Sunday, August 21, 2016

I got nothing

I got nothing for you here, I'm afraid.  We've been watching a bunch of the Olympics (and being annoyed that so little variety has been televised; I KNOW I can stream the more esoteric sports but do we really need to see RERUNS of fucking rhythmic gymnastics when they could actually be showing LIVE mountain-biking or rowing or sailing or something?) and I'm finishing up a second read of the second book in The Expanse series:  Caliban's War.  But that's really it.  Unless you're just dying to hear about the cookbooks I'm reading, trying to find ways to eat more vegetarian dishes that we can actually stand.

But bear with me.  I may try to get a headstart on the horror movies for October, plus The Walking Dead starts up again soon, so we all have that to look forward to.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Embarrassment of riches

Preacher may be over for now but I am having no trouble putting off the watching and recapping of the final True Blood season as there is such a wealth of good television out there - just mostly not on, you know, television.  Besides Mr. Robot (which, forgive me, I keep falling asleep during), I've watched the BBC's incredible 2015 And Then There Were None.  With a stacked cast, including Charles Dance, Miranda Richardson and Sam Neill, this version of the darkest of Agatha Christie's tales is marvelously well acted, suspenseful, bloody and funny.  Highly recommended.

Also highly recommended:  Stranger Things, of course.  The full-on 80s nostalgia, the homages to some of my very favorite movies, the perfect cast, the fact that I had to watch a scene or two through my fingers ... this has got to be one of the best things Netflix has ever done, and ranks way up there as far as any excellent episodic television goes.  Unless you're living under a rock, you've probably already watched it.

Finally, I am tearing through the CW's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Netflix just as fast as I can.  This show is so smart, so funny, so uncomfortable and so honest about its exploration of mental illness (the main character is a stalker who suffers from anxiety and depression) that I can scarcely believe that it is on the CW.  Plus it's a musical comedy and the original songs are fantastic.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Preacher recap "Call and Response" S1E10 7/31/16

In Annville, Jesse Custer is on the run, laying low until Sunday morning when he has promised to bring God to the townspeople.  Just in case it actually happens, all the women in town are getting their hair done, which is where Tulip finds the whorehouse's madam.  Tulip's all, WTF is going on and where's Jesse?  The madam tells her that rumor has it Donnie has him.  Later that morning, Tulip busts into Donnie's house, waving her gun, breaking Betsy's nose and shouting for Jesse.  Who comes out of the bathroom, just having showered.  Hey, Tulip, he says, clearly under no duress.

A now-healed Cassidy is under a little duress, being held in the jail.  Sheriff Root comes in with a gun, a box of ammo and a thermos of blood.  He's figured out that Cassidy is a vampire and he alternately shoots him and then feeds him blood (to facilitate healing), asking over and over again what has happened to Eugene.  Cassidy is all, you really don't want to know.  [I adore Joseph Gilgun in this role; he was a little much to take in Misfits but he's wonderful here.  Even if I can't understand much of what he says.]  After an unknown period of time, blood is splashed across the walls of the jail cell and the floor is littered with red-stained Dixie cups.

Donnie, Betsy and Jesse explain to Tulip that [Donnie has found God and since Jesse showed him mercy in the men's room that time, he's showing him mercy now].  Tulip can scarcely roll her eyes more and asks Jesse to come outside with her.  She's got Carlos tied up in the trunk of her car, you see.  And she wants Jesse to kill him.

Flashback to when Carlos screwed Jesse and Tulip over:  it was during a bank robbery in Dallas.  He was the lookout/driver and when he overheard them laughing together as they wait for the vault to blow, he got jealous, untied the guard and took off in the getaway car.  Jesse shoots the guard and Tulip screams after Carlos and the stress and anger causes her to miscarry Jesse's baby.

Back in now/Annville, we check in with the guy keeping an eye on the control panel; it's for a huge underground vat of fermenting cow shit, part of the Quincannon Meat & Power conglomerate, and when the alarms go off, it's because the methane is building up too much.

Cassidy tells the sheriff that the good news is that Eugene is alive.  Although, he muses, on second thought that might not actually be good news.  He presses, asking if Root is maybe a teeny tiny bit relieved that the boy is gone.  This pushes Root's buttons and he shoots Cassidy a bunch of times, then unlocks the jail cell and tells him he can go.  "Good," groans the wounded vampire, "I got someplace I gotta go."

Jesse and Tulip argue about Carlos for a while, plus she disparages his plan to use a dead angel hand to call God down to town.  He points out that killing Carlos won't bring back their baby but she rages that someone's got to pay.  So he gathers up a trash bag and an oven mitt, and goes out to the car.  He wraps the trash bag around Carlos's head, cocks his handgun and places it in the oven mitt.  At the last moment, she stops him, saying that it's enough that he would do it for her.  [Which seems a little out of character.] So instead they just beat the shit out of Carlos and then let him go.  That all seemed ... pointless.

In the morning, Betsy and Donnie sneak Jesse and Tulip into the church.  They clean up and Betsy, being a secretary, helps Jesse figure out the God-phone: it's got video-conferencing.  Tulip's all, what do you think is going to happen here? and Jesse confesses that he honestly has no idea.  Tulip: "Well, no matter what, we're gettin' french fries after."  The church fills up; Cassidy sneaks in and finds Tulip to stand with.  Everyone who we've ever seen in Annville is there and Odin Quincannon is right in the front pew.  Jesse comes out but before he can get started, Quincannon jumps up and is all skeptical about the preacher calling down any sort of God.  In fact, he goes on to say, there is no God but the God of Meat!  To which the congregation says: .....?

