Preacher Season 3, Episode 3: “Gonna Hurt”
It seems fitting that characters on a series currently set in the swamps of Louisiana are fighting in quicksand of their own making. The more Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy struggle to get away from Angelville, the more entrenched in it they all become. The third episode of the season saw much of the same slow play reveals as the previous two episodes, but the ball started rolling a little faster, thanks in large part to Tulip’s roadside showdown with god.
Given that he is the one who got the trio into this mess, it’s only fitting that Jesse is the most stuck. We learn that in order to bring Tulip back, he had to enter a blood pact with Madame Marie. It’s not quite selling his soul; it’s more like pawning it with Marie, the ultimate arbiter of when the debt is paid.
The time stuck in his personal hell and separated from Genesis has humbled Jesse. He has some touching moments with both Tulip and Cassidy before setting out with the lummox Jody to hit a 12-step circuit in search of proverbial flies for his grandmother’s web.
Never one to merely let things happen, Tulip — despite dire warnings from Jesse — decides to break Jesse out of his current predicament. She starts by going back to New Orleans to confront The Grail directly, but they have already cleared out of their offices.
On the way back to Angelville, she notices that the dog-suited god was following down the road. She pulls over to confront The Almighty, and he’s more than happy to oblige. At first she’s apologetic for her recent failures on her mission, but being all-knowing, god said Tulip’s screwup was all part of the plan. God says he’s setting up the world for a pass/fail test, the idea of which is dripping with bad consequences for humanity. Tulip isn’t buying what god is selling and calls him out, saying he has no grand plan and instead, is acting out some kind of midlife crisis that involves latex suits, Harleys and bubblegum-popping floozies.
Tulip then turns her attention to breaking Jesse’s bond with Marie. Tulip explores the creepy mansion, and has to seduce the creepier T.C. to get information about how to break Jesse’s spell. It sends her to Marie’s voodoo rival, Madame Boyd, who says she’s been waiting to Tulip to show up at her door.
Despite warnings to lay low and mask his vampiric nature, Cassidy has a one-track mind when it comes to Tulip. He wants to get out of there, but he’s not going without her. Unfortunately, she refuses to leave without Jesse. Cassidy asks Marie for a love potion, presumably going into debt with her, himself. Before he has a chance to use it, Jody and TC do the math and decide to test out their theory by stringing Cassidy upside down in a tree, and waiting for the sun to come up.
Jesse has to do something to save Cassidy, though the solution isn’t pretty, either. He reopens The Tombs, that basement bunker fighting pit where Mama Marie’s deadbeats battle it out for the locals’ amusement. Cassidy is thrown in against the pervy teacher as the night’s main attraction.
Thoughts and Impressions
For two seasons, Preacher has been a series where literally anything could and did happen -– the more outrageous the better. The start of this season has been remarkably restrained. Last week, a goat was fired out of a cannon, but didn’t land with a bloody splatter. This week saw a woman torn in half as an abject lesson on what happens when you rip a blood pact napkin before the debut is paid, and even that was shown in black and white, which mitigated the gore.
The storytelling has been restrained too, much to the betterment of the series. Slow-playing details about the world Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy now find themselves in, and setting up nice character development moments along the way have elevated Preacher. Instead of focusing on how to shock the audience, the series is focusing on its characters.
The series has been crisp and light while moving a fair amount of backstory. Will this restraint last forever? With the return of The Saint of Killers next week, odds are that moderation won’t last another episode.