This Preacher review contains spoilers.
Preacher Season 3 Episode 2
I have very mixed feelings about this week’s Preacher. On the one hand, I love how much “Sonsabitches” crams into a single hour. On the other hand, I’m concerned about just how much is crammed into this single hour. Where season 2 seemed to lollygag and pussyfoot around (you heard me—lollygag and pussyfoot), season 3 is absolutely hustling and bustling. What would have unfolded across three or four episodes last season is packed into “Sonsabitches.” Not that I’m complaining. I happen to like how complicated things are already, what with multiple, crisscrossing agendas. Plodding, this season of Preacher isn’t.
As industrious as this episode’s machinations get, Jesse doesn’t get swallowed up or pushed aside as he did last season. Indeed, Madame L’Angelle’s wayward grandson holds his own amid a cavalcade of violent malcontents and backstabbers. He’s got L’Angelle blood running through his veins, after all—and Gran’ma L’Angelle has a bit of Jesse’s blood, too. Were it not for the blood pact that brokered Tulip’s resurrection, Jesse would be free to leave Angelville. Gran’ma’s voodoo is like an invisible fence, keeping her grandson from leaving the grounds.
Got all of that, so far? Sara Goodman’s script ups the stakes a bit by bringing The Grail into the fray a lot earlier in the season than I would have expected. In an episode filled with the kind of helpful exposition that was absent from last week’s premiere, we’re reminded that Agent Featherstone shot Tulip, that Jesse lost his ability to wield Genesis’s power, and that Herr Starr currently retains a crucial one percent of Jesse’s soul as leverage. The exposition is breezy and efficient, as is much of “Sonsabitches.”
But wait, there’s more.
Tulip is still getting her bearings after being dead. She doesn’t remember much of the afterlife, much to everyone’s collective chagrin. She remembers Featherstone, though. She remembers seeing God, too. Tulip is quick to get her priorities in order: Heaven can wait, vengeance can’t.
Meanwhile, as Tulip’s motivations stack up, Jesse and Cassidy continue to bicker and growl, vying to be the alpha male. Luckily, this is the brash, no-nonsense Tulip we came to appreciate in season one—and not the sidetracked character from last season. Tulip came back from the dead with her bite intact, and Preacher is better for it. Laying into Agent Featherstone is exactly what Tulip needed to get her mojo back. Tulip is no damsel—and her heart isn’t up for grabs, no matter what Jesse and Cassidy think.
Which brings us to the point where “Sonsabitches” truly starts to get busy. It’s one thing for Agents Featherstone and Hoover to materialize at Angelville—it’s only a stone’s throw from New Orleans, after all. But it’s quite another thing to see Herr Starr and Jesse face to face in Gran’ma’s home. (As if there weren’t already so much evil under one roof.) There’s something about this unexpected tête-à-tête that makes Preacher’s world feel a little too small and localized. The Grail is a global entity, after all. If anyone should be able to free Jesse of his blood pact, you think it would be Herr Starr.
Then again, this is only the second episode of the season—and the Voice is the ultimate Get Out of Jail Free card. Jesse will have to wait before he gets that crucial one percent of his soul back. We’ll have to wait as well, as clearly the action is only getting started. We still haven’t encountered Eugene, Hitler, or the Saint of Killers. Plus there are other characters still waiting in the wings, one of them being the Allfather. This is a big character, no pun intended—and any reference to him shouldn’t be taken lightly. Again, no pun intended. (Just Google “Preacher Allfather” and you’ll see what I mean.)
I’m in this ’til the end of the world—for now. But Preacher needs to be careful about fatiguing viewers. I’m all for voodoo telegrams and inventive firefights and bloody swamp consommé. These are the sorts of things that make Preacher the only show of its kind on television at the moment. But quiet character beats are important, too. I just don’t know how the writers will squeeze those introspective moments in when this season is already packed to the gills with hell-raising mayhem.
Some closing thoughts:
Herr Starr was reduced to a bit of a punchline last season, but in “Sonsabitches” he’s back to being his ruthless, efficient self. His trip to Hare Krishna HQ in India is a reminder of just how ruthless and efficient he is. He’s droll, too, especially when he utters a line like “Profanity, in a house of worship? No wonder God left.” But his best line of the episode is when he describes the L’Angelle natives as “mud-speckled troglodytes.”
We’ve always known Jesse Custer is far from innocent. He played a crucial role in Angelville’s ecosystem, just as his mother did before him. The way a young Jesse reels in the science teacher is chilling. You’d expect a bigger reaction from present-day Jesse to discover the teacher has been imprisoned in The Tombs all this time. Then again, Jesse is a prisoner of Angelville, too.
Cassidy is one hell of a third wheel, isn’t he? I appreciate that Jesse is over their friendship—he knows a threat when he sees one. He’s right not to trust Cassidy, who’s as selfish as they come.
What does it say about everyone else when the least threatening person in the room is a creep like T.C.?