Preacher: Backdoors

"Next time get the man his plum cake, or watch your back!"

Here we have another episode that I enjoyed, even though not a whole lot really happened.

I suppose I shouldn't be so critical. I mean, there are some developments of note in this episode. But I'm still finding that the thing that is really keeping me engaged is the show's style and certain characters.

The Preacher's Epiphany

Jesse finally makes a breakthrough in his quest for God, at the same time he alienates his companions. Tulip and Cassidy are, understandably, at their wit's end as far as Jesse's search goes. The ensuing pointless argument gets personal, until Jesse has another random epiphany -- just like the one he had about New Orleans. This time he connects all the dots, and figures out what I speculated in the previous episode review: that God is a dog. More specifically, it turns out that God was the man in the creepy dog gimp suit; that's right, God was literally in the first place he looked. I had suspected there was more to that dalmatian costumed weirdo than meets the eye too.

He's eager to pursue this lead, but must face the fact that his friends have lost faith in him. When he returns to the clandestine location where he encountered the Man-Dog, the almighty sex slave is gone.

The Preacher's Prayers

Jesse goes to Starr for answers, not knowing that he has given Featherstone and Hoover the task of making his life a lot harder as part of Starr's plan to force Jesse into the role of Messiah. Starr knows nothing about Man-Dog aside from rumors, and Jesse can only surmise that it was a test that he failed to pass. Interesting.

Starr once again tries persuading Jesse to become his Messiah figure. He questions Jesse's search for God, and believes that Jesse's faith in Him is motivated largely by his own guilt and need to be forgiven. He proves this by literally playing Heaven's recordings of every single one of his prayers. Strangely, we never hear one in which an adolescent Jesse prays to be released from being entombed in a wooden box at the bottom of a swamp lake.

That's another significant development. They finally shed light on Angelville and the L'Angelle family, specifically Jesse's grandmother. This is the primary reason Jesse's past is as dark and troubled as it is. It's the reason why, in his moments of reflection, Jesse hears the sound of chains being cranked. He was forced to forsake his father's name, his faith in God was tainted, and his will was broken. The only alternative was being locked in a box and submerged underwater. I'll admit, it does help explain why Jesse is as psychologically messed up as he is.

Well, anyway, Jesse is pretty bummed to find out that all his prayers were never answered, but simply recorded and added to a pile of others that God never bothered to examine. He makes himself feel a bit better by forcing Starr to shove all of the recordings up his ass. That's pretty bad, but at least he didn't tell Starr to go fuck himself; that did not turn out well for a certain sheriff in the comics.

The Case of the Missing Saint

The search for God will likely be put on hold now that the Saint of Killers once again poses a threat to our heroes.

The episode begins with Jesse and Tulip salvaging the armored truck containing the Saint from the bottom of the swamp. Tulip lambasting Jesse for not sending the Saint to Hell. It makes sense, as the Saint's last attack clearly traumatized her. Jesse states that he could not send another soul to Hell. It isn't said, but it's obvious he still feels guilty about what he did to Eugene. He assures Tulip that there is no way the Saint can escape, only to realize the Saint isn't even in the truck. He's vanished.

This puts them and Cassidy on edge. While Jesse's off pursuing God and Cassidy's dealing with his son, Tulip is determined to destroy the Saint's guns and sword. Joined by Featherstone in disguise as "Jenny", Tulip tries to have the weapons melted down. We learn a few things in the process. No one but the Saint can operate his antique pistols, and the weapons are impossible to destroy; the guns are still cold after being dipped in a molten pool. She decides to just wrap them up and mail them to Brazil, but I'm betting the postal carrier won't let that happen.

We learn at the very end that the truck Jesse had drudged from the swamp was a copy. The real truck containing the Saint was found by the Grail and brought to an undisclosed location. Starr gave Hoover the task of releasing the Saint, bringing him into the Grail's plans for Jesse as well. I highly doubt the Saint is something they can control, though.

Hitler's Hell

In Eugene "Arseface" Root's Hell storyline, we get a break from the monotony to see more of Hitler. To find out if he can trust the Furher, Eugene and the bully Tyler make Hitler show them his personal Hell simulation in full. We return to Munich of 1919, to discover that Hitler had a chance to be the hero who bravely stood up to violent Communist radicals. Only he chose to meekly back down, too afraid to stand up for himself or anyone else. He loses what little respect his love interest had for him, and his dreams of becoming an artist are looked down upon by a famous gallery owner. Finally, we learn that being robbed of the diner's last plum cake by a respectable-looking Jew was the final straw that turned Hitler from an average unassuming schmo to the vicious megalomaniacal tyrant we all know so well.

