Preacher Season 3 Episode 9: Schwanzkopf Review

With Armageddon on the line, AMC’s Preacher asks an age-old question: What Would Humper Do?

This Preacher review contains spoilers. 

Preacher Season 3 Episode 9

Well, I never thought I’d write the following, but such is Preacher: The vial containing the missing bit of Jesse Custer’s soul slithers its way out of The Allfather’s disemboweled sphincter. Which is quickly followed by Jesse trying to strangle Starr with the Allfather’s entrails as “Joy to the World” blares on the soundtrack. Yes, on paper it seems impossible that we’d ever witness such gruesome moments on a TV show, and yet here we are—sacrilege in hourly installments, courtesy of AMC. 

The upside to all of this, I suppose, is that Jesse is now once again in full command of the Voice of God. This is a long overdue moment, one that’s eluded Jesse the entire season. But rather than wreak ungodly havoc with this power, Jesse is surprisingly judicious with Genesis. But more on this in a bit.

Preacher is staring down endings on two fronts. One is all-out Armageddon, courtesy of The Grail’s centuries-long machinations. The other is next week’s season finale, courtesy of Preacher’s months-long machinations. You can’t have either one without spilling some blood. And given the copious amount of viscera spilled in “Schwanzkopf” you have to imagine the finale is going to be an absolute bloodbath. Truly, AMC is pushing the envelope for gore in ways that even stalwart zombie fare like The Walking Dead doesn’t.

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But there’s more to this episode than its sheer amount of violence. Through a random act of kindness, Tulip finds herself bound for Hell along with Eugene and Hitler. And I do mean random. Tulip is already tempting fate by going after the briefcase containing the stolen souls earmarked for Gran’ma. She’s lucky enough to actually get them back. But I suppose it’s more of that O’Hare bad luck that leads to Tulip’s true identity being revealed. I just wish this moment with Eugene “suddenly” recognizing Tulip hadn’t been so contrived.

I also wish Tulip had a more visceral reaction to the Saint of Killers. Instead, she’s taunting him with petty insults. It’s like the PTSD that drove so much of her storyline last season never happened. Not that this was one of season two’s stronger plots, but still. Tulip struggled mightily to overcome the fear and listlessness her last run-in with the Saint instilled in her.

I do find it interesting that Satan’s “errand boy” would question the morality of taking living souls to the underworld. Which earns him another slight—this time being called “Pollyanna” by the Angel of Death. While I appreciate that someone as unforgiving as the Saint of Killers still harbors a conscience, I wish Graham McTavish’s formidable presence was being used to better effect.

An upside to these scenes on the transport? At least we get to see Tulip’s street smarts put to the test as she devises not one but two plans to escape the transport. It’s great to see how Tulip’s mind works, with her schemes brought to life by crude line animation. Her thinking is so sound and so foolproof, there’s no way they can fail. Except both plans come to naught, ending in a trippy, stylish slow-motion sequence as the bus crashes to a halt. Which leads me to another line I never thought I’d write in a review: Enter Hitler’s latter-day Nazis to save our heroes from Hell.

Another person in need of rescuing is Cassidy. I take back what I said in my “Hilter” review: Eccarius is legitimately in love with Cassidy. But Cassidy isn’t having any of it, even when Eccarius insists, “We’re this close to happiness.” Happiness with someone who understands and accepts him for who he really is comes at too steep of a price for Cassidy. He’d rather die than accept Eccarius for who he really is. This rejection doesn’t sit well with the elder vampire, whose addiction to power trumps any feelings he has for Cassidy. So Eccarius endeavors to throw his would-be lover to the wolves—or in this case, Les Enfants du Sang. When even someone as sweet as Kevin’s grandmother turns on you, you’re truly up shit’s creek without a paddle. My only quibble with all of this is how Preacher suddenly goes the James Bond route by taking the long route to Cassidy’s (improbable) demise. Again, this is only a quibble, given how much Preacher manages to cram into a single episode.

Which brings us back to Jesse—the only character that’s not in need of saving. And I have to say, it’s about time. Returning to Angelville hasn’t been kind to Jesse or to Preacher. Indeed, the show has floundered a bit with this storyline. But now that Jesse has regained the Voice of God, next week’s finale promises catharsis and closure in equal measure.

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Some closing thoughts:

As always, this episode has its share of inspired dialogue. Like Starr’s list of various and sundry undesirables: “Hipsters. Presbyterians. Trade unionists. The Danes.”

The Allfather has a great line as well. Upon learning of Starr’s treachery, he tells Jesse, “He shall know my buttocks as few men ever have.” Only in a show like Preacher would such a line carry so much weight.

I expected Jesse to do terrible things to Starr with the Voice of God. Instead he issues the terse command, “No more hats!” Wigs, on the other hand, are okay.

David S.E. Zapanta is the author of four books. Read more of his Den of Geek writing here. He’s also an avid street photographer. You can also follow him on Twitter: @melancholymania


4 out of 5