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Review: Preacher 2×03 “Damsels”

Eugene! Poor Hellbound Eugene! With the show having spent the entire first season insinuating that he’d shot himself out of remorse for having done something awful to Tracy, it turns out he was largely blameless! Tracy had been about to off herself with Daddy’s shotgun after finding out her boyfriend had been getting head from another (less attractive) girl under the bleachers. Eugene managed to talk her out of it, only to confuse her gratitude for something else, and went in for a (pretty chaste) kiss. This scene was simultaneously funny and gross (classic Preacher), and Tracy’s hyperbolic reaction to a fairly trivial teen issue juxtaposed nicely with the shock of her scalp being blown off. Sure, she’s an archetype, a ‘mean girl’ who’d rather die than have the school know she’s lost out to ‘a five at best’, but that’s kind of the point. Kids are mean, and the insidious cult of popularity which governs schools and social media can have devastating effects. Tracy isn’t a rounded character. She’s a symbol. Eugene’s bumbling and attempts to scoop her brains back into her head ceased to be amusing once Tracy’s mother threatened to call his father, and you saw real fear then resignation in his eyes.

Locked in a cell and forced to relive his worst moments over and over, as we saw with the Saint of Killers last year, Eugene’s loop was broken by an unseen force, and he was allowed out into the corridors, where he met a chap who looked suspiciously like Hitler! I feel awful for Eugene at this point, and I look forward to seeing how he will re-emerge with some trepidation.

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Meanwhile, Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy arrived in New Orleans,  in pursuit of jazz and God. Tulip, reticent from the get-go, insisted she had a stomach ache, and went with Cassidy to stay at the house of the vampire’s acquaintance. Dennis, a French speaker, gave no indication of how he knew Cassidy, but he sure didn’t seem pleased to see him. Still, he put the pair up for the night, and we got to see some interaction between them away from Jesse’s watchful eye.

Tulip seemed both scared and resigned to the fact she had essentially walked into a spider’s web. Everyone seemed to know Ms. O’Hare in New Orleans, and by the end of the episode – in a truly creepy sequence – she calmly pumped coins into a cigarette machine while an out out of focus mob of men gathered behind her, presumably to take her back to Victor. We don’t know exactly what went down between them at this point, but Tulip confided in Cassidy that she’d screwed Victor over somehow, so we know things won’t go easy for her.

A compelling little insight into Cassidy’s character this week too. So far, the vampire has been charm personified or comic relief, save for the interlude when he was badly burned and needed to feed. Even when he’s ripping throats, there’s rarely a sense that Cassidy is a dangerous creature. This week, however, he started to needle Tulip for information about her predicament, and Joseph Gilgun managed to play him both compassionate and exasperated, but whilst also suggesting an element of obsession and possessiveness. Cassidy has the knowledge which could wreck Tulip and Jesse’s relationship, and this week there were hints that he might considering dropping that bombshell.

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Jesse went it alone to look for God, and met a mysterious jazz singer who seemed to have some information on the matter. After arranging to meet her outside, he saved her from being bundled into a van by men in masks, took her home to pick up her baby and pack, then escorted her to the airport. But not before he’d demonstrated The Voice on her to stop her going in for a kiss. At first I assumed she was some kind of supernatural creature, clearly holding Jesse in thrall, but it transpired she was part of an organisation which may or may not be linked to Herr K. Starr. A scary looking man with a dead, milky eye and a fascistic sounding name, he seems out to get Jesse, and could potentially be something to do with Eugene meeting the German dictator…

A lot of new mysteries in “Damsels”, not least of which is WTF would have happened if Cassidy had stayed for the weird dog sex role play? I’ve been hard on Jesse as a character, but I felt like he was more interesting to watch this episode, quick to glass someone who mocked him, single-minded, clearly attracted to the honey-trap singer. More anti-hero than arrogant. Long may it continue.

Final Grade: B

+ “It was only anal so I’ll still get into Heaven.” Oh, Tracy!

+ Cassidy in a sparkly butterfly t-shirt is my new aesthetic.

+ A really nice balance between laughs and horror this week. Good shifts in tone without it being jarring.

– I do feel like the show has been rebooted somewhat. Eugene confessed to shooting Tracy last season, and now he’s a much more sympathetic character. I am interested to see where it’s going, and his story is very different from his comic book counterpart’s but there is a lot of unpicking going on.

Extra Thought: Jesse used Genesis a couple of times, so it can’t be long before the Saint comes to New Orleans.

So what did you think? What’s with the Dalmatian guy’s ominous look? What does PIG mean? Why did Jesse get the heebies looking at the Angelville poster? Sound off in the comments or let us know on Twitter!

 

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Katie Young

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