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On Preacher, two out of three ain't bad

Illustration for article titled On Preacher, two out of three ain't bad
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There is one very good storyline in “Les Enfants du Sang;” one perfectly decent one; and one that looks cool but doesn’t really mean much of anything. I’ll leave it to you to decide which one is whi—oh, right. Review! I’m writing a review.

So: the Cassidy stuff, which follows our favorite Irish vampire’s adventures in New Orleans with a cult of wannabe vamps and their surprisingly charismatic leader, is excellent. Freed from the confines of Angelville, Cass is able to go back to doing what he does best: getting wasted and rolling his eyes at everything. With the Les Enfants du Sang (“Children of Blood”), he seems to have found a perfect target for said eye-rolling. This is probably the most aggressively “wacky” the show has been so far this season, at least overall—between the Eugene cold open (which I didn’t count as an official plotline, but wasn’t very good), Starr’s struggles, and the goofy Children, the episode seems to be doubling down on its sense of humor, with mixed results.


The Children are moderately amusing, but what makes the scenes with Cass so effective is that the writers use the joke to build to an unexpected subversion of expectations—one with a surprisingly strong emotional payoff. For once, the obvious gag isn’t the end of the story. And make no mistake, the Children are very obvious, right up to the bit about them having meetings in the basement of one member’s grandma. (She makes excellent cookies.) Their leader dresses and talks like someone out of an Anne Rice novel—worse, like someone who reads Anne Rice novels and consciously decided that talking like the characters in them would be a good idea.

Cass, being relatively sane, decides to leave. But then the aforementioned Lestat-wannabe Eccarius eats a live owl, and things get interesting. There needed to be some reason for the Children to be more than just a one off gag, but the show makes the strong choice of making Eccarius the real deal. The others are posers, but he’s a legitimate creature of the night. In addition to owl-eating, he can fly, will others to do his bidding, and change shape; so far, all we’ve seen from Cass is immortality, an ability to indulge in any drug he wants, and general aversion to sunlight.

Even better, Eccarius isn’t actually a creep. I legitimately don’t remember this storyline from the comics, but the odds are that eventually, the Children will turn out to be bad in some way we aren’t seeing; maybe Eccarius actually is a creep, maybe there’s something else going on. But for right now, he’s a decent enough guy. Oh sure, he takes advantage of the lady and her dad at the bar, but he doesn’t drain their blood. He feeds on his Children, but only from willing volunteers (there doesn’t appear to be any mind control here), and he makes sure they’re “good people” before he turns them.

None of which is perfect, of course, but it speaks to a fundamental flaw in Cass’s nature: his desperate need for self-pity, to pretend that everything is shit and being a vampire is shit, just to allow himself to get away with being a miserable asshole. We haven’t seen the worst of what he’s capable of (and he did choose not to use the love potion on Tulip, although the fact that he got the potion in the first place is pretty suspect), but watching him struggle with a group of friendly weirdos who seem to really have things figured out is fascinating. If it actually is possible to be a vampire and still have friends and be reasonably happy, then what, exactly, is wrong with Cassidy? What’s keeping him from being better?


It’s great to see the show actually interrogating its characters for once, instead of just pushing through various convoluted schemes. Which is what happens in the episode’s worst plot line, as Jesse and Tulip (along with Jody and T.C.) conspire to steal some souls from Madame Sabine to help bring Grandma back to life. The heist is cute (and Ruth Negga in a blond wig is fun), but everything that happens at Angelville is so needlessly convoluted that each scene can only really work in isolation from the rest. There are good jokes here—T.C. distracting the police by going to a petting zoo is a real highlight—but overall, it’s hard to work up much enthusiasm beyond mild amusement.

Everything’s muddled and flat; no one at Angelville is all that menacing, and the climax, which has Marie strapping Sabine to the soul-sucking machine and Jesse killing his former girlfriend because she’s lost her soul, doesn’t really register. It has the pieces of drama—murder, an old relationship, betrayal—but lacks the requisite spark to bring those pieces to life. We’ve been in Angelville for half a season now, which is too damn long. And with all that extra time, the show has failed to show us anything new about Jesse, or dig into his relationship with Tulip, or really do much of anything at all beyond stalling. We don’t know enough about any of these people for them to have depth; but we know too much about them for them to be immediately terrifying. So there’s no tension, and the only suspense at this point is how much of this we’re going to have to put up with before Jesse and Tulip finally hit the road again.


I said the scenes with Starr were fine, right? They were fine. The show dutifully draws attention to the ongoing gag in the source material about Starr’s bald-head coming to resemble a penis, and the All-Father returns to push the Grail back towards Jesse Custer. We learn that Starr is planning a coup (given that Hoover and Featherstone are his only help, this is a good joke), and also that Hoover is an idiot. It works better than the Angelville stuff, largely because the All-Father is still alien enough to be frightening (in one brief flashback, we see him sit on a man’s head, crushing it), and because it manages not to wear out its welcome. Also, Pip Torrens remains excellent in the role.

As for the cold open… well, I guess everyone has to draw the line somewhere. For me, the Saint of Killers adopting Eugene is probably mine. Obviously the Saint was going to catch up with Eugene eventually, and the show’s determination to lean into the contrast between the Saint’s grim demeanor and Eugene’s increasingly absurd optimism, is a fine, if predictable, joke. But the idea that the Saint could show up at the state run orphanage minutes after Eugene arrives and adopt him is just… I don’t know. Surely there was a better way to handle this? Like, here’s a thought, maybe just dropping this storyline entirely. That would be nice.


Stray observations

  • Remember when Jesse had super-powers? That was fun.

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