Preacher: Pig

"If you're looking for signs of the apocalypse, I would start with men selling off their souls."

Of course, the first episode that is centered around Herr Starr would be the one where a pig can fly.

As our main man in white investigates a supernaturally floating pig found in Vietnam, we get a glimpse into the backstory of this sinister new antagonist, and a deeper look inside The Grail.

To put it simply, Starr is a man of efficiency. Evil efficiency. He was a highly decorated military commander in Germany, who became a candidate for The Grail after they discovered that he and they had a shared vision of a new world order. Starr excels in his testing, cheating and backstabbing his way to success; rather than attempt to outdo the superior final candidate he's competing against, Starr simply kills him without warning. Needless to say, he passes.

Once he's officially in, Saltonstall, the Grail representative overseeing Starr, informs him of their great Christian purpose: in addition to world domination, The Grail also safeguards the secret lineage of Jesus Christ. When the world is on the brink of destruction and the people have lost all faith, The Grail will use the descendant(s) of Christ to control the frightened masses. As Starr himself says, it's pretty ingenious.

Unfortunately, Starr is even more ruthlessly determined to make his vision of the world a reality than most everyone in The Grail. As soon as he knows enough, he nonchalantly kills Saltonstall and takes over his position. In the present, he personally oversees the Samson Unit that is tasked with covering up any supernatural element that might conflict with The Grail's plans for Christ-based tyranny. This is how he handles the Vietnam incident, killing the floating pig and everyone who laid eyes on it. His next target is Jesse Custer.

Speaking of Jesse, back in New Orleans he, Tulip and Cassidy have hit the last jazz club in the city and decide to have fun by conning a bunch of trigger-happy rednecks out of their money. Despite the good times, all three heroes are in a bad place.

A random bar patron finally translates what Denis is saying to Cassidy: Denis is dying of congestive heart failure; despite loathing his degenerate father, Denis wants Cassidy to save him by making him a vampire, granting him eternal life. Cassidy is torn between watching his son wither and die right in front of him, or giving him the same curse he's lived with for over a century.

Tulip is deeply haunted by her near-death experience at the Saint of Killers's hands. Since Jesse isn't willing to listen and Cass gets himself locked in a local morgue, she resolves her internal conflict on her own. By going back to those trigger-happy rednecks and willingly participating in their game of wear-a-bulletproof-vest-and-get-shot-for-money. It appears she has a bit of a death wish now. Honestly, this is the most interesting thing that's happened with Tulip all season and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Jesse is also trying to shake off the bad feeling left behind after his encounter with the Saint, especially parting with a piece of his soul. With no other leads, he decides to consult a local street preacher raving about the end of the world. This guy ends up being a sound voice of reason in a series of profound ridiculousness. Remarking on the seeming nonsensical nature of the world at the moment, the street preacher makes a point that Jesse really cannot deny: that human nature is infinitely more terrifying to people than people ranting about how the world is going to hell. He also makes Jesse realize what a mistake essentially selling a piece of his soul probably was.

We've got a lot of conflict coming. Our trio's conflict with The Grail. Cassidy's conflict with his elderly son, Denis. Tulip and Jesse's conflict with themselves. This episode set it all up rather nicely. I look forward to seeing how they execute it all in the weeks to come.

Bits and Pieces:

* Tulip's nightmare sequence were very effective. I was even reminded of The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe once or twice.

* Was that Mark Hamill in the bar translating French? It looked and sounded a lot like him.

* Fredric Lehne has played quite a variety of villains. I most remember him as the Yellow-Eyed Demon from Supernatural, now here he is playing a top man in a Christian crypto-fascist organization. Albeit, very briefly.

Quotes:

Barfly: (translating Denis) He says then he will die hating you.
Cassidy: Yeah. Most people do.

Saltonstall: I hope you found the hotel accommodating.
Herr Starr: I was told there'd be women.
Saltonstall: Women?
Herr Starr: A high-end brothel staffed entirely by Ukrainian runaways.
Saltonstall: There will be women, in time, if that is your desire. (opens dossier) But it is my impression, Herr Starr, that what you really want is to "sweep the streets clean of the parasites that befoul our society and create a civilization based on the principles of absolute order and uncompromised discipline." Your words, I believe... What if I told you that our organization feels exactly the same way as you do?
Herr Starr: Like a ten-inch dick, I'd need to see it to believe it.
Saltonstall: And maybe you shall. Tell me, Herr Starr, are you Christian?
Herr Starr: ... Does it make a difference?
Saltonstall: This is just the first step in our organization's rigorous screening process. Only our most deserving and, yes, pious candidates will be considered.
Herr Starr: (smirks) Then I am very much a Christian.

The Saint of Killers: Time's up. (bang!)

Tulip: Can't you feel it, Jesse? That... that something's-not-right feeling.

Grail candidate: (choking Starr) What the hell are you doing?
Herr Starr: What does it look like I'm doing? I'm self-consummating.

Herr Starr: Ingenious. The world on its knees begging for direction like the ugly girl at a gangbang.

Street Preacher: I hear things, see things, people come up to me and they say all sorts of crazy stuff. And there has been an uptake ever since Tom Cruise exploded, no question. The Cubs winning. Trump. This flying pig! It's real wrath of God stuff, right? But sooner or later, there's always an explanation. Strong pitching, KGB interference, whatever. In the end, there's always a good reason.
Jesse: So you're just out here scaring people. For money.
Street Preacher: They're already scared. They come and listen to me talk about the end of the world so they can worry about that instead of what really scares them.
Jesse: Which is what?
Street Preacher: ... Themselves. What is more frightening than who we are, and what we done?

This was a thoroughly enjoyable episode. Four out of four fingers falling like french fries.

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