Preacher Review: The Battle for Jesse’s Faith

Preacher, Season 2, Episode 11, “Backdoors”

Just as Jesse is putting together the pieces of the mystery behind God’s disappearance, everything else in his life is falling apart.

There’s a war going on for the soul and the faith of Jesse Custer. As the flashbacks of Jesse’s coffin-confined youth (which was hinted at earlier this season) prove out, this has been a battle that’s been waged all of Jesse’s life.

Starr and his Grail agents are doing their best to drive a wedge between Jesse and his friends Tulip and Cassidy. Tulip is in a state of low boil throughout the episode as she confronts Jesse about her discovery of the Saint’s six-shooters and sabre.

Featherstone as neighbor/confidante Jen, is starting to bond with Tulip a little and they are rubbing off on each other, as Jen steps out of her “shell” to manipulate a hapless metal worker into doing their bidding.

Of course, Jesse isn’t helping his cause much by continuing to lie to Tulip about the Saint, especially when the armored car is empty after it’s dragged out of its swampy resting place. There’s a subtle but crucial difference in Jesse’s stated reason why he didn’t send the Saint to Hell like he said he would. Jesse tells Tulip he couldn’t bear the thought of sending another soul to the inferno, when the truth is, he couldn’t bear to send his own soul to damnation.

Despite it all, Jesse remains resolute in his search for the missing deity, and with the help of the yappy little dog Cassidy got for Denis, Jesse is able to connect the dots and realize the man in the dog-gimp suit they met when they first got to New Orleans was, in fact, the Almighty Himself.

Predictably, when Jesse returns to the back-alley lair, the dog-man is long gone. Figuring Starr is behind it, Jesse goes to the Grail’s offices, where Starr makes his pitch for Jesse to assume the role of God — given the current circumstances. After listening to all of his own prayers to God on tape, it becomes clear why Jesse wants to confront God so badly. Faith has been used to manipulate Jesse all his life. His father was killed because of it. His grandmother locked him in an underwater coffin because of it. Starr and the Grail have turned it into a multinational conglomerate.

Jesse just wants to know the point of it all, which is why he told Starr his can take his offer and those tapes and literally, stick them both in his ass.

While Jesse is alone finding God, Tulip is trying to find some peace over the her trauma with the Saint. After the gun refuses to even get hot to the touch when placed in the smelter, Tulip’s childlike nature (the super sugary cooking style is a dead giveaway, too) is demonstrated when her Plan B is to put a bunch of stamps on some gun and sword-shaped packages, address them to Brazil, and dump them in a corner mailbox.

Cassidy continues to be confined to the sidelines dealing with Denis. There’s some willful ignorance going on by Cassidy about how much the lessons on proper behavior are sinking in for Denis. When Denis tells Cassidy to take Tulip because he wants her, it appears that Denis has taken to the apex predator lifestyle, and is as much a devil on Cassidy’s shoulder as anything.

There was also a little payoff with Eugene and Hitler in Hell. With the guards investigating who really doesn’t belong in Hell, Hitler and Eugene seize the opportunity to make a break for it. Unfortunately, the backdoor out of Hell is through the Hole, a place that Eugene does not want to return to any time soon.

This episode managed to both pay off some of the setup that’s been going on all season, while introducing some new wrinkles in the form of Jesse’s time in the underwater coffin, on his grandmother’s orders. Dividing the three main characters up feels like it’s doing more harm than good, but there are still two episodes to make all this maneuvering pay off in a satisfying way.

Craig Wack

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