AMC’s Preacher Season 2, Episode 3: Damsels
With another “ally” down and the Saint ever on their heels, the trio heads to New Orleans to hunt down a lead on God.
I have to say, I’m envious. I love jazz and I love New Orleans. So I can’t imagine a better task than having to go to every Jazz club in New Orleans, that’s just not fair. It’s a shame Tulip doesn’t share my sentiment. “Damsels” is a very intriguing episode that shakes up this season’s formula a little while still managing to tell a compelling story. The focus on our three leads with a single overarching mission continues to pay off as things start to heat up in this latest episode of Preacher.
“Damsels” splits its story into three parts. First, we get to see the return of good old Eugene from season one. We are quickly reminded of Hell’s tendency to make a person relive the worst events in their lives over and over again. It turns out Eugene wasn’t as malicious as everyone thought; he actually tried to stop Tracy Loach from killing herself. Only after failing to do so and out fear of being blamed for her death does he try to kill himself. The birth of Arseface is as sad a story as anything I could think of, and yet his misery continues in Hell (of all places) accompanied by none other than Adolf Hitler (of all people.) Yeesh, talk about having a bad go of it.
Elsewhere, Jesse is convinced that going to every Jazz club in New Orleans asking the bartender for God is the best way to find him. There are certainly worse ways to spend your night (see above.) After hours of no success and nearly discovering what can happen with $14,000 and a person dressed in full Dalmatian suit going by the name God, Jesse finds a lead. It takes him to a club called the “Shemani,” whose singer might have some insight into God’s whereabouts. After Jesse asks her what she knows, she tries to ditch him right before getting kidnapped by men in white hoods (no, not those guys, a different group.) After dispatching them easily, Jesse and the singer head back to her place where he reveals his ability to her. Unbeknownst to Jesse, however, the singer is a part of some group interested in his ability and, unfortunately, his case has just been kicked up to the “Samson Unit” (whatever that means.)
Tulip and Cassidy bunk up with the very inviting Dennis. Dennis is apparently an old friend of Cassidy’s (so he says) who apparently would insist that they all stay at his house while in New Orleans. It’s unclear the truth of that, since what Dennis says to Cassidy is in French but it doesn’t seem like he’s a big fan. He does, however, let them stay. Tulip comes clean to Cassidy about her hesitation in being in New Orleans after bumping into an old acquaintance. She doesn’t think she can tell Jesse because “that’ll just make things worse.” All we learn is that Tulip screwed someone named Victor over and he hasn’t been thrilled about it. Seemingly resigned to the inevitability, Tulip confronts her past head on.
“Damsels” slows down things a lot, but still brings the expected mix of action, absurdity, and tight storytelling I’ve come to love from Preacher. Eugene coming back was expected, although I had imaged it’d be as a hallucination of Jesse’s, considering the season one finale. It looks as though they’ve ditched that idea and decided to send us straight to Hell with him. I have no idea where this is going but you know Hitler is there… so you can kind of imagine that things really aren’t looking too good for Eugene. The opening montage reminds me of something that didn’t sit right with me from season one: the reveal that the Saint was reliving his worst moment over and over again in Hell. Something about the direction and editing that tries to convey that the cycle is endless comes off as way too excessive. While it isn’t nearly as bad with Eugene as it was with the Saint last season, it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
The tension in “Damsels” is surprisingly palpable. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have been shocked to have actually seen God this episode. In fact, we very well may have. At the very least, the episode plays with this idea in many ways like lingering on a shot of “God,” the Dalmatian’s eye, or the conversation with the jazz enthusiast that happens to be sporting a very heavenly beard. In the closing scene with Tulip in the laundromat, we get a very intense scene as Victor’s gang swarms into focus behind her. The way that this was shot and acted really put a spotlight on a story line that I wasn’t particularly interested in before.
I also enjoyed that Jesse got to stretch his legs a bit this episode. As I’ve noted before, Jesse had always been the weakest link in our trio from season one, but in season two, Jesse is quite literally a different story. He’s got a mission that he’s so intensely focused on that his Godly armor is starting to crack. That’s not to say we didn’t know Jesse was rough around the edges or that he had a dark past before. It’s just that now we are seeing a possible collision of those sides of him. He’s started to swing back into the moral gray in a big way this season and it adds such a compelling layer to his character. From one moment to another, without Cassidy or Tulip to hold him back, we get small glimpses into Jesse’s darker side and it’s getting hard to tell, sometimes, which of his sides will win.
Honestly, I’m relieved Dennis survived. Based on the previous two episodes, his odds weren’t great. That said, Jesse did manage to use Genesis a couple times this episode, so we know the Saint isn’t far away. I wondered last week how they’d slow the Saint down, although I didn’t expect they’d just keep him out of the episode. It’s actually not a bad move. He’s a good villain, but you should apply the same rules as you do when you’re using glue: a little dab will do you (I will obviously credit my Third Grade teacher Ms. Carter for imparting that wisdom.) While things did slow down this week and it looks like we might be spending more time in New Orleans, we are introduced to two new threats with equal ominousness. I’ve praised the tightness of the story so far and, while these new foes look interesting, I’m worried we might start to oversaturate things. Only time will tell and, luckily for us, time is all relative when it’s the end of the world, Daddio.