Preach On: Season 2, Episode 8 – Holes

It’s so nice when a serialized television program can take time out of their own story to spend an entire episode paying homage to possibly the greatest moment in the cinematic career of Shia LeBeouf. The way that a treasure hunt is buried under the veil of a detention center is truly profound, and not many shows would be able to tie a similar sequence of events in so closely. The cameos from Tim Blake Nelson and Sigourney Weaver really helped– wait a minute. That isn’t at ALL what happened in Preacher this week. Oh, the perils of things being named in a similar fashion, and making early assumptions about what is going to be contained.

No, the “Holes” that Preacher dealt with were somehow both more physical, and more metaphysical, in nature. The episode was all about holes, whether they were in need of patching, simply glaring openings, or new gaps created. It was an episode that further showed the divide currently existing between our three main characters,  creating opportunities for other, potentially nefarious influences to exert some control. It was also a chance to add some greater illumination for all of the characters, especially how they dealt with the holes in their lives this episode worked through. Some were self-imposed, some were thrust upon them by others, but all of these missing pieces add up to a precarious whole, especially moving forward.

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Via AMC

There was an awful lot packed into this week’s episode, and there was some serious deftness displayed in transitioning from character to character. We were reminded up front about Eugene’s predicament, and see how he’s been trying to modify his own behaviors to fit in with the rest of the prisoners in Hell. We were also reminded about Mannering’s words regarding being “nice”, and the consequences of that particular course. Eugene needs to hide his true nature, lest he find himself a target for the other inmates. It’s a hole in his self that Eugene is trying to create, but, as later scenes show, he isn’t always successful. When Eugene learns that Hell knows one of the inmates doesn’t belong, he almost admits the truth, but defers, a motion not unnoticed by Hitler. In a continued defying of expectations, Hitler is the nicest person in Hell, and he actually wants to help Eugene out. At least, that is what is being presented, even if he uses somewhat underhanded means to get his point across. After all, if it wasn’t for Hitler bringing out Eugene’s good nature by tripping another inmate, he wouldn’t have been sent to The Hole, which also wouldn’t have pointed out the necessity for escape, not admission. Sure, Hitler clearly has ulterior motives, but with what we’ve been shown, it isn’t unnatural to wonder if Hitler himself was broken by Hell, and has turned a page. More likely, Preacher is setting Eugene, and, by proxy, all of us, up for a big turn, tucking Hitler back into the persona that we know from our own history. Right now, though, Eugene needs a friend, and it somehow oddly works for one of the most evil men in history to team up with this incredibly good-natured soul. Of course given the events of Eugene’s personal Hell as viewed through the extrapolator of The Hole makes us wonder what will happen to that good nature when Eugene reconnects with Jesse Custer.

While Eugene’s hole is much more real, and definitely carries trauma with it, it isn’t the only one dealt with in this episode. Going to a more esoteric thought, we first look at the holes around Jesse. These are ones that he has created for himself, as he’s been so intent on his search for God that he’s ignored things going on around him with Cassidy and Tulip. That gets underscored once again in this episode, which really doesn’t have a lot for Jesse to do, allowing him to take a back seat to the others. It was refreshing to see an episode where Jesse was able to prevent using Genesis, even if his answer to Cassidy regarding such rings hollow with his own selfish uses. Jesse may be starting to notice that there is something wrong, but he isn’t allowing himself to act on any of it, because his mission takes precedence in his own mind. Consequently, instead of helping either of his companions through their problems, Jesse spends the bulk of the episode waiting for the “Dork Docs” to perform their analysis of the audition video, just like “on the cop shows”. These exchanges add some levity to the episode, and showcase once again how myopic Jesse is. After all, the legend printed on the edge of the DVD wasn’t terribly small, or discreet, but it was something missed by all. Yes, Jesse once again has a moment of introspection, and offers a prayer to a missing God, but it doesn’t seem to lead to much widening of his perspective. In fact, it’s telling that the Jesse we meet in Eugene’s altered personal Hell is also completely focused on his own needs and desires. Eugene seems to know a little something about the preacher that he has been loathe to admit, and it’s the very same thing that fuels Jesse, while alienating his friends. Our man of the cloth has work to do if he wants to bridge the gaps he has created, and he’s clearly going to need to, since his narrowed vision has continuously caused him to miss the clues he’s so hungry for. This trait clearly hasn’t been missed by the members of The Grail, in their observations of him.

