This Preacher review contains spoilers.
Preacher Season 3 Episode 3
While this wasn’t my favorite episode of the season, there’s still a lot to like about “Gonna Hurt.” Production design remains topnotch, from the gothic bric-a-brac cluttering Angelville’s darkest corners to the atmospheric, moody music that ably conjures a deep, mysterious dread. These sorts of touches are all part of the grisly swamp consommé that week after week gives Preacher a bit of extra kick. There’s plenty of humor to be had as well, especially in the details. Like a Huffers Anonymous pamphlet entitled GLUE & YOU: Scary Signs of Sniffing…
But “Gonna Hurt” otherwise falls apart a bit, especially in the last several minutes. Jesse and Cassidy may be self-proclaimed besties, but their tug of war over Tulip is getting old. As much as I’ve always liked Joe Gilgun, as a character, Cassidy has really worn out his welcome. And now that we know he’s armed with one of Gran’ma’s love spells, the sooner he hits the bricks, the better. Unless you’re one of those people who ships Cassidy and Tulip (I’m not). Otherwise, this love triangle threatens to sink the season. Which is a shame, given season three’s strong start.
What truly rescues this episode is Tulip herself. Ruth Negga brings a vitality that is sorely missing from Angelville. In season one, Tulip was a force to be reckoned with. In season two, her reckless impulses were kept in check. Take the Viktor storyline, for example—in which we discover Tulip is married to a local mobster. As much as I loved last season’s “Dallas,” (I gave the episode five stars) this subplot did her character no favors. Having her grapple with her traumatic encounter with the Saint of Killers likewise left Tulip listless and ineffective.
But seeing Tulip give the Almighty himself some serious back-sass in “Gonna Hurt” is one of the reasons we tune into Preacher in the first place. The notion that the O’Hare curse is the product of grand design doesn’t sit well with Tulip. Nor does the idea that free will is a gift that can be inadvertently squandered. Negga is great in this scene, from her no-nonsense attitude to the way she angrily wipes away God’s paternal caress. Tulip O’Hare is tired of being a pawn in the Almighty’s midlife crisis (or the equivalent life-defining event in an eternal being’s existence).
This scene comes early in “Gonna Hurt,” and the rest of the episode is a bit downhill from there. Tulip sleuthing around Gran’ma’s inner sanctum and her cringe-inducing interactions with T.C. also inject some life into the proceedings, but this is all due to Negga’s winning turn in the episode. If anyone could take on Jesse’s grandmother, it would have to be someone who would likewise call her maker an “Almighty dickwad.”
As for Jesse—when he’s not locking horns with his best friend, or threatening Jody—he’s trying to work off his blood debt compact. Jesse is quick to explain this away as “old habits die hard,” but this is a copout for him, and a copout for Preacher. Jesse himself is every bit as vital and vigorous as Tulip, but he’s been saddled with a storyline that requires him not only to be weak, but subservient, too. This is to be expected, given the baggage that Angelville holds for Jesse Custer. Bringing Tulip to the fore is a good counterbalance, for now.
By episode’s end, Jesse seems firmly entrenched in his and Angelville’s old ways. I realize much of this is for show, but I found no joy in seeing Cassidy square off against the imprisoned science teacher in a battle for their souls. Despite the cliffhanger ending, we know Cassidy will emerge victorious. How could he not? How could anyone really be invested in this misbegotten educator? As it stands, I’ve rounded the corner on Cassidy. I hope the next episode of Preacher disabuses me of my indifference.
Some closing thoughts:
I may be over Cassidy, but that doesn’t mean he still doesn’t have one of the episode’s best lines. “I’m a bloody vampire at voodoo Disneyland. I should be their main attraction!”
Does Gran’ma have a direct line to Hell? It sure seems like she does.
We finally get to meet the much-discussed Madame Boyd. She may accept Apple Pay and take patient notes on a tablet, but she also understands the importance of mixing old-world theatrics with intimidating displays of muscle. Boyd and her brood are certainly not also-rans—which means Tulip may very well be over her head.
I understand the basic idea behind Jesse’s blood debt compact. But if something as powerful as Genesis can been rendered impotent by Jesse’s incomplete soul, mightn’t it also stand to reason that his voodoo contract would likewise be compromised?
Colin Cunningham is a great actor, but T.C. is seriously one hell of a creepy, disgusting letch.
Seriously, still no Eugene or Hitler? Jesse still doesn’t know Eugene broke out of Hell. I know Jesse has bigger things to worry about, but the last time the two characters were face to face was season one. Season one!