[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Director: Norberto Barba
Writer: Sara Goodman
Starring: Dominic Cooper, Joseph Gilgun, Ruth Negga, Pip Torrens, Julie Ann Emery, Malcolm Barrett, Ronald Guttman
This week on AMC’s Preacher: Eugene experiences Hitler’s Hell in its entirety, and is shaken to learn that all of the Second World War began because someone ate Adolf’s plum cake. The unlikely prison buddies move ahead with their escape plan, and back on Earth another one of Hell’s favourite residents has pulled off some Houdini tricks of his own. Jesse and Tulip discover the Saint of Killers has escaped the submerged armoured van, and Tulip finds it impossible to destroy the Saint’s weapons.
Herr Starr and his Grail underlings try to initiate a coup d’état, wishing to oust Humperdoo and his Perverted Heavenly Father and replace them both with Jesse Custer, however Jesse isn’t interested.
We have some Jesse flashbacks too this week, and we’re beginning to see more of the story of young-Jesse’s abduction following the death of his father, specifically involving more sealed containers dunked in swamps.
And finally, Cassidy buys Denis a dog because he’s a terrible father.
Jesse’s use of the Voice has been strained this season, due to pragmatic concerns about the demon man who could track it, or due to the moral ambiguity involved in commanding people against their will. For the most part, Jesse’s crazy divine power hasn’t been shown in a positive light so far, however we get to see his ability truly falter when trying to direct some Grail receptionists. There’s a brilliant moment where Cooper’s eyes grow twice their size and for the first time Preacher comes across as genuinely vulnerable, even if it’s just for a second.
Jesse has done some questionable things in this series and a lot of his time has been spent alone, so it’s great to see his alienation of his friends reach its critical point now that things are starting to look even more desperate for them all. But as interesting as the present-day storyline is becoming, personally I’m far more interested in finding out just what the hell is up with young Jesse’s Gran’Ma and her swamp crate torture rig. Way back in season one, Cassidy made a quip about Jesse’s “Kung-Fu moves” and fans of the show will be as eager as I am to learn just how he got that training, although we can say for certain after the past couple of episodes that the emblem tattooed on his back is the same as the tattoos on the men that killed his father before abducting him as a child. But, that’s all probably season three stuff, so stay tuned.
With so many interesting characters and rich subplots, it’s starting to feel like there’s just not enough time for the five branches of this narrative which are; Jesse, Tulip, Cassidy and Denis, Herr Starr and the Grail, and Lara Featherstone and F.J. Hoover. While Jesse’s strutting around looking for God and meeting with the worlds’ religious figureheads, Cassidy is struggling with his son’s bloodlust which may already have verged into murderous territory. Tulip is fighting to keep her sanity intact while everyone close to her feeds her lies, and Featherstone and Hoover manipulate the situation for the interests of the Grail, which have now been subverted by the rebellious Herr Starr.
It’s an awful lot of activity to fit into the one show, and so much of these subplots just aren’t explored very far, or only serve to highlight the fact that Jesse is being selfish. I was hoping that Denis’ bad behaviour would attract the attention of the vampire hunters that came after Cassidy in season one, however the woman that he seemed to have killed isn’t referred to in this episode at all. Either we care about the dead hooker, or we don’t. If we don’t, then what was the point in showing Denis all bloody and smug while Jesse looks on in horror? Why not spend more time on what Cassidy actually thinks right now, given he’s supposed to be quite lonely, or give us more of Tulip battling through messed up nightmares, or even spend some more time down in Hell with Hitler and the gang.
We might be on the verge of leaving Hell actually, and yet I feel like we’ve spent hardly any time there despite how morbidly fascinating the prison setting is. Eugene seems ready to leave now that he’s witnessed all of Hitler’s worst memory, however that just means the last portion of the café scene which we saw back at the start of the series when Eugene hid in Hitler’s cell. It all feels a bit rushed down there, whereas the team back on Earth have more time than they know what to do with.
With less quips and punches, and a little more drama and development, Preacher is squaring up for its season two finale. With his friends alienated by his obsessions and selfishness, and his Lord and Saviour turning out to be a dog fetishist with a developmentally challenged son who passed his prayers over to a sociopathic corporate entity to be archived – Jesse’s starting to feel the gravity of his situation. With so many players on the board and not much time to waste before the end of the season, it’ll be interesting to see how this season wraps up.