Preacher, Season 2, Episode 7, “Pig”
The second season of Preacher is halfway through its episode order and it appears to be picking up some of the bad storytelling habits other AMC stablemates display.
While it hasn’t gone completely to the “give third-tier characters a solo adventure episode” extreme that The Walking Dead made infamous over the past couple of years, the last handful of Preacher episodes have spent time and narrative effort on situations that appear to have very little to do with Jesse’s search for God.
In the previous two episodes alone, much time was spent detailing Jesse and Tulip’s post-Dallas lives, and a retelling of the The Saint of Killers’ origins. This week we got the rough sketch of Herr Starr (Pip Torrens) filled in, as the bulk of the episode.
That is an important distinction between Preacher and The Walking Dead. While we went weeks without Daryl or Maggie on Walking Dead, Preacher has made it a point to maintain contact with its main characters.
While we were learning just how cunning and ruthless Starr really is, we still kept up with the trauma that Tulip is experiencing following her encounter with The Saint, Cassidy’s drama with Denis, and Jesse’s search bogging down.
We’re shown a series of vignettes that establish that Starr is as relentless as The Saint and has none of the conscience. He makes his own rules during his training, and takes over as head of the organization by pitching the previous leader over the balcony during Starr’s first hour on the job.
That is followed by Starr’s investigation, and the disposition of a floating pig in Vietnam. Starr is all about debunking legitimate supernatural phenomena. In the case of the pig, Starr discovered that the water in the small village is funky so he poisons the everyone in the village, and trots out a Stephen Hawking-esque scientist to explain it all away before heading for New Orleans to investigate Jesse.
Thankfully this lack of narrative momentum is counterbalanced by some good character work. But, there limits to seeing a dead-drunk Cassidy being mistaken as dead, or Tulip first scamming then joining a bar full of paramilitary rednecks.
Hopefully Starr’s introduction is the last piece that needed to be put into play, and the action can center around the trio’s primary mission rather than circling around secondary characters.