That brings us to Tulip, who we know has now encountered Lara, albeit in a different guise than the one shown to Jesse. In contrast with Herr Starr’s “seduction” last week, we instead are reminded that Lara clearly has an understanding of what could work to bring someone closer. Casting herself as someone suffering from abuse clearly brings Tulip to her side initially, so much so that Tulip invites the other woman along to the Hurt Locker some time. This is all part of Tulip’s attempts to patch up the holes around her. Yes, she’s working on the physical holes, starting by replacing the fridge, but she’s also clearly trying to figure out how to navigate around the deeper ones she’s experienced, thanks to the Saint of Killers. While Jesse may be aware of some of the holes opening around him, he isn’t terribly inclined to try and make things better right now, all in pursuit of a loftier goal. Tulip, on the other hand, is trying to fix what’s outwardly broken, while hoping to find an answer that works as spackle for everything inward. She isn’t sleeping, and she isn’t connecting, all until she encounters Lara. While Jesse is allowing his mission to get in the way of any connection to his friends, and may not even be fully aware of how distant he’s grown, Tulip is fully aware. She’s holding the men at arm’s length, and, while she may reach out tentatively, she certainly isn’t going to push the issue. In some ways, her presence around them is only out of habit right now. Tulip is being forced into self-reliance yet again, and Jesse is clearly going to have a high price to pay. It makes it all easier for The Grail to infiltrate, even if it wasn’t on their initial timeline. Tulip feels the drive to do something, and she clearly feels that tying herself too closely to Jesse’s mission is the exact opposite of something. Her purpose is being subsumed, and, while she is clearly integral to our trio, she needs them to see it just as much as she does.

Meanwhile, once again, the heart of the episode rests with Cassidy. The writers have done an impressive job turning this potentially one-note character into the connecting thread that finds something true to hang on to. Sure, he’s still got some of the cartoonish quality that we were first shown, but we’re learning that there’s an awful lot of depth to Cassidy. It’s very telling that these last few episodes, with Cassidy more focused on Denis than the others, have also shown the fracturing of our trio. Through “Holes”, we’re given a quick glimpse of some of Cassidy’s backstory, specifically shortly after the birth of Denis, and the rest of episode displays the vampire trying to get advice from those closest to him about how to deal with his son’s dying wish. A lot of credit also has to be given to the show for handling this issue in a way that we’ve seen before, but for allowing Joseph Gilgun to breathe enough new life into the moments to make it feel new. A vampire laboring over the choice of creating a new one of his kind is nothing new, and even adding the wrinkle of the two being blood relatives is well-worn territory. However, Cassidy’s words, through Gilgun’s portrayal, carry a depth that is all-too-often averted. It’s even more heartbreaking when you realize he is baring his soul regarding it all to Tulip, who is so wrapped up in her own head that she isn’t really hearing him. Cassidy eventually reaches out to Seamus to give him advice, and, to contrast with Denis’s repeated please of “Bite Me”, Seamus simply tells him not to do it. The final image of Cassidy in the episode is at Denis’s bedside, echoing the moment at his crib, with the same song slipping from the Irishman’s lips. It’s clear that Cassidy has made a decision, and the parallels between the two scenes certainly up the stakes. After all, this could be Cassidy tragically providing book ends to his son’s life, or he could be intentionally recreating that moment shortly after birth, as a way of ushering in a new life. Cassidy is left with a heartbreaking moment, as even the knowledge that he could save his son fights against his knowledge that he doesn’t actually know much of anything about the man. Their connection is familial, and nothing more. Cassidy could justify making either choice, and, unfortunately, Jesse and Tulip are not really able to help when he needs it the most.

This episode is clearly another one setting up bigger things moving forward, as pieces keep being put on the table. Eugene now has an (unlikely) ally to help him try and escape from the clutches of Hell. Jesse sees his hopes dashed towards finding God, while simultaneously losing the connections to those closest to him who could actually assist. Tulip is now open to The Grail’s machinations, largely because of her own self-imposed distance. And Cassidy, who is the glue that holds the other two together right now, is incapable of doing so because of a larger concern. Meanwhile, we know that Herr Starr is on his way, the Saint is still out there, and Eugene’s altered hell may turn him against Jesse and his crew. It may not have been an action-filled episode, but it was a needed one, and one where these character beats were handled deftly. This particular trio hasn’t been quite this broken before, and they’ve always been able to reconnect. It isn’t going to be easy, but we’re being set up for a pay off that is hopefully satisfying, and earned.

Preach On: Season 2, Episode 7 – Pig

Now that the Saint of Killers has been taken care of, we need to set up the next adversary for Jesse Custer and his crew. Let’s just ignore for a little while that the Saint isn’t truly taken care of, but is instead lying in wait for the plot to circle back to having him blasting his way through the world. As far as Jesse is concerned, he doesn’t have anything to worry about with regards to the cowboy right now, and the audience needs to get some more information about something we’ve seen the barest of glimpses of thus far.

That’s where this episode fits in. We spend some time looking at the three members of our primary trio separately, as they all move forward with some recent revelations. More importantly, we get to learn a little more about The Grail, and how they tie in to the proceedings. This is all unspooled through watching the machinations of Herr Starr, who strikes an imposing figure with his all-white suit and bold red tie. This is the man who took the map that Dany had received from Tulip. His injection into the story begins in Vietnam, but, by the end of the episode, it is clear that he is en route to New Orleans, to cause trouble for our favorite “false prophet”. A “Pig” flying may seem like a silly way to bring us up to speed, but it had more than a snowball’s chance with Eugene of shedding some light into the darkness pressing against the trio.

