This review contains spoilers.
3.8 The Tom/Brady
Unlikely bedfellows tend to make for interesting television. Preacher is not an exception to this rule. Indeed, the core trio would be considered unlikely bedfellows; a preacher, a vampire, and a thief walk into a bar looking for God is the set-up for a joke, not a traditional premise for a television show. And yet, here we are, with Jesse and his nemesis Herr Starr scheming together to prevent the end of the world, while Tulip and Featherstone work to keep Marie alive and free Jesse from her clutches. Two sets of unlikely allies brought together to work against a much bigger evil. (If you doubt Marie’s evil, she’s got a direct phone line to Hell itself.)
One of the benefits to mixing up characters is that you create some crackling set pieces. With Starr and Jesse, the chemistry is obvious. They don’t dislike one another, at least on the surface, and unlike Featherstone and Tulip, their antagonism to one another is easily put aside in service of a bigger goal, or in this case killing a bunch of grail security officers in an elevator and shooting, but not killing, the Allfather. This initial failure puts the two together for the rest of the episode, communicating in terse whispers while the Allfather tries to find the right genetic serum to allow Genesis to exist in someone who isn’t Jesse Custer, blowing up an army of Humperdoo clones in the process.
The trip to Japan is somehow funnier, if only because of the anti-sexual harassment HR session being conducted by Featherstone, using Tulip and Jody as actors in her scenarios. They’re delightfully wooden, until Tulip gets to sexually harass (and steal the ID card of) the soul company’s director. They get access to the vault, then have to break into the vault. Throughout this interaction, they keep nearly complimenting one another, only for Featherstone to announce that the compliment was fake and Tulip to bellow in response that her response to the compliment was also fake. It works well, because it’s not overused. They spark, then lapse back into professionalism, then spark again.
Tulip and Featherstone had a real coming together, albeit briefly, when she was getting information on Jesse and his friends for The Grail. Starr is a pragmatist above all things, so his being able to work with Jesse to save the world makes sense. Cas and Eccarius have bonded over time (and substances), though the cracks in Eccarius’s lies have started to show, and while Les Enfants are able to be there to stop Hoover from doing something terrible to capture the vampires, the secret truth of how Eccarius gets his skills and powers is starting to come out. While some people are able to come together for greater good, others are starting to fall apart at the seams.
The episode, as a whole, is an improvement over last week. Last week was entertaining enough, but this week’s episode manages to wring out legitimate feelings regarding Cas discovering Lisa’s blood-soaked neck pillow for her plane trip. That scene, and Cas’s confronting Eccarius, is very touching, as it Eccarius’s response when he smashes Cas into the wall. (Hoover, who decided to turn into a vampire rather than allow himself to die, runs off in the melee, which is an interesting development.)
The script, from Mary Laws and Kevin Rosen, is tightly written. The three plots work well together, and the episode is divided pretty evenly between all three groups. There’s some very funny interchanges in all three sets, with Hoover (as usual) being one of the funnier elements, with Jesse and Starr coming in a close second in their quiet, whispered discussions about how to stop the Allfather’s crazy scheme to empower Humperdoo. Starr plays his part, slapping Jesse around, and Jesse plays his part, smart-mouthing the Allfather (when he’s not making a surprisingly logical case for his possessing Genesis).
There wasn’t much action this week, but there was a lot of visual flair just the same from Wayne Yip. Good performances are basically standard at this point on the show, even when things aren’t working, there’s going to be effort put forth. But Yip does a great job with Jesse’s elevator fight scene—we know Jesse is going to win, but the fight looks good while it happens and the joke scene where the elevator doors open on some sort of cheese business and a poor man standing there works. Ditto the shots of Jesse being tortured while the Allfather eats and various Humperdoos explode due to the influence of Genesis. It’s a one-note joke, but it’s a funny joke, and the shots of the biohazard-suited Grail janitors pressure washing pieces into the drain didn’t get old.
That flair spices up a lot of the heist scene in Osaka. If Jesse and Starr is shot like Reanimator, then Tulip and Featherstone is shot like Ocean’s 11. The set-ups are fairly simple. Tulip, Jody, and Featherstone are walking through a hallway. But there’s a nice crane shot looking down on the three of them, and some cool compositing to put the three of them in the same frame without needing a wide shot. Marie’s brief nightmare was also really well done, and very creepy to watch in a Carnival Of Souls sort of way.
Between the gore, the cool criminal antics, and the comedic ineptitude of Hoover, The Tom/Brady worked remarkably well, even if the title joke about American football player Tom Brady is an eye-roller. It progresses the relationships between Starr and Custer forward, nudges Les Enfants a little farther towards a confrontation between Eccarius and Cas, and humanises Marie just slightly (while still giving Tulip ample reason to hate her).
Certainly, there have been slower episodes this season, but overall, there’s a lot to like where Preacher is concerned. There still feels like a consistent progression of the plot forward, without feeling too slow or too rushed. There’s a lot to be said for a ten-episode season, and a certain other AMC show about the undead could benefit from dropping a few episodes from their seasonal order to stop padding out twelve episodes of material into sixteen-episode seasons. It’s better for a show to exit early than overstay its welcome.
Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Hitler, here.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan laughed quite a bit at Hoover’s big toothy vampire smile after being turned. It’s a really funny visual to consider. Find more by Ron daily at PopFi.