AMC’s Preacher, Season 2, Episode 11: “Backdoors”
In this latest episode, we start to scratch at the friction that’s been present just below the surface all through the last half of the season. There are a lot of great things going for “Backdoors” and personally, I’m excited for the shit to start hitting the fan. We’ve been building tension for what seems like such a long time this season that I feel we need it all to come to a head. My fear is that when it finally does, it might not be as impactful as it should be given how long things have been simmering. “Backdoors” does get the ball rolling, however, and sets the stage for the season’s ending, which I have to believe is going to pack punch.
We start the episode in a flashback sequence of Jesse’s childhood, where he’s being dredged up from a swamp. When he’s released from the wooden casket, a woman demands that he tell her who he is, to which he states, “I’m Jesse…Custer!” and is promptly re-submerged in the water. We learn that the purpose of this torture is to get Jesse to renounce the name Custer and thank his grandmother for killing his father. This scene is mirrored later with Jesse and Tulip, as the armored truck formerly holding The Saint of Killers is hauled out of the swamp only to discover that it is now empty. Jesse tries to reassure Tulip and Cassidy by reminding them that it’s him that The Saint of Killers wants, not them (however, that fact didn’t stop The Saint of Killers from almost killing them both a few episodes ago.) After deciding that they still have to find God before they can leave New Orleans, Jesse has a head-slapping moment when he puts together that Humperdoo’s dog drawings looked oddly similar to the person we saw dressed in a dog costume earlier this season. He surmises that this person in the dog costume may, in fact, be God. The revelation, however, falls just short of convincing Tulip and Cassidy to accompany him as the strain of his mission start to give way to reason.
So Jesse heads back alone to where they’d last seen the person in the dog costume but, unsurprisingly, he’s no longer there. Out of options, he’s forced to go back to The Grail in search of answers, which ultimately proven fruitless as well. Herr Starr tries yet again to persuade Jesse to join The Grail as their new Messiah by playing him recordings of every prayer he’s ever made (which is apparently something that I guess just exists?) Starr asserts that the reason Jesse is trying too hard to find God is because he wants forgiveness, and that by serving as the Messiah, he could actually achieve it. Another flashback during this scene shows a young Jesse once again dredged up from swamp, but this time agreeing to his grandmother’s demand and renouncing the Custer name as well as thanking God for his father’s death. Back at The Grail’s headquarters, Jesse reflects on his past and, instead of accepting Starr’s offer, invites him to shove the recordings up his ass (which, due to the supernatural potency of Genesis, he is bound to do.)
Tulip, after deciding not to help Jesse with the endless search for God, opts to destroy The Saint’s weapons with her friend Jenny, the disguised Grail operative Featherstone. They are able to convince a blacksmith to melt down the guns even after failing to unload them (Featherstone proves particular helpful in this effort.) They discover that the weapons are actually impervious to the heat and remain cool to the touch after being submerged in the smelter. Tulip reveals to Featherstone that she’s always trusted Jesse and that she should’ve gone with him to help find God. In the end, Tulip still wants to get rid of the weapons so she mails them to various places around the country.
Cassidy continues to train Denis in the ways of vamping. The more time that progresses, however, the less in control he seems to be. Cassidy gets Denis a dog (which earns a hilariously sincere response from Jesse), although it slowly starts to become clear that he plans on eating it (or whatever vampires do in this universe.) By the end of the episode, Denis tells his dad that he knows that he has been harbouring feelings for Tulip and suggests that he she just “take her.” Cassidy recoils at this, strongly condemning the notion, a sentiment that Denis shrugs off. Horrified by this development, Cassidy asks Denis to give him the dog back (apparently only just now realizing the amount of danger that dog is in) but Denis calmly and simply disobeys his father, signaling control might have already been lost.
Down in Hell, we check back in on Eugene who, last we saw, was likely about to be flagged as the person who doesn’t belong there. Luckily for him, Hitler wants to help (something that is still just weird to say.) In what may be a play to uncover what Hitler is up to, he convinces Hitler to show him his Hell. Hitler’s worst memory turns out to be a time when he wasn’t a demagogue but a strudel-hating push-over of an artist that had a bad day. Hitler describes this memory as the last day he was good, because after this moment, he loses himself. Eugene is somehow convinced to trust Hitler because of this memory and they escape through Hell’s backdoor (roll credits) which is apparently the hole.
“Backdoors” is a solid episode that sets the stage for the season’s finale. With the forces of The Grail at work, The Saint of Killers returning, and whatever the hell Hitler is up to, I’m sure we’re in for a treat. I continue to have issues with Tulip’s arc in the second half of this season, which looks unlikely to be cleared up at this point. It honestly just looks like the show wanted The Saint of Killers to remain a looming threat during his time in the swamp, so they saddled Tulip with the burden of being our reminder. Again, I don’t have a problem with the way it’s acted, it’s just that the storyline lacks any sort of depth, but it fundamentally changes Tulip’s character inexplicably. The Saint of Killers is poised to come back in the series in a big way next episode, so I’m really hoping for a significant payoff for Tulip’s story upon his return, considering how much impact he had on her.
Stakes are raised between Herr Starr and Jesse this episode. I’m not sure where things go from here between the two characters, but I can’t imagine Starr takes this latest sleight sitting down (I’m sure that’ll be a difficult task anyway given the circumstances Jesse left him in.) The subplot with The Grail actually serves the overall plot of finding God quite well, especially considering the staleness of that storyline at the moment. Rightly ⅔ of the trio start to call BS on Jesse’s crusade to find God since not only has it left them in peril multiple times, it also hasn’t actually made any measurable progress. I mean, they hadn’t gotten any closer to finding God since they arrived in New Orleans, and assuming he’s right about the dog being God, he’s back to square one after this episode since God is still nowhere to be found.
In related news, I’m glad I wasn’t off base with my prediction about Humperdoo’s paintings being significant. The main reason the painting jumped out to me is because I always watch the title sequences that actually include a shot of God the dog which, in hindsight, was probably the intention behind its inclusion (you cheeky bastards.) I’m very interested in what this says about God. Is it as Jesse theorizes: is God perverted? Worse, is he a furry? To find out, tune in next week, folks!