Various elements of the episode will be discussed in this review, so beware spoilers. And watch the episode before you read on, lest you face the wrath of the almighty. Or Cassidy…
Dirty Little Secret finds Preacher in frustratingly split form again. One the one hand, there is some serious forward movement on at least a couple of the storylines, and an intriguing wrinkle introduced into one of those. On the other, it maintain its propensity for slow-churn plotting that makes watching a little like wading through a swamp. Kicking off with a literal – and in true Preacher style, controversial – look at how Jesus first spawned, it’s in keeping with the show’s aesthetic to make everything that little bit skewed. So we have a sort of emo Jesus sleeping with a married woman, and a bunch of bro disciples concerned about him. Not sure where in the Bible the Lord And Saviour asks someone if they’re “cool” about keeping a secret, but this is the show we’ve all come to expect, not a Biblical documentary.
Jesse’s search for God finally took a real turn this week – after a run of episodes that had descended into a dull repetition of ideas, he at last gets some interaction with Herr Starr and The Grail. Not many other shows would have the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope argue the reason for the Almighty’s disappearance, but it is at least a fun little digression. As for Jesse, he’s exposed to a much wider world of faith, and is whisked off (note the plane, train and automobile) to meet the current generation of Jesus’ progeny. Yes, turns out that inbreeding is rife in this line. The childlike, gurning, gyrating and, well, genital-obsessed “Humperdoo”, who is less of a figure of fun and more an example of the series trying to be outrageous and just coming across as insulting. Plus, what’s with Jesse’s sudden, self-proclaimed lifelong desire to “serve the Lord”? Is this the same Custer who robbed banks and beat people up back in his day? Fortunately, we still have Herr Starr sprinkled liberally around these scenes, so there is at least some real fun to be had. As for his final suggestion that Jesse stop looking for God and start using the Voice to be God? We’ll see where that goes, assuming Jesse does anything other than reject the notion.
Outside of his adventures, Tulip’s interactions continue to be lower key and frustrating. Still dealing with the effects of her encounter with the Saint, she’s slowly bonding with the in-disguise Featherstone, who keeps trying to sow the seeds of dissent between Tulip and her boyfriend. There is at least some value to their slow friendship, and a moment of drama when Tulip seems to figure out that Featherstone is lying about who she is and what she wants. This plot line also finally starts to move forward, and you’ve got to feel for poor Hoover, who throws himself into the part of “Jenny”‘s drunken ex, and is beaten up by both Tulip and his colleague/crush object for his troubles.
Setting up a seeming clash between Tulip and Featherstone is probably the best way to go with this one – Tulip will perhaps come back more into herself when she’s given a proper mission. Ruth Negga continues to do good work with what she’s given, but mopey Tulip hasn’t always been the best use of the character.
And finally we have Cassidy, who is dealing with his newly minted vampire son Denis. While the narrative is mostly played for laughs – check out Cass’ translator – and a little pathos, it’s slowly turning into something else as the vampire realises that he’s made a serious misjudgment in turning Denis. Of course, it’s probably just the 73,000th mistake in his long life. But while there are odd notes (Cassidy lecturing Denis about his “appetites” much after the fashion of a dad with a teenager), there’s creeping feeling that the darkness is settling over the story, with a confrontation hardly far away.
This week’s Preacher didn’t impress the way last week’s did, and a lot of the show’s current problems return. Still, moving the God plot along helped and at least Cassidy got something other to do than feel bad about Denis. Even if it was to be worried about him. Visually, the travel sequence for Jesse and Starr impressed and the series continues to shove boundaries when discussing faith and religion.
There are three episodes left this season – let’s hope Preacher picks up the pace as the finale looms…
Highlight: The discussion on where God has gone –and why.
Lowlight: The obvious turns of the Cassidy/Denis relationship.
Kill of the week: No one died directly this week, though Hoover didn’t come out of his encounter with Tulip well.
MVP: Herr Starr.
Random thought: Jesse would be terrible as God. Really, really awful.
Airing on AMC Monday nights in the US, Preacher is available weekly on Amazon Prime Tuesdays in the UK.