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Via AMC

This week’s episode begins with the very porcine plot device in question. It’s Vietnam, and we witness a couple going about their lives casually, until something out the window disturbs the wife. The family pig is floating off of the ground, and what started out for the family as a terrifying moment is quickly turned to prophet, as nearby villagers and tourists come out to pay homage, clearly feeling a little high on the hog. It is this near-worship that brings Herr Starr to the village, as one of The Grail’s Samson Unit, and he needs to eradicate those false prophets. It’s a messy job, but someone has to do it, but we’ll get to more about that in a little bit.

For now, we check on the heroes of our story. Tulip is clearly suffering from her run-in with the Saint of Killers. Was it simply knowing that Jesse’s lack of timeliness almost caused her to lose her life, or is there something even more sinister in his touch alone that has shaken her to the core? It seems more likely that it’s the first, and not the second, but we can’t be certain, with the heavy dose of supernatural running through the show. What we do know is that Tulip is not herself, and is displaying vulnerability that we haven’t seen before. The nightmare she experiences shows us that, even though she believes Jesse has dealt with the problem, her subconscious cannot let the Saint go, and she fears him being around every corner. It was also a scene that really dove into horror tropes, and handled them well, given the general vibe of the show itself. Tulip finds a way to battle with her own demons, and it all revolves around her going to the Hurt Locker, to be used as target practice. Maybe the idea of getting shot, in a relatively safe fashion, will help her shake free of her fears. It clearly isn’t going to be Jesse, as he’s far too focused on his own mission. While her interaction with Cassidy showed a potential thawing in what was becoming an icy relationship, she can’t rely on his assistance, either, for fear of him getting too strongly attached. This is something that Tulip can only deal with on her own, but it could very easily spin to a far more dangerous path than she could have anticipated.

Our Irish vampire has a lot to deal with, but, once again, shows that he is the necessary emotional core to the show right now. He allows himself to get a little too involved in his moment with Tulip the first time the trio head to the Hurt Locker, but very quickly, his plight with Denis takes the forefront. Thanks to a very convenient French professor, Cassidy is able to learn just how angry Denis is at him, and the one thing that would allow the son to forgive the father. It just so happens that the one thing in question, eternal life through vampirism, is something that Cassidy sees as a curse, and he doesn’t want to burden his son with it. It’s interesting that, in an episode that plays with horror tropes, the standard vampire trope about whether it is a gift or a curse is poked at. This story is left hanging somewhat after Cassidy spends the night in the morgue, but his resolve to not bring Denis into his world seems to be weakened by watching a family say goodbye to a loved one. Clearly, he has some questions that only he can answer, but for now, the biggest seems to be whether or not he can let his own son pass with some level of dignity, or if he grants Denis the one thing that could repair their relationship.

Speaking of broken relationships, that moves us to Jesse Custer. Even though he and Tulip recently reconnected, after the events at Viktor’s mansion, Jesse is still so caught up in his search for God that he isn’t really able to see how much Tulip needs him. Instead, he brushes off her concerns about the Saints, even lying through omission that the whole thing has been taken care of, and continues his search for God. It becomes clear, however, that this isn’t the only search Jesse is on. This comes to a head when Jesse encounters the street corner preacher, spreading the word about the end of days. He and Jesse converse, complete with the striking visual of Jesse shrouded in shadow, and the other preacher bathed in light. Jesse is a man who is not above doing evil deeds for what he feels is the greater good, and it cannot be stressed enough that the “greater good” in question is one that serves Jesse Custer first and foremost. There may be benefits for the rest of civilization, but Jesse is looking for his own answers and salvation, merely dragging everyone else along behind him. Meanwhile, the street corner preacher, through his proclamations about the end of the world, is doing more for others by helping them take their minds somewhat off of their own darknesses, looking for ways to avert the end times. His words may actually help people make the world somewhat better, and, when he and Jesse converse about the notion of selling even a small portion of one’s soul, it is clear where he stands. This could spark a revelation in Jesse’s mind, and it also presents a way for the Saint to be looped back in, with Jesse being both the item of disposal and the means of retrieval. Can Genesis help him get the missing part of his soul back, and is that a risk Jesse is willing to take, knowing what the Saint can do without any soul to restrain him? Jesse wants to find God, but it’s clear after his conversation with the doomsday preacher that he may need something else even more. Never mind that Jesse also now has to deal with his emotions regarding how Tulip and Cassidy interact, either with or without him.

