This Preacher review contains spoilers.
Preacher: Season 2 Episode 4
While this episode’s biggest twist belongs to Tulip, Eugene’s hellish travails are far more compelling. Not just because he’s too good and pure of heart to deserve his incarceration, but because of Preacher‘s humanizing take on one of history’s greatest monsters. But more on Hitler in a bit.
In the meantime, Jesse’s search for God continues, though in this case, the trail leads not to another New Orleans strip club, but to low-level casting agent Teddy Gunth, played with manic aplomb by James Hiroyuki Liao. This is familiar territory for the show, this kind of odd detour that introduces one-off characters that serve as satirical riffs for the dysfunctional world we live in. And Teddy doesn’t disappoint. He’s all Hollywood bluster, spouting industry buzzwords as if his life (and not just his livelihood) depended on it. He’s a small-time operator at best, casting local actors in commercials.
And yet, one of Teddy’s clients, Mark Harelik (who is playing some odd version of himself in one of the episode’s most meta moments), is the actor who tried to pass himself off as the God to Jesse’s congregation last season. His audition tape is fascinating to watch, to see an actor’s process simultaneously played straight and for its inherent humor for those not in the business. It’s Harelik’s sincerity that sells the audition and the portrayal of the audition. He describes playing God as the role of a lifetime. Indeed, some people would kill for a part like this. Or, in the fictional Harelik’s case, be killed for the part. Which raises an important question that for now remains unanswered: Who hired Harelik? My money is that the super-secretive religious order The Grail is behind it.
As for Tulip, it’s interesting to see her so out of sorts now that she’s back under Viktor’s roof. Up to this point we’ve been led to believe that their falling out was of a professional sort, sowing the kind of bad blood that’s endemic to underworld life. This seems especially so if you’re familiar with the Vertigo comic, but I’m glad the show isn’t following the route of a contract hit gone wrong. This doesn’t stop Paul Ben-Victor from playing up Viktor’s menace. Nor does it stop Preacher from ramping up the thick tension as Tulip sits uncomfortably in Viktor’s office while someone is tortured in the next room.
The reveal that Viktor is Tulip’s husband packs a massive punch, especially for Jesse, who’s blindsided by the news. Certainly this explains why Tulip didn’t try to fight her way out of the laundromat, and why she’s taking the silent treatment so hard. One imagines this kind of powerlessness is new territory for Tulip, just as Hell covers new ground for a natural do-gooder like Eugene.
It’s telling that Eugene’s jailor, the wonderfully deadpan Amy Hill, has reviewed his memories and finds him sorely lacking in moral turpitude. Which makes sense, given that Eugene is there through no fault of his own. I suppose this more bureaucratic take on Hell, which is overcrowded and underfunded, lacks the kind of oversight that might turn away an innocent soul like Eugene. His inherent kindness and loyalty are seen as liabilities in a place that trucks in infinite suffering.
“This is Hell,” the superintendent tells Eugene. “Act accordingly.” This presents an interesting conflict for the kind of person who believes in following the rules, who is likely one of the few souls in all of Hell who has ever deliberately uttered a genuine, soft-spoken apology. In the end, his fear of being banished to the Hole, a sort of underworld beneath the underworld, is what motivates him to turn against the one person who might be more mild-mannered than he is.
Noah Taylor’s portrayal of Hitler is definitely offbeat, and not one we’ve seen before. In the Preacher universe, Hitler’s worst memory is from 1919, before his rise to power, when his greatest fear is that of having his artwork rejected by a Munich art dealer. Present-day Hitler is likewise meek, quietly complaining about the unfairness of a puzzle book that’s already been solved by someone else. He’s so meek, in fact, that he’s a bully magnet to the other inmates in their cell block. He’s a man who’s been humbled by his damnation. Even so, it’s hard not to indulge in a bit of schadenfreude to literally see him kicked when he’s down. It’s only when Eugene joins in the fray that we feel any sympathy. It’s not sympathy for the devil, though. It’s sympathy for a boy whose greatest sin is being too nice.
Some closing thoughts:
It’s no surprise the Saint of Killers is making a beeline for New Orleans, given how Jesse is using Genesis left and right. But does he really travel everywhere on foot? You think he could easily commandeer a horse.
Am I the only one who’s surprised that Jesse doesn’t know even just a little bit of French, given where he grew up? I don’t speak French, either, so I’d love to know what Dennis is saying.
Cassidy hasn’t much to do in the last two episodes, except fret over Tulip. I suppose somebody has to do it, given how checked out Jesse has been when it comes to their relationship.
Eugene can’t possibly be the only Annville resident now calling Hell home. Take Linus the bus driver, for instance. Or the mayor. Or even Emily. Or Odin Quincannon. (Hell, especially Odin Quincannon.) I would love for Eugene to see these people again. Imagine the uncomfortable small talk!
Did anyone else catch the Star Wars Easter egg? Eugene and the rest of his cell block are detained in holding room AA23. If you’ll recall, in A New Hope, Princess Leia was held on the Death Star in Detention Block AA-23.