This review contains spoilers.
When in a tough spot, is it better to make a deal with the devil that you know, or the devil that you don’t? And when is it appropriate to try to pit those two devils against one another to escape the clutches of a third, more dangerous devil? Jesse Custer has found himself backed into a real predicament. On one hand, he’s still dealing with fallout from his time with The Grail. On the other hand, he’s got his family, who are possibly worse than The Grail. Friction from within his friend group, pressure applied from without, and nowhere to turn for any real help.
The idea is that voodoo extracts a price on the person on which it takes hold. In the case of Angelville, that price is usually monetary, unless the person asking for help fails to make their payments, then that price becomes metaphysical. If you welch on a deal, you lose your soul to Madame Marie, and once she has her hooks in a person, she doesn’t let them go, as Jesse finds out once again during this episode after he runs afoul of his grandmother. She’s got powers, and even the quasi-home of The Voice can’t fight against them without his supernatural powers at his disposal. And to get his powers back, he has to deal with the only person more execrable than his grandmother: Herr Starr of The Grail.
It’s interesting to watch Jesse try to play both sides here. He’s using his grandmother’s enemies to provide a distraction to allow him to meet with his enemies in The Grail to try and get back a missing piece of his soul. So he picks a fight with the Boyds and also makes arrangements to send a message to Herr Starr and get him to Louisiana on the Angelville compound. All the while, he’s facing problems with Cas and Tulip as they both try to come to terms with what happened between them and their mistrust of Jesse’s motives. He abandoned them to The Grail once; why wouldn’t he do it again?
Sonsabitches does well to build on the events of the second season of Preacher. Jesse’s entanglement with The Grail is only going to get deeper given their control over him, and with the way his grandmother is controlling him, he’ll only get more desperate. Meanwhile, we get a couple of really fun action sequences. In the absence of Jesse as the Messiah, Starr goes around at the behest of the Allfather to make sure that the Krishna fall in line and support Humperdoo’s claim as the Messiah. Meanwhile, to distract Jody, TC, and his friends, Jesse has Tulip and Cas pick a fight with the Boyds, leading to a great armed stand-off.
That’s a credit to Michael Slovis (Game Of Thrones, The Walking Dead). His background as a cinematographer leads to some impressively staged fight scenes, especially the Grail assault on the Hare Krishna compound. It’s like a demented Busby Berkeley scene. He also has good touch with his actors, though his staging remains the stand-out of his direction. All of his fights look cool, no matter how many people are involved in them or how intricate they might be. He also does a great job at arranging his characters within specific shots—just watch how Cas and Tulip join with Jody and TC to fight off the Boyds, it’s crafted for maximum comedy.
The jokes land. Sara Goodman’s script is really amusing, particularly the Tulip/Cassidy moments and the Jesse/Starr moments. The script does a good job at planting more seeds of dissent between all parties, while making Jesse’s scheme to get his soul back from Starr as plausible. That Tulip ruins things, flashing back to her own father’s words and her experiences with God, makes a nice book-end. The southern Gothic family drama bits don’t fall quite as well as the drama between Jesse and Cas, but we also haven’t gotten as much of it as we have the other stuff, and we’re not as invested in the non-Jesse characters. However, Jesse’s family continues to be violent and weird, which means they’re entertaining on television.
It’s fun to watch characters like TC and Cas bounce off one another, united by their love of tall tales and drugs. It’s fun to watch Tulip and Jody bond over a collection of guns. It’s also fun to watch Jesse and Starr engage in battles of wits, with Starr seeming to get one over on Jesse at every turn thanks to simply anticipating his vengeful, violent moods.
Jesse will have to get The Voice back at some point, but until then it’s enjoyable to watch him scheme and plot, rather than simply overpowering everyone to get his way. He’ll overpower them eventually, but it’s going to take awhile. Starr is the man behind a coup against the Allfather, after all; he’s not going to be taken in by some dime-store conman activity like a lot of the rubes Jesse has squared off with before now.
It’s not so much fun to see someone steamrolled by a favorite; it’s more fun to see a good contest in which your favorite takes control and wins by a significant margin. Jesse is going to have to work to keep one step ahead of Starr, Cas, and his grandmother.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan would be very interested to play around with Jody’s gun collection one day. He’d be a great YouTuber if YouTube still allowed weapons-based accounts. Find more by Ron daily at PopFi.