Those three stories could have all been expanded, and filled the entire episode. Many other shows would have done just that, slowing the pace of the entire story down even further, and getting a little self-indulgent with moments that didn’t need more than a passing glance. For Preacher, those were all actually B-story, as the main thrust of the episode had us following Herr Starr, from the moment he first learned of The Grail through to him beginning the search for Jesse. Starr is a cold, calculating man, one who views everyone and everything as being beneath him. His initial meeting with Saltonstall, from The Grail, convinced them that Starr would be a good candidate. After making his way through most of their tests, including an interesting take on “seduction”, Starr brutally takes out his opposition to join the organization, and has some of the secrets of what they do opened to him. Starr is told about the lineage of Jesus, and how The Grail protects that lineage from “false prophets”, including Abraham Lincoln. It ties in perfectly to the vision of the world that the show has displayed, and Starr’s brutal removal of both Jimmy in the testing, and Saltonstall after being inducted into the Samson Unit, shows just how unrelenting this particular villain can be. It’s safe to assume that the rest of The Grail know about Starr’s actions, but he is the exact type of person that they need in the Samson Unit, and they can’t really argue with his efficacy. He handles the situation with the pig in Vietnam, and we know that he is headed to New Orleans, where Jesse has become his new prey.

In many ways, this episode served as filler, but of a good sort. It pushed the stories of our primary three forward, showing us both how effective they are when together and on top of their games, as the first scene at the Hurt Locker shows, and how broken they are when apart. But it did a lot more, and in a more deft way than the initial introduction to the Saint’s backstory. With the Saint, we knew he was a man who had traveled a dark path, but we didn’t see the imminent threat to our heroes. Through Herr Starr, we see a man almost as dark, but with a cold calculation to him, as opposed to brutal revenge. We also know exactly how much of a threat he and his organization could pose. Keep in mind that Lara is also part of The Grail, and has already encountered Jesse Custer. It’s clear that her tactic towards seduction was not quite as succinct as Starr’s, and it gives the entire Grail organization an extra leg up when dealing with the preacher. It’s time to bring home the bacon, and Preacher is just getting that pan sizzling.

Preach On: Season 2, Episode 6 – Sokosha

Everything is about to hit the fan. The Saint of Killers has arrived in New Orleans, and he’s being delivered right to Jesse’s door. But the Saint is going to have to contend with a newly reunified trio, and all of their skills put together. We may not be closer to finding God, but we’re certainly seeing Jesse have a moment where he has to decide what path he is truly walking.

After this episode, it seems that Jesse’s path is a little more gray than maybe even he realizes. The last few episodes have done good jobs drawing parallels between different situations, as “Dallas” reminded us that Hell, at least as we’ve seen it through Eugene’s eyes, is something akin to moments that Jesse and Tulip actually lived through. The cycle was stuck on repeat. It’s only fitting that “Sokosha” would take some time to remind us of previously explored backstory, although in a different fashion to how “Dallas” showed us things we didn’t previously know. This episode was also another opportunity for Preacher to step aside and indulge in some of the absurdity which is something of a hallmark for the show, and yet can’t be the meat of every outing. Given little glimpses here and there, and we’re given a delicious garnish. Too much, and it runs the risk of ruining the entire palate. In “Sokosha”, this balance is handled delicately, and it’s hard to say it wasn’t done at just the right levels.

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Via AMC

Take the cold opening this week, for example. Instead of picking up from the exact point we’d been left before, “Sokosha” presents us with an entirely new scenario, featuring individuals we’ve never met. In fact, it’s all a little weird, but grounded in the science and magic of how Jesse’s world works. The entire exchange is odd and a little cold, but not terribly so. We hear the Japanese technician assure his initial clients that, even at 15%, they won’t miss it, and he performs his procedure, granting them an obviously needed financial boon. The scene then cuts to the next part of the entire transaction, as the technician is clearly delivering at least part of what he extracted to a wealthy older couple. The wife’s dementia clears up, and the husband makes the exchange. It shouldn’t go missed that, at the soul of this scene (see what I did there?), the entire transaction shows people of color giving up something far more valuable than what they are offered, all so that well-off white people can benefit. There was a definite Get Out feel to that scene, although not quite as ominous as what was presented in the movie. In Preacher, this type of exchange just felt sadder than anything else, and, for a show not necessarily diving into social issues, the framing of this scene was too purposeful to be anything less than commentary on our own day-to-day existence.

One of the things done well in this episode is the fact that we witness the soul exchange, but we don’t actually really know what it is for certain until it crosses paths with Jesse Custer. In fact, after the cold opening, we have more pressing issues to deal with. Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy are busy plotting out what they’re going to do next, all over a clearly overly-sugared breakfast of Tulip’s creation. This is all interrupted by the arrival of the Saint of Killers, forcing our heroes to bring the fight to him only after they escape, thanks in no small part to Jesse paying more attention to his surroundings than the squabbling of the other two. It also creates an opportunity for Preacher to diverge into absurd territory once again, when the three head to the library and its assorted materials to figure out exactly what will help them deal with the Saint.

