AMC’s Preacher, Season 2, Episode 10: “Dirty Little Secret”
“Dirty Little Secret” is an episode that keeps its eyes on the prize by continuing to give us more of what we want: interesting villains, smart drama, and dark comedy. Exploiting both Jesse’s desire to find God and Tulip’s vulnerability is exactly the sort of war you’d want to see a guy like Herr Starr waging against a team lead by Jesse Custer. It plays so well into all the elements that have been crafted throughout Preacher’s run. The latter part of this season has truly surprised me and this episode is no exception. Starr’s plan to recruit Jesse in order to replace Jesus’s descendant as the savior is certainly not what I was expecting, but it fits the narrative so perfectly. A development like this is far more interesting than your normal good guy / bad guy face-off and, with 3 more episodes left, I can’t wait to see how things are resolved.
In this opener, we see Jesus of Nazareth having sex with a married woman. Afterwards, he tells her that he must leave to do something for his father but, as he leaves, one of his followers picks up on what’s been going on (likely a founder of The Grail.) As if this ordeal wasn’t classy enough, the married woman Jesus was with (Mary Magdalene?) gives birth to a child who is taken by the founder of The Grail, who then promptly has Mary killed.
In the present, we return back to where we left Jesse last episode: amidst an offer of assistance from Herr Starr. Herr Starr elaborates slightly on how he can help Jesse locate God and, in the process, convinces Jesse to come along with him to explore what The Grail’s resources can offer. Upon arriving at The Grail’s compound, Jesse is introduced to none other than the Pope and Archbishop of Rome, who take turns espousing their tinfoil hat theories on God’s disappearance. Ultimately, Jesse comes to understand that the reality of the situation is that even The Grail has no idea where God is, even with its extensive reach. One of the holy men does drop a clue that The Grail needs to bring in their true leader, who Jesse, in turn, compels Herr Starr to reveal as the literal Messiah.
Herr Starr decides to take Jesse to meet The Messiah. Once they arrive at The Grail’s hidden location, Starr introduces Jesse to the Christ child, who turns out to be mentally challenged due to years of inbreeding to keep the bloodline pure. The revelation repulses Jesse, who is in disbelief that this man named “Humperdoo” (which is priceless, by the way) could be the savior. Herr Starr takes Jesse back to Denis’s house where he explains that, even though Jesse compelled Starr to show him what The Grail organization knew, it all went as Starr had planned. The result of everything Jesse is shown boils down to an offer posed by Starr; an offer for Jesse to become The Grail’s new Messiah.
Cassidy flexes his newfound confidence as a father with his fledgling vampire son, Denis. While their relationship has significantly improved, signs of concern start to emerge as Denis’s lust for blood continues to surface. Cassidy tries to curb those urges by surrounding Denis with material pleasures like women and drugs, but it doesn’t seem to appease his appetite which, we find by the end of the episode, he might have already succumbed to.
Tulip spends the majority of this episode with Grail operative Featherstone, who is working on behalf of Starr to infiltrate and split up Jesse’s group. Still suffering from PTSD, Tulip really takes to the incognito Featherstone despite her eventual reservations. They spend most of their time together cooking and playing video games, only to be interrupted by Featherstone’s partner Hoover when Tulip starts to question the legitimacy of their newfound friendship. Swayed by a good, old-fashioned abusive boyfriend beat-down (thanks to the very dedicated Hoover,) Tulip is tricked by Featherstone into discovering where Jesse hid the guns of The Saint of Killers. We leave her looking at the guns and pondering how to handle the idea of The Saint of Killers possibly still being alive (although I’m not sure how she’d immediately come to that conclusion, it does seem to be the implication.)
“Dirty Little Secrets” makes great use of the existing narratives and tightens the overall story arc, but there are still some casualties remaining in its wake. My main issue with this episode is Tulip. Not particularly the character or what is written in for this episode script (I actually enjoy her interactions with Featherstone), it’s actually what this story is built upon that drives me insane. Tulip has been so off-base for me ever since the PTSD stuff started being developed. I was apprehensive at first because it didn’t fit my understanding of her character, but I settled on waiting to see how things were explained before I judged. At this stage, I’m not so sure they are ever going to explain what’s going on with Tulip. She’s a woman who has always be able to take care of herself and presumably faced many near-death experiences in her life as a career criminal. She’s also someone who has now been exposed to vampires, Genesis, and even angels, yet this encounter with The Saint of Killers is the thing that really rattles her. My problem isn’t specifically with this development, it’s just that they need to explain why that experience impacted her so much for this storyline to really work for me.
All that said, there is much to like about this episode. Herr Starr is an intriguing villain that continues to subvert all the tropes he seemed to initially carry when he was first introduced. After his machinations land Jesse squarely where he wants Jesse to be, he introduces a hiccup into this story that will undoubtedly force shockwaves throughout the rest of the season. Jesse having lost a piece of his soul and now having his ego stroked with the possibility of being The Messiah is almost certainly going to destroy what remains of the fracturing relationship between our principal characters. It’s honestly the perfect plot twist, one that will make the character moments to come all the more important and hopefully entertaining.
For all its little faults throughout season 2, I can confidently say that, as far as I’m concerned, Preacher has earned the resolution it’s heading towards. That is not to say that it’ll definitely stick the landing per se, just that the prep work that has set the stage could prove to be very satisfying (if not somewhat delayed and clearly telegraphed.)
Side note: there’s gotta be something to Humperdoo’s dog drawing and that weird scene earlier this season with someone named God dressed up in a similar looking dog costume, right?