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.

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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.

Fear It!: Season 3, Episodes 7 & 8 – The Unveiling & Children of Wrath

Remember the good times? Those hazy, lazy days back in California, where character motivations were a little more rigid, and the things that defined the heroes of our peace weren’t modified simply to fit in the next set piece? Sure, we maybe all were a little wary as to how any of these people would be able to survive after the end of the world, but at least we knew a few simple truths about them. Madison would do anything to keep her kids from harm. Nick would be the superest of SuperJunkies. And Alicia would calmly keep her head down, actually formulate a plan, and survive by being smarter and more competent than the rest of the people around her.

We’re clearly removed from those days. With Nick, it’s actually a nice move, because he’s been able to shift his character from “junkie” to “recovering junkie”, and it actually allows him to showcase how his addictive personality could get others in trouble, just as much as it gets him there. However, Alicia seems to be putting aside caution in all situations, which could easily be written off as “she’s 18”, since the show already did so. As for Madison, she seems to think that she’s still going out of her way to protect her children, but it looks a lot more like she’s willing to endanger them and anyone else around her just to be proven correct. Good thing we’re at the mid-season break, because The Unveiling of these particular Children of Wrath sure leaves a little bit of a mess to clean up.

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Via AMC

6. The Writers

There’s only so much the writers can do at this point. But it doesn’t help that they are still trying to balance all of these separate stories, and just can’t seem to actually do so. Daniel’s return in earlier episodes seemed like it would bring some decent elements, but he only appears in the mid-season as an hallucination. Strand is merely a foil for saying goodbye to the Abigail. The boat itself gets one of the most touching send-offs of any character on the series. And the cosmonaut on the other side of the radio immediately became a more interesting story than anything else we’ve seen. Maybe they needed a break, too.

5. Alicia

Alicia spends both episodes either not being cautious enough, or being too cautious. She chases after Jake before he gets to Walker and the reservation, but never once thinks about calling out to him to let him know she’s there. She talks with Ofelia about everything that happened since, expecting to be heard, but then doesn’t take a moment to listen to Ofelia’s side of the story without immediately writing it off. Most troubling about that last one is that Alicia literally had the chance to speak with Walker, and see the truth about how the man was trying to protect his people, so deep down, Alicia knows that Ofelia is telling her the truth.

4. Jake

Let’s see. You know you’re going out to face a man who has at least taken down one of the founders of your father’s community. You believe he’s ordered the death of another whole family. But you’ve beaten him in court, so you are clearly the one best destined to talk him down. Except for a couple of things. Thing one, the rule of law has gone by the wayside, so winning in court doesn’t really have the bearing it once did. And thing two, you don’t have the backing of literally anyone else from home. At best, your negotiations are going to lead to you being taken down for not holding up your end of the bargain. At worst, you’re going to end up overplaying whatever small hand you have, which could get you branded a traitor at home. Oh, and Jake? When the sick guy tells you that maybe you also need to take a break, and maybe get a nap, do so. And when you’ve got someone mostly recovered, maybe let them go, so that you’ve got an extra pair of hands and eyes, just in case another attack happens.

3. Jeremiah

Alright, you’ve made it pretty clear that you’re not a good person, but that you believe you should be forgiven because you’ve kept people alive at this ranch. Just as long as they’re white people. The undertone of racism suddenly became much more blatant in Jeremiah’s conversations with Ofelia (remember how he saved her at the end of last season? No? It’s okay, they recapped it quick in her reveal). However, one would think that, for a guy who doesn’t see too many people of color in his community, or probably in his wanderings, that maybe he’s have a better recollection of running across one that he maybe might have upset. Jeremiah literally saved Ofelia from death, so when she returns to his life as a captive, maybe he should have had an inkling of “haven’t I seen you before”? And who’s idea was it to keep Ofelia in the pantry while she was their hostage? At least his racism explains why he’s willing to die, instead of possibly think about sharing with Walker.

2. Nick

Sure, Nick. Sign up for the militia, so you can keep your enemy closer. And then, before being recruited, make a point of trying to rile the guy with all of the guns, to see if you can’t maybe get him to lash out. I get that Nick doesn’t trust Troy in any level of leadership, but there are better (and safer) ways to make your point to the ranch as a whole. It all comes to a (different) head, however, when Nick confronts Jeremiah about the body buried beneath his house, and then has to intercede to keep Madison’s hands clean of the elder Otto’s murder. Good thing that nobody at the ranch would be familiar enough with angle of entry, to determine that Jeremiah maybe was killed by the only people in the room with him (who conveniently are also the newest people at the ranch). But hey, at least Nick removed a bad person from the equation.