This episode is one where Tulip, interestingly enough, takes a bit of a back seat. It a lot of ways, it makes sense. She’s had so much story thrown her way so far this season, that she’s definitely threatened to overshadow Jesse as the star of the show. It doesn’t help that Jesse has been fairly single-minded in purpose, whereas Tulip has been able to be more of a holistic person, attempting to balance her needs with those of the man she loves. This doesn’t mean that Tulip doesn’t have her moments to shine, but they are definitely not as many as the others. The moment that carries the most weight for Tulip’s personal journey is obviously how the touch of the Saint affects her moving forward. It doesn’t seem necessarily that there’s a supernatural bent to her response, but she was definitely shaken by his touch. In contrast, we also have her “it’s still a book” response to Jesse regarding her research through a book-on-tape. Both of these moments show elements of who Tulip is, but we don’t get much more than surface-scratching for her in this episode.

Taking Tulip’s place in this episode as the secondary character is Cassidy, and, truth be told, he doesn’t have a whole lot to do in this one, either. That doesn’t mean that we don’t learn a very key part of Cassidy’s story, and one that makes a lot of moments from the past couple of episodes stand out even more, but it’s telling that Cassidy’s story is still impacted by others more than it seems to be by him. Cassidy is a bit of an agent of chaos, and he has clearly been bouncing from place to place, and situation to situation, for a long time. His previous statements about Denis were easily brushed off as just someone who maybe Cassidy had engaged in dealings with in the past, but this episode lets us know exactly why the Irish vampire would go to a man who seemingly could barely tolerate him, and why Denis wouldn’t actually do more to kick the trio out. Denis is Cassidy’s son. The gulf between the two is so wide that Cassidy never even learned to speak the only language that Denis seems able to, but clearly Cassidy wants to make things better. And yes, it should be clearly stated he is looking to make things “better”, and not “right”. The possibility of “right” left a long time ago, and Cassidy knows that, but he is clearly trying to do small things. In fact, the exchange over the shoelaces takes on even greater meaning when you understand the familial relationship, and Cassidy’s words are definitely ones that a parent would use to a young child. Of course, if Jesse’s search hadn’t lead the trio to New Orleans, Cassidy wouldn’t have made these efforts, but maybe it was seeing his son ailing as he is that allowed Cassidy to open up in that capacity. God may be missing in the world of Preacher, but it’s clear that His hand is still working in mysterious ways.

That leaves us with Jesse Custer, and this episode is all about the preacher. Jesse is the one to learn about Fiore’s demise at the Mumbai Sky Tower, leading to the realization that the Saint is after them. Jesse spearheads the research at the library, and he concocts the plan to restore a soul to the Saint. After all, this is New Orleans, and a voodoo hotbed would clearly allow Jesse to find this illusive item, right? Jesse crafts his deal with the Saint, and has to scramble to try and find a soul, because the Saint isn’t playing games, and takes the others as hostages. After coming up empty at Papa Bebe’s House of Voodoo (where Jesse drops the last name L’Angell and his own familial connections to the soul industry), he learns about Soul Happy Go Go, and makes his move. He finds their armored car, we’re all reminded that Tulip is a remarkable tactician and scary around the components for explosives, and it all figuratively blows up in Jesse’s face until he is forced to utilize Genesis to get his way. Knowing where the Saint is makes it easier for Jesse to be willing to use his power, and he gets a little out of control with it, before he does eventually get to have a face-to-face with the mysterious technician from the opening scenes of the episode. It should come as no surprise that none of the souls were matches, until Jesse offers up part of his own, and this piece grants the Saint a chance at rejoining his family in Heaven.

It’s never that easy, though, is it? Jesse, missing seemingly just a small portion of his own soul, clearly isn’t going to let the Saint off of the hook, and goes a little dark. Something that he figured out along the way was that the Saint was unaffected by Genesis due to no longer possessing a soul; just a piece of Jesse’s changed the whole game. And Jesse’s dark turn almost sends the Saint back to Hell, as Jesse even taunts that he’s done it before and he can do it again. In fact, it seems to only be self-preservation that leads Jesse to abandoning the Saint under the swamp instead of banishing him entirely. After all, that’s part of the preacher’s own soul inside the cowboy, and Jesse clearly doesn’t want to have any part of his self consigned to the underworld. When the episode comes to a close with a similar scene to Jesse’s from the beginning, bathroom fogged, shower running, but a very different expression on his face, one has to wonder how much Jesse actually gave up.

For his part in this episode, the Saint shifted from an unstoppable force into an immovable object. He is a barrier that Jesse has to get around to continue his search for God. Most of the way, he’s actually handled deftly, and it’s refreshing to see Jesse and the others forced to think outside of their carefully constructed boxes along the way to finding a solution. If there’s any disappointment, it’s in the solution itself, as Jesse abandoning the cowboy like he did means that we know the Saint is coming back, but he’s also now hampered by Jesse’s soul, and the effects of Genesis. Even the Saint’s earlier missteps, by heading to the wrong apartment, make sense. He’s single-minded, and his ability to track Genesis are clearly much more like radar pings than a magnetic force. He has no reason to disbelieve Allie, and it’s even possible that she made a mistake with regards to which apartment Jesse was hiding in. The Saint has his purpose, and his goal, and he is going to push himself towards that. Of course it’s Jesse’s soul that is a close-enough match, given the way they both drive themselves. And, given the darkness Jesse exhibits at the end, it’s clear that isn’t the only similarity between the two men.

