In Preacher Episode 102, “The Possibilities,” Jesse reaches a turning point that will shape the rest of the first season when Donnie pulls a gun on him. The style elements of Jesse’s pivotal moment serve up several Easter eggs.
Location, location, location. Jesse is accosted in a bathroom, where people go to relieve themselves, at a gas station, where folks go to refuel. Donnie’s threats reinvigorate Jesse’s efforts to heal Anneville. But he is fueled by dark actions which could prove problematic.
Will he violate his flock’s free-will or will he wrangle it with rhetoric? Jesse now trusts himself in a way that is, up to this point, alien. The only thing Donnie managed to extinguish was Jesse’s doubt.
Water, water, everywhere. Water is a symbol for renewal (baptism), again indicating that Jesse will leave the bathroom reborn (“Jesus is coming. Run”). In this context, Jesse’s hand washing is an allusion to Pontius Pilate who washed his hands of guilt for Christ’s crucifixion. Jesse absolves himself of responsibility, rationalizing Donnie brought Jesse’s fury on himself.
It is also possible that Jesse is relieving himself of the guilt that may accompany the use of his power. He may convince himself that violating free-will is for the greater good—a conviction of many madmen.
The man in the mirror. The initial stage of the conflict occurs through a mirror. Reflections reverse reality. In the mirror, Jesse seems to have the power—he is the one with the gun. Jesse’s reflection is also bathed in light, indicating goodness; only a sliver of his cheek is cast in shadow.
Since reflections, symbolically, show us inverted reality, not only does Jesse hold the power, but his power is likely dominated by darkness.
As Jesse turns to face Donnie, he is cast entirely in shadow— he’s literally making a dark turn. That said, theoretically, Jesse’s decision, whatever it is, will plunge the town he intends to save even deeper into darkness.
Yes, he pulls himself back into the light, but he spends much more time lingering in the shadows. He also seems much more natural and comfortable cloaked in darkness. This doesn’t bode well for Anneville.
Color Scheme. The complimentary color scheme, teal paired with orange coupled with the obvious dichotomy of black paired with white, indicates conflict. The look of the scene dares viewers not to think of Fight Club, another work that deals with the split persona trope; nobody saw that twist coming, so viewers should anticipate the unexpected.
Donnie dressed in white can’t bear the color’s usual significance, innocence. He’s violent, proud…the deadly sins abound in this character. Instead, the use of black and white provides a threat scale. Donnie’s sin is human where Jesse’s power is other-worldly and far more threatening.
Donnie’s white attire could foreshadow conflict with the mysterious man in white (introduced in the opening of “The Possibilities”). Jesse may not find himself toe-to-toe with the man in white, but someone will. Perhaps the point is the futility of vengeance, something sought by numerous Preacher characters. In that case, Tulip better be careful!
Donnie’s face dons the orange tint, indicating his internal conflict is the one to watch. It is peculiar that Jesse dismisses Donnie’s knowledge of his power. Jesse accused Donnie of being a rabbit in a bear trap once already and subsequently found himself at the wrong side of Donnie’s gun.
Is Jesse banking on Donnie’s lost credibility? The man’s reputation is so shattered that even the school children taunt him.
How will Donnie use this information to best his nemesis and what will be the consequences for Anneville? How will Donnie’s connection to Quincannon factor into his new found intelligence?
The writing’s on the wall. Since Sam Catlin is the series showrunner, it’s necessary to mind the small stuff. Breaking Bad’s juicy bits marinated in small details. The bathroom stall graffiti, for example, neatly framed Donnie, offering clues and comic relief.
Donnie eating his gun is downright squirm-worthy. But the tension breaks a bit once “Dick” (scrolled on the wall) enters the frame and points at Donnie’s face. Allowing viewers that beat reminds them that Donnie got himself into this predicament because he acted like a… just read the wall.
“Nasty!” (visible in the lower left portion of the frame at the 1:11 mark in the clip below) punctuates the icky tone of Donnie’s command “squeal for me”, reinforcing Donnie is no innocent victim. In the spirit of Dexter, Jesse’s “dark passenger” may gravitate towards vigilante justice, which is a logical leap considering Tulip’s quest.
Donnie’s elbow points to a cross framed by six lines, creating the illusion of movement in multiple directions.
This mimics the many directions the power can move Jesse…right now, it’s moving him in a dangerous one. The cross’s close proximity to “Dick” also shows the thin line between Donnie and Jesse. Tulip is right—there is no such thing as “good men”… there are only men.
You can watch the clip and catch things I may have missed. What did you observe in the turning point? You can share your finds and questions in the comment section.