Jesse brings out the God-phone and the angel hand and fusses about for quite some time [there's an old school modem sound effect, which is excellent].  Finally, just when the congregation is restless and he's about to quit, the lights in the church go out and the God-phone emits a blinding light.  And there, projected on the church wall, is God: old, white, male, sitting on a throne and dressed in flowing robes.  Everyone is completely gobsmacked (except for Cassidy, who just sits there, giggling).  "I AM THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA ... I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD.  MY CHILDREN, WHY HAVE YOU CALLED ME?"

Jesse, not really believing what's going on, says that they've got questions.  And so God entertains some questions, telling the people that He loves them.  He even tells Quincannon that his little daughter is in Heaven, which seems to relieve him.  God asks Jesse if he has any questions.  The preacher does: he wants to know what God's plan is for him and why did He give him the Genesis-power if he cant use it to help people.  God says that Jesse hasn't failed and that because of Jesse, all of Annville is saved.  Everyone screams and cries happily.

Jesse, disturbed: "But I sent him to Hell!"  God: "And how did you do that, my son?"  Jesse:  "With Genesis."  God: "Oh, yes, of course.  Does anyone else have any questions?"  That finishes it and Jesse gets angry: "You're not God, you're an imposter!"  God tries to dissemble and so Jesse used the Genesis voice:  WHERE IS GOD?  As it turns out, God is missing and no one in Heaven knows where he is ... "God is gone!"  The congregation is stunned.  Jesse turns to Tulip and Cassidy:  "Let's go.  Tulip wants french fries."  And they walk out.

Behind them, the town falls apart.  People cry and wreck the church.  Quincannon makes a mannequin of ground beef and cuddles it in his office.  A bunch of schoolgirls stab pervy bus driver Linus to death on his schoolbus.  Donnie can't get it up with Betsy.  Tracy's mother smothers her comatose daughter while her son takes a selfie.  And the control room guy orders a hooker and then dies while having S&M-tinged sex with her.  And the methane builds up - and the hooker doesn't know how to release the vents - until a huge explosion obliterates the entire town.  Gone.  Wiped off the map.

Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy apparently decided to get french fries at an out-of-town diner, however, because they're fine.  Tulip's like, what now?  Jesse says that they might as well drive around the country and look for God: if He wants their help, they'll help Him, and if not, they'll kick His ass.  Cassidy finds the prospect of a road trip quite appealing.  They head out to the car and Tulip asks Jesse to show her how the Genesis voice works.  So he tells her "KISS ME" and she does - and when she breaks away, she punches him right in the nose and tells him not to ever do that again.  And then they drive off into next season.

But that's not quite the last scene.  Fiore comes back from Hell, without Deblanc.  And in the wreckage of Annville, the seraph wanders around, looking a little stunned.  Then she gets shot in the back, blowing a huge hole in her chest.  She collapses and behind her is the Cowboy.  He growls, "Preacher," and the hunt is on.

And to tide myself over until S2, I've got the first two Preacher TPBs on order at the library ...

Previously on Preacher / next time on Preacher

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Preacher recap "Finish the Song" S1E9 7/24/16

Back in old timey Ratwater: Back in the saloon, a man sings to the hoi polloi, accompanied by a piano player.  All the whores and johns and cowboys and prospectors and settler families quiet themselves and listen.  And then the Cowboy walks in, back from finding his wife and daughter dead in his house.  That smarmy preacher - who shot the Cowboy's horse - welcomes him, speechifying somewhat, naming the Cowboy as the "Butcher of Gettysburg," who killed seventy-seven people with his own hands.  The preacher asks if the Cowboy will love and accept Jesus into his heart.  The Cowby replies that he loves his horse, he loves his wife and he loves his little girl - and as for Jesus, "He can join us all here in Hell."  He tosses down the bundle he is carrying - heads roll out and a woman screams - and then he raises his pistols.  He shoots the preacher first and then looks at the singer, growling, "I want you to finish the song."  And as the singer sings, the Cowboy methodically guns down every single person in the place, women and children included.  The singer gets to finish the song.  And then the Cowboy cuts his head off with one stroke of a huge knife.  Wow.  The Cowboy steps over the bodies to stand at the bar.  As the wind picks up outside and the building shakes and rattles, bottles falling off shelves to smash on the floor, he pours himself a drink.  And that's how you open the penultimate episode of S1 of Preacher, even if those of us who don't read the comic don't know WTF is going on.

Now:  The sheriff drives towards down, with Jesse in the back of the cruiser.  He asks Jesse again what happened to Eugene and Jesse tells him, again, that he sent him to hell.  Sheriff Root is not well-pleased with that answer, sure that the preacher has killed his boy.  Jesse says that he's sorry, and that he'll see the sheriff on Sunday, and then he jimmies open the door (using a pen he took from Odin Quincannon) and dives out, disappearing into the night.

Deblanc and Fiore walk to a travel agency and announce that they want to take a trip: to Hell.  The agent sullenly sells them the tickets and tells them that the shuttle will pick them up promptly at the time specified.