All told, “Sokosha” is one of the most complete episodes that this series has put out yet. Humor is handled deftly, and heightens scenes, never undercutting the seriousness of other events. Sure, the entire concept of selling souls for profit may seem ridiculous, but it’s handled with such a dry sincerity, it just blends in to the rest of the narrative, and leaves us with more questions for the future. We’re also now left wondering how both Jesse and Tulip will react to their experiences, while getting a moment of solace and hope from Cassidy’s own story. The library may seem like the least likely place for Preacher to take it’s largest, loudest strides, but that’s exactly what happened.

Preach On: Season 2, Episode 5 – Dallas

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.

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Deep down, aren’t we all making Tulip’s face right now? (Via AMC)

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.

Preach On: Season 2, Episode 4 – Viktor

All good things have to slow down eventually. That’s exactly how this particular episode of Preacher feels, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Pacing is incredibly important, especially in a world where so much television is consumed not weekly, but in one long, drawn-out binge. After kicking off the season with three episodes that moved set pieces around fairly quickly, it’s important to take some time to ruminate about what we’ve learned. Even better, Preacher is able to feed us new information, and keep a sense of progress to the moments. Sure, ultimately everyone is still somewhat stagnant from where things ended after “Damsels”, but that doesn’t mean we were served up an empty episode, with no meaning, no growth, or no movement.

Also, you really have to hand it to Preacher for the insertion of one particular character into Hell. Yes, I’m talking about Hitler. And no, I am in no way defending the actual man, and I don’t think for a moment that Preacher is doing that, either. They are, however, making a fictional version of him, laced with some truths but, shockingly, turning him into a somewhat sympathetic being. With as messed up as Jesse Custer’s world is, maybe it’s actually fitting that one of the most evil men in history is being recreated as a meek, sorrowful, and kind everyman. The treatment of Hitler actually helps underscore just how terrible the world of Preacher actually is, while also reminding us that there are clearly darker corners everywhere. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s check in on “Viktor”.

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Via AMC

The opening of this week’s episode once again picks up just where we left off after last week. Tulip is back in the laundromat, surrounded by Viktor’s men, before being taken back to his mansion. Jesse finally makes it Denis’s apartment, where Cassidy tries, if only barely, to express concern about Tulip’s whereabouts. After a night on the town, however, the only thing plucking at the back of Jesse’s brain is the need for sleep. Just before the opening credits roll, we see that Cassidy has texted Tulip, asking if she’s ok, only for her response to be interrupted by Viktor’s entry into his office. After all, Tulip is a problem for him, and he wants her to figure out how to solve it.

We’ve been seeing throughout this season just how single-minded Jesse really can be. His attempt to find God is yielding fruit, albeit only in small bites, but it’s clearly enough to keep him going. Throughout the episode, he bats away any of Cassidy’s concerns about Tulip, even going so far as to declare that worrying about Tulip is a fool’s errand. Jesse is going to find out the truth about God’s disappearance no matter what, and his chase leads him to the Teddy Gunt talent agency. Turns out the FakeGod that Jesse had met in the church had been a local actor represented by Mr. Gunt, and Jesse drew himself one step closer to meeting the hard-to-track down Mark Harelik. Thanks to some quick thinking by Cassidy, we all get to watch Harelik’s audition tape, and watch Jesse’s wheels turn trying to decipher another small clue. It isn’t until Cassidy finally snaps, telling Jesse exactly what Tulip told him not to, before the preacher springs into action. He storms Viktor’s mansion, using Genesis liberally throughout the house before finally running afoul of Pat, Viktor’s main torture goon. In a brilliantly scripted move, Jesse is forced to actually fight Pat off, instead of falling back on Genesis, because a little Billy Joel goes an awfully long way. Eventually, Jesse does make it to Viktor, which allows Tulip to drop her bombshell on Jesse. By pacing this episode in such a way, we get to see Jesse at his absolute most self-centered. Brushing off Cassidy’s concerns because Tulip is just “mad somewhere”, due to you two having a fight, shows Jesse’s flaws when dealing with others. When the episode flips the script and has Jesse storming to Tulip’s defense, it’s actually refreshing that he’s both so completely dedicated to her protection, and so completely wrong about everything he’s doing. Tulip may not need saving, but it took Jesse an awfully long time to realize she might be looking for a little help.

As for Tulip’s story, this entire episode is a personal one for her. The reveal about her relationship with Viktor was ultimately somewhat predictable, but this show hasn’t allowed Tulip to delve into actual fear too often, nor have we seen her forced to really deal with the negative side of her previous actions. Peppered throughout this episode, we see Tulip truly scared that she may have run out her clock, and later we see her trying to reach out to those she left and disappointed, only to have her advances rebuffed. It’s also fitting that her exchange with Ellie is the one laced with the most vehemence, especially in light of her relationship with Viktor. Ruth Negga handles all of these conflicting, yet quieter, emotions well, and proves more than capable stepping back into the ass-kicking role that we’ve known of Tulip since day one. She continues to shine, and showing Tulip as being vulnerable, not so much to fists and bullets, but to words and feelings, helps bring out another dimension in this character, which only bodes well for the future.

