The growing pattern I’ve found in this middle section of season two of Preacher is my miscalculation on when the pace is going to pick up. It helps that “Holes” is a terrific episode of television for reasons that I will get to, but I still seem to keep jumping the gun when determining when real momentum is going to start developing. It probably comes from not considering how season two is longer than the first season, but regardless, the preview for next week is showing some major shake-ups. For now, “Holes” does a lot to continue building the personal Hell each character is living in.
As opposed to last week, where Pip Torrens’ performance as Herr Starr took all the attention away from everyone else, we get back to following our main trio and Eugene. Exploring the current state each of them is in leads to some excellent character work, even if some are more compelling than others. Jesse, in particular, seems to feel the most slight this week with his adventures at Circuit Works, the Best Buy of the Preacher universe, but he also has a guest appearance in Eugene’s Hell.
Let’s start there actually, as Eugene has been absent for a few weeks, but comes back with more anguish to share. Having been in Hell long enough to get a prison tattoo, it seems as if the tortured young man is accepting his fate, but that’s not what Hell has in mind for him. His presence is throwing off the system, which leads to the introductions of new scenarios. Thanks to Hitler, Eugene gets a glimpse at the other punishments that can take place in Hell.
While there may have been a lack of action this week, it seems as if the centerpiece sequence once again put a focus on Eugene in his former, normal state. It’s a twisted approach to the worst day of Eugene’s life, given the even more tortuous presentation of how things could have been with a bizarre twist of adding Jesse to the mix. Honestly, it’s the stuff nightmares are made of. Fortunately, while Eugene still wants little to do with Hitler (who Noah Taylor has been rather brilliant at playing), there are now seeds of a plan for escape, which should prove to be exciting.
Less interesting is Tulip. Despite the great effort by Ruth Negga, the PTSD Tulip is suffering is not coming across as strong as it could. I understand the need to see the effects of a monster on our cast and making her the most susceptible to real trauma, but this feels more like an attempt to keep her involved on screen than something that feels appropriate for the character. It’s a nice bit of business to see her buy a new refrigerator and repair the bullet holes caused by The Saint’s revolver, but it’s only going so far for a character that’s been tough as nails. The lack of further context is not helping in the same way it is for Cassidy (who I will get to, but let’s just say Joseph Gilgun is working well with the levels of nuance).
Things do seem to be headed for a turn, however, as Tulip does meet “Jenny,” who we know is a Grail operative secretly spying on Jesse. This chance friendship may prove to be enjoyable for a variety of reasons that stem beyond a mutual love of Boo Berry cereal. Of course, I don’t expect those reasons to be ones that spell out a good fortune for the trio as a whole.
As hinted at, it’s Cassidy that gets the most depth this week, as he deals with a slowly dying Denis. With some clues to our favorite goofball vampire’s past, we learn that Cassidy initially wanted to be a good father and is still in contact with another family member, Seamus, who is likely a vampire as well. These specific details aside, however, it’s the performance that shines here. Watching Gilgun process the information and wade back and forth in considering whether or not to turn his son into an immortal creature like him allows for a sense of drama that continues to add new shades to the character.
And then there’s Jesse, who mostly sits in a waiting area during the episode and even prays to God, who he knows is not currently around. One would think Jesse is smart enough to have noticed the Grail engraving on the back of his DVD, but regardless, we get a good sense of why he is so frustrated. It helps summarize much of what this portion of the season is attempting to accomplish.
“Holes” may be operating within the confines of a series of plots designed to emphasize pain and struggle, but it does an excellent job of doing so. Given our time spent with the main trio, as well as an understanding of Eugene’s plight (because his story is so odd, but realized enough to get it), the lack of faster momentum is handled well with an active concentration on further character building. I may have some minor gripes with how thin the material seems to be for Tulip, but it’s not stopping me from really enjoying the steps it’s taking for what’s likely a build to more craziness. We will see.
Preachin’ To The Choir:
- Details of Hell: duct tape is used for toilet paper, the vending machines distribute the worst candy bar – Zagnut, and the basketball is flat.
- Was that 1946 flashback a time before Cassidy was a vampire?
- Tulip is big on visiting The Hurt Locker bar.
- “Bite me!” – I haven’t said this enough, but poor Denis.
- The whole Extrapolator sequence was well done as far as seeing this show play with expectation.