A revealing and emotional Preacher brings Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy one step closer to finding God in the turbulent and thrilling third episode of season 2 “Damsels”.
After viewing the tragic truth behind Eugene’s deformity, I was fortunate enough to chat with Ian Colletti about the audience’s perspective and the empathy that would soon follow.
When I first started Preacher, I never imagined the most appalling moments would derive from the town’s “monster” yet, as the show progressed, every time my jaw dropped was consequence of Eugene Root. The opening scene of “Damsels” is Preacher’s most harrowing yet. We see the destruction of Eugene both emotionally and physically (in a brilliant flash-forward montage expertly signifying the hellish repetition) as his innocence is shattered while simultaneously disclosing the town always viewed the young man as monstrous. The only silver lining here is Eugene’s unfaltering devotion to God which eventually leads to his heartbreaking damnation by Jesse. Hopefully, this devotion will be Eugene’s saving grace as he navigates the eternal prison.
Ian Colletti’s performance is remarkable and Emmy worthy from the sunlit opening illuminating his ecstatic smile to his distressing look of despair as he stares down the barrel of the shotgun; Colletti masters an intense range of emotions. If audience members weren’t empathetic for Eugene before they damn sure will be now. After trying to prevent Tracy’s suicide (despite her hurtful rejection), Eugene desperately tries to scrape her scattered brains back into her skull. Preacher’s ability to balance tragedy and comedy has never been more astounding than in this moment and I couldn’t have asked for a better director to bring such an origin to life.
Michael Slovis is an absolute TV legend. His episodes of any series always standout with his distinctive and innovative style. From his iconic work on Breaking Bad (both as director and director of photography) to his epic introduction of Game of Thrones fifth season, even the fake-out episode of The Walking Dead where Glen “dies”, Slovis was more than well-seasoned for Preacher. His visionary talent is staggering from the bird’s-eye view by Eugene’s cell projector to the neon montage of Preacher’s God fueled bar crawl.
Though this is the third episode, “Damsels” feels like the unofficial start of season 2 as we’re introduced to Julie Ann Emery (Lara Featherstone – echoing her conning role from Better Call Saul), Noah Taylor (as Eugene’s cell neighbor: the Führer), and Pip Torrens (the iconic Herr Starr) accompanied by a stylish new opening credit sequence. This sense of novelty continues with the new location (hello, New Orleans!) and the introduction of The Grail.
Preacher is one of the few mediums to properly introduce a love triangle without being wholly consumed by such or diluting its characters. The relationship between Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy faces further strain as Tulip’s dark history in New Orleans comes to surface. Tulip confides her Viktor troubles in Cassidy (knowing Preacher’s outrage will worsen the situation) keeping yet another secret from Jesse. It’s only a matter of time before those too come to surface and the result is sure to be explosive.
I did love when Cassidy called Tulip out on treating him like an incapable “idiot Irish sidekick” though he’s successfully helped her on more than one occasion. Preacher does this too (especially last episode when he comforts Fiore after Jesse fails to get any information from him) proving that Cassidy does best when he’s underestimated (much like Tulip). On that note, I know Jesse and Tulip are meant to be together but I can’t help shipping her with Cassidy instead. Though they don’t share the same history as Jesse and Tulip, she and Cassidy often see each other’s true selves (sometimes even more than she and Jesse) especially with Jesse selfishly pushing her aside for his God sent mission and believed purpose.
True to Preacher’s unconventional ways, “Damsels” doesn’t refer to your typical maiden in distress. It’d be easy to assign Tulip and Tracy to the title yet they don’t seem to be the ones that need saving. The smirk on Tulip’s face at the end ensures the audience that this was her plan rather than being cornered. Tracy’s suicidal attempt may seem like an extreme damsel in distress but the outcome manifests her control of her own fate regardless of Eugene’s efforts. In my interpretation, the damsels of this episode refer to the damned Eugene and the wandering Preacher in search of their God who seems to have abandoned them in tune with the apocalyptic “A Walk to the Peak“.
“Damsels” is acutely Preacher from the constant stabilization of hilarity and drama (aptly paired with Dave Porter’s suspenseful score and a doggy dominatrix) to the resourceful and realistic fight scenes that border the slapstick line (complete with a Three Stooges reference) making the third episode one of my all-time favorites. With a reunion between Tulip and Viktor on the horizon, Herr Starr dissecting Jesse Custer’s bulging file, and Eugene mingling with his atrocious new cellmate, we can only imagine the insanity to follow next Monday! Preacher continues 7/10 with episode 4 “Viktor” at 9 p.m. EST on AMC!
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