Tulip calls Emily over to her uncle's house, telling her not to freak out but that Cassidy is a vampire and is having trouble healing after being burned.  She's got the house full of various animals (rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, chickens, a goat or two) that she's been feeding him - just opening the door a crack and tossing them in when she hears him moving around - but she needs Emily to take over because she's got to go to Albuquerque to kill a man.  Emily protests that Jesse's in trouble but Tulip cuts her short, saying that she doesn't care about Jesse and he can be Emily's boyfriend now.  Emily unconvincingly stutters that she has a boyfriend - Miles, "he's the mayor ... ginger goatee" - and Tulip's all, good on you.  And then she takes off, leaving a nervous Emily staring around herself at all the doomed critters.

Sometime later, she is standing at the door, clutching a guinea pig.  Miles calls, saying that he'll pick the kids up but he's planning on staying overnight and he'll bring a bottle of wine.  She hardly listens to him and when she hangs up the phone, she opens the bedroom door enough to toss in the guinea pig.  There are growls and guinea pig squeals and then sloshing noises.  Emily steels herself to take a peek into the bedroom: an unrecognizable, feral, scarred Cassidy snarls at her, guinea pig blood covering his face.  She slams the door closed.

Back at the motel, the angels are packing up all their gear ("I've left the radio on for her.").  They're fretting about the trip to Hell, wondering if maybe they shouldn't just call Heaven and 'fess up, throwing themselves on Heaven's mercy.  "We discussed that: they'd separate us forever.  Except we wouldn't be going to Hell, so it's a tough one."  They decide to flip a coin - and do it a couple of times until Heaven turns up.  But the phone to Heaven is gone - Jesse stole it - and it looks like they'll be going to Hell after all.

Emily watches t.v. (Psycho is on, the scene where Marion and Norman talk about the traps they're in), absently stroking a rabbit.  From the bedroom, Cassidy bellows, "Someone help me, please!"  So she calls Miles:  "Miles, help me! He got out, he's going to kill me!"  Miles rushes to Tulip's uncle's house, slightly disconcerted by the goat in the kitchen.  Calling Emily's name, he opens the locked door to Cassidy's bedroom and walks in horrified.  When he turns back towards the door, Emily is there and she slams the door shut in his face, bolting it.  Cassidy pounces on poor Miles and then the shot switches to Emily in the hall, leaning against the door.  Miles shrieks and Cassidy snarls and then there's those sloshing sounds.  And Emily stands there and listens to it all.  DAMN.

Over at the motel, the clerk shows the sheriff the angels' room, saying that they paid up and left but this is what the maid found when she went in to turn the room over.  The room is, of course, wrecked and splashed with blood, but that is nothing compared to what Root finds in the bathtub:  the seraph, her arms and legs cut off (chainsaw) and cauterized so she'll stay alive.  The sheriff yells for the clerk to call an ambulance and then kneels next to the tub, telling the "woman" that she'll be okay.  She whispers for him to kill her, over and over, and he looks at her, seeing what remains, and then he puts his hands around her neck and chokes the life out of her.  [That seems out of character, despite the tears streaming down his face.]  He doesn't see the flash in the next room as the seraph revigorates.  She stands in the doorway a moment, watching the sheriff, and then heads out, back on the hunt for the angels and/or Jesse.

Speaking of Deblanc and Fiore, when the shuttle arrives to take them to Hell, the driver tells them "sorry, no carry-ons," referring to their giant trunk.  The tall angel (Deblanc? Fiore?) looks crushed, saying "But my comics ..." but the short one comforts him: "It's all right, my dear.  Leave 'em behind."  They get on the shuttle and drive off.

Jesse arrives at Tulip's uncle's house, looking for Tulip but finding Emily instead, out in the backyard setting all the little critters free.  She says that she's off to get her kids but that Cassidy is inside.  Jesse goes into Cassidy's room, takes in the blood and body.  Cassidy:  "You should go, preacher.  It's not safe for you here."  But Jesse doesn't go.  He sits with his friend and apologizes for letting him burn.  Cassidy shrugs, forgiving him: "Well, you put me out.  That's what matters."  They sit awkwardly for a moment and then Cassidy: "So what do we do now?  You fancy a shag or just want to hold hands or somethin'?"  Jesse laughs and says that they should first get rid of the body. Awww - friends again!  While tidying up, Cassidy examines the Heaven phone but Jesse says it doesn't work: it needs angel hands or else it doesn't work.  Cassidy:  "That's no problem, padre.  I can get you angel hands."  Jesse's all, okay, but I got to make a call first.  He calls Tulip, getting her voicemail and leaving her a long rambling message about how he's realized it now, "For me, it's just you.  'Til the end of the world."

Jesse gets Tulip's voicemail because she's busy with Carlos in Albuquerque.  She's a little banged up and bloody but he's now tied to a chair and she's got a meat tenderizer.

Back to the Cowboy:  We get the Cowboy's first scene again, the sick child, being sent for medicine, meeting the settler family, finding the preacher distasteful, getting the medicine, changing his mind halfway home and returning to Ratville to make sure the settlers are okay, getting beaten and his horse getting shot, walking home to find his wife and daughter dead and picked at by crows.  And then we get the scene - or select bits of it - again, and again and again, and also the scene from the start of the episode, with the Cowboy killing everyone in the saloon, again and again.  And I get it: the Cowboy is in Hell, doomed to relive this over and over for eternity.  Until one time, after he has slaughtered the saloon and is taking his drink at the bar, Deblanc and Fiore walk in.  They have a job for him: they want him to kill someone.  Who, growls the Cowboy.  A preacher, say the angels.  He's in.

