PREACHER: SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN
Developed by: Seth Rogan, Sam Catlin, Evan Goldberg
Starring: Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, Joe Gilgun
Air Date: 27th June
Every good deed comes with a price. Or at least, that’s what “South Will Rise Again” would like us to believe. The episode swings back to the show’s main focus at last, with many scenes exploring the use (and abuse) of preacher’s shiny new powers. As noble as his intentions may be however, the overuse of his powers drives the episode, surging from one potentially bad decision to the next as Jesse does one forcibly good deed after the other.
The idea of the good-deed-gone-wrong is introduced right from the opening episode as we open onto the town of Ratwater and its immoral citizens. Among the slimy cast of characters onscreen, we are once again introduced to The Cowboy. If anyone remembers, The Cowboy was introduced briefly back in the second episode, so it’s good to finally see a continuation of his storyline (before it loses relevance). Evidently his story in the beginning of this episode was placed here for a reason, as it directly correlates to the lesson that Jesse has yet to learn in the current narrative. Even good deeds can be costly and if Jesse’s arrogance and Messiah complex goes unchecked, trouble is never going to be far away.
Despite a very intriguing opening however, the episode itself tends to drag. No doubt it’s laden once more with interesting allusions to things that may go wrong in future episodes (most of them down to Jesse recklessly using his powers to “help” situations), the show feels, perhaps for the first time, a little bit tired. Weirdly enough, for all that Preacher proved itself to be fresh and zany in its first three episodes, the subsequent episodes seem to have devolved into the practice of forgiveness. The audience is expected to cut the show slack as it stabilises and attempts to solidify its many plotlines, but unfortunately it is in real danger of becoming repetitive. The past two weeks have felt like we’ve been riding a pretty mediocre rollercoaster in anticipation of that one zany jolt of madness per episode to ensure that we’re still awake. It’s an odd criticism for such an offbeat story, but it’s not the plot that is really slowing the episodes down. Rather, the characters are in desperate need of progression. While Tulip’s relationship with both Cassidy and the reacher is certainly evolving in this episode, many of the characters have not changed at all since the pilot. The scent of stale characterisation is starting to become evident and if the show wants to progress, the foot needs to be taken from the brake to allow characters to breathe and develop.
And it’s not as if there aren’t enough interesting characters to develop here. Secondary characters like Arseface and the angels really shine in this episode, more so than Jesse’s power antics, but they’d be even better if they were allowed to move at a less glacial pace. It is almost as if there are so many interesting things that could be happening to them right now, but instead they’re perched in bathrooms or repeating their cries of help to a deluded Jesse while they wait for the plotline to catch up. It’s a shame because actors like Ian Colletti (Arseface) and W. Earl Brown (Sheriff Root) are doing a great job in some achingly emotive scenes together, such as a particularly tense scene with a rather disgusting looking omlette, only to be forced to replay them again while they wait for their characters to develop.
The only characters that seem to be headed toward some changes are Tulip and Cassidy, whose developing relationship looks set to affect both of their connections to Jesse, and indeed change the characters themselves. With two people as unstable as this, one can’t be sure which to be more concerned for. Will Tulip regret what looked to be a reckless manipulation of a very dangerous vampire? Or on the other hand, should we be more concerned for Cass? His childishness acted as a comic endearment to his character in early episodes, but it seems now that this trait may well lead to a fall in the face of far more mature characters like Tulip. Either way, their relationship managed to pump a much needed fresh angle into the episode.
Besides a surprising cliffhanger and a few hints towards future dilemmas (the perpetual portrayal of Donnie as Jesse’s inept foil now taking a leap from comical aside to a potentially threatening danger), “South Will Rise Again” didn’t quite rise to expectations, bringing viewers nothing new to suggest that the show will regain its earlier zany brilliance. Perhaps like all good church sermons ask, Preacher is asking for patience, faith and an hour of your time in the promise of better things ahead.
I give “South Will Rise Again” 3 crosses.