This week Preacher finally introduced one of the comics’ highest-profile villains: Herr Starr. The head of the Grail’s Samson Unit (the task force… tasked with eliminating any false prophets who would compete with Christianity’s place at the top of the Western Religion food chain), is a beautiful mess of contradictions. He’s the Grail’s fiercest soldier, but shamelessly engages in phenomenally depraved sexuality. He has a casual relationship with the fifth commandment (“Thou shalt not kill”), as he’s murdering literally anyone who gets in his way. In this episode that count was somewhere in the hundreds, plus one floating pig. What’s the main takeaway for those of you new to this flamboyantly self-interested soldier of Christ? Herr Starr is dogmatically devoted to his own mission, regardless of whether or not it aligns with that of his employers.
The episode opens with the discovery of a levitating pig in a remote Vietnamese village. Herr Starr investigates the phenomenon, and as he ponders what the best solution would be, we’re treated to some introductory flashbacks of his recruitment to the Grail. In a delightfully disturbing training montage, we watch as Herr Starr triumphs in the glorified dick measuring contest that are the Grail trials. He wins a decisive victory against all of the other Grail hopefuls, but that’s because instead of competing with them, he just kills them, and then his would-be boss. It’s not fair, but in war, that’s not what matters — winning does.
At the end of the episode, after he’s poisoned the Vietnamese villagers and their magical pig, he’s informed that the next Samson project centers around a preacher in New Orleans by the name of Jesse Custer. If we’re right, he’s been staking out Nola for a minute waiting for his prey (hint: woof).
Meanwhile, the heroic trio continues to deal with the fallout of the Saint’s bloody visit (not so much fallout that anyone’s admitted that Jesse carelessly sic-ed the Saint on Viktor and turned his daughter into an orphan). They blow off some steam at a bar, conning moronic patrons into shooting Cassidy in the chest and then stealing their cash as the mob flees in terror. Tulip, Cassidy and Jesse are at their best when they work in concert, so watching them take people for a ride reminds us why these three are friends in the first place — when they get along, it’s magic.
Unfortunately, there are some deeply rooted problems in the relationship, and it’s going to take more than a few heist-and-drink nights to repair them. Tulip’s still deeply disturbed by her encounter with the Saint. In the midst of nightmares and other pop-PTSD symptoms, she forces Jesse to reaffirm that he did, in fact, send the Saint back to Hell. Hell’s exactly what he’s gonna catch if and when the Saint escapes and Tulip’s boogeyman resurfaces. Of course, he might not care if the truth of Cassidy and Tulip’s dalliance comes to light at the same time.
When Cassidy and Tulip pretend to be lovers while conning the bar patrons, Jesse looks noticeably suspicious. He even poutily complains that a kiss the two shared seemed a little too real, but Tulip puts him off. However, doing that reveals that she’s still not interested in coming clean with her lover, and it’s clear there relationship is becoming strained under the weight of lies and diverging priorities. Tulip’s continued disdain for and disinterest in Jesse’s journey to find God is becoming impossible for him to ignore, but that doesn’t stop him from leaving his obviously distressed girlfriend behind when she wants a day off from the God search.
Although, her absence allows for a great scene between Jesse and a homeless street preacher warning against the end of the world. In the Preacher universe, people like that aren’t so easily dismissed, so when Jesse comes across John Ales’ Bum/Prophet, he takes the opportunity to confide in the man about giving away a piece of one’s soul. The exchange goes as expected, with the bum pointing out the obvious fact that anyone considering parting with any portion of their soul should maybe think twice.
Finally, Joe Gilgun continues his run as the heart and soul of this show. Last week, we learned that Denis, the curmudgeonly Frenchman, was Cassidy’s son. Whether or not he was conceived when Cassidy was fully human or after his transformation into a vampire isn’t clear. What is clear (made so by a French professor that happens by) is the fact that Denis is dying and wants Cassidy to turn him into an immortal. Cassidy vehemently refuses, and then spends the rest of the episode dealing with the fallout of just trying to make through a day as a tragically human vampire. He drinks too much to deal with Denis’ hatred of him, so he passes out on the street and winds up in the morgue because he has no vital signs. Walking out of the hospital, he spots a couple grieving over an elderly gentleman and realizes that the best thing he might be able to do as a father is the worst thing he can think to do someone.
We don’t know what he eventually decides, but if he goes for it, let’s hope it turns out better than when Spike tried to turn his mom on Buffy. Because that was… uncomfortable.
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