Back to now:  Jesse and Cassidy are fixing to bury Miles and the bigger animal bodies.  First they dig up Cassidy's trunk, with the dead iterations of the angels in it.  He pulls out a hand and tosses it to Jesse, who thanks him.  They put Miles in the reopened grave and start to fill it in.  Cassidy:  "God, eh? Comin' to Texas?"  Jesse:  "Yep.  Sunday mornin'."  Cassidy: "That'll be somethin'."  Jesse: "Yep."

Previously on Preacher / next time on Preacher

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Here's what I read recently

Mercury Falls by Robert Kroese - Christine, an end-times reporter for a religious news publication, has nearly had enough of doomsday cults and their always-wrong predictions about Armageddon.  But while on a legitimate assignment in the Middle East, she is given a locked briefcase and told to "take it to Mercury."  Mercury happens to be a sassy angel, happily practicing his ping-pong serve in California and trying not to take anything too seriously.  Both Heaven and Hell are moving their players into position for the Apocalypse - it's actually going to happen this time - and Christine and Mercury have to kidnap the Antichrist (a total dickweed named Karl who lives in his mother's attic) to keep the world from ending.

I liked Mercury Falling but didn't love it.  I wasn't able to make much of a connection with any of the characters and, as such, didn't really care about any of them.  There is a definite Douglas Adams/Tim Robbins/Terry Pratchett tone to the novel as the ridiculous situations keep piling up and Christine keeps trying to deal with them as a rational human being.  If you like your apocalypses on the lighter side, this one's for you.  (And as a bonus, it is just the first in a series of Mercury novels.)

The Fireman by Joe Hill - A plague has swept the country (and possibly the world), brought about by a highly contagious spore - apparently released as the polar ice has melted - that marks its victims' skin with gorgeous gold and black tattoos ... and then causes them to spontaneously combust and burn alive.  There is no cure.  Harper Grayson is a nurse who at first tries to care for those sickened by Dragonscale and then she catches a dose of it herself.  Her horrible husband has a nervous breakdown and abandons her, just as she learns that she is pregnant with their first child.  An enigmatic stranger that she meets in the hospital - the Fireman - helps her find her way to a community of infected who support one another while they try to learn to live with their infection.  But around them civilization has fallen apart: no power, no government, no medicine and roving bands of Cremation Squads who put down any infected they can find.  Harper discovers that the Fireman has learned how to control the Dragonscale - and that is her only hope for her unborn child, and perhaps the human race.

Look, I really like Joe Hill.  But The Fireman was as uninteresting and unoriginal as a novel about people bursting into flame can be.  At the start of the book, Hill's dedication includes those who inspired him with this book:  including, "Ray Bradbury, from whom I stole my title, [and] my father, from whom I stole all the rest."  Everyone now knows that Hill's father is Stephen King and The Fireman sure felt like a SK ripoff: including bits from The Stand (the plague, pregnant heroine, collapse of civilization) and Firestarter (um, the fire) and Cell (another collapse of civilization, moving through Maine to a rumored safe haven), to name just a couple.  The characters felt a little thin and the build-up to the confrontation between Harper and her crazed ex-husband just fizzled out like pfftttt.  I would like to see Joe Hill get back to form - this one was just too derivative for me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Preacher recap "El Valero" S1E8 7/17/16

Flashback:  Some time in the 1980s, the whole Quincannon family went on a ski trip to Vail (minus Odin, who stayed home to run the slaughterhouse), where they perished in a freak tram accident.  Odin was pretty tore up about it - understandably - and when all the coffins arrived back in Annville, delivered to his office, he pretty much loses his damn mind: Jesse's dad finds him elbow-deep in blood, coffins open and a disemboweled cow on the office floor, comparing the cow's and his daughter's intestines.  The preacher tries to calm him, says something about God.  But Quincannon is done believing in God - no God would do this, it's all meat, meat is all there is, no spirit, no soul.  He hollers at John Custer to denounce God, "DENOUNCE HIM!"  That is one disturbed individual right there.

Now:  The first wave of Quincannon's men enter the church to run Jesse out of it.  We don't get to see the fight (unfortunately, because the action scenes are usually so good) but he kicks their asses and sends them back out to Donny and Quincannon.  Donny's all, but what did he SAY?  The boys are all, he didn't say nothing.  Inside the church, Jesse is working his way through a bottle of whiskey and muttering, "God, just bring Eugene back.  I'll never use [the Voice] again.  Just bring him back."  Then he sees some movement in the dirt below the busted floorboards. He falls to his knees and scrapes away the dirt, grabbing a clutching hand and finally hauling Eugene out of the ground.  He grabs the boy into a big hug.  Eugene's all, is this real or is it a trick?  Jesse pulls out his phone, ready to call the sheriff, but Eugene asks him to wait so he can have a drink of water first.

