This Preacher review contains spoilers.
Preacher Season 2 Episode 2
Preacher’s “Mumbai Sky Tower,” which is supposed to function as the second half of a two-night premiere, is arguably the stronger of the two episodes. Sure, we’re up to our eyeballs in some inspired, gory deaths, but there’s an interesting existential component in “Mumbai” that was lacking in “On the Road.” With a little bit of tweaking to both scripts, “Mumbai” might have offered a stronger start to Preacher’s new season.
For instance, why delay Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy from finding about Annville’s fate? It was odd to me that this was only hinted at in “On the Road.” Perhaps this was because setting up the trio’s journey was more important than Tulip losing her uncle in the blast. But in “Mumbai,” not only is Tulip suddenly in mourning, she must contend with a potentially ugly secret from her past. On top of that, she’s also grappling not only with Jesse’s lackluster marriage proposal (it’s more of a suggestion, really), but the idea of matrimony itself. I have the feeling that her sadness over poor Uncle Walter ran its course in this hour, whereas her run-in with Gary (Michael Beasely) will have broader ramifications later in the season. As for marriage, well, what Tulip and Jesse have is the stuff of romance novels, but she isn’t the marrying type. And, honestly, I don’t think we need to see a bold character like her come to be defined by her relationships. I could easily watch an action-packed AMC show called Tulip. Back to my earlier point, why couldn’t some of her conflict have been shuffled to “On the Road”?
As for Jesse, you’d think he’d take being rejected a little harder than he does. Maybe this says more about his confidence in their relationship. Or maybe Jesse just isn’t a very deep character. For now, his biggest conflict continues to be getting the Saint of Killers off their backs. This is understandable, of course, given how said Saint has a habit of leaving bloodbaths in his wake. I’m glad Genesis has no effect on him; indeed, it’s Genesis itself that acts like a homing beacon, drawing death and destruction to Jesse like a moth to a flame. This is a nice twist—and it means Jesse and company will be outrunning their very own boogeyman for quite a while.
Getting back to the existential crisis I mentioned earlier, the angel Fiore (the wonderful Tom Brooke) makes a welcome appearance. While I understand how his unique dilemma deserved to be the central point of “Mumbai,” I still wonder if bringing him in an hour earlier wouldn’t have made for an even stronger first hour. Again, setting up the search for a wayward god is more important to the season overall than presenting us with a forlorn angel who, despite his best efforts, is unable to die. This inability to punch his own ticket is played for comedic effect, yet there’s a real pathos in being forced to live against one’s will. Happiness will never be his again, until he finds his true calling. Or at least he finds peace. And it’s Jesse, using Genesis, who finally grants this wayward angel amnesty. (For the record, I could watch an AMC show called Fiore, too.)
In the meantime, it’s interesting to see Fiore on this unexpected path to stardom, as it bears strong similarities to Eugene’s journey to mega-celebrity in the comic. Here it feels earned, this odd star turn, whereas Eugene’s rise to fame seemed to come out of nowhere and not really go anywhere. As for finding genuine happiness (as opposed to the kind found in drugs or headlining a successful show in a casino), Fiore finds true peace courtesy of the Saint of Killers.
Fiore’s was a sad tale filled with pathos and longing, but the Saint of Killer story is likewise heartbreaking. He simply wants to retrieve Genesis, nothing more. Once that’s done, he can be reunited with his wife and child. Until then, a job’s a job, and this cowboy from Hell will move heaven and earth to find Jesse Custer.
Some closing thoughts:
I’m looking forward to Preacher’s take on New Orleans. The show’s decadent sensibilities will dovetail well with that of The Big Easy.
This episode gets a bit meta when Vik Sahay’s Frank Sinatra impersonator remarks to Jesse, “People like violence.” Indeed they do. And “Mumbai” has its share of violence. Whether it’s literally sawing a man in half and watching his guts ooze onto the floor, or presenting us with a gun aficionado who’s had his arm blown clean off, Preacher likes to wallow in its own messiness. This is all well and good, but I wonder if it’s only a matter of time before some viewers succumb to a kind of “gore fatigue.” Violence for its own sake is one thing—but for it to have real impact, it needs to mean something.