WARNING: The following contains spoilers for this week's episode of Preacher, "The Tombs," which debuted Sunday on AMC.
Over the course of its two-plus seasons, Preacher has become an interesting anomaly in that its supporting characters often feel more dynamic and compelling than the show's leads. Season 1 saw Jackie Earle Hayley’s Odin Quincannon in a delightfully macabre, yet touching subplot that illuminated humanity in one of the drama's most odious characters. The same went for Donnie and Betsy Schenck, who unsuspectingly turned out to be one of the healthiest couples on the series, and Lucy Griffiths’ Emily Woodrow, who revealed some delightful steel when she offered up her slimy boyfriend to feed a dying Cassidy.
After Annville was wiped off the face of the Earth, Season 2 introduced The Grail, which brought us Herr Starr, plus Agents Featherstone and Hoover, all of whom provided welcome respite from the stagnant infighting that preoccupied Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy for most of the season. The unlikely pairing of Arseface and Hitler as partners in Hell proved to be a sleeper hit that was far more compelling than anything going on above ground (including Cassidy’s demonic son). Season 3 has begun in similar fashion, with the introduction of Angelville and its inhabitants, Gran’ma, T.C. and Jody, who are as fascinating as they are evil and disgusting.
But while we’re always happy to meet someone new on Preacher because it means we’ll at the very least get a hugely entertaining backstory, the core of this show is and always has been Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy. And for the first time in a long time, “The Tombs” reminded us why.
The episode follows Jesse as each of them struggles to avoid being swallowed up by the darkness that permeates Angelville and its surroundings. Jesse rescues Cassidy from execution by sunlight, but only does so by offering him up to the warped gladiator competition that goes on in the Tombs. Cassidy has quietly become the most human character on this show, and he’s appalled at what Jesse presides over. So when Jesse literally cuts him up into little pieces and attempts to ship him back to New Orleans (the fight they have while Cassidy’s body parts are being stuffed into a FedEx box is easily one of this season’s funniest moments), Cassidy makes his way back to Angelville because he refuses to leave Tulip behind in such a place.
For her part, Tulip gets to know the infamous Madame Boyd and discovers she’s actually an old girlfriend of Jesse’s. Sabina Boyd dated Jesse for a short time before he got scared that Gran’ma would find out and punish the girl in some awful way. In typical Jesse fashion, he breaks up with her in an attempt to keep her safe and winds up killing her brother when the latter confronts Jesse at the Tombs.