As the sky lightens through the windows, they sit in the pews and talk.  Jesse has all sorts of questions about Hell but Eugene really doesn't want to talk about it.  Jesse understands, but asks how he got out.  Eugene says that he heard Jesse calling him so he just started digging up.  Jesse: "You dug out of Hell with your hands?"  Eugene:  "It's not that far."  Jesse thinks about this.  After he calls the sheriff, Jesse tells Eugene that he was right, that he was wrong to force people to do things via the Voice.  "I was told there'd be consequences.  And here they are," looking out the window.  "Should probably give it back."  Eugene nods, "Sure, the guys at the motel."  Jesse looks sharply at him, realizing that he never mentioned the angels to him, realizing that Eugene isn't really here.  Imaginary Eugene shrugs, "We'll figure something out."

Meanwhile, off in her own storyline, Tulip has gone to a dog shelter and rescued an adorable bloodhound named Brewski.  She takes him home and they play fetch.

Back outside, Quincannon rallies his troops, telling them about the food court-style cafeteria he has planned for the new slaughterhouse he's going to build here on the church land.  But first they have to get that damn preacher out of the church.  Word starts to spread around town about the stand-off and folks start showing up, bringing picnics and lawn chairs and boomboxes, waiting to see the show.  Emily is there, rather upset.  Inside, Jesse fills some Molotov cocktails in church wine bottles; imaginary Eugene notes that that's rather sacriligious.  Quincannon's army advances on the church but Jesse is in the steeple with a rifle and sends them running.  One guy drives up in a bulldozer and Jesse pegs him with one of the Molotov cocktails; the guy runs off as the 'dozer explodes.  One guy, Clive - shouting "Food court! Food court!" - charges alone and Jesse literally shoots his dick off: "Extraordinary shot, really," muses Clive, holding his severed member in his hands.  The sheriff drives up, wondering WTF.  Then Jesse comes over the loudspeaker: "Send me the agents."  Quincannon's all, "Asians?"  But the sheriff knows who Jesse means.

DeBlanc and Fiore show up, toting their trunk.  Jesse says he'll give up Genesis but first he wants to know if it's possible to bring someone back from Hell.  One of the angels is all, NO, but the other one mumbles yes - but it's very difficult and dangerous.  They don't want to deal with that now, though.  Now it's time to get Genesis out of the preacher.  Jesse lies down with the coffee can on his belly.  While one angel plays the music box, the other sings the "Winkum Blinkum" song.  Jesse tries to rationalize that maybe he was given this power for a reason, maybe God wants him to have it to do good things.  But the angels are all, okay, so what good have you done with it?  And Jesse has no answer for that.  Finally, the coffee can shudders and they slam the lid on it.  The angels pack up to leave but Genesis just isn't interested in staying where it belongs.  It bursts out of the can and hurtles back into Jesse, knocking him into the altar.  The angels frown, saying that it looks like they're going to have to do this the hard way - "The other option, then."

Outside, Quincannon gets ready to send his troops against the church again.  Donny wanders off, a bemused smile on his face.  He walks past his wife and over to his car where he takes his hat off and removes the sling from his arm.  He takes out his pistol and kneels down, leaning into the trunk of the car with his head inside and pulling the trunk door down onto the back of his neck.  He places the pistol into the trunk and pulls the trigger.

That night, Quincannon's men shoot the shit out of the church as Jesse hunkers down inside, still drinking from his bottle of whiskey, shooting back half-heartedly.  Even imaginary Eugene has abandoned him.  Then someone comes in the back, walking softly.  Cassidy?  No, it's Donny, actually, not dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound but instead DEAF from the gun being fired at such close range in the trunk of the car.  There is blood pouring out of both his ears.  Jesse: "Donny, what did you do?"  Donny just laughs, "What? What, preacher?"  He may be a bit crazy but he figured out how to deal with Jesse.  Jesse puts down his gun and Donny hits him upside the head with his own.

Some time later, Jesse sits with Quincannon and all his men.  Quincannon hands over the deed he wants Jesse to sign.  The younger man takes it, but shakes his head, saying he doesn't understand what happened since he told Quincannon to serve God.  Quincannon is all, but I am serving God: the god of meat.  Jesse chuckles and signs over his church.  When he hands the deed to Quincannon, however, he asks for a favor: he wants one more chance to preach, to bring God to the people of Annville.  And if God doesn't show, doesn't speak to the congregation with answers they want to hear, then he will DENOUNCE HIM.

That night, Tulip snuggles Brewski, rubbing his ears.  Her face hardens: "Goddamn you, Jesse Custer."  She stands up, taking the dog by the collar and leading him down the hall.  She hugs him and then opens a bedroom door and pushes him inside.  We hear the dog growl, then some movement, then a yelp and a splash and some snuffling sounds.  Ah: so that's where the badly-burned, needs-blood-to-recover Cassidy is.

Back at the church, Jesse is in the back of the sheriff's car, apparently arrested.  The townspeople surround the cruiser, banging on the windows and shouting.  The sheriff frowns: "Jackals."  Then we cut to some sort of control center: there are alarms going off and gauges show that pressure is dangerously high.  Some shlub presses some buttons and twists some dials, releasing some of the pressure until the klaxons stop sounding.  Then he sits down with a magazine, keeping an eye on things.

Previously on Preacher / next time on Preacher

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Preacher recap "He Gone" S1E7 7/10/16

We pick up immediately where we left off last time, with Eugene having literally gone to hell after Jesse told him to do so using the Voice.  Jesse looks around his now empty church, brow furrowed.  Then he swallows, gathers himself and lets the people in for services.  While up above, a slightly gobsmacked Cassidy in the balcony tries to get a grip on what he just witnessed.  It's a full house for church - the sheriff saved a seat for Eugene - and people are even sitting outside, listening over the loudspeaker.  During his sermon, Jesse says "I'm here to tell you that your whole life can change in a moment.  And this is that moment.  And this is the word ..." He pauses, weighing his options, and then, using his regular voice, "Serve God."  So at least he reigned himself in at the end.

