AMC’s Preacher, Season 2, Episode 7: “Pig”
In “Pig,” Preacher takes a deep breath and exhales out a new villain plus some new challenges for our trio to face. I predicted last week that the show might be switching gears to focus the latter half of the season on a new arc, and that theory seemed to bare fruit this week. And while this is not the worst pivot ever, the change from The Saint of Killers to Herr Starr here is a little jarring. The pivot also comes at the expense of a lot of wheel spinning for Jesse and Co. this episode that may be necessary to catch us up with Herr Starr, but it doesn’t sit very well. “Pig” is by no means a bad episode. It just exudes a “stealing the wind from beneath the sails” effect. All that said, flying pigs? It’s just classic Preacher weirdness.
This week’s cold open focuses on a couple who discover a floating pig in their backyard. Upon learning of this discovery, Herr Starr is dispatched to deal with the nuisance. Upon arriving on the scene, Starr receives a call about a new threat (a troublesome preacher.) We are then treated to a flashback of his humble beginnings.
Herr Starr is recruited to work for the cultic group known as “The Grail.” The Grail is a religious fanatic group that largely deals in snuffing out false idols and would-be messiahs as they harbor and protect a descendant of Jesus Christ to rule the world, I guess (Starr seems to enjoy this part of the gig.) There are a number of challenges set up by The Grail, pitting possible recruits against each other, which Starr relentlessly excels at. He basically answers every challenge in the bluntest and deadliest way possible in order to win, which proves very effective. Once securing membership into the Grail and learning that he will effectively serve as an assassin, he promptly pushes their leader off a balcony and assumes his role (that’s one way to get a promotion…) Back in present day, Herr Starr’s solution to dealing with the false idol “floating pig” (which is yet again a ruthless and effective one) is to simply poison the water supply of the local community. This completes the introduction of another real charmer of an antagonist for Jesse.
Things with our trio get back to normal with the final jazz club in New Orleans crossed off the list. Having no luck in the search for God, Cassidy suggests maybe they should have some fun. After successfully running a con on a bunch of gun enthusiasts (which for some reason called for Cassidy and Tulip to kiss), they make off with a ton of money. While enjoying the spoils of their con, Jesse laments over the kiss between Tulip and Cassidy, although Tulip writes it off. Tulip tells Jesse to reassure her about The Saint of Killers being in Hell, which he continues to lie about. The run in with The Saint last episode leaves its mark on Tulip and she begins seeing him in dreams and hallucinations.
Jesse tries his luck with the local doomsday soapboxer to help in the search for God. After paying the required price of a beer for his time, the conversation proves more introspective than anything. It turns out that even giving away just 1% of one’s soul might not be such a great idea. Cassidy spends much of this episode in a drunken stupor. First, he seems to genuinely confess his love to Tulip during the con they ran at the Hurt Locker gun enthusiast bar, a sentiment she clearly doesn’t share. On top of that, it turns out that his son Denis is dying and he wants his dad to turn him into a vampire so that he can live forever, something Cassidy is very much against. Maybe the happy go lucky vampire isn’t so fond of what he is. All of these events lead Cassidy to literally drink himself to death, prompting a pitiful walk of shame home from the morgue.
The parts of the episode that focus on Herr Starr’s origin are great. The problem is that it comes at the expense of the main characters. For most this episode, our main cast spends a lot of time not really doing much. I understand that Herr Starr needed some space to breathe, but this really stymied the pacing we’ve been enjoying in the front half of the season. That said, this effectively introduced us to Herr Starr, what he’s about, and how formidable he is. I can’t wait to see how he tries to deal with Jesse, since he won’t have the luxury The Saint of Killers had of being immune Genesis (I assume.)
Tulip experiencing PTSD from her time with The Saint of Killers is interesting. It’s not that it doesn’t work for her character, exactly. I actually think it provides for an interesting dynamic where she’s forced to rely on Cassidy emotionally as opposed to Jesse. For me, it’s just that it kind of came out of nowhere, and the extended “Inception-esque” dream within a dream sequence is a little overdrawn.
Jesse being shy 1% of a soul is starting to present a strain on his relationship with Tulip just when it seems like she needs him the most. The problem with their relationship has always been that they suck at communicating (that statement said atop my high horse, obviously.) I’m curious as to how the shit is going to hit the fan with our trio. It’s pretty clear, at this point, that we are racing towards an inevitable confrontation with all sides ramping up to take the fallout hard.
Ultimately, “Pig” served as a solid introduction to Herr Starr, and his scenes make the episode. I wonder in hindsight whether it would have been a better idea to do a stand-alone episode for this character’s introduction. Normally I’m not a fan of stepping away from the principal cast to focus on a less familiar character (you hear that, Walking Dead!?) but, based on what we got from our mains this episode, maybe it would’ve been worth considering. And for any of you keeping tabs on Denis’s life expectancy, being confirmed as Cassidy’s son certainly doesn’t help but, now that immortality is on the table, all signs are pointing up for a potential fledgling vampire.