Coming off the intense heels of the last episode’s Preacher (AMC), we arrive at the Office of Herr K. Starr (Pip Torrens) in a pow-wow with the Almighty (Mark Harelik) himself engaged in a lovely fireside chat. Herr grumbles as to how Jesse (Dominic Cooper) evaded him, though he’s had him dead to rights. The Omniscient One understands, however, that the All-Father Starr doesn’t want Custer’s last breath but his penultimate last breath- over and over and over again. This all hails from a little run-in with the Preacher, resulting in a design on his dome-piece that even Georgia O’ Keefe wouldn’t shy away from. God promises to do that in due time to Jesse’s soul. It’s part of his plan, right?
Now back to our regularly scheduled chaos, wherein Jesse and his pilot Steve (Ditch Davey) are riding a nosedive into the ocean faster than you could say Holy FU- CRASH! Amid the flotsam, both Preacher and Steve survive and find refuge in a deployed raft in a torrential storm. While Steve sees his hopes of rescue sink faster than the raft is filling with rain, Jesse seems to be filled with vim and vigor. “This is just the beginning,” Mr. Custer thinks. Little does he know, he’s right.
At Bensonhurst, Cassidy (Joe Gilgun) is being trollied up to his jolly good time. With a twinkle in eye and plume in palm, he is walking, erm, rolling tall. As the crew stops for the Emissary of Hell, Hitler (Noah Taylor), the hand-grenade Hannibal picks his lock, snaps the necks of his handlers and hides their bodies with silence and deftness that would have Solid Snake fist-bumping him. Just before a stunned Frankie can get a grasp on the situation, Cass gets his mitts on Frankie’s rifle, tossing it to the side. Looking scrappy as ever, Cassidy shows Frankie (Lachy Hulme) some good time with bare-knuckled fanfare before showing a coup-de-grace Toscani won’t soon forget. Oh, I forgot, it’s kind of easy to forget the hippocampus when its skewered like stuck-pig at a Luau. Let us not forget that the rectum is nightmarishly elastic!
Checking in on our buoyed boys, Jesse is frantically relieving the boat. He knows this is just a test. A trial by fire on the water. I don’t know about you, but even if I were imbued with the power of Genesis, I always hated tests in school, especially pop quizzes. Since a wet blanket on a raft is as good as a gaping hole, Jesse uses Genesis on Steve, commanding him to “Be Positive” and shake his tail feather to help with the water-logged vessel. Hey, if you had any kind of cheat sheet (come on, we all had them taped in our calculator cases,) you would put it to good use as well.
Speaking of feathers, Cass, now escaped runs into Tulip (Ruth Negga) as the elevator doors part. As we’ve come to know, things in this world are never easily earned, and before he could take another step, he’s stopped by Featherstone (Julie Ann Emery) at gunpoint. Tulip, hidden from view of all Grail agents can do nothing but merely look at Cass as he feigns ignorance brilliantly. It’s a skill of addicts. As the doors close, Cass is taken back. As the doors open, an intent Tulip plays her Double Ohhh- shit. She’s caught by Hoover Two (Aleks Mikic). Playing it cool, she learns she’s summoned. Tulip can outrun a shit ton, but can she truly outrun a possible Ultimate Plan?
Beaming in his cell, Cass ruminates on how Tulip came back to save him. This realization has his happy melt into horror, as he’s merely the cheddar in this mouse-trap and Featherstone is the cat. His Archangel (David Field) bud laments that, as he’s been by his side, heard his story and casts nothing but a mere shadow, saving him from sunlight.
Before entering the Chambers of the Emissary, Tulip learns of her task and the guidelines affixed to it. She is to be his valet, and no speaking unless spoken to, no pictures, no selfies, and no touching.. unless he touches you. In that case, act positively. Sounds kind of creepy, doesn’t it? Though Tulip tries to Snake her way out of getting into the Suite, it seems there are even some things she cannot do.
Inside, Tulip finds a room fit for a King. This is when she finds out who is her big assignment: Jesus Christ (Edition No. 1 / CGC Grade: 9.5). Oh, come on, I’m sure there’s a little imperfection somewhere!
Painfully yet unsuccessfully trying to break free from his shackles, Cass has no choice but to listen to the heavenly parrot above his head. This coupled with the fact he is grappling with his feeling that it’s more tragic in Tulip dying than her being, quite literally, Jesse’s Girl, has Cassidy more determined than ever to break free and make the first thing on his list, eat Iago.
As Steve blisters in the sun, Jesse scrambles to find anything, including First Aid for his friend. When the Pilot’s optimism spell becomes too much for concentration, Jesse tells him to “Stop Being Optimistic.” This leads to a frantic few moments of Stevie-boy freaking the fuck out before in a last-ditch effort Jesse resorts to the “Feel No Pain” command. This ain’t no fun Violent Femmes ditty.
At this point of numbness, Steve is ready to die. Jesse, whether in his heart in defiance of God stays positive and assures his quite literal life mate that belief should be in him, the man in the boat for the time being. This will come to bite them both in the…
In the Emissary Suite, Tulip stands in awe of God’s Only Begotten, yet gives him an alias. Hey, scars run deep and you can’t take the game out of the player.. and other bromides I can’t think of now. In a sign of mutual respect, Jesus presses the flesh with Tulip (look up the phrase, you degenerates!)
