NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Preacher” are present in this review
Preacher felt like it largely stopped to move things into place for next week’s season finale this week, but at least this week’s episode didn’t end up being a total slog. “On Your Knees” was a very Saint of Killers-heavy episode of Preacher, wasting no time capitalizing on the fact that the Grail unleashed the Saint anew at the end of last week’s episode. This nicely provided more development for the Saint, even if he was abruptly taken out of the picture again by the end of the episode, presumably to show up later in a potential third season.
The episode begins by filling in the sequence of events that saw the Grail reclaiming the Saint, complete with dumping a fake truck into the New Orleans swamps to fool Jesse. After being held hostage by Hoover for a week, after spending another week fruitlessly trying to break out of the truck that Jesse left him in, the Saint resigns himself to never being able to get to Heaven, though this also leaves him open to accepting an offer from Hoover to assassinate Jesse.
Now, you might be thinking that the Saint targeting Jesse yet again goes against the Grail’s very ideals for our titular preacher, and you would be right. There is a bit of a final twist in the works though, with Herr Starr thinking several moves ahead, and managing to do what Jesse found himself unable to before, namely return the Saint to Hell. While we didn’t get too much of Herr Starr in this episode proper, the way that he manages to deal with the Saint is nonetheless another last-minute nod to just how powerful and connected the Grail actually is, to the point where they have Hell itself on speed dial!
Still, it’s tough not to be disappointed with how easily the Saint ultimately went out. There’s a great sequence of the Saint once again cornering Jesse in Denis’ apartment, after smacking around Denis, Tulip and Cassidy for a bit, and to make matters worse, a trick with a speaker (did Hoover teach the Saint how to do that?) conveniently disables Jesse’s ability to use the Word of God against the Saint. Sure, it’s another quick, slightly contrived fix for what’s supposed to be a divine power, but oh well.
Seeing the Saint recount more of his past tales, namely that he inquired about scalping before preparing to scalp Jesse soon afterward, led to some pretty great scenes, helping to ease the anti-climactic way that the Saint was just tossed back into Hell in the end. The additional scenes with the Saint’s family finally give us a bit of a deeper understanding of why the Saint is so driven to reach Heaven and reunite with them, even if they still remain very idealized in character. This also made the Saint giving up on Heaven resonate all the more, since we now get an added peek at what exactly he’s sacrificing, even if his rushed exit at Mannering’s hands nonetheless deflated the drama just a bit.
There were some subplots in this episode too, and amazingly, we actually got a pretty decent subplot with Eugene and Hitler for once! Hitler bears witness to Eugene conquering his Hell with Tracy, complete with Eugene also facing a camp mascot that seemingly sexually assaulted him, as well as his father in the process. This is probably the most interesting and cool that Eugene has been all season, if I’m being honest. The sequence simply ends with Eugene and Hitler racing through an air vent to escape Hell, while Mannering frantically searches for them, but I imagine that this will hopefully have a great payoff in the season finale next week, one that will also hopefully set up Eugene/Arseface as a promising new antagonist to Jesse in a potential third season.
Finally, we also got another subplot of sorts with Tulip and Cassidy, as they wonder about what exactly makes them so important to Jesse, considering that he lied to them so easily. Tulip and Cassidy nonetheless jump to Jesse’s defense when the Saint comes knocking, but this issue is made worse when an undercover ambulance snatches the two and takes them to an audience with Herr Starr. Starr convinces Tulip and Cassidy that they’re unremarkable and will merely drag Jesse down, leading to the two eventually agreeing when Jesse finds himself hesitant to follow through with their mischievous beach plans. This was sort of dramatic, but again, it mostly just felt like a way to transparently lay groundwork for next week’s season finale. Jesse does seem to fully embrace his supposed destiny as the surrogate messiah at the end of the episode, but the concern about Tulip and Cassidy somehow getting in the way of his duties feels too ill-explained and forced. I mean, if the Grail is seriously willing to entertain the idea of a severely mentally handicapped imbecile as the saviour of the world, then why do they care if Jesse wants some leisure time with his buddies?
Perhaps there’s another plot afoot, and that’s definitely possible, considering that Herr Starr is a tricky and devious character. It’s likely that we’ll find out next week in any case. Beyond that, “On Your Knees” did its job of setting up next week’s season finale in a mostly entertaining fashion, even if that meant hastily mopping up a few ongoing storylines that no longer have any room to be explored, now that we have just one episode left in Preacher’s second season. This season has had some ups and downs to be sure, but at least it’s rarely been boring, and that should hopefully lead to a pretty entertaining season finale next week. Now that Jesse seems to be completely in the Grail’s pocket, it looks like Tulip and Cassidy may be the actual best hope to keep the world from spinning out of control. May the missing God have mercy on us all in that case.
- Some standout story material with the Saint of Killers
- Eugene managing to conquer his demons in Hell
- Jesse fully embracing the Grail's agenda by the end
- The Saint's return to Hell is hasty and unsatisfying
- It's not clear exactly why Tulip and Cassidy affect Jesse's duties as the messiah