A Preacher, a hitwoman and a vampire walk into a bar…
And that, thus far, is the gist of Jesse Custer’s grand plan to find God. After learning that the Lord is a big fan of jazz, the road trip leaves Texas and takes to New Orleans. If Jesse has any plan once he gets there, it extends no further than walking into bars and asking “have you seen God?” Surprisingly, it pays off.
But not before Tulip and Cassidy have called it a night, the former persona non grata in New Orleans, the latter taking her off to hide out with an old friend. Cassidy is hardly welcomed with open arms himself, said ‘friend’ not bothering to disguise his contempt for the vampire. So far Cassidy has been the cuddly comic relief (the occasional murdered pet and mayor not withstanding), but there’s a glimpse at his nastier side when he snaps at Tulip in frustration. ‘Friend’ Denis’ reaction to Cassidy’s re-appearance surely doesn’t bode well for the bromance between Jesse and Cassidy either.
But the loudest member of the group largely gets to take a back seat this week, as Jesse goes solo in search of God and Tulip sets about confronting her own past. Once again the writing does her few favours, casting her in the role of ‘the whiny one’ again (not that Garth Ennis’ Tulip wasn’t ever whiny, but she at least tended to be fiery about it) but there’s some fun banter between her and Cass, and the storyline is sure to result in some now-patented Tulip action. Viktor is coming (seriously, the next episode is just titled Viktor) and with Tulip in his sights, he’s sure to get more than he bargained for.
But the big developments of the episode go to Jesse, whose search puts him on a collision course with a certain group of masked men wearing crisp white suits and bright red ties. Separated from his friends, there’s the Jesse Custer of the comic books, petulantly starting a bar fight and beating up a gang of would-be kidnappers without resorting to the use of the Word. Not only does this sharply-dressed but unnamed ‘crypto-fascistic’ organisation con Jesse into revealing his power (by appealing to his ego and inability to resist a damsel in distress) but it also heralds the introduction of a very important character from the comic books. And so, a Starr is born.
And if Preacher has nailed the spirit of The Saint of Killers so far, it looks as though its Herr Starr will be equally faithful. Although he doesn’t speak (or even move, really) Pip Torrens looks like a Steve Dillon drawing come to life – the most accurate depiction of a ridiculous-looking comic book character since The Walking Dead’s Eugene and Abraham. This admirable fidelity to the source material applies to the whole episode, in terms of visuals; its lush, purple-tinged version of New Orleans a tribute to the work of the late Steve Dillon and his iconic characters.
But even in its haste to introduce new characters and threats, Preacher doesn’t forget about old friends. Before the credits, we catch up with young Eugene – or Arseface, if you’d prefer – in the depths of Hell. This doubles as a flashback to how the kid came to wind up with a face like an arse, with Eugene forced to re-live the worst moment of his life over and over again. As we’d suspected, Eugene is neither a murderer nor a Cobain-obsessed tragic case, more an idiot who made a very bad move at the worst possible time. There’s another big villain to be introduced in Hell, too… um, Adolph Hitler.
As per the previous two episodes, there’s a lot going on in Damsels. The show continues to introduce new characters and storylines at an alarming (but welcome) rate, as well as nodding toward very crucial chapters from the book. Worry not though, it still has time for the weird non-sequiturs too, from furry play to a chat about jazz in the car. In true Preacher fashion, Damsels is downright barking mad at times.
PREACHER SEASON 2, EPISODE 3: “DAMSELS” / DIRECTOR: MICHAEL SLOVIS / WRITER: SARA GOODMAN / STARRING: DOMINIC COOPER, RUTH NEGGA, JOSEPH GILGUN / AIR DATE: 3RD JULY (USA ON AMC); 4TH JULY (UK ON AMAZON PRIME)