This Preacher review contains spoilers.
Preacher Season 3 Episode 7
It’s hard not to love a show that so rarely ever holds anything back. With Preacher, even throwaway lines of dialogue (usually uttered nonchalantly by T.C.) contain the kind of bombshell vulgarity that would stop a lesser show in its tracks. But for some reason, AMC’s adaptation of this 20-year-old comic book property flies under the radar of more conservative sensibilities. Not that I’m complaining. A show as profane (and occasionally profound) as Preacher flourishes when it lays bare the garish, squirming id that belies more conventional social mores. Not every episode is perfect, but I sure as hell respect Preacher’s creative minds for going for broke.
Which brings us to “Hitler,” which is a busy, imperfect hour. On the face of it, Carla Ching’s script ticks off all the right boxes that make for a great episode. Take Hitler, for instance (or in this case, “Hilter”) who is working as a flair-bedecked strip mall sandwich artist. The disgraced dictator may be Employee of the Week, but he still harbors the toxic worldview that landed him in Hell in the first place. Again, on the face of it, this is a funny premise, and Noah Taylor certainly brings angry purpose to this fallen fuehrer.
And yet these scenes with Hitler are over before the opening credits. Which is a shame, because Hitler and Eugene’s unlikely friendship was one of last season’s stronger storylines. Now, it’s as if the show doesn’t quite know what to do with this odd couple. Their appearances feel perfunctory—loose ends to be tied up by the Saint of Killers. Both men are so easy to corral, why draw out their capture over two episodes? I’m assuming there’s a bigger payoff to all of this, especially given how the Saint of Killers is being criminally underused this season.
Then there’s the issue of Tulip’s intelligence. I have no problem believing she’s street smart, or that she’s got your back in a scrap. And it’s abundantly clear that despite the dreaded O’Hare curse, Tulip isn’t just resourceful and resilient, she’s one of the “survivingest” people Jesse has ever met. Except viewers don’t need to be reminded of this. Nor would we want to see her dumbed down just to stir up any latent insecurities she may have about her value to Jesse or their mission.
That being said, I do like the friction caused by pairing her with Agent Featherstone. Featherstone is smart, but not smart or brilliant enough for Starr to pay her or her crush any mind. Her rivalry with Tulip is ripe for some witty barbs and literal jabs—but I don’t want this dynamic at the expense of Tulip’s character. I’m also not sure sending these two off to Tokyo is what this season needs at this point; there’s something very “Canto Bight” about their side mission.
I also like Herr Starr’s awkward Angelville summit with Gran’ma. Their tête-à-tête goes as well as you’d expect. Jesse is little more than a pawn in their cruel agendas, with a part of his soul belonging to each of them. Together, the three form an unholy trinity wholly different from the one once formed by Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy. At this point, I’d love to see Preacher leave Angelville behind altogether, but we know Gran’ma’s Genesis-fueled comeuppance is all but ordained by season’s end.
The episode’s best, most successful storyline belongs to Cassidy, who’s become further embroiled with the charismatic Eccarius. Les Enfants du Sang is a bit of a homecoming for the wayward Cassidy, who is happy to dispense worldly, hard-earned wisdom to the neophyte, wannabe bloodsuckers. Eccarius is happy to entertain Cassidy, and continues to seduce him with the more glamorous aspects of their lifestyle, as it were. He even offers Cassidy a Persian silk velvet-lined coffin of his very own. Such decadent finery is the vampire way, or so Eccarius insists.
But Eccarius isn’t nearly as refined as he seems. He harbors a dark secret, and an even deeper thirst for blood. Indeed, he’s the “worst one of all,” feasting on his followers before leaving them to burn in the sun until they’re anonymous piles of ash. As much as I appreciate this twist, it does cast a dark shadow on Eccarius and Cassidy’s burgeoning romance. This is a bold, interesting direction for Preacher to take. Cassidy has found love in an unexpected place, with someone he truly admires. But knowing that this is a one-sided affair, that Eccarius’s affection is a means to an end, forfeits what could have been meaningful LGBT representation. I’d like to think Cassidy is drawn to Eccarius of his own volition, but if this is simply more of the elder vampire’s mind control, it makes this twist all the more egregious on the part of the show.
It also tempers one of the better lines of the episode, uttered by Eccarius, who describes Cassidy as a “wanton, riotous junkie.” It’s a great callback to last season’s “Dallas” when Jesse sizes up Cassidy as a “lying junkie vampire.” What truly sets these two moments apart, though, is that Eccarius is quick to add “and I love it.”
Whatever comes next for Cassidy and Eccarius won’t be pretty—nor should it be. He’s the kind of vampire Cassidy never hoped to be—vain, self-important, and truly bloodthirsty.
Overall, “Hitler” hits the mark most of the time, but I was left feeling like Preacher continues to pull its punches a bit. But when a punch truly lands, it makes for some truly brilliant moments of television. With only three episodes left in the season, Preacher has plenty more chances to dazzle and repulse us.