On his way out after the service, the sheriff asks the townspeople if anyone has seen Eugene.

And over at Quincannon Meat & Power, Odin Quincannon has finished his Alamo model, and he sits, listening to the pathetic cries coming from the slaughterhouse, and smiles slightly.

Flashback:  Young Jesse and Tulip get in trouble at school for fighting back against bullies.  Tulip's mom is in jail and her uncle is drunk so she goes home with Jesse and his dad.  Seems like this is a regular occurrence.  That night, Jesse says his prayers, asking for help in trying not to be bad, in trying to be like his dad in always doing the right thing.  Now:  Tulip runs through town and ambushes a couple of teenage boys who have stolen her uncle's pants.  She takes the pants back to her uncle's house - where he is passed out on the front steps.  She tries to get him back inside but he is too heavy, so she sits on the stoop, stroking his hair, smoking a cigarette and trying to ignore the neighbors' judgmental looks.

Jesse and Emily go over his upcoming schedule: business is booming with marriage counseling and baptisms and all that church stuff.  Over at the Roots' house, Eugene's room sits empty.

A little later, Cassidy finds Jesse sneaking a drink in the kitchen.  He asks how the preacher is doing, finally saying that he saw what happened to Eugene.  Jesse:  "Oh."  Cassidy is all, I'm not judging you but I'm here to help.  Jesse escapes to run a Bible study.  Then Tulip comes in, toting hamburgers, hash browns and frozen veggies: she's making dinner.  Cassidy is still smitten and tells her that he didn't say anything to Jesse about the two of them hooking up.  Tulip's all, that's good since I'm his girlfriend and he'd probably kill you.   [I'm not really sure Jesse considers himself her girlfriend.]  She asks Cassidy if he told Jesse what he really is, since they're "best mates" and all.  Cassidy dithers, saying that he tried, but no, not really.  Tulip says "Wake up, Cassidy.  Jesse is a preacher's boy from West Texas.  See what he does [when you tell him the truth]."  Nobody is really telling anybody the truth here:  Tulip knows about Cassidy but not about Jesse's Voice; Cassidy knows about the Voice but not about Jesse's past; Jesse doesn't believe Cassidy nor does he pay attention to what Tulip is really about; poor Emily is completely in the dark about everything.

Flashback:  Jesse and Tulip wrestle and roughhouse until Jesse's dad sends them off to wash the dishes.  He checks on their homework status and it appears that she's been living with the Custers for a while now.  When Tulip goes to fetch more dish soap, she sees Jesse's dad on the phone with someone but I can't make out what he's saying and it is unclear whether she can.  That night, though, she sneaks into Jesse's room and climbs on the bed.  "'Til the end of the world, right?" she asks.  Jesse, half asleep, agrees, "'Til the end of the world."  Little Tulip lies down next to him, staring at the ceiling.  The next morning, two women from the Texas Department of Human Services show up and take Tulip away with them.  She doesn't make a fuss - which makes me think that she did hear what Jesse's dad was saying on the phone - but Jesse does, screaming and crying and chasing the car as it drives off down the road.  Jesse, to his father: "She was good ... [w]hy did you do that?"  His dad:  "Because she's an O'Hare.  They're always gonna be trouble."  That night, during his prayers, Jesse asks God to take care of Tulip and to please, please kill his father and send him straight to hell.

In the now, Emily and a group of parishioners perform a little Bible story play for Jesse.  It's terribly awkward.  And he's preoccupied and gives them harsh, unhelpful notes.  Odin Quincannon shows up, hoping for a word with Jesse.  They go into another room where Odin brings out a deed for Jesse to sign, transferring the church and land to him, "as agreed upon.'  Jesse's all, WTF, you said you'd serve God?  Odin shrugs, saying, yeah, but I still ain't no Christian.  Jesse flat-out refuses to sign the papers, saying there's no way in hell he's going to hand his father's church over (and also confused as to how Odin wriggled around the Voice).  Odin stares at him flatly and promises that he'll be back.

Even more awkward than that church skit?  Dinner with Jesse, Tulip, Cassidy and Emily.  Cassidy is snarfing down everything on his plate; Emily is struggling a little with the "flavor" on the hash browns - which is vanilla extract.  Tulip is a crap cook.  Jesse sits silently, drinking his beer and stewing, and Tulip can't keep herself from poking at him.  To make things more stressful, Sheriff Root shows up, still looking for Eugene.  He asks if the boy had stopped by the church to see Jesse that morning.  Everyone momentarily gets distracted by the oven catching on fire - everyone but Jesse, who just sits there, silently - but then he answers the sheriff, saying that he didn't see Eugene before church.  Emily pipes up, saying, "Actually you did see him," and Jesse just looks at her blankly; but then she covers for him, telling the sheriff that she saw Eugene leave later.

