‘Preacher’ Season 2 Episodes 10-11: He is Risen (Or, Drain the Swamp)

With the last couple of episodes, “Preacher” has taken on two of the most memorable plot-lines from the comic, albeit in small doses, leading one to believe there will be more to come in the final two episodes of the season. This is great news in a season that has meandered a bit in its expanded form, which saw the show go from a relatively stealth ten episodes to thirteen. Even better, the last two episodes are easily among the best this season.

In “Dirty Little Secret,” the show introduced Jesus Christ himself, hilariously played in full-on dude-bro mode by Tyson Ritter. If he looks familiar- or should I say He? – you either watched “Parenthood” or you’re a fan of his band, the All-American Rejects, who had a big hit with the song that serves as this episode’s title.

It seems that Jesus- in this show, anyway- wasn’t as saintly as some would have Him be, given to hooking up with the wife (Carrie Lazar, “The Magnificent Seven”) of a local, who He subsequently knocked up, much to the consternation of one of his mates, Thaddeus (Dean West, “LBJ”), who makes sure to cover up the mess Jesus leaves behind by absconding with the baby that results and having the mother in question killed after the fact.

This baby eventually goes on to lead to another baby and another and on and on up until the present day, where the true heir to God himself is kept hidden and under wraps by the Grail. So, it would seem that a natural heir to the now-absent God is already under their possession, so why do they need Jesse (Dominic Cooper)? He would certainly seem to fall under the category of false prophet, which, as you’ll recall, the Grail was previously tasked with eliminating. (Remember the floating pig?)

Well, it seems that centuries of in-breeding aren’t particularly good for a bloodline, despite being practiced by plenty of royals over the years, as it can often lead to deformities (see the memorably icky “X-Files” episode, “Home”) or, in this case, mental retardation, as we see with the total doofus that is Humperdoo (also Ritter). As such, Herr Starr (Pip Torrens, continuing to kill it) decides to go off-book and “replace” said would-be Savior with Jesse, who, by comparison, is much-more savvy and intelligent.

The real question is: is Jesse up for the gig? And if he did take it, can he be controlled, given his capabilities to get people to do his bidding at will? The key to this might have something to do with the recently revealed to be missing Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish), who, you’ll also recall, now has a piece of Jesse’s soul residing within him. One assumes if Jesse doesn’t want to be banished to Hell, that he will do what Starr asks of him.

If not, it might not be beneath Starr, who has already gone rogue against his employers as it is, to kidnap his loved ones, Tulip (Ruth Negga) and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), and threaten their lives if Jesse doesn’t play ball. So, the question remains: will Jesse go for it, or go out of his way to eliminate the considerable threat that is Starr and the Grail, if, indeed, he can pull such a thing off? The answer depends on how closely the show goes along with the comic, but we’ll see.

More importantly, for those of us wondering if the show would go there with this decidedly blasphemous storyline, well, you obviously have your answer. Of course, if you’re watching this show in the first place, and are still watching after all you’ve seen, you can’t be THAT surprised that Jesus would crop up. After all, the whole show revolves around Jesse’s quest for God. Even so, those unfamiliar with the comic maybe didn’t see THIS particular twist coming!

I like that, in the show, Starr isn’t really much of a threat on the surface to Jesse. After all, his Genesis powers work on Starr. On the other hand, Starr wisely points out that, if Jesse is serious about finding God, then the Grail certainly has the resources to help, and as it stands, they share a common goal anyway, given the alternative: placing the post-apocalyptic fate of the world in the hands of Humperdoo.

If Jesse won’t do it, then obviously the Grail needs to find God to do the job. But has Jesse already encountered Him? Might it have been, of all “people”- and I use that term VERY loosely- that being in the dog outfit that Jesse encountered earlier in the season and dismissed out of hand, for obvious reasons? (Note also Humperdoo’s sketches of a dog.) Jesse certainly thinks so, but when he later returns to the place he saw what might be Him, the dog being is nowhere to be found, alas, so the search continues.

As all this is going on, Tulip continues to struggle with her SOK PTSD, not helped by the fact that she discovers his weapons hidden in the floors of her bathroom. This eventually leads to Jesse somewhat coming clean about the fact that, instead of sending SOK to Hell, he actually placed him inside the van used by Soul Happy Go-Go and submerged it in the swamp.

As such, Tulip insists he dredge the vehicle up, come what may. Naturally, when they open the van’s back doors, there’s no one inside, which would somewhat explain why Tulip continues to be plagued by nightmares about him- though perhaps not why Jesse isn’t. Maybe because SOK has a little piece of his soul inside him?

The fact that SOK hasn’t come for any of them, and the hints dropped by Starr would seem to indicate that the Grail has custody of him, likely to use him against Jesse if he continues to defy them. But whatever the case, for now, SOK is lying low, whether on purpose or because he’s being held against his will. Needless to say, this revelation doesn’t sit well with Tulip.

Tulip, not getting much in the way of support from Cassidy, much less Jesse, instead has looked to her neighbor for support, having no idea it’s Lara Featherstone (Julie Ann Emery), an agent of the Grail, who is using the relationship to keep tabs on her and what’s going on with Jesse.

You would think that Tulip would have guessed something was off by the readiness with which Lara has accepted what would be a decidedly hard pill to swallow for most people, given all the craziness going on with her, Jesse, Cassidy, SOK and the search for God, but apparently Tulip is blinded by her PTSD and isn’t thinking clearly enough to pick up on the wolf in sheep’s clothing in her midst.

