A quick review of tonight’s Preacher coming up just as soon as my boyfriend has my husband on a hook in a torture room…
After season two opened with real forward momentum, it feels like things have stalled out a bit the last couple of weeks with this Viktor interlude. Both “Viktor” and “Dallas” have their moments — the “Uptown Girl” fight last week, the way the montage of Jesse and Tulip’s dreary life in Dallas begins to resemble the show’s depiction of Hell itself — but mainly feel like they’re marking time until we can get back to both the search for God (not discussed at all this week) and the Saint of Killers’ pursuit of Jesse (which only comes up at the end when the Saint slaughters Viktor’s entire crew).
There’s value to be found in exploring Jesse and Tulip’s backstory, and the underlying tensions that are going to exist in every version of their relationship, particularly Jesse’s belief that he can be more than just an outlaw versus Tulip’s resignation that it’s the only thing she’s good for. But this extended glimpse of what happened to them in the aftermath of the bank robbery gone wrong and Tulip’s miscarriage didn’t seem to shed enough new light on all that to merit the time spent. Nor did it entirely live up to the suggestion in the present day scenes that Jesse must have been spectacularly awful to Tulip for her to so quickly want to marry Viktor.
Where “Dallas” was most interesting — if perhaps worrisome long-term — was in its full embrace of Jesse Custer, bad guy who thinks he’s a good guy. I’ve expressed concern over that previously, in part because I thought the show didn’t realize how badly he can come across at times. But both the flashbacks and the contemporary scenes here are acutely aware of how Jesse can let his own negative feelings — depression in the past, violent jealousy in the present — overwhelm both himself and everyone around him. Right before Jesse’s father — who had a similar self-righteous streak — was killed, he reminded Jesse to be a good guy, because there’s way too many of the bad, and that belief in himself is part of what’s motivating him (along with Genesis itself) to think he has both the duty and the right to track down God and call Him to account for abandoning His flawed creation. But mostly what Jesse Custer does, even when he’s less mono-focused than he is in both halves of “Dallas,” is bring pain on others. He keeps using the Word without thinking of the consequences, even though he knows now that it creates a trail for the Saint to follow, and now Allie (and any kids Viktor’s guys might have had) will grow up without a father because Jesse Custer was too busy being more protective of Tulip than she wanted him to be to actually think about what he was doing.
Jesse can’t be a perfect man, not with his history, but I’ll be curious to see how far Sam Catlin and company intend to push this angle. I haven’t been in love with these last two episodes because they had so little to do with the main story, but also because I haven’t much been liking the title character during them.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org