Stuck between the two, as seems to be his fate at least for the rest of this season, is Joseph Gilgun’s Cassidy. Once again, Cassidy is trying to act as the voice of reason, but he also shows a remarkably quick wit, and shrewd attention to detail. Gloss over how he keeps shrugging off Denis’s obvious disdain, Cassidy is the one to notice FakeGod in the Katrina infomercial (also starring Frankie Muniz!), and he concocts the crazy Game of Thrones cover story allowing Jesse to get his hands on Harelik’s audition tape. Throughout it all, though, the whereabouts Cassidy is trying to get Jesse to learn about are not God’s, but Tulip’s. Every instance of Cassidy helping Jesse along is to try to grease the wheels enough so that the preacher can take his foot off the gas, and realize that one of the passengers is missing. Of course, Cassidy taking the subtle route on this one doesn’t pay off too well, and Jesse is about to try and track down whoever filmed the audition tape before Cassidy finally lets slip about Viktor. Clearly he’s been concerned about Tulip for a while, and he’s trying to get Jesse to share that concern. As to why it at least appears that he didn’t follow, there are a few reasons that make sense. First off, it’s still day, and walking around New Orleans covered head-to-toe is likely to draw some attention. Secondly, it’s entirely possible that things with Denis are starting to come to a head. But third, and, in my opinion, more likely, as much as Cassidy wants to know Tulip is safe, he also doesn’t want to face her wrath when she discovers he told Jesse where she went. He may be able to delay this for a bit, but it shows how deeply Cassidy cares for his companions.

Oh, but that’s far from all that this episode provided us. Take away Jesse’s search, Tulip’s encounters with her husband and his men, and Cassidy trying to balance everything between them, and you’re left with one large piece of the puzzle. That piece is Eugene’s experiences in Hell, and his interactions with Hitler. It’s very telling that Hitler is far and away the kindest person Eugene encounters in Hell. Even Superintendent Mannering, who seems to know that Eugene doesn’t belong there, doesn’t really try to help Eugene out, except to warn him that he is in Hell, and should “act accordingly”. Leave it to Hitler to be the one person willing to extend a kindness to Eugene, even sharing his personal Hell when Eugene gets locked out, to spare him punishment. Of course, by the end of the episode, Eugene’s need to fit in somehow leads to him joining his fellow Hellmates in delivering a beating to Hitler, which serves to make this evil character that much more sympathetic. Meanwhile, we see Tyler doing largely what he probably did in his day-to-day life, before finding his way to Hell. His bullying of a smaller man just because he is able are partially intended to bring a rise out of Hitler, but it’s also a way for him to assert his dominance over the Hellblock. These scenes certainly paint a picture, and fill in some information while allowing our own knowledge to color it all, but they also pose interesting questions. What else is involved in Hitler’s worst day, and is it what truly set him on the path towards the Hitler we all know from history? Has the man reformed, due to having to relive that one moment so many times over and over again? Is this experience changing Eugene, taking away his innocence and turning him into a colder version of himself, or is this all still tied to his almost pathological need for someone, anyone, to accept him? Obviously, not everything can be given away, and Preacher has proven to be somewhat adept at both fulfilling and subverting expectations at the same time, so it remains to be seen how, or even if, these questions will be resolved soon.

All told, there wasn’t an awful lot happening in “Viktor”, and that’s okay. The story was moved forward, maybe incrementally, but still forward. Seeing the subplot with Eugene has reminded us even more of his personal stakes, and the consequences of Jesse casually slipping Genesis free of its leash. As for Genesis itself, the fact that the Saint of Killers is approaching New Orleans means that we probably won’t have time for a quieter, more introspective (at least, by Preacher standards) episode in the near future. It’s time to buckle up, all over again. Looks like we’re just about ready to return to a bumpy ride. We certainly can’t look at a Foosball table the same way again.

Preach On: Season 2, Episode 3 – Damsels

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.

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Via AMC

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.

Preach On: Season 2, Episode 2 – Mumbai Sky Tower

The second season of Preacher certainly got off to a bang, and left us all with a little bit of a cliffhanger, as the Saint of Killers clearly had Jesse Custer in his sights. While we all know that there’s no way they’re killing off the main character so early into the second season, there was still a nervous tension, wondering how exactly Jesse would get himself out of this particular mess. Especially since it was made pretty clear the Genesis doesn’t actually work on the Saint.

Thankfully, due to some clever scheduling, we didn’t have long to wait. The second episode aired a mere night after the first, while the resolution of the face-off between Jesse and the Saint was still on the forefront of everyone’s minds. Not only did we get a little more insight as to how things could play out down the line, but this episode gave us the ability to tie up some loose ends. After all, when you visit the Mumbai Sky Tower, sometimes you win, and sometimes you end up becoming the Amazing Ganesh.

