NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Preacher” are present in this review
Preacher had to cover quite a lot of ground with Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy arriving at their destination of New Orleans this week, and it certainly seems like they’re going to be staying there for most, if not all of the show’s remaining Season Two episodes. “Damsels” was a very busy, occasionally over-crowded episode, which had to establish a lot of new intrigue and threats, and it sometimes did so with mixed results, even if some great scenes with the lead ensemble still made things pretty entertaining this week.
The show also finally checks in with Eugene Root/Arseface for the first time this season, where we see him stuck in a similar violent loop as the Saint of Killers once was. This officially cements that the psychological looping torture is officially how Hell operates in this universe, with Eugene forced to constantly re-live his failed attempt to save Tracy Loach from shooting herself in the head, and rendering herself comatose. Eugene also has to constantly re-live his own failed suicide, in what appears to be filling in a new story element that wasn’t present in the source comics, where Eugene instead attempted suicide to emulate Kurt Cobain.
Unfortunately, this new addition to the TV canon of Preacher feels very contrived, and really doesn’t work very well. This whole scenario feels inexplicable in every way, even by the standards of Preacher, as Tracy calls Eugene over to kill herself in front of him (even for a disturbed, self-absorbed teenager, that doesn’t make sense), and when Eugene talks her down, but then tries to kiss her, she then grabs the shotgun and shoots, with Eugene causing the buckshot to take off a chunk of her skull and render her comatose. Uh, what in the bluest of hells was that?! Why would a girl’s supposed, “Closest friend” disgust her so much with a kiss that she would shoot herself?! Eugene attempting to kill herself when the girl’s mother bangs on the door, and botching it as he does in the source comics, makes even less sense too! Why in the world would he not even try to explain himself?! Why would grabbing a gun and impulsively committing suicide without any predisposition towards depression/self-harm make any sense as a solution, even for a teenager?! This whole backstory for Eugene feels really, really stupid and forced, and that’s very, very bad, considering the touchy subject of suicide, which even this series can only tread so boldly around.
Eugene however was thankfully constrained to a smaller subplot, which ends with his prison cell in Hell malfunctioning, likely because he’s not supposed to be there. Instead, much of this episode involved Jesse, Cassidy and Tulip moving about New Orleans’ nightlife, and trying to discover where God might have gone to. This leads to some really sexually perverse scenarios, since, “Finding God” is clearly a dubious code word in New Orleans within this show, as well as a few choice encounters with some of the more rowdy citizens. Eventually, the gang also splits up too, with Jesse continuing on the mission to locate God, while Tulip and Cassidy instead shack up with Cassidy’s alleged French-speaking friend, Dennis. Well, Cassidy claims he’s a friend. Tulip seems to notice that the guy hates Cassidy’s guts, which worked well enough, since it helped Cassidy be a great source of comic relief in this episode.
Tulip, meanwhile, quickly gets nervous, and starts constantly looking over her shoulder. When she’s soon recognized by a woman that she used to know, it becomes evident that Tulip has quite an intricate backstory in this city that we haven’t previously learned, and that becomes especially apparent when her old nemesis, Viktor inevitably locates her. The episode ending with Tulip being captured should hopefully provide another interesting criminal element to the show, even though Viktor doesn’t exist in the source comics. Either way, any excuse to see more of Tulip kicking ass is bound to pay dividends!
By far the biggest part of this week’s Preacher offering though is the introduction of Lara Featherstone, who is going to be a key character this season. Lara, who appears to be a re-named version of Sarah Featherstone from the source comics, is a lounge singer that Jesse finds towards the end of his investigation, saving her from some mysterious thugs all clad in white. Jesse manages to send the woman away, thinking that she’s a helpless victim, though, if you’ve read the source comics, you’ll be able to call a twist with her character in advance.
Yes, Lara is actually working with the thugs, who pretty clearly appear to be a part of undercover holy organization, the Grail. Turns out, Lara was testing Jesse’s abilities, in an effort to prove that he really does command the Word of God. Again, this scenario is a little suspect, since I’m not sure why Lara needs to bother with the whole dog and pony show when she’s inevitably going to have to expose her organization to Jesse soon anyway, but maybe this will make sense later. Either way, we do get a small peek at the live-action TV incarnation of the Grail’s leader, Herr Starr towards the end of the episode as well, who is inevitably going to be a threat standing almost on the level of the Saint of Killers very soon this season!
“Damsels” ends up being a mostly good episode of Preacher, though the convoluted, scattered storytelling sometimes gets in its way, as does some of the quite evidently less successful alterations to the canon of the source comics with Eugene and Lara. I’m not even sure why Featherstone’s first name needed such a minor, inconsequential change for Preacher’s TV adaptation, frankly, unless it’s somehow an alias, but again, what’s the point? We get a quick glimpse at Hoover as well, the other important lieutenant of the Grail, but he doesn’t really do very much yet. There seems to be a lot of balls in the air already with Jesse and co. reaching New Orleans, which presents plenty of potential for the rest of Season Two, though there is a slight sense of the show starting to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks in this week’s episode. Hopefully next week’s episode tightens up the storytelling, and starts moving away from some of these less important or less well-executed character stories.
- Busy, intriguing and amusing introduction to New Orleans
- More promising teases of Tulip's New Orleans backstory
- Cassidy providing effective comic relief
- Eugene's and Tracy's botched suicide backstory is forced and stupid
- Lara's charade with Jesse is kind of pointless