Isolation was the theme of this week’s melancholic episode of Preacher, as we saw each character dealing with trauma, unable to communicate or reach out for support.
Eugene Root’s personal Hell is a literal one. “Holes” saw him trying to fit in with the gen pop of Hell only to be discovered as an interloper and given a taste of an even worse looped memory than the one of Tracy blowing the top of her head off after his fumbled attempt at wooing her. Interestingly, this more extreme private Hell involved having his feelings reciprocated before all hopes of romance were dashed by none other than Jesse Custer. Now, maybe I have teenage boys all wrong, but I’m not convinced that watching the girl you fancy give the preacher you hero worship a hand job is worse than the shotgun thing. In fact, that might be some kids’ idea of Heaven…
Despite Eugene’s efforts to seem bad-ass at his expense, Hitler still seemed keen to help the lad out, although this is Preacher, and this is a diabolical, genocidal dictator we’re talking about, so I’m sure their burgeoning prison bromance is headed to a very dark place indeed.
Back on topsoil, Tulip was still having a tough time dealing with the aftermath of the Saint of Killers’ visit. She tacked this in typical Tulip fashion, first trying to convince Cassidy to come drinking with her, getting shot in the chest while wearing a bullet proof vest some more, and then getting proactive. She replaced the fridge which had been shot through, and then set about patching up the bullet holes in the adjacent apartments. While the symbolism of her fixing the ‘wounds’ left on the building by the cowboy was not subtle, it did move the plot along too, as Tulip’s mission led her to the apartment where Grail member and fake jazz singer, Lara Featherstone, is surveilling Jesse. Posing as ‘Jenny’, a timid woman fleeing spousal abuse, Lara befriended Tulip, bonding over gross breakfast cereal, and even offering to accompany her on one of her trips to the Hurt Locker.
Jesse, obsessively searching for his missing deity, was emotionally unavailable, leaving Tulip cold, and refusing to help Cassidy by using Genesis to attempt to cure Denis. Instead he took the audition DVD to an electrical store to be digitally enhanced, and became enraged when it transpired the serial numbers had been filed off the gun used to kill the actor who played God. His fixation seems to be making him dumb too, as he failed to notice ‘Property of Grail Industries’ emblazoned on the disc. Doh! The combination of his bumbling and his selfishness are doing nothing to endear me to Jesse Custer. This has always been my issue with the show, and this episode cemented everything I find so problematic with his character. From the outset, it wasn’t clear to me how such an insipid character could inspire such fervent devotion from his ex and a vampire he’d just met, let alone his congregation, and now we’re viewing the preacher through the eyes of characters who have lost faith in him. He can be outright callous, making him hard to root for, and his single-mindedness just isn’t very compelling to watch.
It was Cassidy who really pulled focus this week (as he so often does), as his son’s illness intensified, and the vampire was faced with an impossible dilemma. Joseph Gilgun routinely knocks it out of the park, effortlessly shifting between levity, pathos, and malevolence, but an honourable mention must go to Ronald Guttman this week, whose haunting “Papa. Please!” gave me legitimate goosebumps. While Denis was locked inside the Hell of his own failing body, and in a world of physical pain, Cassidy’s turmoil was spiritual. Unwilling to condemn his son to an eternity of darkness, boredom, and outliving everyone he loves, he also struggled with the idea of watching him die. His efforts to confide in Tulip didn’t really land, as she was too distracted by her nightmares and insomnia, and his appeal to Jesse was flatly refused. The mystery Irish voice on the phone forbid him to turn Denis, and the close of “Holes” was ambiguous, with the vampire seemingly poised to take action. But what action? Kill or cure?
A ponderous, gloomy installment after the absurd humour of the last couple of weeks, but packed with effective and intriguing moments. With our central trio currently estranged (emotionally, at least), and the Grail closing in on their target, it will be interesting to see whether the new external threat brings Cass, Jesse, and Tulip together or drives them further apart.
Final Grade: B
+ The choice of Semisonic’s “Closing Time” for Tracy and Eugene’s duet really amused me for some reason.
+ The tiny insight into Cassidy becoming a parent made me want to see more. We know it was 1946, and it seemed to be before he became a vampire as there was sunlight streaming through the windows. And who was the mysterious contact he called? We need answers!
+ I’m looking forward to a Eugene and Hitler prison break!
– Where the flip did Eugene get a Tracy tattoo?!
– Jesse literally spent an entire episode moping in an electrical store. A real loss of momentum for his arc.
– Tulip seemed a bit quick to befriend ‘Jenny’ given how cautious she usually is. It was a little out of character.
Extra Thought: What kind of person responds to the question “have you ever been shot in the chest while wearing a bullet proof vest?” with “sounds like fun!”??
What did you think? If “Holes” were a sick old man, would you give it the gift of immortality or put it out of its misery? Let us know in the comments, or over on Twitter!