A review of tonight’s Preacher coming up just as soon as I go to Mexico to kill a guy, not for the tacos…
Three episodes in, Preacher season two seems to have settled into a solid mix of serialized and standalone elements, with Jesse and the others continually pursuing God — and being pursued by the Saint of Killers and others — even as each hour has its own individual mission. In the premiere, it was talking to Mike about God (which in turn led them to the strip club), while the second episode was focused on getting Fiore to cancel the Saint’s contract. It’s a smart way to avoid both the “10-hour movie” problem and the overall trudging pace of season one, even if that first year did at times have clearly delineated episodes.
“Damsels” is a bit more of a piece-mover than a standalone story, at least compared to the previous two hours. It has to land Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy in New Orleans and let them do some early legwork on finding God — including the disturbingly funny suggestion that “God” is a sex worker in a Dalmatian suit — then split them up so that Cassidy can reconnect with his old friend (who doesn’t seem particularly friendly) Denis, Tulip can brace herself for her inevitable reunion with Viktor, and Jesse can rescue the eponymous damsel in distress, who turns out to not be a damsel at all, but an undercover agent of the “super secret crypto fascist religious organization with plans on world domination” that she described to Jesse while pretending to be a torch singer in need of his help.
As a result, the hour’s less focused, and less fun, than last week’s installments, even though there’s still much more of a sense of forward momentum than at any point last year. The introduction of “Florida,” her partner, and their scarred superior over in London creates new complications to the overall story, and it fits the logic of the show’s universe that if God and angels are real and known to walk the earth, then there might be mortals who have taken notice and attempted to do something about it.
But I don’t love the splintering of the main trio. That was one of the weakest parts of season one, and the first two episodes this year demonstrated just how much fun the show is when the three leads are bouncing off of one another. I’m not expecting Tulip and Jesse to be apart for the next six episodes or anything, but Preacher and its heroes are all more interesting when the trio is together rather than traveling down separate, if connected, paths.
Some other thoughts:
* The episode opens with a flashback clarifying how Eugene became Arseface — it was Tracy’s idea to kill herself over a bad breakup, and poor Eugene only followed suit when he realized it was going to look like he had shot her — which turns out to be an endless Hell loop like the one the Cowboy was suffering before he became the Saint of Killers. The actuality of Hell makes it look more like an Earthly prison, but something is hinky with Eugene’s situation, and later in the episode we see him let out of his cell to meet one of his neighbors, who appears to be Adolf Hitler, because it’s Hell. This is a very odd and intriguing turn of events.
* Eugene’s aforementioned neighbor is played by Noah Taylor, while other notable faces this week include Julie Ann Emery (last seen as one of Jimmy McGill’s first big clients on Better Call Saul) as the woman pretending to be Florida, Malcolm Barrett from Timeless as the man posing as the bartender, and Pip Torrens from The Crown as the mystery man with the missing eye, who looks like the silhouetted figure from the teaser of last season’s “The Possibilities.”
* In the premiere, Jesse’s eyes darkened at the mention of the place where his mother came from, with a name that sounds quite a bit like Angeville, as seen on the poster that briefly transfixes him here after he puts Florida and the baby into a cab.
* Though Fiore didn’t call off the Saint, our resident gunslinger doesn’t turn up this week, perhaps because it’s a much longer walk from wherever in Texas the casino was to New Orleans. But with Jesse continuing to use the Word, the Saint’s arrival is only a matter of time.
Finally, while the overall focus of these reviews is going to be on the TV show itself, I will occasionally comment on notable deviations from the comic. If you haven’t read and don’t care, feel free to stop reading here:
* While Pip Torrens looks uncannily like the Herr Starr of the comics, Emery and Barrett seem to be playing very different versions of Featherstone and Hoover, both of whom were much meeker on the page. That works for me, as the two of them, especially early on, are among the more two-dimensional supporting characters, and their naivete existed mainly to enable Starr being as awful as he was. Also, the fact that Barrett has a day job on another show (whose production must have overlapped at least part of Preacher‘s) suggests Hoover may not be around for very long.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at email@example.com