Three frenetic episodes, followed by two at a slower pace. If last week’s “Viktor” moved the plot forward at a walk, compared to the previous run, then this week brought things all the way down to a crawl. However, sometimes that slow-down is exactly what’s needed, when it can be served by giving us more insights into the “heroes” of the piece. Maybe it’s a stretch to think of Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy as heroes, truth be told, but they are the protagonists, and, as such, we need a little history to help us better understand them. That’s exactly what we find in Dallas, as we delve more into the back-story of Tulip and Jesse.
This episode also serves to show us exactly why we witnessed some of the Hell vignettes in previous episodes. We know that the residents of Hell are forced to relive their worst moments over and over again, with Eugene’s being just about what was expected, and Hitler’s leaving the question open as to what more is contained that we didn’t see. However, as this episode shows us, you don’t have to live in Hell to be trapped in a Hellish loop. Just look at how the convenience store/bedroom/bathroom scenes are played out, and go back and rethink through Eugene’s torture. There’s a striking similarity, as both situations are played out on a loop. The difference for Jesse and Tulip is that their loop was not one they were condemned to by an outside for, but by their own actions and decisions. Let’s see what else there was to see in Dallas.
For another week, we get to pick up exactly where we left off, with Tulip’s admission of her relationship to Viktor still hanging in the air. Naturally, Jesse doesn’t take this news well at all, and proceeds to drag Viktor through the house, bringing him to the torture room. Throughout the entire scene, Tulip is trying to rationalize with Jesse, explaining why any relationship with Viktor was even possible, until she is turned away in one of Jesse’s darker moments. As the opening credits roll, it certainly looks like Jesse’s pursuit of God has been replaced, momentarily perhaps, with a quest for vengeance.
In both the flashback sequences and in the present timeline, Jesse continues to showcase how disconnected he really is from things, especially Tulip. Following the thread of this episode, a lot of Jesse’s selfishness can be traced back to the moment with Carlos, and Tulip’s consequent miscarriage. Clearly, Jesse’s hopes and dreams were shattered in that moment, and one has to assume that before that, Jesse was somewhat more open and caring with regards to Tulip, as it’s hard to imagine a woman like her sticking around long enough to get to that point just on “bad boy” cred alone. After the miscarriage, Jesse seemingly gave up on just about anything that was important to him, barely even clinging to Tulip, immersing himself in his own personal Hell of bad television, trips to the convenience store, lackluster sex, and disappointing pregnancy test results. There is one moment that feels like Jesse could break himself free, and showcases part of why he would return to his father’s church, when he prays for a baby over the test, but even that moment comes up empty, and the cycle continues. It’s telling that, after Jesse discovers Tulip’s stash in their apartment, he finally breaks free, both in the way he lashes out at Reggie, and in his move to return to Annville. Notably, in the present timeline, it is clearly remembering this moment that also allows Jesse to shake himself free of his revenge scheme against Viktor. Is this a turning point for Jesse Custer? Does it bring him back fully to the side of the angels (and not angels as this show has portrayed them)? It might just be a way to return him to center, given his willingness to use Genesis one more time, at the beginning of the episode to keep Tulip from interfering with what he initially felt he had to do.
Tulip’s story is one of survival, and doing what is needed to do more than just get by. Over their dinner with Dany, both Jesse and Tulip state that they aren’t going to go back to work for her, since the Carlos incident. While Jesse closes that door completely, Tulip is at least pragmatic enough to remember what exactly working with Dany can provide her. This connection does eventually lead her to Viktor, who, as he tells Jesse, was “nice” to her, a dramatic change from what she’d been experiencing with Jesse as of late. The miscarriage affected her deeply, and differently than it did Jesse; a point he cannot seem to wrap his head around. He seems to believe that Tulip should feel the same way he does, and that’s why he’s so incredibly upset and feels betrayed by her use of birth control pills. Tulip, on the other hand, has done what she needed to do to secure her own future, and, while a child could play into their hands again at some point, it certainly wasn’t in the cards right then and there. Tulip is clearly much more pragmatic than Jesse, and has been for a long time. The one time that pragmatism doesn’t really show up is when she lashes out at Cassidy for telling Jesse where she went. While she calls him out, basically accusing him of having ulterior motives behind his helping, she seems to ignore that Cassidy actually does seem to care about his closest companions. Yes, he wants something from them. Almost everyone wants something from those around them. Tulip allows her feelings of betrayal to cloud his concern, which, given the scenes with regards to Reggie, may be some small way of Tulip insulating herself from getting too close to those circling around the preacher.
Cassidy himself doesn’t appear much in the episode, relegated to Denis’s house until the point where he decides to reconnect with Jesse and “fix” what he did. It leads to him admitting to some of his own darkness, not in a way to dissuade Jesse from his course of action, but to let the preacher know that he won’t be abandoned. When Jesse says that killing Viktor would lead to the end of things between him and Tulip, Cassidy scoffs at the notion of the two not being together. In this episode, Cassidy’s deceptions are underscored by the other characters, but it’s becoming clear that he’s doing these things because he thinks it’s the right thing to do with regards to his friends. He’s wrong, but he’s doing it for what appears to be the right reasons. However, seeing the scenes in the past also show exactly why Tulip is concerned about ulterior motives, and why Jesse is so hesitant to trust after Cassidy’s previous lies; Reggie. The earlier timeline has Reggie largely filling in the role that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing Cassidy in now. He’s the tension-breaker, the comic relief, the ever-present companion who is just stuck third-wheeling his way through Jesse and Tulip’s lives. Even Reggie’s exhibited hedonism fits with what we’ve learned about Cassidy. The big difference between the two, though? What we’ve seen of Cassidy is someone who’s honestly trying to make things better, especially for those around him, but doesn’t really know how to not make a mess of things. Reggie, on the other hand, is simply looking out for Reggie. He liked having Tulip around because he thought she was cool, and she might sometimes feed him. He enjoyed Jesse’s company because it gave him someone to sit on the couch and bullshit with. There is no indication that Reggie actually cared about the others, which Cassidy has shown in spades.
Now that it seems that our characters have broken free of some of the things that were trapping them, it only seems fitting that part of Hell would be that much closer to getting them. The Saint of Killers has arrived in New Orleans, and he’s tracked Genesis to Viktor’s house. Naturally, especially for this show, he’s gotten there after it looks like Viktor’s life has returned to normal, and his bloody path leaves only one survivor. To be honest, a part of me expected to see Allie pop out of the closet on her own to tell the Saint where Jesse was, although seeing her go from terror to a steely calm was a fairly powerful moment. Allie is partially giving up Jesse’s location because of what he did to her father, but it does also beg the question on if she’s sending the Saint as a way to get a small measure of revenge against Tulip. After all, she was the one person in Viktor’s house who expressed anything other than disappointment and regret towards Tulip’s presence.
Jesse and Tulip are seemingly reunited. They’ve admitted that they’re both bad for each other, but that actually works to bring them closer. Even Cassidy seems like he’s being drawn closer into the fold, despite the way they both held him at arm’s length earlier. That’s all good things, since the search for God will require all of their skills. Right now, though, they have a far more pressing concern, as next week showcases our “heroes” looking to bring the fight directly to the Saint of Killers. This is going to get messy.