Preacher: Dirty Little Secret

"This is the Messiah, Humperdoo!"

This show has its ups and downs, just like its source material. And like its source material, it can't be denied that it ranks as one of the most WTF-inducing shows of its time.

That is one of the prime reasons I haven't given up on this show. The constant barrage of dark comedy and intriguing weirdness makes up for a lot of the show's flaws, like the fact that its main protagonists are the show's most boring characters or AMC's trademark plodding pace.

The weirdness in "Dirty Little Secret" is especially intriguing considering the main focus of the episode: everyone's favorite bro, Jesus Christ. Here we have a prime example of this show's ballsy love for blasphemous humor. I kind of admire how they decided not to worry about being faithful to history, opting instead to be as anachronistic as possible. Jesus and his followers are basically portrayed as a (holy) frat party from the modern age, a bunch of bearded guys calling each other "bro" and so on. After getting his apostles black-out drunk Jesus went off to have some Team America-style nookie with a villager's wife, wanting to lose his virginity before making his ultimate sacrifice. Afterward, the apostle Thaddeus found out the woman was pregnant with Christ's offspring. The baby was claimed by he and his followers at birth, and the mother was murdered to conceal the secret.

And so began the Grail.

I've got to admit our three Grail antagonists are my favorite characters at the moment. The casting is just so perfect, especially for Herr Starr, who, of all the characters, I was most worried they might not get right; I'm glad to report that Pip Torrens is doing a wonderful job with him so far. But Featherstone and Hoover are also wonderful; the former's penchant for disguises allows Julie Ann Emery to show her range as an actress, which is certainly unique.

Herr Starr takes Jesse on a little journey to display the Grail's vast power and influence. Men like the Pope will answer directly to Starr. Men like the Pope are also just as clueless about God's whereabouts as everyone else. But Jesse also learns about the Grail's secret weapon: the Messiah, the last descendant of Christ's sacred lineage. Using Genesis, he forces Starr to bring him to this holy child. Traveling by planes, trains and automobiles, they arrive in what is heavily implied to be another country at a top secret Grail facility. It is here that we learn, as Jesse learns, that the Messiah leaves much to be desired. Due to the Grail's wish to keep Christ's bloodline pure, the Messiah is a product of hundreds if not thousands of years of inbreeding. As a result, he is a deformed simpleton named Humperdoo. Humperdoo really likes humping Starr's leg like a dog in heat, and also peeing on people who bow before him (poor Jesse).

What's really funny is that Starr shares Jesse's disappointment. In fact, he only met with Jesse and allowed him to use his power on him so that Jesse could discover this for himself. Starr, as you can imagine, isn't keen on using Humperdoo as a bid for world domination like the rest of the Grail. He proposes that Jesse become his new Messiah, with the power of Genesis. Jesse is, of course, not willing to play Starr's game. But I'll bet he's more tempted by the offer than he lets on, and maybe he'll be more willing to consider once Starr's plan for him comes full circle.

As "Jenny", Featherstone hangs out with Tulip, who is still breaking down over her encounter with the Saint of Killers. Though Tulip nearly snuffs out her ruse a couple of times, Featherstone is able to keep up the act and even stoke Tulip's feelings of distrust for Jesse. Featherstone would rather just kill Tulip, but she's been ordered by Starr to simply sow division between Jesse and his companions. It appears she succeeds by leading Tulip to discover the Saints' weapons that Jesse hid in the bathroom. Our preacher man's got some explaining to do.

As for Cassidy, I think the idea is getting Jesse to turn against him. Much as I enjoy him, the dude is dangerously irresponsible. This is proven when he is unable to control his newly vampirized son, Denis. As I suspected, Denis has even less self-control than his father. Cassidy tries to get it through to him that he can't go around biting people, but Denis doesn't listen. In the end, he comes home happy as can be, having obviously just killed someone. I imagine Jesse will be hypocritically outraged at Cassidy's negligent use of his supernatural power.

Bits and Pieces:

* I love the fact that one of the first things Jesse does after Herr Starr introduces himself is beat him to the floor with his own bulky three-ring binder.

* I also love the way Starr pronounces "New Orleans." Pretty much all of Herr Starr's dialogue is perfect.

* Though Tulip kind of bores me as a character, it's plain to see that Ruth Negga is a fine actress. She's very good at saying a lot with just a portrayal of subtle emotions on her face. Like the way she broke down in tears over her nightmare while trying to make breakfast, or the wordless, intimidating glare she took on when she started seeing through "Jenny's" act.

* We get our first mention of the Allfather when Starr takes Jesse to the Grail's top secret location.

* The set-up for Jesse's meeting with the Messiah was absolutely brilliant. The long journey, wearing a bag on his head the entire time, entering the candlelit chambers, Jesse bowing to the shadowy image of this solemn Christ-like figure. Then it goes south as soon as the name "Humperdoo" is uttered.

* When Jesse looks to see what Humperdoo was writing, he finds a book filled with crude drawings of a giant dog with huge eyes like him. So, Humperdoo thinks God is a dog? Is this connected to that gimp man in the dalmatian costume we saw earlier this season? Was that really God, or is God an actual dog? Is this meant to be foreshadowing?

Quotes:

Apostle: The chief priests are on the warpath. We've got to move.
Jesus Christ: Chill, bro.
Apostle: No, I will not "chill!" They want to kill you, man!
Jesus Christ: Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Apostle: What the hell does that even mean, man?
Jesus Christ: You'll understand. Some day.
Apostle: Come on, Judas is meeting us at midnight with the getaway donkeys.

Jesse: So what you're saying is you have Jesus, and he's gonna run the world.
Herr Starr: We have his 25th great-grandson, but yes, that's the plan.

Jesse: You can't help me find God. You never could.
Herr Starr: I never said "I could help you find God." I said "I could help you."
Jesse: What are you talking about?
Herr Starr: I was... sodomized the other day. Forced, against my will. A trio of local ruffians came to my office, bent me over and... Never mind. The point is, while it was... happening, I thought of you. Your power. I've been head of the Samson Unit for over 13 years. I thought I was working for order. Working to make a cleaner world out of this shit-stained universe. The truth is I wasted my life serving someone who cannot rule. I became disillusioned. What alternative did I have? Until now. I'm talking about you, Jesse Custer.
Jesse: You wanted me to use the word. You wanted me to meet the Messiah. That was your plan all along.
Herr Starr: God is gone. And nature abhors a vacuum. Sooner or later, someone will fill it. So I ask you, why go on looking for God when you can just... be Him.
Jesse: That is blasphemy.
Herr Starr: Semantics.

Three and a half out of four white bags over the head.

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