eat the occasional vegetable, with limited success.