Martin Carr reviews the eighth episode of Preacher season 2…
Theological questions of immortality, questionable plastering skills and moments in Hell make up Preacher this week. Power issues in the afterlife are addressed, goodness is punished in short order, while megalomaniac bonding sessions never felt creepier. Surreal fireside television torture, voice distortion and a film noir, cabin fever sort of mentality pervades elements of ‘Holes’ throughout. Something else which season 2 is slowly morphing into takes it away from those comic book roots into the realms of contemporary drama, without losing any of the programmes established edge.
Beyond the Christian crusaders, mythical warrior assassins and search for belief through redemption is a father son narrative which is heartbreaking. Cassidy has forged an unspoken, miscommunicated poignantly powerful bond with Dennis, which strips away the years and brings with it a moral quandary. Defined by excess he may be but Gilgun brings emotional heft to the table, wrestling with the implications of what his son is asking. Nursery rhymes, relentless guilt and paternal instinct begin to cloud his judgement, pick his moral compass apart and leaving him with an impossible choice. Flashbacks are used eloquently to convey, broaden and elaborate on Cassidy making him more human and less the monster he believes himself to be.
Elsewhere Jesse’s quest for religious salvation feels like a poorly developed sub-plot in comparison. Neither particularly engaging nor steeped in pathos this segue only goes to illustrate how resonant that father son thread has proven to be. Even Tulip with her makeshift plastering and disconnected demeanour are no contest against the likes of our Irish bloodsucker. Ian Coletti, who has been criminally underused from week one, gets little to do except converse with Hitler, look mean and do a few chin ups. Conceptual theories of Hell are interesting but cry out for a whole episode yet get glossed over in a few minutes. Shock factor is dwindling and Coletti’s role in all of this feels superfluous right now, even if the Fuhrer manages to lighten the mood.
Preacher can be accused of many things but taking the easy way home is not amongst them. Every week it dips into the source material and draws forth something of substance. Cooper, Gilgun, Negga and Torrens tap into that renegade sensibility and bring this human drama to life one scene at a time. Challenging, original, bold and balls out bad arse Preacher takes a moment to extend its manicured middle finger to all comers. Long may the mentality of boundary bending, evangelically challenging televisual entertainment keep those conservative worry warts up at night.