Jesus senses that Tulip is in trouble. A knock at the door is heard and who should pop his head in but Herr K. Starr. As Tulip tries to shield herself from his good eye, Starr runs down the amenities, noting that his counterpart from Heil has also arrived. Upon leaving, Herr gives pause to Tulip. Swearing he knows Her from somewhere, she reaches for her peace. As an Emissary of such, Christ deescalates by inquiring into his child, Humperdoo. Giving a flowery sentence or two, Starr makes an excuse, an exit and Tulip emerges saved.
As Hoover Two sets up the meeting quarters, complete with dossiers for Hitler, Jesus, and Starr, the latter arrives worried. They cannot produce true Humperdoo just yet and the stand-in may just have to do to assuage both the Creator and First Born/Sacrificed. Though it’s still less stressing than booking Beyonce!
In this scene, Hoover Two once again, through a fox-like ‘permission to speak freely’ ruse, waxes almost mellifluously, singing the praises of a languid Herr K. Starr, citing him as ‘sitting pretty.’ He’s a smoothie and one that’s filled with strawberries and cheap bourbon. His words of praise would get anyone drunk. I’m still not sure if this is a foxy power play or if he wants to be Number One with a Bullit. Either way, he dismisses himself and leaves that to ring in Starr’s head. Opening the presentation packet, the term “sitting pretty” rings quite melodiously… that is until his goddamned ear slinks off, in the grotesque fashion we’ve come to love or loathe. It plops down on the visage of Jesse Custer.
Back on the raft, Jesse fashions a makeshift sail. Looking up to the heavens, he hopes for a wind. He knows this is a double-sided glass matter. A gust flares up and through a moment of victory, all seems riiight… Steve’s hand seems to be savagely chomped off by a shark. Due to Jesse’s well-meaning and equal selfishness for concentration, he’s made an ant-hill into a mole-hill into a mountain through the gift/curse of Genesis.
After a tourniquet is applied, their sail sets, well. Along with that had Jesse’s last straw blown in the wind. Custer still lies to the man, telling him not to give up hope.
Back at the Suite, after Tulip had relayed her entire plight to the Lord, she apologizes about lying about her name. She excuses herself, not wanting to get him involved, but he offers his services. Although all meaning well, we soon learn that not even V.I.P.s can get behind certain ropes. Tulip now takes it on herself to fight fire with fire.
As Cass finally frees himself from the shackles of oppression (and the skin of his hands in the process), he makes good on his promise. Scaling the walls and pouncing on his wing Criminy Cricket, lunch is served. With a second and full flash later, in comes the Archangel as the most bad-ass Uber one could call next to possibly a Valkyrie.
In Our Raft of Perpetual Stasis, a bleeding out Steve confesses the last of his remaining remorses to Preacher Custer. He also begs Jesse to save him. You see, Jesse made the mistake of asking a desperate guy who doesn’t believe in God to believe in him. Even Heinrich Heine said, “Of course God will forgive me; that’s His job.” Jesse explains that Genesis isn’t that miraculous. Like he has all the time in the world to explain to someone who’s dying the intricacies of it… So through its power, he’s able to give the guy one last breath.
As Tulip takes point to Jesus through the catacombs of the dungeon, they nearly escape detection through Featherstone. Entering the cell, they find one dead angel husk and zero Vampire. This leads Tulip to tell Christ her unflinching three-point plan. A.) Get out of Masada. B.) Find Cassidy. C.) Do ‘Whatever the Hell I want.’ Intrigued, Jesus wants in.
While Jesse buries Steve at sea, he recites a stirring eulogy, complements of the Good Book, 1 Corinthians 15:54-5… Damn. The last part was interrupted by sharks feeding on the dead. You’re right, Jesse. The big man is an asshole… But wasn’t He always?
So as the good Lord taketh, in reverse, he also giveth. And Lo, an angel appeared in the southern hemisphere. It was Australia. Hey God, good on ya.
Remember how we had seen Hitler before? Yeah, I don’t like seeing him either, but here we are now, seeing him requesting a private performance in the chambers of the fake Humperdoo. He’s fully aware of what he can do. This will surely mean leverage if he knows that the descendant is a fraud. He approaches the ivory keys…
Meanwhile, Eugene (Ian Colletti) and Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) finally arrive at their destination, the Gulf of Mexico. Well, surely, this ain’t Australia. This is where we see the Saint puts all of his sense of geographies to good use. Stoking up the hammer with his breath as if his fucking lungs were just two chambers of Hades, he fires his Peacemaker into the beach until it erupts into the beach of Australia. I mean, he kills a greeter as well, but he’s called the Saint of Killers. Gene, as usual, catches up, but not before passing the same raft Jesse used. Preachers aren’t the only men on a Mission.
In terms of this overall episode, I did see a bit more subtlety than shock, which I adore much more. I am he for the story a lot more than anything else. This script kept it tight and didn’t shift in too many beats. The test of Jessie was inevitable, but it also brings to mind if Jesse was in control at all? As an atheist but brought up Catholic, I love everything this series has thus offered me. It’s profane but somehow reverent. It shows the human condition and lack thereof (if you’re a fatalist as I am). Thus far, of this season, this one stands currently as my favorite.