1. Madison

We’ve already pointed out that she’s no longer seemingly trying to keep her kids safe. After all, she’s willing to throw the ranch into a full-scale war against Walker’s people, just to prove that she’s made the right choice to hunker down there for safety. She scolds Nick for signing up with the militia, even though she’s covering for Troy every inch of the way. She blames Ofelia for having Stockholm Syndrome with regards to Walker, ignoring that she seems to exhibit plenty of the same with regards to the Ottos. True, she is the one to ultimately avoid conflict with Walker and his people for the moment, but she certainly went out of her way to try to light that spark before Nick’s actions.

That does it for this half of a season. It’s been a ride, but hopefully one that didn’t take place in a helicopter. The show is still shambling along, but it’s going to be a little bit until we see more of it again. Just like the dead themselves.

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.

Fear It!: Season 3, Episode 6 – Red Dirt

Another week, another hour to spend with the family that just won’t die. At least, not completely. Sure, there are still questions that abound as to exactly how this particular collection of people has been able to make it this far into the apocalypse. Those questions just lead to unsatisfying answers, however. At least the doomsday preppers that we’ve started to get to know prepared for something to happen, and seem to have some level of survival training that would have helped them get to this point.

This week, we spent a lot of time fretting over Walker, and his tribe lurking somewhere outside of the walls of the Broke Jaw Ranch. This allows our characters to delve into the story aspect of humans being the true monsters for this season (face it, this metaphor is pretty much needed every year). While the reanimated are still a threat, they are definitely playing second fiddle to people that have been wronged by other people. With the mid-season finale looming, we’ve only got so much time to enjoy all of this Red Dirt. Well, maybe “enjoy” is the wrong word, when you’ve got people ignoring common sense just this frequently.

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Via AMC

5. Jake

Maybe it’s the glow of getting to sleep with the newest member of the community, and one that you didn’t spend all of your childhood growing up around, but Jake suffers from a crippling attack of dumb when he’s at the range, practicing his shooting skills. Well, he’s actually fine until the moment he knows that Alicia is there, and willing to learn. He’s got hearing protection available for both of them (do they just hang out at the range for anyone to use, or did Jake bring a second pair just in case?), but then he neglects to actually cover his ears with them before Alicia starts firing. Maybe we just don’t see that moment, or maybe Jake is just preparing himself for the inevitable gunfire without hearing protection that looms in his future, but it seems like he would have been more careful.

4. Alicia

Alicia has her own issues at the shooting range, but more troubling is what she decides to do after Jake has departed to find Walker and his people. She spends some time trying to convince him that Jake is heading on a fool’s errand, and that this is different than any situation where he confronted (and beat) Walker before. Then, after Madison, Nick, and Troy return with their news about the Trimbol family, Alicia decides she’s going to head off to the reservation after him? Because a young woman setting out on her own will totally help change Walker’s mind about the Broke Jaw Ranch.

3. Troy

You and your patrol group have just returned, limping and dehydrated, from an exploratory mission that went wrong, and where Walker sent a message to the Broke Jaw Ranch. You’ve listened to your friend Mike let the cat out of the bag regarding how dangerous Walker and his people may be. So immediately try to push to bring the attack to the man who ambushed you. I mean, at least take some time to heal your feet, and maybe think about getting some reconnaissance before launching your revenge schemes.

2. Jeremiah

On one hand, Jeremiah was able to talk Troy back from the ledge, keeping him from launching an ill-advised attack against Walker that the Broke Jaw Ranch wasn’t ready for. On the other hand, he’s seemingly willing to underestimate what Walker is capable of, and doesn’t seem terribly disturbed by watching people from within the Ranch break away from his power center. In fact, his way of reacting to the fact that he is the only founder left of the ranch is to drink, but not actively do much to change his fortunes.

1. Madison

Okay, so you’ve been spending some time getting to know Jeremiah and his family. You’ve gotten the community to start seeing you as someone who is more help than they originally believed. You’ve also got plenty of reason to try and keep Troy from exerting any level of control over the people living at the ranch. So why are you siding with Troy? No, seriously, I’m going to ask again, why are you possibly siding with Troy? Especially with all the evidence pointing to the possibility that the Trimbol deaths were not caused by Walker, but by the man you almost cost his right eye? Unless you’re planning on supplanting him yourself, which could be your gambit. Is it worth it, though, to align so clearly with a man who, mere episodes ago, almost killed your husband and family just for his experiments.

That’s it, everyone. Just one more week, until we’re fed a two-hour mid-season finale. This is the second time we’ve been delivered two episodes in the same sitting. It’s almost like even the powers that be are looking to make sure that we don’t have too many weeks to put up with these characters. Check back in next week!

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.