Jesse walks the sheriff out.  Cassidy follows and after the sheriff is gone, whacks Jesse in the face with a fire extinguisher.  This temporarily knocks some sense into Jesse, who admits that he didn't mean to do that to Eugene - the words just came out.  Cassidy's like, well, what are you going to do, you sent an innocent kid to hell.  Jesse retorts that Eugene isn't that innocent: he had a big crush on that Tracy girl and when she rejected him, he shot her in the head with a shotgun and then turned the gun on himself.  Cassidy: So he deserved what he got?  The vampire implores the preacher to give up the Voice - it's a little odd to see a 119-year old hard-drinkin', drug-loving vampire be the voice of reason - but Jesse's all, how do we know this isn't God's plan.  Cassidy runs out of arguments and, for some reason (to test Jesse, see if Tulip is really right about him?), strips off his clothes and walks into the sun, asking, "Padre, will you let me burn too?"  He bursts into flames and, shrieking, falls to his knees.  Jesse just stares at him.

After the commercial break, Jesse goes back into the kitchen, setting the fire extinguisher on the table with a thud.  He drains his beer.  The women ask where Cassidy is.  Jesse frowns at Tulip, "You know about him?  You know what he is?"  He sees the answer in his face.  Emily stutters:  "I don't know anything."  Tulip calls him a sonofabitch, throwing a friend out who doesn't meet his uptight, redneck, Christian standards.  He snarls at her, calling her an O'Hare, sneering at the dinner she tried to make.  She calls him a dick and stomps out.  Emily flutters, trying to smooth the waters, saying that from the day he got back to Annville, she believed in him.  Jesse stares at her dully, "Well, that was stupid.  Go home, Emily."  Wordlessly, shocked, she leaves.

Flashback:  Jesse's dad wakes him up in the middle of the night and tells him to hide under the bed and keep quiet.  From under the bed, Jesse can see his father getting beaten unconscious but a couple of men.  Those men find the frightened boy, of course.  And out in a field, Jesse's dad is on his knees with a gun to his head, making his son promise to be a good boy and not cry.  "I did this, daddy! It's all my fault!"  And then the men shoot his dad.

Now:  Jesse, on his knees in the church, tearing up the floorboards and grabbing fistfuls of the dirt underneath, shouting in the Voice, "Come back! Come back!"  And outside, Odin Quincannon has a bulldozer and a small army of Quincannon employees, armed to the teeth, advancing on Jesse's church.

Previously on Preacher / next time on Preacher

Friday, July 8, 2016

Mini movie review: John Wick

The A.V. Club describes John Wick as an action fantasy, noting that unlike most action movies, this one takes place in a completely self-contained world.  In this revenge movie, criminals only associate with criminals, paying with their own currency, staying in their own boutique hotels and living (and dying) by their own code.  Despite the oodles of bullets flying around, no innocent bystanders get hurt - even in a nightclub scene that made me slightly squirmy, given recent horrible real life events - the bad guys only take out the badder guys.  There is something comfortable about watching John Wick: bad stuff happens but it will never reach us.

Keanu Reeves was born to play John Wick, a retired hitman who is drawn back into the business when a young thug (GoT's Alfie Allen, who surely would like his next role to be a nice guy) steals his car and kills the beagle puppy his now-deceased wife gave him.  Barely speaking, Wick digs out his guns and kills a whole crime family out of revenge.  That's it.  That's the plot.  But the movie is shot artfully and is really quite beautiful.  It's packed full of ringers too:  Ian McShane, Willem Dafoe, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick and Adrianne Palicki all get a chance to be bad.  It's fun.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Preacher recap "Sundowner" S1E6)

The best thing about this episode is that I finally get names for those idiot angels: DeBlanc and Fiore.  No, I'm kidding, that's not the best thing - the best thing is the batshit crazy, gonzo fight scene in the motel room.  But still, I'm awfully glad to get names for them.

We pick up with Jesse and the angels still in the diner, with the angels trying to convince the preacher to give up the Voice and for hell's sake, stop using it.  So Jesse uses the Voice to ask them what this mysterious power is.  Turns out it isn't actually God but the progeny of an angel and a demon who hooked up in the middle of the eternal war between Good and Evil.  It's called Genesis (which isn't very original, something that Cassidy will comment on later).  It's a mistake and a weapon and any of the denizens of Heaven or Hell would want to have it, and that's why DeBlanc and Fiore want to get it back.  They are its caretakers and they let it escape.  Jesse tries to work this over.  Meanwhile, a tiny blonde woman comes into the diner.  She makes the angels nervous and when she goes out to her car, they follow her.  We watch Jesse as he watches them through the window, getting upset when the two angels start beating the crap out of the woman.  He runs out to her aid but she reaches out and grabs him by the throat.  DeBlanc (or Fiore, who knows) finally shoots her in the head and Jesse is all WHAT THE FUCK YOU JUST KILLED HER.  They're all, no, we didn't and then there's a flash of light in the diner and the blonde woman walks out, staring at them.  Jesse's all, holy shit and the three of them drive off in his truck.  As they drive, the angels exposit that the woman is in fact a Seraphim, an angel of the First Order.  She's after them for being down on Earth unauthorized but she doesn't know about Jesse and Genesis yet.  (And the flash and return is called revigoration.)  Jesse's mind is blown.