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Via AMC

Back to the opening segment, and Jesse’s direct confrontation with the Saint of Killers. It would be easy to write off the sheer ridiculousness of how Jesse escaped the Saint’s bullet, with the random truck just happening to show up at the perfect time. It could easily be taken as just another crazy gonzo scene wrapped into this show, the way that so many previous have been. That would be disregarding it far too much. For one thing, the crazy gonzo scene happened when Jesse got the gun conventioneers to fight on his behalf, before realizing that he was just putting more people straight in death’s gaze. Secondly, this sort of deus ex machina actually makes some sense within the world of Preacher, and it may give a nod to the idea that Jesse is actually on the right path. Sure, we know that God is missing, but we don’t know that God is powerless. Maybe the truck was sent to save Jesse, so that he can complete his mission. Ultimately, it lead to another narrow escape for Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy, but one that didn’t feel as cheap as it easily could have in any other series.

In this episode, we start to really see another side of Jesse Custer. Yes, he’s still a man consumed by the incredible belief that he is making the correct choices. But within the confines of this episode, we also see a man who knows he is literally outgunned, and is trying somewhat frantically to save himself and those he cares about. We also see a man forced to come to grips with the utter destruction of just about everyone he ever knew, and Jesse does a typically poor job of dealing with that part of reality. Annville is gone, the trio now knows it, and Jesse’s first thought is to try and marry Tulip, so that she has family again. It’s a kind of sweet sentiment, but it isn’t Jesse addressing his own issues stemming from the methane explosion, or the cowboy tracking him down.

Tulip’s arc in this episode is a somber one, as she is not only the first of them to learn the news about Annville, but she ends the episode going back to one place she had hoped was behind her. If Cassidy was the heart for the group in On the Road, then Tulip carries that emotion this time around. She even softens to Jesse’s admittedly ludicrous marriage proposal, perhaps searching for something normal to use as an anchor. Her confrontation with Gary, tying to her past exploits in New Orleans, changes her mind, and the discontent is clear on her face when she learns that is exactly where Jesse wants to head next. Even through all of this, she is able to maintain some level of sanity where Jesse is concerned, all while making sure to not present herself as too vulnerable around him. After all, she still doesn’t completely trust Jesse’s motivations with Genesis.

Cassidy, our third major player, almost seems as though he is once again going to strike out as someone more of a danger to himself and those around him than anyone else. However, he is the only one of the three able to make any actual headway in their investigation. The exchanges between Cassidy and Fiore indicate something that we’ve only seen glimpses of before; when he isn’t crying out for attention, Cassidy is a phenomenal judge of what could help others. It is Cassidy who gives Fiore one truly happy span of time, and it is only because of Jesse’s self-righteousness that Cassidy’s efforts truly hit a brick wall. He may not be carrying the emotional weight in this episode, but we get to see Cassidy utilizing his particular skills to make a big impact, and this is something that we cannot take for granted moving forward.

Even with all of that, the main thrust, and focus, of this episode isn’t truly on any of Jesse, Tulip, or Cassidy. No, it belongs to Fiore, part of the pair of angels we met last season, and the only one remaining after he and DeBlanc visited Hell, and hired the Saint of Killers. Ever since his return to Earth, Fiore has been listless. The montage of his repeated suicides is both something played for laughs, and full of pathos. After all, Fiore lost his companion, and not even death could release him from his suffering, thanks to his constant angelic reinvigoration. It is in the Mumbai Sky Tower that Fiore is able to rebrand himself as The Amazing Ganesh, literally killing himself in front of packed houses night after night, and this is how Jesse and the rest find him. When Cassidy spends his two hours and forty-five minutes with the angel, we see a man looking for release in any way he can possibly achieve it. Drugs, decadence, even the hint of sex; all of these avenues are open to Fiore, and watching his sheer glee so shortly after his complete and utter depression felt redeeming. If it wasn’t for Jesse’s insistence that he still use Genesis as he sees fit, it truly felt that Fiore would have been willing to call off the Saint of Killers. Instead, Fiore sees the reality he tried to escape crash around him again, and Jesse’s final command to “find peace” leads to only one answer. The depravity of the people in Jesse Custer’s world is underscored through their chorus of boos, but it was also a triumphant moment for Fiore, who was finally free of his own personal demons.

Mumbai Sky Tower wrapped up one loose end from the first season, while reminding us that Eugene is still trapped in Hell, and that it’s Jesse’s fault. Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy are heading towards New Orleans, thanks to Jesse finally remembering Tammy’s words about God venturing to the strip club for the jazz, and not the girls. What awaits them in New Orleans, only time will tell. Time also holds the answer to exactly how long it will be before Jesse uses Genesis again, only to learn that Fiore didn’t send the Saint away after all. Knowing Jesse, it probably won’t be too far down the road.