Preacher: Puzzle Piece

"I hear you've been looking for God, preacher. Perhaps I can help."

Though still reveling in vagueness, Preacher does manage to pick up steam in this episode. They try to be wildly, aesthetically unique every week, but they really went big here.

Jesse Custer is relieved from his dead-end search for God when The Grail makes their move. Herr Starr has arrived and finds himself bored with the Jesse Custer case, ordering Featherstone and Hoover to just kill Jesse and his friends. A paramilitary unit is sent in Zero Dark Thirty style to storm Denis's apartment during the night. They end up being distracted by Cassidy long enough for Jesse to disable one of the men in white and uses his power to force him into gunning down all of his comrades. Unfortunately, the newly turned vampire, Denis, kills the remaining Grail operative, preventing Jesse from interrogating him.

Tulip awakens from a long sleep (that Jesse forced on) to find the apartment splattered with blood and a police squad being ordered around by her boyfriend. Jesse is anticipating another attack from The Grail. Unfortunately, the cops under his control are his only help, since Cassidy is recovering from being butchered in the first attack, Tulip is still losing her shit over her Saint of Killers nightmares, and Denis is too excited about being a virile vampire to be of any use.

Oh yeah, about that. It looks like Cassidy did heal his son by making him a creature of the night. Denis seems to be really happy about getting his vitality back and being saved from death, and Cassidy is happy to have made his son happy. Still, I don't think this is going to turn out well. Denis has already proven himself to be a bit of a liability.

Herr Starr is ready to execute Featherstone and Hoover right in his office after their failure interrupts his hot date. Featherstone is able to persuade Starr to let them have one more go at the preacher. She convinces him to let her "activate Brad." Featherstone is very confident that Brad will solve their Jesse Custer problem.

This is where they pull a nice little trick of suspense. We, like our heroes, are expecting some bigger, deadlier assassin to enter the picture when least expected. They even toy with us a bit: an eerie "cleaner" comes into the apartment to clean up the mess from the previous attack at the same time the police squad are busy handling a drunken bruiser in a Barack Obama mask. But the bruiser turns out to be some random drunk and the cleaner is really just a cleaner, who is nevertheless shot by a paranoid Tulip.

It turns out, "BRAD" is actually an acronym for The Grail's covert drone strike, which Hoover sends to Denis apartment. Here we also see the blind devotion members of The Grail have for their cause. Featherstone wants to witness their destructive capabilities firsthand, even if it means she and Hoover die in the drone strike along with their targets.

Oddly enough, salvation comes in the form of Herr Starr. His story in this episode centers around two "dates" he goes on. The first one, thankfully interrupted, was with the sweet daughter of the Louisiana governor. It's implied to have been arranged through blackmail. He listens to her story of how she found what was missing in her life by looking after a poor, developmentally challenged boy. Then he scoffs at her sentimentality, skips the formalities and briefly begins to sexually humiliate her with a stick of butter.

Starr ends up reflecting on what she said later when reviewing Jesse's file and preparing for his next hot date. Unfortunately, Hoover is better at directing drones than he is at setting up a "rape fantasy" for his boss: "'No' means 'yes.'" Instead of being the aggressor, Starr ends up the victim when Hoover accidentally hires three big guys to give Starr his "fantasy." Yeah.

While I'm hesitant to indulge in a double standard (female rape = monstrous; male rape = hilarious), I must admit I'm pleased they included this bit from the comics. Not only does it establish Herr Starr's role as this arch villain who gets constantly yet deservedly humiliated, it also ties into his obsession with Jesse Custer. While helplessly bent over his desk, Starr realizes that Jesse could be what's missing in his life, or whatever puzzle he's trying to piece together. This is why he calls off the BRAD missile, which ends up redirected to hit Harry Connick, Jr's house.

Since no more men in white came back from his perspective, Jesse is once again lost. He goes to a bar to drown his sorrows... And he is confronted by Herr Starr, who offers to aid him in his search for God. Yeah, right. Starr may think he's found a kindred spirit in Jesse; both men believe that mankind will descend into chaos without an absolute authority presiding over the world. Of course, I'm sure it won't be long before Jesse realizes that his idea of salvation and Starr's are fundamentally opposed. Jesse may use his power to do awful things occasionally, but it's nothing compared to The Grail's level of dominant brutality. Nevertheless, this is an interesting development. Let's hope they do as good a job at executing it next week.

RIP fictional Harry Connick, Jr.

Bits and Pieces:

* Jesse and Tulip have a scene recounting one of their crazy adventures/bonding experiences from the past, and I actually didn't mind this one. Maybe it was Dominic Cooper's soft delivery, and the silent anguish Ruth Negga was able to portray.

* I'm a little surprised they kept Herr Starr's deviant behavior. Surprised, but grateful. It's a big part of his character, a completely deranged and sickening freak who is inexplicably fighting for a clean, orderly, purified world.

* I'm also happy they kept the sad, twisted, yet hilarious "love" triangle between our main characters in The Grail. Hoover is hopelessly in love with Featherstone, which she coldly dismisses. Featherstone is hopelessly in love with (and in awe of) Herr Starr, which he coldly dismisses. Herr Starr is in love with forcing them to do his bidding, which they coldly accept. My favorite part of the episode was when Starr ordered Featherstone to arrange the rape fantasy for him and she immediately offered herself as "the victim." She even already had a jailbait outfit in mind. In hindsight, Starr probably wishes he would have taken her up on her offer.

* I loved Cassidy pounding on Denis's door telling his elderly son to turn his music down.

* I also loved that Starr and Featherstone both found themselves annoyed by online pop-up ads of cute kittens. The Grail can get their hands on drones, but not ad-blocker, apparently.

* Do people not like Harry Connick, Jr., or was that just random? How many more celebrity casualties does this show have in the wings?

Quotes:

Cassidy: So what, are we looking for God on Youtube now? Is that what it's come to?
Jesse: God is missing, Cass. It's important! Without God there's no structure, no order. With nobody at the wheel, we'll hit the rocks and... it's chaos! Someone has to be in charge.

Jesse: Kill your... Kill your friends.
Dark. Oh so dark. I can't see.

Herr Starr: What kind of world is it when a woman obeying a man is seen as a superpower?

Three out of four celebrity drone strikes.

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