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…
After the slog of last week, Puzzle Piece feels like another shot in the arm that the show really needed. For too long we’ve been spending time wallowing with Jesse’s dull search for God, Cassidy’s issues with his son Denis and Tulip’s PTSD following the Saint Of Killer’s assault on their temporary home. While all of those are still in effect, they actually serve to help power the story, while the Grail scenes take on the heavy lifting of providing the blend of madness and mundanity that this show has been known for.
The Jesse/Tulip/Cassidy sulkathon hasn’t been a highlight, but at least it led to the sweet moment between Jesse and Tulip, even if it did follow him using the Word of God on her to make her sleep, which was waved away for now. As for Cassidy, he finally gave in to Denis’ demands to be made immortal, and the little moment between the two of them as Denis learns the first hard lesson about being a vampire, was a nice change of pace from the moping seen earlier. Plus Denis got to blast some of his favourite tunes and attack Grail soldiers.
But when you have Herr Starr being diabolical, many sins can be forgiven. Though we all knew that he wouldn’t simply end up dismissing Jesse and co. with a kill order, the fact that he’s taken a personal interest just adds to the layers for the show. He’s not simply the replacement Big Bad after the Saint was dispatched to the bottom of a swamp – at least, not now. And Pip Torrens is so delightfully evil in the role of the mannered mad man, that he more than makes up for any slower moments. Witness that arranged date that is enough to make your skin crawl right off your body, and featuring the (potentially) weirdest use of butter in interpersonal relations since Last Tango In Paris.
Featherstone and Hoover, meanwhile, continue to be fun characters in their own right, with Hoover’s misplaced crush on his partner supplanted by her own clear feelings for Herr Starr. The tarp moment in his office was both silly and scary and the introducing of BRAD the drone was actually clever. In fact, the entire sequence of Jesse and co. under stress awaiting the Grail’s next move was well put together, amping up the tension, throwing in red herrings left and right (that poor cleaner, though he did seem suspicious) and even giving Tulip something to do besides suffer (see before about the cleaner).
But everything besides Herr Starr’s moments on screen was topped by the bravura raid by the Grail troops. Staged like something out of Call Of Duty, the muted sounds and lack of music really made it effective, and the night vision shooting gave it a different feel to anything else the show has attempted.
Proving that Preacher can still pull something fun out when it needs to, Puzzle Piece worked well on several levels, finally letting Jesse and Herr Starr meet and setting up some interesting new dynamics. It hasn’t quite pulled itself completely back to its old self, but we have the feeling that what follows will channel more of the comicbook’s patented insanity. No mention of Eugene this week, either, and the episode didn’t really miss his slow-burning side story.
Highlight: That fantastic video game-style POV assault by the Grail team.
Lowlight: Yet more ongoing tension between Cassidy, Tulip and Jesse.
Kill of the week: Several Grail soldiers die, but RIP Harry Connick Jr…
MVP: Denis, for once. Nice choice of music!
Random thought: The moment with Herr Starr and the “pros” is right out of the comics, even down to the mix-up in gender.
Airing on AMC Monday nights in the US, Preacher is available weekly on Amazon Prime Tuesdays in the UK.