Note that Lara also steadfastly avoids Jesse, who encountered her earlier in the season, albeit in disguise as a lounge singer, so Jesse has no idea about her, either. Though I suspect that may not be the case for long. Sooner or later, the two are sure to cross paths, especially with Lara actively seeking to turn Tulip against him, and it’s only a matter of time before Jesse puts two and two together. What he does with this information is another thing altogether.

In the next episode, “Backdoors,” the focus was mostly on Eugene (Ian Colleti) and his continued quest to get out of Hell, with the help- maybe- of Hitler (Noah Taylor). Hitler claims to know about a “backdoor” out of Hell- hence the title- from his time serving as Hell’s janitor (!), and hatches an elaborate plan to get out. We also see the full flashback of Hitler’s past, which turns out to be the last gasp of Hitler’s humanity before he went full-on fascist and is about what I expected: Hitler’s art is insulted, his girlfriend leaves him and he is intimidated by some Communist ruffians, all of which turns him evil.

TBH, all of this Hell stuff could have been dealt with a lot quicker than it has been, especially if, as I alluded to, the show hadn’t been expanded to thirteen episodes, which would have forced them to move things along more at a faster pace. It isn’t helped by the fact that, with only two episodes left, Eugene isn’t likely to escape Hell, assuming he does, until the end of the season, which means a confrontation with Jesse is unlikely at best.

On the other hand, we got some more of Jesse’s back-story, which I absolutely was looking forward to. The scene that opens the show, in which Jesse is submerged in the swamp in a coffin by his evil grandmother is right out of the comics, and also serves as a nice parallel to the fate Jesse meant to resign SOK to, in his own underwater tomb. I’m assuming we’ll get more of the story, which is one of the highpoints of the comics, IMHO, and I can’t wait to see it dramatized here.

Unfortunately, along with the Eugene stuff, the plotline with Cassidy and his son, Denis (Ronald Guttman) is also treading water. What started out as a touching bit of business that went a long way towards humanizing the oft-caustic Cassidy has now become a bit of a chore, as it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that things are inevitably going to come to a head with him and Denis, likely to end in tragedy.

On the plus side, as with the scene in which the Grail attacked Jesse and company as the music of Edith Piaf blared, I thought the scene in which Jesse and his friends argued as Denis’ new pet dog barked endlessly was effective, even if it was basically a recycled version of what came before it. I halfway expected Jesse to try and use his Genesis powers on the dog! I wonder if that would work?

Obviously, it was meant to help Jesse put together the pieces of the puzzle that led him to realize that God might be the dog they encountered earlier in the season- after all, God spelled backwards is… see what they did there? Either way, even if it was a bit of the same, it was nonetheless an effective scene that at least had a purpose for being there, beyond being a sort of recurring bit, as in noise used to heighten the tension in a scene.

So, overall, I quite enjoyed these two episodes, despite their shortcomings. Yes, the show could have done away- or at the very least heavily compressed- some of the more wayward storylines this season, but it’s such a kick to see two of the greatest plotlines of the comics come to life that I don’t really mind that much.

It’s a shame that some of that stuff drags the show down- there’s been an awful lot of brooding this season- but, to be fair, it does help to define these characters even more than they were in the comics, so it’s hard to completely dismiss them. That said, the show could definitely do with some tightening up, so given that the show was recently renewed for a third season, let’s hope they work on that moving forward.

It remains to be seen how far along on any of these storylines the show will go- will they tackle Jesse’s past this season, or are they just teasing it for the next one? Will Jesse’s battle with the Grail be resolved or will that, too, have to wait until next season? Obviously, there has to be some sort of climax, but I wonder which of these plotlines will make the grade, if either of them do.

It’s entirely possible the show might go completely off-book and do something unexpected- say, instead end with a showdown between our gang and the Saint, for instance. But I suspect that the Grail may be in cahoots with SOK and using him to their advantage to help leverage a deal with Jesse. We shall see. Either way, overall, these last two episodes were a lot of fun.

The casual blasphemy of the Jesus character, the wry nod to the actor’s day job in the title- note also that the song in question cropped up on the “Guitar Hero” game Tulip was playing- the bit with Humperdoo, Jesse meeting the Pope (!), Lara’s subtle-but-fierce takedown of the smelter and her and Tulip’s beatdown of poor Hoover (Malcolm Barrett), the stuff with the dog and Jesse’s antics with Herr Starr- loved the bit with the reel-to-reel prayer tapes and their ultimate “fate”- there was definitely a lot to enjoy here on the whole, with the good easily outweighing the bad.

I’m absolutely looking forward to the final two episodes, and genuinely curious as to which of the multiple possibilities the show might take that it ultimately chooses to go with in the end. Honestly, I’d actually be okay with them postponing both the Grail showdown and Jesse’s past, if it meant those two plot-lines being given the weight they deserve on down the line- just so long as they have something spectacular and unexpected planned for the end of the season.

Any predictions as to how the season will end? Will they go with the comics for inspiration, or something else? It looks as if Soul Happy Go-Go might come back into play, for one thing, and that whole plot-line was not in the comics, to the best of my knowledge, so that could be interesting. Make with the comments down below and let me know what you think, and I’ll talk to you after the big finale!