This review contains spoilers.
3.6 Les Enfants Du Sang
Eccarius (Adam Croasdell) has one of the most interesting character introductions since Cassidy appeared. Cas introduced himself via a violent brawl with a group of vampire hunters and ended up falling from an airplane to smash himself into an impact crater. Eccarius’s introduction is a little more sedate. He appears, sitting on a throne of some sort, surrounded by posers in costumes wearing plastic vampire fangs. He appears to be a phony, a fake vampire only play-acting like all his friends in the Anne Rice society. Then he unhinges his jaw and eats an entire owl, feathers and all.
You can wear plastic teeth and ruffles while talking in an affectation all you want, but no one can eat a whole live animal without being the real deal.
Les Enfants Du Sang is divided between two roughly parallel adventures, one involving Tulip and Jesse and the gang trying to harvest souls to keep Marie/Tulip alive, and the other Cassidy leaning about all the vampire powers that others of his kind have, but he never seemed to learn how to do. There’s a certain magic to Cas’s portion of the storyline. Cas is a funny, grounded character (as far as crack-smoking vampires go), but at his heart there’s a loneliness that he can’t fill with drugs, drink, or companionship. Eccarius is equally lonely, but he expresses it via more flamboyant means, building a cult of personality around himself and teaching others that vampirism is a gift, not a curse. Plus it’s a lot of fun to see Cas react to the things he should be able to do, but can’t, because he doesn’t seem especially concerned with drinking human blood and empowering himself.
It’s a pretty interesting parallel. Cas should be an unstoppable killing machine. Jesse, Tulip, Jody… none of them should be able to touch him, and yet he’s always getting beaten up, and this is an interesting theory why. He’s not powering himself up—swamp consommé can only do so much—and he’s not using any of the skills he should have because he doesn’t feel himself worthy of them, or of anything.
Cas is incompetent. Tulip, on the other hand, would be the most dangerous person alive if he gave her the pointed kiss of eternal life. She’s a skilled assassin, a deft thief, and as we see here, a practiced caser of banks to rob. Jesse and Tulip get to have a little fun and show off their crime skills, giving director Laura Belsey a chance to show off visually with the casing and the robbery montage, while Jody and TC provide distractions in their own… unique ways. I did not need to see the pixelated TC jiggling like Kevin Bacon in Hollow Man, even if it was really funny (and pushing the boundaries of what can be shown on cable, or on television period).
It’s good to see Tulip back in her element, and it’s good to see that she and Jesse can still function as a team, even in abbreviated montage format, split up with the actions of the others. Watching Tulip’s success at crime counterbalances her failure to be a friend to Cas. Again, she’s unlucky in a lot of respects owing to the O’Hare curse, and keeping Cas around seems to be one of them.
After watching implied bestiality and poorly-censored genitals, watching a heart-breaking conversation between Tulip and Cas is like a surprise gut-punch. It’s so hard to watch the two of them struggle to connect, with Tulip reaching out the only way she knows how, via her crazy adventures, and Cas completely shutting down on her for ostracising her from the group. It’s a brilliant touch to Rachel Wagner’s script, and it acts as emotional resonance versus all the comedy provided by the brief scenes of Starr (Pip Torrens has some absolutely hilarious reaction shots this week) and Eugene.
That’s the soul of Preacher, such as it is. When the show is firing on all cylinders, it touches both the comic and emotional, the base and the elevated, Big Thoughts and complaining about pop culture. There’s a heart to it, even at its most heartless, and simple things like a long shot of Cas slumped in a basement, smoking crack while surrounded by filth, or Tulip alone in a kitchen, her smile slowly disappearing from her face as it’s clear Cas has already moved on from them, can be quite moving. And this is from a show that, in a previous scene, went from showing Eugene shocked at the disappearance of his home town to a sign on a fence offering up low prices on orphans like children are used cars.
That shifting tone could be difficult for a lot of television viewers. It’s something of a hallmark of the current golden age of television, but no show changes styles as often or as wildly as Preacher. Some shows can sprinkle laughs in with tears, or vice-versa, but Preacher can go from a penis joke to the destruction of a friendship to a gross-out gag involving a roasted horse meat buffet with only a commercial break between them, if you’re lucky.
That’s part of the fun. Why not have a romantic comedy interspersed with voodoo, monster fights, bestiality, and depressing drama all at once? If television is a buffet of options, Preacher can function as a one-stop shop for all you’d care to consume.
Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, The Coffin, here.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan never really knows what to expect from Preacher. The show can be anything, or everything, within the confines of a single episode. Find more by Ron daily at PopFi.