I’ve spent a few weeks going on about how the mood was going to shift on Preacher. The thing to keep in mind is how this is still Preacher we’re talking about. Without the whiz-bang of immediate threats found in the season premiere or the incredibly bizarre sequences that create wild montages, such as Fiore’s magic show act or Eugene’s experience in Hell, the series will still move at a certain pace that is balanced by just how crazy the scenarios are for the characters involved. “Puzzle Piece” was an episode that had more forward momentum regarding plot, while still holding onto some of the reflective elements that makes this series work as a fine character drama. It worked out as far as getting characters closer to being out of their rut, while also delivering on the action.
Especially after last week, which was a fine episode, but had little in the way of set pieces, “Puzzle Piece” really went for it when it came to delivering some solid and tense action scenes. Taking the perspective of Grail soldiers was a great sequence that called to mind something like Zero Dark Thirty, with a use of silence and the viewpoint through night vision goggles making an inevitable result all the more exciting. The biggest surprise was how Denis factored in. We may not have a lot of investment in Denis, but the quick shot of him getting shot by a soldier certainly gave me a sad reaction, only to be taken aback a bit when it was revealed Cassidy did go through with turning him.
Sticking with Cassidy and his actions for a second, as opposed to how this series has found a way to deal with Tulip, Cassidy has decided to solve his problems in ways that are merely self-serving. Yes, there is a benefit in how Denis no longer has to suffer, but this is still Cassidy solving his problem of guilt over being a bad father by going against all the right decisions when it comes to how life should naturally play out. But is Preacher a show that considers everlasting life to be a bad thing?
The logic of this show involves twisted takes on life and death, religion, the afterlife and more. In a world where vampires exist, maybe Cassidy, the oldest of our central trio, should be given some level of credit. It’s a hard call to make, and that leads me to Tulip’s dilemma. I’ve been critical of how thin her plotline has been over the past few weeks, but Jesse finally talks to Tulip about what’s been going on, and it adds up. Mixing the bad that came with The Saint, along with past thoughts concerning her and Jesse’s relationship has led to a buildup of feelings that needed to be dealt with. Tulip is not cured, as we can tell from her paranoia, but she’s on a path that now feels more satisfying given the increased level of context.
Meanwhile, Jesse is still no closer to finding God. He begins this episode by doing YouTube searches for people who have claimed to have seen God, only to be caught up in the whole Grail situation. The entire portion of this episode, which finds Jesse eventually controlling a squad of police to stave off future attempts on his (and Cassidy and Tulip’s) lives, ends up being more of a diversion before getting to the ultimate understanding of what needed to happen. Jesse and Starr needed to meet
The “puzzle piece” metaphor that provides this episode its title makes plenty of sense when realizing it comes down to what Jesse and Starr want. Obviously, Jesse is looking for God, as he is hoping that mission will lead to putting control back in his life. Starr’s goal here is not as clear, but given the kind of person he is and the corporation he works for, it involves some apocalypse or whatever excites him. Regardless, the episode finds a way to use the “puzzle piece” concept well enough to allow for a satisfying conclusion of this episode on a character front.
Leading up to that final confrontation, which we’ll see more of next week, was still plenty of good business involving both Jesse’s situation and the people at the Grail. With Jesse, one masterful sequence includes the building of tension over the arrival of “Brad.” Not initially knowing it was a missile, having the ominous shots of both a cleaner and a fat drunk made for plenty of factors adding to the suspense, along with the blaring music coming from Denis’ record player.
The Grail parts of this episode gave us both uncomfortable moments with Starr concerning what he plans for his extracurricular activities (which thankfully stayed away from truly dark material), as well as more from operatives Featherstone and Hoover. Starr has been a great addition to the cast, so working him in and not having him take over the whole episode like his first real introduction is good to see. Additionally, while we’ve seen plenty of the operatives, this week gives them some little moments of character development that speak to who they are and their effectiveness.
There is a lot to like in “Puzzle Piece.” There are some well-done action sequences, plenty of great character moments to go around, and some advancement in the story that continues to set up the end game for this series. Between my knowledge of the comics and an understanding of what the Grail does, there could be an interesting finish for this season that will provide some interesting twists on Jesse’s mission. As it stands, the excitement of Preacher continues, as the show has put itself right into the groove it needs to be in.
Preachin’ To The Choir:
We got a flashback to Jesse’s father. The first in a while, which reminds us of what’s going on in his mind.
The use of night vision was a great touch.
Denis needs to learn how to be a vampire.
The reveal of B.R.A.D. was great, and the fact that it blew up Harry Connick Jr. was random but hilarious.
Jesse’s use of Genesis is not going to go well for him, given how much he relied on it this week.
“I love you.” – And now we know plenty about Hoover.
That pop-up ad about Cats was a great running joke as well.