Martin Carr reviews the third episode of Preacher season 3…
Down in the darkness they run an unlicensed fight club with a difference. Donning his trademark top hat all battered, burnished and soiled with the souls of those long passed, Jesse Custer beckons you in. Participants are chained, malnourished, consigned to purgatory and looking for no prize beyond the respite which death might afford them. Wearing the vestments of a consecrated preacher man like a mocking middle finger to our gimp suited saviour, episode three offers up bullet wound surgery, early morning burnings and more than a little Southern hospitality.
This then is how Preacher sets out its stall with wheelchair bound faith healers, biker Gods in Dalmatian attire and blood sack sucking Irish reprobates. Joe Gilgun has taken a back seat thus far in this melodrama where world building rather than character progression has taken precedence. Establishing Jesse’s grandmother, estate hand Jody and simpleton TC has taken focus away from our central players. By expanding on the Southern Gothic overtones in conjunction with elements of Walter Hill’s Southern Comfort tonally, Preacher has gained depth through locale rather than interaction. Where the switch occurs on this occasion involves the meeting of Gilgun’s Cassidy and Buckley’s Gran’ma.
Amongst this episode’s other madness those moments between these two actors proves to be the most insidious. There are inflections, glances and dramatic motivations being batted back and forth between them which makes almost everything else disappear. Tulip’s digressions with TC and our Lord Almighty might be intriguing from a theological standpoint, but that is more distraction than solid entertainment. Bearded men in gimp suits are more deviant than devious and Ruth Negga playing sass against celestial manifestations is pure comic book.
Meanwhile Jesse and Jody may still be at loggerheads but Cooper is bouncing around achieving little whilst slowly being funnelled into a no win situation. At this point he is static because his grandmother has both hands around those balls and squeezes when she pleases. For that reason then it becomes the responsibility of Cassidy to ground this madness. Laid back literally in perpetual recovery his blood sack antics somehow make him more human. Bloody napkins, slaughtered chickens and a bull elephant’s tolerance for illegal substances has made Irish not only sympathetic but emotionally vulnerable. Making this season not only sordid, sultry and in need of salvation, but beyond the philosophical musings of a sexually deviant deity surprisingly soulful.