Watching “Damsels” was a good way to acknowledge just how well-realized the central trio of Preacher is at this point. While there will likely always be a debate over how necessary it was to set the entire first season in Annville, it did allow us to get to know these characters and the performers inhabiting them. I say all this because “Damsels” is the type of episode that sets up a lot more than it delivers. We watch a trip through New Orleans but are left with a lot of questions. That in mind, while it will be exciting to see where things go, it was not at all boring to see the setup in getting there. All of that and we also got to visit Hell and see what Eugene’s been up to.
Taking Eugene into account first, there are things I like and don’t like about how his story is handled. Director Michael Slovis has proven to have a knack for making the design of Hell work. Much like The Saint of Killers, Eugene’s stay in Hell means going through a permanent loop of the worst day of his life. It provides some new information concerning how Eugene’s shotgun incident happened. The only problem is the way it goes about revealing said information. While it’s nice that we now understand Eugene is not so much a bad person as he is just unlucky, it means making Tracy into an unlikable character that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Given the differences from the comics and how there isn’t much more to do with that, we’ll just have to accept what’s been done with Eugene’s origins. Still, it all leads to the other aspect of Hell. This part finds Eugene getting out of his jail cell (Hell is weird) and finding out he’s sharing a close space with Noah Taylor as Adolf Hitler. I don’t know where this is going, but it will likely be amusing in all the wrong ways.
Moving in the right ways, we have Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy arriving in New Orleans with their goal of finding God in mind. The only problem is Tulip’s worry over whether or not the mysterious Victor will learn she’s back in his town. We still don’t know anything about Victor and what he means to Tulip, but it’s making her uncomfortable enough to separate from Jesse for much of the episode. This also gives Cassidy a chance to spend time with the woman he has unrequited love for, so the two of them go off on their own, while Jesse tours around the various clubs in search of God.
Jesse’s portion of this episode is surprisingly solid. Given how the character works best when he’s around Cassidy or Tulip, having Jesse on his own almost feels like a test for Dominic Cooper. Given that Jesse now has a real drive, as opposed to moping around his church, it pays off here. His searches allow for a little montage and the eventual interaction with a lounge singer who proves to be more significant than anticipated. They have a nice conversation that leads to near seduction to bring Genesis out. This use of the voice comes after the episode’s one fight sequence, keeping us aware that Jesse doesn’t need the voice of God to beat up a bunch of people.
There’s more mystery behind what’s going on with Tulip and Cassidy. I already mentioned Tulip’s dilemma, and I’ll get back to her. Cassidy brings something new to the table in the form of Dennis; a French-speaking man said to be a friend of Cassidy. This is an odd relationship, as Dennis seems both perplexed and angry at Cassidy, despite letting him and Tulip stay at his house. Perhaps the vampire did something to save this man at some point. We don’t know, but ideally, we’ll learn what’s going on here.
In the meantime, the episode does provide Cassidy with moments to be sympathetic towards Tulip. The only problem is Tulip has little desire to do much of anything beyond worry about who knows she’s in town. One interaction eventually gets her caught, but not before having an awkward phone conversation with Jesse and making a stop at the laundromat to pick up some cigarettes. I mentioned Slovis’ direction before, and it’s a good thing to point out again, as the final sequence involving Tulip in the foreground, while Victor’s goons arrive out of focus behind her was a great bit of business.
So Cassidy is living with Dennis, Tulip is off to see Victor, and Jesse starts to understand jazz a bit more. It may feel like we’re left hanging, but this journey has so far remained as intriguing as it should. We may have toned down the gonzo craziness from the two-night premiere from last week, but “Damsels” does plenty to let us continue to hang with these characters and appreciate how well-drawn they are. If that also means getting a ridiculous scene such as the one involving the first possible visit with God seen this week or that reveal of Hitler, so be it. Preacher has put in the work to add weird to its story, and it will be fun to see how it all comes together as the weeks go on.
Preachin’ To The Choir:
- Eugene picking up the brains and trying to put them back in Tracy’s skull was silly, but made me chuckle.
- I liked the updated opening credits, accounting for the new location and evolving cast.
- That man in the dog suit was incredibly creepy; especially the close up on his eye.
- I have no idea what to expect from this Dennis relationship.
- We learn about a “crypto-fascist religious organization” this week, which includes a brief look at Pip Torrens as Herr K. Starr. Comic fans know what to expect, but everyone else should just get ready for more madness to come from this.
- The Saint of Killers must be on his way right? Jesse’s Genesis use may have just spelled doom for New Orleans.