Preacher Review: Sympathy for the Devil

Preacher, Season 2, Episode 12, “On Your Knees”

From the same writers’ room that almost made you feel pangs of sympathy for Adolf Hitler, comes the penultimate episode of the second season of Preacher, wherein you feel for plight of the remorseless killing machine that is the Saint of Killers.

It doesn’t take long to reveal the not-so mysterious mystery of why that armored car was empty when it was dragged out of the swamp by Tulip and Jesse, last episode. It was, of course, the handiwork of Herr Starr and his Grail puppet-masters, pulling Jesse’s strings to force the ultimate decision he made.

Between sessions of trying to punch his way through the locked door of the armored car, the Saint had plenty of time for personal reflection. It’s a story we’ve seen told in a number of ways already, but it bears repeating here. The Saint was once a bad man who tried to reform his soul, thanks to the love of his godly wife and giggly daughter. Then the fateful trip into town for medicine occurs, and you know the rest of the story (and the Saint’s desperation to get into heaven and reunite with his family).

Much of the episode happens in the recent past. It’s not until we see Jesse on the empty couch where Dog-God once sat that Starr unleashes his wildcard (the Saint), to drive the final wedge between Jesse and his friends and of course, push Jesse into the outcome of Starr’s choosing.

With Grail operatives Featherstone and Hoover watching intently on the monitors down the hall, a newly freed Saint returns to Cassidy’s apartment to finish the job of killing Jesse, to fulfill the mission that he hopes will get him into heaven.

The Saint does his Saint thing by tossing Tulip, Cassidy and Jesse around like rag dolls. Tulip shows a significant amount of moxie, but in the end, the only thing that saves Jesse from getting scalped at his kitchen table is the timely arrival of Hell’s prison guards, who have come to collect the Saint with a threat of putting his wife or daughter in his cell, in his place, if he doesn’t come quietly.

With the Saint back in Hell (waiting for a meeting with Satan to talk about soul removal technology, I’m sure), Tulip and Cassidy have a sit-down with Starr, who tells them Jesse is destined for great things and they don’t fit into the picture. Tulip and Cassidy were already having their doubts about Jesse, so Starr’s lecture didn’t help.

The episode takes a sudden tonal shift when we see the Pope fill the world in on the situation, making God’s disappearance sound allegorical rather than actual. The Holy Father promises that with God gone, a savior (of sorts) is on its way. Jesse knows what it really means: the messiah will be either Jesse or Humperdoo.

Jesse hashes out his decision over French fries and beer with Tulip and Cassidy, whose idea of the “next adventure” has more to do with bikinis and umbrella drinks than Jesse saving mankind’s souls. For his part, Jesse feels like he has no other choice. He can’t leave the world in the hands of Humperdoo and let’s face it, the power of Genesis has overinflated Jesse’s ego just a teeny bit.

The episode closes with Jesse entering Starr’s office beaten and alone, but willing to make the next steps toward godhood.

The episode was broken into distinct Saint and Jesse parts, with the few minutes of mayhem in the apartment to tie them together. That structure did all right, but it got a little clunky when they wedged an update about Hitler and Eugene’s escape attempt in there. Overall, it paid off a lot of season set-up, pushed the main characters apart, while still laying the groundwork that will get them back on the same side again.

Craig Wack

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