"Mumbai Sky Tower" benefited from airing only a day after "On the Road." Both episodes of Preacher's second season, which premiered last night, were written by Sam Catlin and directed by the show's creators, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Well -- not so much directed as hurled at us, beat by violent, funny, touching beat.
Like the premiere, the episode moves at a breakneck pace, but still retains the show's unique ability to so acutely communicate its story that nothing in this jam-packed 45 minutes feels underserved. It's a rush from start to finish, and more than the season premiere, "Mumbai Sky Tower" bleeds with the joy of everyone who's laid hands on it.
The episode picks up exactly where the season premiere left off, with Jesse trying (and failing) to use Genesis to halt the Saint of Killers as the undead (?) cowboy advances upon the preacher, guns blazing. Another massacre occurs, despite the interference of a cadre of gun aficionados sharing the motel and itching to play militia. Spoiler alert: guns don't kill people. The Saint of Killers does.
The trio once again narrowly escapes, but they can't ignore the fact that whoever the Saint is, he's after someone in Tulip's car, and it's probably the guy with the supernatural parasite. Now certain they're being hunted and having gotten very little in the way of direction from the late Tammy, their only option is to head to an Indian casino on Cassidy's word that Fiore is now one of their star attractions.
The fallen Adephi angel has stumbled into a lucrative magic act that involves him dying on stage and reconstituting immediately to the sick delight of audience members. The rest of the episode follows Jesse, Cassidy and Tulip as they descend upon Mumbai Sky Tower and try to convince Fiore to terminate the immortal hitman's contract. Also, Jesse and Tulip finally learn of Annville's destruction and in the emotional state following decide to get married at the casino's chapel. But before they can, Tulip's spotted by (and then later kills) a man from her past, and we learn she's on the run from something she hasn't even told Jesse about, nor does she seem to have any plans to.
"Mumbai Sky Tower" is a perfect follow-up to "On the Road." It uploads another huge batch of narrative information to our brains, wrapped in the madcap blend of humor, pathos, humanity and violence that makes Preacher so worth watching. The opening shootout is all at once funny, frightening and tragic -- after hearing the sound of gunshots, the firearm conventioneers rush out of the hotel, all manner of automatic weapons at the ready. They empty a firestorm of bullets into the Saint and beat him back enough to that they have time to congratulate one another with lines like, "Another problem solved by guns!" and "What CAN'T guns do?" But, seconds later the Saint is back to full bars and blows all of them away before they can reload. As a thinly veiled critique on rabid gun-owners, it's pretty funny.
That said, it's genuinely sad when Jesse rushes to find Tulip amidst the chaos only to discover her sitting on the edge of their bed aghast at the news about Annville. And then it's genuinely frightening as Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy attempt to hide from the Saint, only to have their efforts spoiled as a newly armless man tries to work a vending machine and attracts attention. The tonal shifts this show successfully executes in the same scene, much less in an episode are, to put it simply, righteous.
But the real pleasure of this particular episode is Fiore, the simultaneously fierce, bumbling, ancient and naive displaced angel. Through a flashback montage set to a rendition of Sinatra's "That's Life," we watch as he returns from Hell alone, arrives at the casino, and repeatedly attempts suicide. It's at first confusing, then heartrending as we realize he's sinning before each suicide (gambling, drinking, sex with a prostitute), presumably in an effort to get sent wherever DeBlanc is.
When Jesse and Cassidy arrive, he's the casino's biggest draw and not interested in helping out. It's possible he holds Jesse partially responsible for DeBlanc's death, a loss that's heartbreakingly clear he can't get over. After Jesse fails to get through to Fiore by asking directly (and after learning that using the Word allows the Saint to track him -- whoops!), Cassidy decides to take a more therapeutic crack at it and drags the angel on a two hour and forty-five minute bender.
The montage that follows of Tom Brooke and Joseph Gilgun as a vampire and angel cavorting around a hotel room high on speedballs is Preacher at its best. It's a frenetic mashup of hilarity and sadness as Fiore vacillates between artificial joy and sincere depression. Also, they read Archie comics in the bath and offer trenchant insight into the Veronica and Betty dynamic.
But Cassidy's methods prove ineffective, even though Fiore appears willing to help toward the end of the episode. The plan is to have Jesse use the Word on DeBlanc just before leaving the city, thus luring the Saint to Mumbai Towers where DeBlanc can release him from his contract. Unfortunately, Jesse's command is that the angel, "Find peace." So, the adephi waits for the Saint of Killers, and instead of ending their agreement and consigning himself to an eternal life on Earth, Fiore does the opposite. He reveals Jesse's next stop (New Orleans) and reconfirms that if the Saint kills Jesse and Genesis, he'll see his family again. Then he asks for a favor, and the Saint acts as the Great Ganesh's final executioner. It may be that he simply can't live without DeBlanc or that he simply can't live on Earth without DeBlanc -- either way, it was really bromantic.
Safe journey, Fiore, and thanks for the memories, you teabag-eating agent of heaven.