PREACHER Review: “Sokosha” Demystifies The Soul Trade

The show gets back on track in a fast-paced and funny thrill ride.

Something I've really been enjoying in this season of Preacher (and the previous one, to a lesser degree) is the matter-of-fact, grounded treatment of heavenly (or hellish) concepts. To call heaven, you use a phone. Hell has budget issues. God auditions actors to double him from a low-rent acting agency. It's all very tactile and fits with the blasphemous demystification that is the show's brand.

So the cold open of this week's episode, “Sokosha,” brought me a great deal of joy, as we learned about the people and processes of the second-hand soul trade. Starting with a guy hard-selling a poor couple on the procedure, it immediately becomes clear that the soul trade fucks over the underprivileged just like nearly every other trade does. The specifics are charmingly low-tech, with James Kyson’s soul technician carrying around a little briefcase with soul-gathering gear in it, like something out of Inception. He extracts 15% of poor Edwin Thibodeaux’s soul, handing his wife $150,000 before selling the soul on to a rich lady with dementia for $2.7 million. Souls seem to be something of a cure-all, and it really is a seller’s market. 

“Sokosha” (the title refers to the type of armoured truck used by the soul dealers) is lightning-paced, urgent as hell, and remarkably focused on one thing: the confrontation between Jesse and the Saint of Killers that's been brewing for weeks. All that soul business just serves to set up the deal Jesse makes with the Saint, who reappears via a bullet in some yoghurt and a bunch of slaughtered apartment-dwellers. You do not want this guy to show up at your door and say “Preacher” if you have nothing to tell him.

And how does Jesse figure out what to tell the Saint? By going to the library, of course - a typically prosaic solution for this show. That the Saint of Killers is something of a folklore myth in the world of Preacher is wonderfully funny; Jesse and co find stacks of history books, historical fiction, comics (with art straight out of the Preacher graphic novels), audiobooks, children’s books, and more concerning their nemesis, the Butcher of Gettysburg. He's an American psychopath on the level of Dick Cheney, sharing with the former VP one weakness: his lack of soul. 

The entire rest of the episode devotes itself to Jesse’s attempts to find a soul for the Saint, an encounter I don’t recall from the comics that sets up some potentially interesting plot lines to come. Turns out donor souls have to match their recipient's type, like blood transfusions, and there are many more soul types than blood types. In one of the episode’s most delightful turns, Jesse goes to a voodoo shop to procure a soul, only to discover that every voodoo shop in New Orleans has been driven out of that market by the Japanese company from the cold open, Soul Happy Go Go. Taking the initiative offered by a sausage sizzle - God’s true gift to mankind - Jesse sets about robbing the firm’s armoured truck of its soul cargo.

Robbing an armoured truck ain’t easy. That’s the point of armoured trucks. Jesse’s Word of God abilities don’t work through soundproofed doors, and his hastily homemade bomb has hilariously little effect. But getting arrested for detonating said bomb does, as he can then make the cops do his dirty work for him - to find the only soul that matches the Saint’s is his own. One extraction later, Jesse’s back on task, delivering one percent of his own soul to the Saint of Killers just too late to prevent him from slicing Cassidy’s fingers off.

With the Saint now soul-empowered, Jesse can finally use the Word on him - a fine explanation of why that didn’t work before - much to the Saint's dismay. Jesse contemplates sending the Saint to Hell, presumably to meet up with Eugene and Hitler, but we literally hear the cogs turning in his mind as he decides to bury him in the swamp instead, hiding his guns separately. Bad move, Jesse. There’s no way this is the last we’ve seen of the Saint, despite Jesse likely considering himself a straight-up murderer at this point, and next time they meet, it won’t be a contract with angels that brings them together - it’ll be personal.

Moving ahead, “Sokosha” leaves the audience a number of enticing questions. What exactly was Jesse’s “family business” that gave Jesse such intimate knowledge of the soul trade? What significance is there in Jesse and the Saint sharing a soul type, other than a simple reflection of the darkness within each of them? When and how will the Saint return to pick up his guns? What exactly are the after-effects of having part of one’s soul extracted (Kyson’s character tells people they “won’t even miss it,” but there’s no way he’s telling the whole truth)? Why was the revelation that Dennis is Cassidy’s son treated with such matter-of-factness? And when will Hitler and the barely-seen-yet Herr Starr turn their respective plans against Jesse?

Hopefully we’ll find out answers to all of those questions. The chances seem good. Better, at least, than our chances of seeing The Day the Dying Died: A Tribute to Ganesh, which I fear will be relegated to side-gag status. RIP, my favourite angel.