‘Preacher,’ Episode 108 “El Valero” A Controversial Scene Offers Hints

AMC’s Preacher is not for the feint of heart. Its dark humor and gore are, after all, part of the comic adaptation’s lure. But did “El Valero” go too far with one particularly controversial scene? And what hints does the scene hold?

The controversy surrounds two of Preacher’s  favored characters- Tulip and Cassidy. Both characters, discarded by Preacher Jesse Custer, are left to their own devices after Cassidy chars himself in an attempt to rouse Jesse’s compassion.

Blood is the only cure for Cassidy’s current flame broiled condition. Tulip aims to restore him. Her method of assistance, though, is the problem.

In “El Valero,” Tulip’s first scene occurs at a dog shelter, set, in all places, a desert– the dogs penned under a blazing sun. The imprisoned dogs are reminiscent of another innocent, Eugene, who is currently cast away in Hell in need of rescue.

What will be the price of Eugene’s rescue? Will his soul survive the endeavor? The dog’s fate suggests not.

As Tulip gazes at each pup, her expression of concern is soon revealed to be one of resentment. Humanity isn’t the cause of her rescue.

Unfortunately, the dog she brings home is far from rescued. She delivers the pup to Cassidy as sustenance for his recovery.

But there are a few things about this act of exceptional cruelty that fans find incongruent. Several fans on Preacher’s Facebook page express abhorrence at the scene’s seeming gratuitousness and inconsistencies.

One fan calls Tulip’s act “evil at its finest,” while another declares, ” I’m not watching one more episode of this show. Tulip could have easily robbed a blood bank. I’m done. This show is cruel and pointless.”

Cruel, yes, but pointless, maybe not. Another AMC series, The Walking Dead, used a similar act of animal cruelty.

Rick Grimes and his group, in the name survival, feasted upon a pack of formerly domestic dogs. The reaction to that scene, too, was similarly visceral. But its purpose was clear.

Who could fault desperate people for seeking a reluctant source of nourishment?

In Preacher, Cassidy is just as desperate as Rick and the others to survive, but he has the entirety of a still functional infrastructure at his disposal.

Twice before, Cassidy faced similar situations…falling out of an airplane and a third- story window will do that to a lad.  In times past, Cassidy fed from a grazing cow and hospital blood bags.

Cow butchery is nothing new in reality and in the series, so there was no outcry in response to Cassidy’s behavior then.

Dogs, though, particularly dogs in need of loving homes, simultaneously symbolize the worst and best of humanity. The worst in abusing, neglecting, and abandoning innocent creatures; the best in offering those same creatures loving, nurturing, healing homes.

So why have Tulip exploit the innocent? And does it matter that she did so with anger and disgust? More than a few fans pointed out that Tulip could have easily stolen blood from the hospital for Cass.

Does her act point to her inner-evil or the detrement of Jesse’s existence? And what of the random nature of her selection? The irony of the situation is too palpable to ignore.

Given the symbolic value of rescue dogs, Tulip’s well-intended act may foreshadow Jesse and Eugene’s fate or Fiore and DeBlanc’s fate. Both sets of characters do harm in an effort to do right.

Jesse clings to his power, convinced that he can help Annville, but instead leaves it worse for his arrival. Fiore and DeBlanc are prepared to turn to darker forces to restore cosmic order.

Time will tell the damage the angels will cause, but danger is imminent whenever demons get involved.

Viewers, in the meantime, are cautioned not to misconstrue dark deeds for rescue. It suggests that there is an alternative, but desperations draws people to darkness. What may seem random is part of a calculated design.

At the very least, Tulip’s sacrifice reinforces Preacher’s underlying theme: the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Its cliche nature doesn’t negate its truth.

Darker times are on the horizon for Jesse and Annville. For a more detailed recap of Preacher, Ep. 108, you can click here. Where do you think the series is heading? Do you think the show went too far with its animal cruelty?

You can leave your insights, predictions, and questions in the comment section.

Consumer Expert Melissa O'Donnell

Teacher by day, pop culture consumer by night- Melissa lives for good stories and loves to share them with fellow TV, movie, graphic novel, and book enthusiasts. She also blogs about pop culture's influence on everything from her worldview to her relationships at undertheinfluence76.blogspot.com-- she'd love for you to join in on her journey.