AMC’s Preacher, Season 2, Episode 8: “Holes”
“Holes” finds our protagonists still dealing with the individual dilemmas they were facing last episode. Surprisingly, the double-down on these plots actually works for me this time around. It could be the lack of Herr Starr’s excellent origin story to detract from the plots of our principal characters, but the deeper dive does wonders for all these stories.
We also touch base with Eugene again to see how Hell’s been going (spoiler alert: not well.) Honestly, in a show that visits Hell on a regular basis and where the main objective of the hero is to literally find God, it’s a strange thing to say but I think this is one of the most down-to-earth episodes we’ve gotten this season. There’s some genuine relatable human emotion on display here, largely coming from Cassidy’s (ironically enough) internal conflict on whether to save his son by damning him. It’s a great evolution from the standard fare as we draw closer to the season finale.
We find Eugene getting used to Hell’s version of “GenPop.” It’s revealed that the reason personal hells are malfunctioning is because there is someone in Hell that does not belong there. After Hitler tricks Eugene into doing something nice (something that’s frowned upon in Hell of course,) he is taken to the hole. The hole actually turns out to be similar to a regular personal hell, but instead of reliving your worst memory, you experience an altered version of that memory that is worse. Eugene’s memory now has Tracy avoiding attempted suicide, but makes her give Jesse a hand-job, which drives Eugene to kill himself. Hitler explains that Eugene had to see what happens in the hole because once they find out Eugene doesn’t belong in Hell, that’s where he’ll be taken permanently. Hitler asks for Eugene’s trust (yeah, ’cause why would trusting Hitler not work out) and says he plans to help them both escape.
Tulip continues to deal with her PTSD from the run in with The Saint of Killers. She spends most of the episode repairing the damage from The Saint’s bullet that pierced through Denis’s fridge. She ends up accompanying Jesse on his trip to the local Best Buy knock-off in order to get a lead on God. Instead of helping Jesse, however, she decides to purchase a new fridge. After getting the fridge installed she begins to repair the all bullet holes from all the other apartments on the floor. The last apartment happens to be that of The Grail operatives who are monitoring Jesse. Tulip finds feigned commonality with one of The Grail members disguised as an abused girlfriend named Jenny. Tulip, desperately needing companionship, takes the bait and presents a foot in the door for The Grail.
Jesse decides to take Cassidy’s advice and get the God audition video examined for clues. After turning down a request from Cassidy to help save his dying son, Denis, with Genesis, Jesse heads to the “Dork Doctors” (you know, just like Geek Squad but with a PHD.) Jesse’s explanation as to why he wants to examine the video is met with resistance from the Dork Doctors’ customer service. Ultimately, this venture proves fruitless, but as the disk is being shredded, we the audience discover that the disk belongs to none other than, The Grail.
Cassidy tends to Denis, whose health has taken a severe downturn since last episode. We are treated to a flashback of Cassidy visiting Denis as baby in the hospital right after he was born, in which he declares that he’ll be a good father. He later begs Jesse to help Denis out with the power of Genesis. Jesse declines, stating that Genesis is not intended to be used for that (which is weird, since Genesis was not intended to exist anyway and we’ve seen Jesse use it on far more trivial things.) Cassidy later asks a despondent Tulip if she’d like to live forever if she could, to which she initially responds yes. Cassidy takes the opportunity to explain the finer details of eternal life, which causes Tulip to reconsider. Cassidy’s struggle persists up until the very last seconds of the episode where we watch him contemplating what should be done for his son as he sings the song he sang to him in the earlier flashback.
“Holes” provides some stellar character drama for a show not really known for it. Let’s be clear here: the Cassidy stuff is the strongest material in the episode. While I love the direction Jesse’s character is taking and Ruth Negga is bringing a lot to the table in terms of her performance, it’s all kind of dwarfed by Cassidy. Joe Gilgun is able to generate such a nuanced character in Cassidy, even given the small amount of screen time he’s allotted. There are so many layers to unpack, from his insight into what endless life as a vampire is, to the crippling loneliness and constant losing of loved ones. We are able to peek inside an interesting backstory that Preacher has only, up to this point, teased. I will be enraged if we don’t get a full origin story of Cass this season.
The trio continues to fracture in “Holes” to the point that everyone even spends most their time following their own threads. The interaction between Jesse and Cassidy is particularly indicative of how they are growing apart. This actually gets to a larger thought I had about their relationship.
Theory time: I believe what Cassidy is contemplating by the end of the episode isn’t whether he should turn Denis. It’s whether he should just kill him to spare him from suffering. The fallout of having to make this choice without his best mate Jesse even lifting a finger will compound around the other festering love triangle bit. The resulting carnage will leave a large area of impact.
Jesse continuing his self-righteous charge into finding God is taking its toll on everything, but nothing as much as his relationship with Tulip. Tulip clearly needs someone to help her deal with her near death experience and. with Cassidy occupied. that job falls squarely on Jesse. Jesse, however, being too concerned with finding God, is either unable or unwilling to notice what she is going though. While I continue having trouble dissecting what is going on with Tulip, this dynamic between her and Jesse is very interesting.
Lastly, we have Eugene’s adventures in Hell, which I had almost forgotten about given the last couple of villain-centric episodes. Eugene is in an impossible situation that is only made worse by the machinations of one Adolf Hitler. After an extended sequence that hilariously has Jesse getting jerked off by a teenager(?), I start to wonder, have we gone too far? I really am surprised that Jesse still has such an impact on Eugene. It’s just been so long since they’ve interacted on the show that his appearance, while Eugene is in the hole, is a little out place. I’m worried about what Hitler is planning with Eugene and, what’s worse, what he plans to do if he can escape.
“Holes” is the type of episode that harkens back to the best parts of season one because we dispense with the spectacle and deal with character driven stories. If anything, it’s a testament to how good the actors are that they can switch gears from a comic book adaptation to a solid character drama at the drop of a dime. And, my god, as far as we know, Denis has made it through another episode, but I think we’ll learn pretty soon whether his days are numbered or eternal.