This Preacher review contains spoilers.
Preacher Season 3 Episode 8
On no other show but Preacher will you ever find quite the rogue’s gallery assembled for what amounts to an incidental scene. In this case, in the closing moments of “The Tom/Brady,” we’re presented with the Angel of Death, Hitler, the Saint of Killers, a Holy Grail agent, and a man who’s known colloquially as “Arseface.” This motley crew is onscreen together for barely a minute, but it’s a reminder of how absolutely off the wall Preacher can be, especially given what happens in the other 95% of yet another bustling episode that’s more densely packed than the Allfather himself. Like last week’s “Hilter,” “The Tom/Brady” is quite the mixed bag, alternating between quips and queasiness with mixed results. Again, on no other show would one find a cavalcade of cloned messiahs, each of them exploding in a bloody, entrails-strewn montage set to Johann Strauss’s “The Blue Danube.” It’s inspired blasphemy, to be sure. And it’s during moments like this that Preacher understands its ability to push the limits of bad taste and offensiveness. But more on this in a bit.
The rest of “The Tom/Brady” seems rather tame by comparison to these scenes with Jesse and the Allfather. Indeed, Tulip and Featherstone’s jaunt to Osaka and Hoover’s run-in with Les Enfants du Sang don’t reap the sorts of rewards one would expect from such intriguing storytelling opportunities.
In Osaka, Tulip and Featherstone continue to exchange barbs, with Tulip’s intelligence once again being called into question. We also learn Featherstone isn’t just vindictive, she’s petty. Yet Tulip is more than able to hold her own against this MIT grad, proving that street smarts shouldn’t ever be discounted.
As for Hoover, let’s just say he’s less effective as a bargaining chip than he is as a would-be vampire hunter. One wonders how such a bumbler ever rose up through the ranks of an all-powerful organization like The Grail. I will say, I’m rather surprised that Hoover is now an actual vampire. His trepidation at no more sunset strolls or visits to the beach is oddly endearing. Also endearing is seeing Hoover being welcomed with open arms into a different kind of powerful organization. For the first time, Hoover seems to be truly happy. But as we know, initiation into Les Enfants du Sang comes at a steep price.
Enter Cassidy, who discovers the truth about Eccarius, courtesy of a bloody travel pillow conveniently tossed into the household garbage. For all his many faults, Cassidy subscribes to a strong moral code. Indeed, at times it seems like this “lying junkie vampire” is second only to Eugene when it comes to demonstrating moral fortitude. Maybe this is what draws Eccarius to Cassidy, this constant accountability to one’s conscience. Still, strong moral fiber doesn’t equal strength. If Cassidy can barely hold his own against a half-dead science teacher, what chance does he have against a powerful vampire like Eccarius?
Last week I questioned whether theirs was a legitimate courtship or a seduction by way of mind control. But there’s a brief moment when, pernicious influences aside, Eccarius seems genuinely concerned that he’s hurt Cassidy. This bit of compassion is an important character beat. It’s also quite unexpected, given the same episode includes the aforementioned exploding cavalcade of Christ clones.
And we haven’t even touched on Gran’ma’s direct line to Satan. Like so much of this season, this is a great idea in theory, though not in execution. Considering the devil would deign to pop by Angelville (and use the front door, no less), you’d imagine Gran’ma would be a nigh-unstoppable voodoo priestess. But whether for a lack of souls or no, we know this not to be the case. Giving Gran’ma such powerful friends only serves to underline how relatively benign her villainy has been all season.
Which brings us back to Jesse, ever the pawn in so many dark designs. Were it not for Genesis, would Jesse Custer even matter in his own show? Luckily, in “The Tom/Brady” the answer is a resounding yes. In confronting The Grail, Jesse is more confident and self-assured than we’ve seen him all season. He’s also incredibly self-righteous. Genesis chose him above all others. Which gives rise to a dangerous cockiness that the Allfather merely rebuffs with a terse summation of Jesse’s character, calling him a drunk, a thief, and a blasphemer.
Perhaps the most surprising turn in the episode is the Allfather’s revelation that religion’s secret weapon isn’t faith—it’s science. Which explains the cannon-fodder Christs that have been dispatched in a steady stream of blood and guts. And it’s here we learn that Tom/Brady refers to a series of genetic cocktails that aim to strike the correct balance of good and evil that Genesis finds so irresistible about its current host. Where blending the DNA of tennis superstar Serena Williams and Louis XVI failed, a mixture of founding father Thomas Jefferson and entertainment icon Wayne Brady’s DNA proves to be the winning formula.
Again, only on Preacher.
Still, I want more out of this season’s two remaining episodes than clever sight gags and snarky asides. Preacher is at its best when it delves deeper into its characters’ troubled psyches. We saw that in “Les Enfants du Sang,” resulting in one of the season’s strongest episodes. Inspired action is also the show’s bailiwick. Hopefully Preacher can find the right Tom/Brady balance between drama and violence, guts and heart.
And while we’re at it, I’d love to see Jesse Custer gain back the Voice of God and lay waste to his foes in spectacular fashion. Really, is that so much to ask?
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