This week’s episode of AMC’s Preacher brought a lot of the insanity we’ve been expecting from the series in the form of a fight scene that left piles of dead heavenly Seraphs on the floor of a hotel room. The end of the episode also really began to explore the question that may drive much of the spiritual discussion in the series.
The power within Jesse, which we now know is called Genesis, gives him the power to command anyone to do as he wishes. That’s a great power to have, if you’re a villain. If you’re doing the bidding of God, however, that power can have the opposite effect. The Christian God gives us free will to choose as we wish. Jesse’s power takes that free will away, so even if someone is commanded to “serve God” as Quincannon was last week, or even if an entire congregation is ordered to be saved, it doesn’t really count in the Christian sense. One must choose to serve God. One must choose to be saved. Otherwise, there’s no point.
That issue came to a head in this week’s episode when Eugene/Arseface — who must be aware of Jesse’s powers on some level — asked Jesse to reverse the order he gave to Tracy’s Loach’s mother to forgive him. Why, Jesse wondered. Because “it’s cheating,” Eugene insisted.
Jesse insisted it was not. He insisted it was God’s will, and by choosing Jesse as the vessel for Genesis, God must have meant for Jesse to use those powers to serve God. Therefore, Jesse’s orders must be the work of God’s will, Preacher argued.
His logic, of course, was wrong, and this is where Eugene had the moral high ground. You can’t make them see the light. The must see the light of their own volition. It was that moral high ground that got under Jesse’s skin. “It is NOT cheating,” Jesse said. “People have to choose. That’s the whole point,” Eugene countered. “I’ll choose for them,” Jesse shot back. “It’s a sin,” Eugene responded. No, “it’s a blessing,” Jesse shouted before losing his cool.
“Go to hell, Eugene!”
That’s exactly what Eugene did. Once again, forgetting how literal his powers are, Jesse sent Eugene to hell.
But did he really? Or will Preacher reveal a narrative cheat in the next episode. Was Eugene sent, for instance, to Hell, Texas?
In this case, it’s unlikely. We know that, in the universe of Preacher, heaven and hell exists. Fiore and DeBlanc are from heaven. Genesis was conceived by an angel from heaven and a demon from hell, therefore hell exists, and that’s exactly where Eugene is when the episode ends.
What we don’t know is whether Jesse has the power to summon him back. We also don’t know what hell looks like in this universe. Heaven, after all, is not what the Bible has led us to believe. The seraphs are not exactly pure of heart. They’re willing to kill, after all. Hell may also be comprised of morally ambiguous people like Eugene himself, who clearly committed the sin that led to Tracy’s coma, but who also seems to be the most principled character in the series.
In any event, we can almost certainly expect to see Eugene again. Jesse may summon him back, or another character from Hell may deliver him back to Earth. What we can — and should — expect, however, is that Eugene will be changed by the experience. How remains to be seen.