NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Preacher” are present in this review
Preacher’s second season really seemed to find its footing again with last week’s excellent episode, and fortunately, that excellent note continued in this week’s episode. “Pig” continued to benefit from pushing aside Tulip’s family history and the Saint of Killers this week, instead finally giving us a proper introduction to Grail mastermind, Herr Starr, who is supposed to be a major villain this season, but has barely been acknowledged before now. Finally, Herr Starr gets an episode worthy of his outstanding pedigree as a villain from the source comics, and that was only one element of an episode that also had plenty of other strong story elements to offer!
Things begin rather strangely in Vietnam, where a pig is shown to mysteriously float, attracting the attention of the local citizens and the media alike. It also attracts the attention of Herr Starr, an executive for the Grail, whom we were previously introduced to several episodes ago via Lara Featherstone, a character that’s also sat out all of the subsequent episodes so far, in order to accommodate the big Tulip storyline with Viktor. We still don’t see Featherstone this week, but fortunately, Herr Starr nonetheless steals the episode. We even get a cool nugget about Starr in this TV adaptation of Preacher, namely that his full name is revealed to be, “Klaus Helmut Starr” for the first time here, whereas Starr’s first name was never revealed in the source comics, let alone his middle name.
In any case, we get a great set of scenes showcasing exactly how Herr Starr came to enter the service of the Grail, namely by being recruited out of a particularly brutal stint in the German army. After outlasting the competition in a series of increasingly over-the-top challenges, all of which nicely start hinting at Starr’s stomach-turning legacy as one of the most infamous perverts in comics, things culminate with Starr shooting his only competition dead during the marksman challenge, leading to him getting the job of the Grail’s new agent. Starr then follows that accomplishment up by pushing his recruiter off a building, thus securing his place in the organization. I guess the Grail somehow believed that this highly suspicious fatal fall was an accident.
Interestingly, this episode also reveals that the reason for the Grail’s existence is to safeguard the publicly unknown descendant of Jesus Christ himself, who is under heavy protection in a secret location. Even that big reveal pales in comparison to Pip Torrens’ sheer presence as Herr Starr though, a character that is already shaping up to be the villain that this season of Preacher truly needs. This episode provided the perfect device to tell us everything we need to know about Starr, why he’s dangerous, and how he got to where he is in an increasingly troublesome holy organization. I doubt that we’ll ever see the character at his most raw and twisted on this show, since a lot of Starr’s antics from the source comics would never be approved by the AMC censors, but even so, Preacher nonetheless did a great job of establishing Herr Starr as a worthy new antagonist to Jesse and his crew with this backstory.
Back in New Orleans, there also happened to be a standout follow-up to the passing joke of a bar where you can pay someone to shoot you, which was first mentioned in the previous episode. When Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy need money, they pay a visit to this very bar, and execute a hilarious con that has Cassidy pretending to be killed by a .44 Magnum, leading to the patrons fleeing, and allowing Jesse and Tulip to steal all of the money and booze in the bar. This successfully has Jesse’s crew finding funding again, but most importantly, it also provides a way for Cassidy to begin dealing with the idea of having to lose someone close to him yet again. Turns out, Denis is dying of heart disease, and because Cassidy doesn’t understand French, he needed someone else to point this out to him. Cassidy adamantly refusing to change Denis into a vampire, despite his requests, also leads to Denis declaring that he will die hating his father. This was a powerful, heartbreaking moment in an episode that otherwise did a superb job of tapping into Preacher’s sense of humour once again, and continues to prove that Cassidy is easily outshining both Jesse and Tulip as a character so far this season.
In fact, despite Jesse continuing to have mostly decent story arcs up to this point in Season Two, with this week’s arc having him debate the idea of the end of the world with a poor street preacher, as Jesse recounts having to take a piece of his soul out to rid himself of the Saint of Killers (apparently, Jesse only gave up 1% of his soul, not the whole thing, which is clarified in this episode), Tulip meanwhile continues to flounder more. Tulip has definitely been the most problematic character throughout much of Preacher’s sophomore season to date, since it feels like the show just doesn’t know how to properly make use of her at this point. The show is now trying to have Tulip deal with PTSD after nearly being killed by the Saint of Killers during last week’s episode, and while this could eventually be interesting, for now, it just feels too far out of left field. This brings attention to another issue with Tulip’s character throughout much of this season, namely that her emotional issues are clashing with her toughness and cool streak, in a bad way. It just feels too unbelievable that Tulip would suddenly break down after her encounter with the Saint. Has she seriously not had brushes with death before? Come on!
Still, “Pig” nonetheless made for another very strong episode of Preacher, especially since it finally gave us an awesome villain to succeed Jackie Earle Haley’s standout portrayal of Odin Quincannon from last season. Like I said before, I doubt that the Saint of Killers will permanently stay out of commission, but even so, it’s so far great to have the season focusing on a better-developed and more interesting antagonist at last. Herr Starr simply stole this episode and ran with it during all of his scenes, even though we still got more great moments with Cassidy and his son too. It was also appreciated to see Preacher fully leaning into its humour again in this episode, when much of this season has leaned more heavily into dramatic territory over the past several weeks especially. Now that the stubborn family drama and peril is out of the way however, Preacher should hopefully keep feeling re-invigorated over the next several weeks at least, namely by sporting a new threat that deserves to be as terrifyingly violent as he is delightfully absurd.
- Herr Starr's brilliant, twisted and amusing backstory
- Cassidy facing the imminent loss of his son, and not being willing to stop it
- Better focus on humour and fun once again
- Tulip's Saint of Killers PTSD feels rather out-of-character