This Preacher review contains spoilers.
Preacher Season 2 Episode 3
I have to be honest, I don’t know what excited me more about this episode— seeing Eugene again, or finally getting a good look at Pip Torrens as Herr Starr. (And yes, I know we got a glimpse of Starr leaving a snuff film festival in season one). Certainly my heart goes out to poor Eugene, who has no place being in Hell. But more on him in a bit.
In the meantime, let’s talk about Jesse’s ongoing search for God, who, as this show is wont to remind us, is missing from Heaven. Which brings us this week to New Orleans, and the usual hullabaloo that this charming city entails. There’s a bit of predictably decadent nonsense of course (latex-clad man-dog, anyone?) and the requisite bead-laden carousing, but beneath the neon and tumult and reverie, something more sinister is afoot. Of course, I’m referring to the presence of a fanatical religious order known as the Grail. “Damsels” doesn’t let much slip about the order, giving us just enough to keep those not familiar with the comic curious about the men in the white suits and the sultry jazz singer who is colluding with them. One could assume the Grail’s run-in with Jesse is mere happenstance, but the thick file on Starr’s desk suggests otherwise. Jesse can handle himself in a fight, but the Grail is bigger than anything else he’s ever experienced. Bigger, even, than the late Odin Quincannon’s beef empire.
It’s fairly obvious that Lara isn’t who she seems, given her keen interest in Jesse’s ability to stop the truck. His evasiveness only piques her interest, and nothing short of a private demonstration of said power will suffice. That Jesse would use Genesis not once but twice is pure foolishness, given how using the power will inevitably draw the Saint of Killers to him. One could say it’s entrapment that leads to such a cavalier abuse of power, but deep down I think Jesse can’t resist manipulating people. Not out of meanness or spite, but because, for him, New Orleans is a difficult homecoming, one that reminds him of a time when he was powerless to protect himself. We’ve gotten hints of Jesse’s backstory, in this season and last, and one hopes the show will give us the full story of his childhood as it appeared on the comic book page.
As for Tulip, being back in New Orleans is no picnic for her, either. She’s wronged the wrong person, and now he’s tracked her down. Jesse is unaware of what’s truly troubling Tulip—he has his own baggage to carry. To his credit, Cassidy is more dialed in to Tulip’s addled state of mind, but there’s not much he can do to help her. It’s hard to really know what’s sitting in her craw more—being found by Victor, or that things aren’t copacetic between her and Jesse. In the end, it looks like Victor is her more immediate concern. We’ve seen Tulip blast her way out of trouble before (she once shot a helicopter out of the sky with a homemade bazooka), but this is not the same Tulip from the series premiere. She has more to live for, which means she has a hell of a lot more to lose.
Which finally brings us back to poor Eugene. Just like the Saint of Killers last season, Eugene is being forced to relive his worst moments again and again, in all their violent, gory glory. This endless loop of death and destruction is courtesy of a device that’s like Star Trek’s holodeck as conceived by Clive Barker. Two botched suicide attempts—his own and Tracy Loach’s, are now his private hell, courtesy of Hell itself. And Hell, we learn, is an institutionalized kind of eternity, where the damned are nothing more than a string of numbers to their anonymous keepers, fodder for the nightmare machines.
We know Eugene is basically a good kid at heart, that it was Genesis’s literal interpretation of Jesse’s angry “go to hell” outburst last season that exiled him to the underworld. Aside from the occasional pangs of remorse, our titular preacher doesn’t seem to be losing much sleep over Eugene’s plight. And that’s a problem, if we’re supposed to be rooting for Jesse as he continues to search for God. Yes, he did try to bring Eugene back, to no avail, but Jesse otherwise doesn’t spend much screen time on undoing his mistake.
Whatever Eugene’s mistakes were, he deserves a second chance. He doesn’t need to be turned into an unstoppable killing machine like the Saint of Killers. No, the kid just needs to catch a break. His disfigurement was hell enough, wasn’t it? And now he’s being paired with none other than Adolf Hitler (Noah Taylor). Cassidy laments to Tulip about being relegated to sidekick status, but in this infernal pairing, I wonder who’ll be calling the shots.
Some closing thoughts:
All things considered, Julie Ann Emery’s Agent Featherstone may have only been masquerading as a singer, but she’s nonetheless convincing as a smoldering chanteuse.
Eugene’s addressed by his keeper as “3767211725,” which as an actual number translates to almost 4 billion. If that’s meant to be the number of people serving time in Hell, that figure is a tad on the low side, isn’t it?
It was good to be in Annville again, even if it was by virtue of Eugene’s terrible memories. The futility of his trying to scoop up brain matter was equal parts disgusting and utterly heartbreaking. Ian Colletti definitely sells the tragedy of this moment, and indeed carries the entire flashback just with the hope and loss glimmering in his eyes.