As he himself puts it, this is his worst memory because it was the day he lost the goodness within him. I won't lie, this was a humbling portrayal. To see Hitler behaving the way, sadly, most people would behave. It probably isn't far from the truth that Hitler, a man who exploited the fear and weakness that exists within so many people, was most likely once at the mercy of the same fear and weakness. If he were in the shoes of those Jews he subjugated and slaughtered, he probably would not have fought back either.

Ever the empath, Eugene decides to put his faith in Adolf fucking Hitler. Together, they manage to create a diversion that gets Superintendent Mallory and her hulking man-servant out of her office. Apparently, Hitler's backdoor out of hell is somewhere inside the Hole. Seeing no other option, Arseface and Hitler plunge straight down into darkness.

What it will be like with two different people in there at the same time? Will they only see their own worse versions of Hell, or will their Hells combine? That would be freaky, seeing Eugene's rural Texas world merge with Hitler's early 20th Century Munich. Either way, I think Hitler is going to end up seeing more of the modern world. He can't just be helping Eugene out of the kindness of his heart. I'm thinking he's going to escape Hell too. Now that would be really freaky.

Bits and Pieces:

* Oh yeah, Cassidy bought Denis a little dog companion, which somehow only makes Denis creepier. Fortunately, Cassidy starts to realize that Denis thinks being a vampire means he can do whatever he wants, and Cassidy demands the dog back. Unfortunately, I think that poor little dog is about to get slain in whatever vampire father-son clash occurs next.

* I wasn't sure before, but now I really think Jesse's power has a glitch. When exiting Starr's office, he used the voice to stop a clerk from calling for security, but the clerk ignored him and began the call anyway. Jesse had to tell him a second time before he did as he was told. Maybe the power isn't as reliable when Jesse is doubting himself.

* Though the episode title is mainly referring to the secret way out of Hell or the backdoor of the armored truck that the Saint was trapped in, it's also fitting since this episode featured Herr Starr and Adolf Hitler pulling things out of their asses.

* The arguments between Jesse and Tulip are getting tiresome. They break the rules, go behind each other's backs, and hurt or endanger other people so much that it's hard to take it seriously whenever one of them tries to act self-righteous. It just feels incredibly forced.

* I found it interesting that the nice girl Hitler liked was casually yet unknowingly feeding into his growing resentments toward communists, homosexuals and Jews. It emphasized that viewing certain groups as the other is something that benign, ordinary people do as well as fascist dictators. And that it is never a good thing, no matter who is doing it.

* I also found it interesting that Jesse couldn't bring himself to send the Saint (who now carries part of his soul) to Hell, but he was able to submit him to the same punishment he was subjected to in his youth: Trapped at the bottom of a swamp. It's a claustrophobic nightmare.

Quotes:

Featherstone: Question, sir. All of this seems like a lot of trouble. Can't we just kill Custer?
Herr Starr: ... I'm not a homosexual.
Featherstone: ... Oh. No, of course not, sir. You're the pinnacle of masculinity, no one would ever question... (glares at Hoover) What did you do this time?
Hoover: I apologize, sir. When you requested prostitutes, I assumed you meant... Should I get you a refund?
Herr Starr: You are missing the point, Hoover.
Hoover: (nods miserably) The tarp then, sir.
Herr Starr: Yes, as much as I would enjoy seeing your insides spread out before me like a buffet breakfast at a five star hotel, my time with those rough-handed hooligans has given me a new perspective on things. The tarp can wait. For what's to come, I need you both alive.
Hoover: Thank you, sir.
Featherstone: What's to come, sir?
Herr Starr: The Messiah is a moron. I understand you might find this disappointing since you've dedicated your entire lives to serving him, but I have seen monkeys in heat with more grace and dignity. But not to worry, I am plotting a coup. My plan is to replace the moron with Jesse Custer and bring real order to the world. I'd like you both to join me, what do you say?

Herr Starr: So, considering the alternative is summary execution, I assume you are with me?

Jesse: Guys! I met Jesus!
Cassidy: Do you mean Jesus Jesus, or just some random Latino man?

Tyler: Why should we do anything you say, plum cake?
Hell prisoners: (laughing mockingly)
Hitler: ... Because I'm ADOLF FUCKING HITLER!
What an oddly triumphant moment.

Jesse: Did you know that God was Man-Dog?

Herr Starr: Can you imagine the stress that comes with being master of all creation? I'm told he wasn't always like this, but there have been rumors in recent years that God had become...
Jesse: A pervert?
Herr Starr: Disenchanted.

The more divided my opinions of this show get, the longer my reviews for them seem to become. Two and a half out of four kinky dalmatian disguises.

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