Meanwhile, the tiny blonde woman - she's wearing a cardigan, which is just excellent - tracks them to the Sundowner Motel where they are holed up in the angels' room.  She breaks down the door and then all hell breaks loose, so to speak.  It's the three of them against the tiny blonde angel and she basically kicks their asses.  Every time one of the angels gets killed, they revigorate back and soon the room starts filling with bodies: multiple DeBlancs, Fiores and seraphims.  DeBlanc/Fiore instruct Jesse not to kill the seraphim but to restrain it instead, so she'll stop coming back, but that's easier said than done.  I really wish I could adequately describe what's going on onscreen because it is just wonderful - one of the best t.v. fights I've ever seen.  Things get even more chaotic when Cassidy shows up.  Finally, DeBlanc/Fiore disassembles the seraphim in the bathroom (with his chainsaw), incapacitating her for a while without actually killing her, and keeping her from revigorating.  The angels tell Jesse that they need Genesis back and now.  But the preacher refuses, saying that it chose him and he feels that God wants him to have it.  The angels are apoplectic but when they chase after him, he uses the Voice and tells them to stay away from him.

Over at the high school, some kids are being nice to Eugene.  He's not sure what to make of it.  And over at Emily's house, one of her kids is sick when she's got a ton of church errands to run.  To complicate things, Tulip shows up and rages at her to "stay away from [her] boyfriend!"  But then Tulip sits for a bit, and thinks about what a dick she's being, and when Emily runs after her and confronts her, Tulip makes amends, offering to watch the sick child while Emily does church stuff or, since Emily isn't quite comfortable with that, offering to do the church errands for her.  (Also, the Green Acres people keep calling Mayor Miles, wondering if he's seen their people since they haven't checked in.  Miles will later go to Jesse, asking for advice on what to do - without actually explaining the situation - and then ultimately, will assist Quincannon in staging an auto accident and telling the Green Acres people that their people are dead.  But whatever.)

At the church, Jesse and Cassidy stand in their underpants while they launder their blood-stained clothes.  There's some talk, about each other's tattoos - Cassidy notices a tulip on Jesse's shoulder but doesn't make the connection quite yet - and then Cassidy's all, what are you going to do, man?  Jesse insists that he's going to keep it but Cassidy is worried.  Jesse says that nothing has changed and he's still going to save the town.  And then a little later, when he's setting up chairs outside the church and hooking up a loudspeaker, I'm thinking that whatever he's going to try is going to go really, really wrong.  Jesse says he's just doing God's will but it sure seems like he's on a power trip.

After school, the kids who were being nice to Eugene at lunch ask him if he wants to see something cool.  They all ride their bikes out to a remote culvert.  The other boys traipse in, Eugene following.  He is scared (I am scared for him, concerned that these boys are just luring him out to harm him) but forces himself onwards.  As it turns out, they just set off a bunch of fireworks in the culvert and grin at how beautiful it is.  Eugene's eyes open wide, in relief and in acceptance of the beauty in front of him.

When Tulip shows up at the church, with all the wine and paper towels, etc., that she picked up for Emily, she runs into Cassidy in the storeroom.  He is pleased to see her but then suddenly makes the connection that she's Jesse's Tulip.  When Jesse comes into the storeroom, Tulip hides Cassidy behind the door so Jesse doesn't know he's there.  And the look on the vampire's face is heartbreaking as he realizes the depth of their connection.

Sunday morning, Jesse waits in the church as the congregation gathers outside.  Emily finds him and tells him that Eugene wants to talk to him first.  He thanks her for all her work - hers and Tulip's, and at the mention of the other woman's name, her face falls.  Still carrying that torch for him.  She goes out and sends in Eugene.  Eugene wants Jesse to take back what he did, saying that he doesn't think that God wants him to be forgiven by the townspeople.  Not that way, not through Jesse's Voice.  Eugene says that it's cheating, doing it that way.  Jesse starts to get defensive; he's getting tired of people telling him what to do.  He gets up and walks towards the church doors.  Eugene cries out, "What are you going to do?"  Jesse:  "I'm going to save the damn town!"  This power has gone to his head and he actually says that once he saves the town, he will have fulfilled his promise [to his dead father] and then he will be free.  He heads again towards the church doors and Eugene is all, this is wrong, it's a sin!  Jesse gets pissed off and shouts, using the Voice:  "Go to hell, Eugene!"  There is a strange noise from behind him and when he turns around, Eugene is gone, the church program he was holding fluttering to the floor.  Holy shit, Jesse.  What have you done?

Previously on Preacher / next time on Preacher

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Mini movie review: Cube

Cube is an odd little Canadian movie, not really nasty enough to qualify as horror but with a little more gore than a straight thriller, plus a touch of science fiction.  There's not a whole lot of plot to worry about:  six (technically seven but one gets killed off REALLY quickly) strangers regain consciousness, trapped in a construct made of cube-shaped rooms.  There are hatches on each wall, floor and ceiling and when they go through, whichever way they go, they find themselves in another cube-shaped room.  Some of these rooms are booby-trapped, which thins the herd as these people try to move from room to room, attempting to escape; even more troublesome is that they have neither food nor water, so they will need to get out - or definitely die trying.  None of the people know each other or how they ended up in the cube but several of them have useful skills: one is a doctor, one a cop, one has escaped from several prisons, one turns out to be a math whiz.  They don't particularly like one another but they'll all need to work together to get out of the cube.

Cube is from 1997 but it seems older.  The acting is not that good and no questions get answered - you never learn why they are there, or who put them there, or what is going on in the outside world - not even at the very end, but I found myself getting sucked in nonetheless.  You could do better than this movie but you could also do much, much worse.