This review contains spoilers.
It’s interesting to see how Preacher handles the character of Hitler. He’s David Hitler this week, working at a local sandwich shop and rallying the oppressed workers during his break time with rousing speeches in German that they don’t understand, but that they can get behind anyway. He’s apparently a model employee, working on his world domination plan when he’s not too busy making sandwiches or covering for his boss. It’s pretty amusing, all things considered; Hitler has a way with words, and Noah Taylor does a great job delivering his speech in German, even mirroring Hitler’s body language (and Michael Morris mirrors the low angle shots used to make Hitler look more intimidating) when he’s really getting into his speech.
Then The Saint of Killers shows up and puts Hitler in chains.
Interesting that an episode titled Hitler has almost no Hitler in it, but he’s a character best used in moderation, like Hoover and Featherstone. Both of the Grail’s best operatives (at least, the best that Starr has under direct control) are heavily involved int his episode, with Featherstone being central to Starr’s plot to steal souls for Grandma L’Angelle and Hoover continuing to try to get that last little bit of leverage over Jesse to keep him from misbehaving once he gets access to The Voice again.
One of the things that Preacher does well is fill out the world with interesting characters. Hoover, for example, has access to a gang of skilled vampire-hunting priests who he charges with capturing Cas and killing Eccarius for being in the way. These priests don’t make it out of the episode, but they’re just a nod to an underground world of vampire hunters that the show hasn’t shown since the first episode and Cas’s debut. The Grail has weapons and soldiers at their disposal, but the Catholic Church has their own secret society of warrior priests separate from The Grail. Much like Les Enfants du Sang, it’s more about the fact that they’re there, and less about the fact that they’re effective. This is a world with vampires; even the best kept secret gets out now and then, so it’s natural that there would be vampire hunters to go along with the vampires, and it makes a whole lot of sense that vampires would have fandom groups (they do in our world, and vampires aren’t real as far as I know).
That Les Enfants have a dark side isn’t a huge surprise. There’s not anything that would suggest otherwise. When something is too good, there’s usually a catch to it. Still, watching Cas have fun and learn about himself is very enjoyable. Carla Ching puts a lot of humour into pretty much every scene, usually via verbal interaction. Cas is always funny, but when he’s working counter to Eccarius, he’s even funnier. Tulip and Jesse’s verbal sparring is funny, but nothing is quite as funny as when Starr starts cracking deadpan jokes. Pip Torrens is incredibly funny, and when Featherstone—inspired by Tulip and Jesse’s emotional goodbye—turns her attention to Starr and tries to flirt with him, he shuts her down so efficiently and coldly it’s more funny than anything.
When there aren’t jokes in scenes, Michael Morris adds humour with nonverbal elements. Another Starr example: Starr and TC standing in the hallway, TC leaning on Starr’s shoulder while Starr fakes making a telephone call to avoid talking to TC. Hitler’s entire speech is hilarious, thanks in no small part to how it’s shot like it was guest-directed by Leni Riefenstahl. There’s still nothing funnier than watching a literal boxing nun, or Cas having a conversation with a cat or rat. Call me an easy target, but some jokes (a sleeveless clerical shirt with collar tab!) will probably always work for me.
It’s a nice counterpoint to the darkness that fills the world around them. Les Enfants aren’t what they seem at all, and Eccarius seems to be more than a little manipulative to get what he wants out of Cas. He’s definitely manipulating his followers. Cas has been shown to be a lying scumbag. Jesse is selfish at best. Tulip is violent and conniving. Perhaps that’s why everyone has to be funny; if these characters weren’t cracking jokes and displaying wit, none of them would be tolerable.
No one in the world of Preacher, save Eugene, is a good person when viewed through a traditional lens. There are certainly characters whose behaviour is worse than others, but nobody’s all that squeaky clean. Without the heavy dose of humour, Preacher is a very dark show indeed. There’s nothing wrong with whistling past the graveyard, and there’s nothing wrong with making a few jokes to keep things from getting too heavy.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan really enjoys Hoover. His incompetence is very funny, usually because it seems like he might be successful until the last possible minute, then everything goes haywire. Find more by Ron daily at PopFi.