An Old ‘Preacher’ Friend Finds New Magic In ‘Mumbai Sky Tower’

A review of tonight’s Preacher coming up just as soon as I hear Sinatra sing “Summer Wind”…

This season of Preacher so far seems more promising than the first not just because the three leads have hit the road and are mostly working together on the same mission, but because each individual episode seems more focused than most of what we got last year.

Last night’s premiere introduced Jesse and the others to the Saint of Killers, then gave them their first clues to God’s whereabouts thanks to Mike and the strip club manager. “Mumbai Sky Tower,” meanwhile, gives the trio a more pressing problem to solve, as the Saint’s motel massacre convinces them to seek out Fiore in the hopes that he can unhire this most dangerous of hired killers.

One of the first season’s more clever ideas was that when angels “die,” a new version of them appears nearby within seconds. Season one used it most memorably for the motel brawl with the Seraphim, where here it amusingly gives Fiore a new career as a casino magician whose entire routine involves him appearing to die in gruesome fashion before appearing elsewhere on stage. It’s a case of a superpower — or, for the angels, a supernatural state of being — having a useful, and entertaining, secondary application for someone in desperate need of direction, while also serving as a symbol of Fiore’s ennui. DeBlanc is dead forever, thanks to the Saint’s guns, while the best Fiore can do is this constant reincarnation that’s made him a minor local celebrity. And that in turn makes fun use of Cassidy’s non-vampiric skill set, as he stages a two hour and 45 minute orgy of drugs and male bonding to convince Fiore to call off the Saint for them.

And where our heroes are mostly on the same page now, it turns out Tulip is still keeping secrets from Jesse, as a run-in with an old colleague from New Orleans leads to a hotel room brawl and the cancellation of the impromptu casino wedding she and Jesse were about to have, and creates even more tension for down the road once Jesse realizes the best place to pursue a jazz-loving deity is in the birthplace of jazz itself: New Orleans.

There are still some creative bumps to be worked through, though. After a few near-misses in the premiere, the trio finds out what happened to Annville, but only Tulip seems truly disturbed by it. Admittedly, she finds out in the midst of the Saint’s assault on their motel, but even later, it’s mainly used as the impetus for the marriage proposal, and then forgotten altogether. I almost hope this is the last we hear of it, though I know that’s not likely, since Eugene has to be dealt with at some point, and he may have some feelings himself about the death of his parents and everyone he’s ever known.

In general, the show has an issue in terms of treating civilian casualties as minor inconveniences for our main characters. Beyond them shrugging off Annville, there’s Jesse using the Word of God to turn the gun convention attendees staying at their motel into cannon fodder against the Saint. Now, he doesn’t know for sure that their guns can’t kill this guy, but he got a pretty heavy dose of the Saint’s danger during the premiere’s highway shootout, and he does it anyway. Sam Catlin and company are at least aware that Jesse can use the Word to do awful things — Tulip tried to caution him against it in the premiere, as did Fiore tonight — but a lot of the time he uses it for the sake of plot convenience in a way that reflects more terribly on him than I think is intended.

At least the Word winds up backfiring on him at the episode’s end, though. His attempt to do Fiore a good deed by ordering him to find peace instead leads our resident angel to forget about canceling the contract, instead asking the Saint to use his guns to send him to wherever DeBlanc went, even if that winds up being nowhere at all. And that means there seems little left to stop the Saint if he makes it to New Orleans while Jesse and the others are still there.

Some other thoughts:

* Hey, it’s Vik Sahay — aka one half of Jeffster! from Chuck — as the casino’s resident Sinatra impersonator Frank Patel, who doesn’t love having to be Ganesh’s assistant, but does provide Jesse with the brainstorm to pursue God to New Orleans.