AMC’s Preacher, Season 2, Episode 12: “On Your Knees”
As Preacher tees up for the season finale, is it prepping us for a home run? In short, I guess? The pieces are starting to fit together and the picture is coming into focus. The one thing that’s missing is the punch. Things do ultimately get to where I expected them to go with Jesse finally pushing away Tulip and Cassidy, but I always assumed there would be a heavier shoe to drop when we got there. Especially in an episode that features a return of The Saint of all Killers proper, we could only assume mayhem was to come as well but, in reality, “On Your Knees” is a pretty tame episode. Watching the team fallout is tough (they really do have great chemistry,) but with the return of The Saint of Killers and a half season of build up to this moment, I can’t help but feel that “On Your Knees” whiffs on the execution, but the payoff is still worth the price of admission.
“On Your Knees” starts with a reveal of The Grail giving the old Japanese armored truck switcheroo, showing that The Saint of Killers is now working for Herr Starr (who isn’t, these days.) Tulip and Cassidy worry about whether Jesse will return just as he shows up in the doorway. Jesse asserts that he wants to get a couple drinks to relax and not talk about God for a while, which Tulip and Cassidy have no problem with. Fixated on one of Cassidy’s finger left under the fridge from the group’s last run in with The Saint of Killers, Tulip decides to get rid of it. On the way out to the dumpster, The Saint of Killers ambushes her. She finally faces her fears and tries to stop The Saint of Killers, but he easily overpowers her and continues to search for “Preacher.”
Pacing the halls of the apartment, The Saint of Killers begins to zero in on Jesse. The Saint still proves to a force to be reckoned even without his weapons, easily dispatching resident vampires Cassidy and Denis. After a failed attempt of using Genesis on The Saint of Killers (due to ear plugs, maybe?), Jesse tries to take him out the old-fashioned way, but that fails as well. On his knees (…roll credits) and at the mercy of The Saint of Killers, Jesse is saved at the last minute by none other than the warden of Hell (I’m not sure what her position is exactly) who turns out to also be acting on behalf of Herr Starr (surprise, surprise.) She tells The Saint of Killers that, if he doesn’t return to Hell and leave Jesse alive, his personal Hell would be filled with either his wife or daughter. He surrenders to their custody right after telling Jesse that they’d meet again.
After the battle, Cassidy and Tulip are taken to what they assume would be the emergency room, but is actually Herr Starr’s office. After niceties are exchanged (mainly from Cassidy,) Starr explains that he plans to make Jesse the new Messiah and that the role doesn’t have a lot of room for sidekicks. The pair confronts Jesse about the truth of this development and, in the end, he tells them that he doesn’t have a choice. He explains that God the Man Dog they saw soon after arriving in New Orleans was actually “the” God, and asserts that he himself is more qualified to be man’s salvation. (Hubris at its peak?) Tulip and Cassidy have a tough time understanding how Jesse can really think that he is the right choice for this. Finally, Tulip asks Jesse if this is truly what he wants, then what does he even need them for. Without a sufficient answer, Jesse parts ways with Tulip and Cassidy to begin his life as The Grail’s new Messiah.
Our time in Hell this week has Eugene facing his own personal Hell… again. After entering the hole with Hitler, Eugene is able to finally overcome his most painfully memory. He realizes that he was not to blame for Tracy’s death. He confronts Tracy and tells her that he just wanted to be her friend and that if she decides to kill herself, it’s her own choice, not his. This change prompts Eugene’s father to emerge and, after defusing yet another one of the hole’s ever evolving hell mechanic, they are able to escape through Hell’s air ducts (it honestly is a weird choice for Hell’s design, to be sure.)
As I mentioned in the opener, “On Your Knees” is an okay episode. It just lacks the “umph” I was hoping for. To be fair, I wanted a lot, so maybe I played myself. I expected there to be some real payoff for the PTSD stuff with Tulip but, in the end, it seems to have been just a plot device to keep The Saint of Killers relevant in his absence. I also assumed that the fallout between our trio would be more, I don’t know… tumultuous. All the resolutions in this episode are contrived and could leave the audience feeling a little jipped in some ways, but since things do fall into the right place for a strong finale, does Preacher get a pass?
Jesse finally takes a swing into full-on megalomania in this episode. It was definitely a jump from last episode, based on how he left things with Herr Starr, but now Jesse is fully embracing the idea that he can be a Messiah. The writing has always been on the wall and plays into an even darker turn for his character, which is something that’s hard to do. As Cassidy correctly points out, he is just a person (a particularly sinful one, at that.) How can he possibly have deluded himself into thinking he can know what’s best for all mankind? I can only imagine how the praise and servitude of the people will feed into an ego that’s growing hungrier and hungrier by the minute. This is great stuff. Is what Herr Starr doing right? Well, clearly it isn’t. But has he planned for how to control Jesse once he sets him loose? I can’t imagine he has any way to control Genesis when push comes to shove, unless he plans on using Tulip and Cassidy somehow.
The other piece of the puzzle that’s been a struggle to place this season is Eugene’s story. Now that Hitler is back on Earth, what will he do? For that matter, what does Eugene do? Will he go back to Jesse? I can’t imagine he would, considering everything he’s been through. He can’t go back home for obvious reasons. Maybe the story is here to show us that there is a way out of Hell that doesn’t involve Angels, or that Hitler will become a big player going forward. I do feel that Eugene’s penultimate scene, confronting his worst memory, suffers from the overall story being spread out over the season. While it is a nice moment for the character and something to root for, can Hell really be that easily subverted? Eugene wasn’t meant to be there so, theoretically, that’s why he was able to overcome it, and it could explain why Hitler took such an interest in him. Time will tell what’s ahead for Eugene. Unfortunately, with Hitler in tow, it probably won’t be anything good.
Next week is it; this one is for all the marbles. I think Preacher has been a marked improvement over its freshman outing and I’m really rooting for it to stick the landing. While the resolution of The Saint of Killers this episode takes chips away at the possible action we can expect to see in the finale, I think we’ll be fine if it sticks to what it does best: character drama. They’ve got a great cast and the perfect Preacher sized monkey wrench thrown in to the mix for the finale. Expect some magic.