Last week, we were fed a one-two punch to open the second season of Preacher, and we witnessed the very beginnings of Jesse Custer’s voyage to track down the missing Almighty. Those two episodes carried some important plot points, moving the story forward, while also tying up one very loose end. They also did a good job to remind us of the overall tone of the series; a tone that tries to balance the serious with the comic, the mundane with ridiculous gore. It’s a tricky balancing act, but both On the Road and Mumbai Sky Tower managed to toe the line, all while giving us further characterization of the main three characters for our story.
Naturally, the second episode left things in a not-great place, as Jesse isn’t aware the Saint of Killers is still on his trail, nor is he privy to the information about Tulip’s history in New Orleans. For all intents and purposes, though, neither of those things really matter, at least as far as Jesse’s voyage right now is concerned. For a man of the cloth, Jesse does seem prone to trying to find Damsels where he can, and that tendency clouds his better judgement.
The opening of this week’s episode reminds us all of one of the consequences from the first season. Sure, we knew from Fiore last week that Eugene was still trapped in Hell, but this week gave us a better glimpse of what Eugene has been dealing with. Turns out, the incident with Tracy that lead to her injury and Eugene’s disfigurement wasn’t as cut-and-dried as we were sort of lead to believe, because we watch Eugene play through those moments on a loop. Seeing this underscores that, at least at present, Eugene is definitely someone who doesn’t belong where Jesse sent him, as the moment with the shotgun happened because he tried to do the right and honorable thing. Admittedly, he also overstepped boundaries, which lead to the final spiral and Eugene’s panicked choice, but he was, at heart, attempting to do good. The question does linger whether or not this is a true retelling of the events, or if Hell changed what actually happened to make it hurt him more, but what we saw of Eugene in the first season makes the incidents as we witnessed them completely believable. It’s part of why Jesse’s selfish and impatient choices regarding Eugene hurt so much; he doesn’t deserve what he’s been sentenced to. A later glimpse of Hell shows that Eugene’s personal cell is located near that of Adolph Hitler, which makes his suffering that much more tragic.
Jesse Custer is the man responsible for Eugene’s tragedy, but he doesn’t have the time (nor, as far as we’re aware, the ability) to chance down that particular loose thread. He still has to find God, and, despite Tulip’s protestations, he’s going to head to New Orleans, figuring that the jazz hotbed could be where God ended up. Throughout the episode, we see just how single-minded Jesse is in his pursuit of his goal. His initial requests lead him to a woman and a man in a dog suit, about to perform a fetish act. It’s a bit of misdirection, and a chance for the show to revel a bit in the ridiculous, but it only phases Jesse for a moment. Before long, he’s back on the street, heading from bar to bar, trying to find God. Not even an oddly-timed phone call from a clearly needy Tulip can break him from his path, and his pursuit of answers leads him straight into the trap set by Lara, a singer he encounters at one of the jazz clubs. In fact, Jesse’s single-minded chase not only allows Lara to get the information she’s looking for, but it also potentially clouds Jesse to the sheer coincidence around the other bar patron urging him to really feel the music around what was purported to be God’s favorite song. Jesse has a mission, and his tunnel-vision around what he feels is the right thing to do is working to isolate him. In fact, Jesse even missed Tulip’s callback of “’til the end of the world, right?”, which showed how quickly a gulf had appeared between the two of them.
Tulip is another who is suffering through some isolation, and it’s also of her own doing. Instead of myopically chasing down on path, she is trying to protect those around her, while also keeping herself safe from a past she thought she’d left behind. There are a multitude of ways she could try to sway Jesse from his plans towards New Orleans, but she somewhat weekly lands on the concept of jazz being found everywhere (“like Mexican tacos”, thanks to Cassidy’s input). This isn’t a failing on her part, as her situation with Viktor is clearly something she’d rather not confront, but an understanding of just how hard it is to move Jesse from his chosen path. It’s with regards to Cassidy that Tulip actually hurts her own cause. Having someone capable at her back, especially with what she feels is coming for her, would be incredibly beneficial, but Tulip is concerned both with protecting her friends and handling her own problems that she initially doesn’t even want to consider Cassidy’s hook-up for a place to stay overnight. She reads the situation between Cassidy and Denis better than the vampire does, but she is incapable of reading the same between Cassidy and herself. Maybe she’s concerned that he’ll tell Jesse, or maybe she’s worried that he’s just doing it out of puppy-love, but this situation is one where Tulip’s self-reliance could certainly prove detrimental. We see her closed in by Viktor’s men at the end of the episode, which certainly puts her on dangerous ground moving forward.
And what about Cassidy? Well, he’s again somewhat willing to play the fool, as shown in the car when he brings up the concept of tacos, but there’s something deeper underneath even that interaction. He cares about both of his traveling companions, and he’s trying to smooth over their rough edges in his own way. In many ways, his encounter with Fiore at the Sky Tower seems to have reinforced this particular aspect of Cassidy’s character, and he’s working hard to prove himself to both. When Jesse and Tulip go their separate ways, Cassidy makes the gut call that Jesse can handle his search for God alone, and tries to glean more information from Tulip. He ultimately fails, and may also be proven to have made the incorrect choice as to who was in more danger, but he’s going with the information he’s been provided. He knows that Tulip keeping something from Jesse means it’s something big, and he wants to make sure she isn’t endangered. He’s still trying to figure out how Tulip ticks, as was evidenced by his exchange with her after their encounter with Mrs. Barbaret, and he rightly calls her out for treating him like the “idiot Irish sidekick”. And yet, it his interactions with Denis that might shine the best light on who Cassidy is, or at least was before he encountered Jesse Custer. It is clear that Denis doesn’t actually like Cassidy, but he is still oddly willing to tolerate him, all while Cassidy tries to do small things that he believes Denis will like. Cassidy obviously has a selfish streak in him, as all of the characters on this show seem to, but he’s also very interested in at least trying to ingratiate himself to others. Is this a sign that Cassidy eventually wears others out to the point where they just put up with him despite their own wishes, or is Jesse the first person to really show Cassidy concern and kindness in return?
The rest of the episode is mostly filled with bit characters, providing background color to the rest of New Orleans, at least until we meet up with Lara Featherstone. Proving how myopic Jesse is, he doesn’t seem to notice how disaffected in general Lara seems about the entire thing, nor does he bother to try and dig into pieces of her story. She agrees to meet with him, and then while cleaning himself up, he sees her go into a cab to try and get away. The entire set-up with the van was just too serendipitous for comfort, but Jesse pays attention to none of that as he merely follows the idea that Lara may have encountered God. We don’t yet have much information about the group Lara is working with, but we do know that they’ve clearly been researching Jesse, as his file is placed on the desk of Herr Starr. This isn’t our first encounter with this group, as we also saw glimpses when Tulip’s friend Dany exchanged Tulip’s map for information on Carlos, but they’re clearly something bigger that Jesse is going to have to deal with. For now, though, his file is under that of “Pig”, which might give the preacher a little more time.
Time is of the essence, of course. This new group now has a lead on Jesse’s location, and his use of Genesis will act like a homing beacon to draw the Saint of Killers to him. Let’s not forget that Eugene has mysteriously been released from his cell, along with other inhabitants of Hell. Oh, and Tulip is surrounded by Viktor’s men, which certainly carries the risk of keeping our three from reuniting. While they certainly can stand alone, at least for a time, they really do need to be a united front to deal with what is coming for them. It very well could be the end of the world, and that’s something no man, or God, should have to face alone.