WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the Preacher episode "Damsels," which aired Monday on AMC.
Thank you, "Damsels" for confirming a longstanding theory: Tracy Loach was an asshole. She was not the angelic, girl next door, worshiped by all of Annville. Nope, she was a straight-up jerk, and sweet, sweet Eugene is even more innocent than previously thought. Chew on that.
\This week's teaser is actually a flashback to the last conscious minutes of Tracy's life, and the lower half of Eugene's face. We hear Tracy's voiceover tearfully begging him to come to help her. The minute you hear her shrill, shrill begging, something clicks, and you know you're in for something terrible. And she is. See, Tracy Loach didn't die as a result of Eugene's murderous jealousy. She did spurn his affections, but only after absurdly attempting suicide because her boyfriend cheated on her with someone less attractive. Eugene, being the perfect, blemishless, prince of kindness he is, talks her off the ledge and burns her suicide note. She's thankful, so he goes in for a kiss, and that's when she shoots herself. Eugene thinking he had a shot was too much for her warped, narcissist ego to take.
He tries to help her for a minute before realizing the inevitable: Tracy shot herself and he's the only one who knows it's a suicide. So, Eugene turns the gun on himself. And then everything resets ... again ... and again ... and again. Sound familiar? Psych! We've been in Hell this whole time! This was not, in fact, a flashback, but a flashcurrent of how it works down(?) there. It's a fancy super-prison that stores its infinite population in the worst holodecks ever. Something's up with the power, though, and Eugene's eternal memory pauses, disappears, and his cell door opens. As he steps out into the hallway and calls out, Noah Taylor pops out a few cells down. And the internet was right -- he's playing Hitler.
Unfortunately, that's all we get of those fine gents this week. The rest of the action is taken up by Jesse's fruitless search for God and Victor's fruitful search for Tulip. "Damsels" sees the trio finally make it to New Orleans despite an adorable attempted detour to Mexico courtesy of a nervous Tulip. Jesse's so focused on finding God that he regards Tulip's discomfort as just that, and brushes her off. Cassidy notices, however, and when Tulip disappears to find a motel the minute they get to a very crowded French Quarter, he follows.
Cassidy finds them shelter with a friend, but Tulip blows his Popsicle stand after a fight with Jesse. Whatever her past with Victor, she can't bring herself to tell her lover. So, she takes matters into her own hands after being recognized by a neighbor, and lets herself get caught by a bunch of burly men at a laundromat. It'll probably be fine.
The episode was directed by Preacher veteran Michael Slovis (Breaking Bad), making it the first of Season Two not helmed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen. It shows, but not in a bad way. It's only in certain parts that the tone rests on the knife's edge between comedy and horror that it lived on in "On the Road" and "Mumbai Sky Hotel." In "Damsels" we're at times horrified, amused and frightened, but rarely all at once. In that capacity, the pace is reminiscent of Season One episodes like "Sundowner," with bits of intensity and action followed by contemplation and conversation. That said, Preacher is still incredibly efficient, so the plot is still plenty advanced.
That's most evident in Jesse's story, which largely moseys until the last second when it gloriously zigzags into territory we didn't know we wanted. Once Tulip and Cassidy bail, Jesse meanders through every jazz club in New Orleans until he has a noir encounter with a smoky-voiced singer named Laura. She's mysterious at first, then morphs into the titular damsel as she's attacked while leaving the club by a mysterious religious organization (presumably due to her vague connection with someone who had a power similar to Jesse's). Jesse rescues Laura, then helps her safely get out of town so she can keep her daughter safe. Aww! The performance approaches hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold territory, but has the good sense to know when to ease up. However, that's more to do with the fact that it's all a ruse!
Yup, the singer was, in fact, part of the religious organization she claimed to be trying to avoid (The Grail), and the entire evening was an elaborate plot to locate Jesse and verify his powers. Which they did, flawlessly. We've been aware for months now that Julie Anne Emery was guest-starring, but darned if we didn't recognize her until she pulled off that wig, tossed her (fake?) baby ... somewhere, and got in another white van. But the fun doesn't stop there. Now that "Laura" and her partner (Malcom Barrett) have confirmed the extent of Jesse's power (and naïveté), it's time to kick their discovery up the ladder. Enter:
The presence of Herr Starr (Pip Torrens) is officially official. We're pretty sure he showed up at the sex club Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy stumbled upon when they first got to the city, but that's speculation for later. That said, another, though not as definitive confirmation swam to the surface during Jesse's faux-caper. After seeing "Laura" off, he stops and notices a poster beckoning patrons to "Come See Angelville," and experience "the Magic of the Bayou. The text surrounds a rendering of what's probably supposed to be a gypsy, but looks more like a gargoyle made flesh. That said, the face should look pretty familiar to comics fans -- doubt about whether or not we'd see some of Jesse's family this season is fast disappearing.
Be honest, how does that make you feel?