Following his strange encounter with the jazz singer last week, Jesse continued his search for God with even more fervour, oblivious to Cassidy’s hints that Tulip’s absence might be a cause for concern. The padre and the vampire followed a trail of holy breadcrumbs, after seeing the actor who appeared as God in the season 1 finale on an infomercial about lives devastated by Hurricane Katrina. There was something undeniably twisted about the humour derived from having a bunch of actors, led by Frankie Munitz, portraying those left destitute by a real life disaster, and that wasn’t the most bizarro thing to happen in “Viktor”!
After tracking down the actor’s agent, Jesse and Cassidy gained access to an audition tape which showed the imposter getting the role of God before immediately being shot through the heart. He clearly needed to be in Heaven to make a convincing deity, and that took method acting to a whole new level. There were nice parallels between Jesse’s obsession with finding his missing Lord, and Cassidy’s anxiety about Tulip, presumable fuelled by his crush on her. But apart from the interaction between the two friends, which is always nice to watch, Jesse’s mission – while it sometimes takes a quirky little diversion – wasn’t the most interesting part of this episode, and that’s problematic given that it’s the main driver for the show’s second season.
Tulip’s mystery was much more tantalising. Ruth Negga turned in a spectacular performance this week, snivelling and grovelling to Viktor, who we finally met this week, but never quite making it clear whether Tulip’s tears were genuine or a clever ploy. Viktor himself certainly lived up to his reputation, the disembodied screams coming from an adjoining room casting a palpable tension over his dialogue with his runaway.
Equally menacing was the silence with which Tulip’s attempts at communication with Viktor’s associates were met, and his young daughter’s violent outburst. Cassidy’s texts and the illusion of freedom granted to Tulip while she came up with a satisfactory explanation for her behaviour ratcheted up the unbearable anticipation, so much so that when Jesse stormed the house, his brutal fight with Viktor’s goon provided an element of comic relief! The use of Billy Joel‘s “Uptown Girl” lent a Patrick Bateman air to proceedings and what started as a well-choreographed combat took an absurd, cartoonish turn as the torture victim’s body was plundered for a limb to use as a club.
The reveal that Tulip was married to Viktor wasn’t surprising in itself, but what was puzzling was her reluctance to harm the man who was probably about to carve her up in inventive ways.
More intriguing still were the machinations of Hell, with Eugene trying to navigate a system which wouldn’t accept his innate goodness. It’s a pretty ballsy move to introduce Hitler as a character and then try to elicit sympathy for him, but Preacher went there and kind of succeeded! Our glimpse into the Fuhrer’s worst memory via Eugene being locked out of his own cell was cut infuriatingly short, but seemed to suggest that Adolf had once been a fairly genial – if impressionable – young man, more interested in art than mass murder.
The scene in which Eugene, having been warned by the authorities that kindness would not be tolerated, joined in with the beating of Hitler was difficult to watch, possibly more because of the erosion of Eugene’s humanity than anything to do with the victim. But maybe I’m just wrong in the head because I did find myself feeling a little sorry for Noah Taylor‘s cringing dictator.
The close of “Viktor” saw the Saint of Killers making his way slowly on foot towards New Orleans, about time too given how many times Jesse bust out the Genesis voice this week! I’m not sure whether the Saint’s slow progress is zombie-style menacing or frustrating at this point. There’s something chilling about the robotic relentlessness of it all, but if he never catches up to his target, it becomes a bit too convenient for Jesse.
Another episode which posed more questions even as it answered a few. It didn’t have the grindhouse thrills of the premiere, or the emotional weight of Fiore’s journey, but it was a good mix of horror and humour, and moved the main arc along a little bit.
Final Grade: C+
+ Colour me intrigued about the characters in Hell. I think I spotted a few historical monsters, but I’m excited to see more.
+ That fight choreography is surely a contender for next year’s TV Awards!
+ Great performances this week, especially from Noah Taylor and Ruth Negga.
– I’m sad that Cassidy has taken off his butterfly t-shirt.
– And we still don’t know any more about his relationship with Dennis.
– Jesse’s preoccupation with finding God is not firing me up. His obsession should translate into a compelling mystery for the viewer, but it’s falling flat somehow.
Extra Thought: I’m wondering if the ret-con of Eugene’s personality was to further his ‘fall from grace’ so that his corruption will seem more tragic ultimately?
What did you think? Are you invested in Jesse’s quest, or was this episode as blighted as Tulip’s marriage? Sound off in the comments or over on Twitter!