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Preacher - Damsels & Viktor - Double Review: "Finding God in New Orleans"

Preacher 2.03 "Damsels" - Review:
Directed by Michael Slovis & Written by Sara Goodman

First off I'd like to apologise by not getting the Damsels review up sooner, last week was a bit of a hectic week and I had to prepare for an interview for a Masters Degree course which ultimately I unfortunately did not get offered, but anyway, Preacher more than made up for the initial disappointment and quickly got me out of the bad mood I was in with Damsels, that saw the action switch to New Orleans for a slower paced episode that revolved mostly around Jesse hitting up random bars looking for God. This goes about as well as you'd expect for him, with most people laughing him off at the very idea of God being found in a bar. Of course, this being Preacher, God being found in a bar probably wouldn't have surprised me at this point.

The episode itself also explored Eugene, whose character met a fateful end last season like much of Annville. Eugene himself really got the short end of the stick because he's one of the few characters who we can feel sympathetic for, and this flashback sequence at the beginning of the episode was a cool way to revisit him effectively in a manner that really worked. You know things are going to go badly for him it and it hurt to see him like he was, knowing that there wouldn't be anything that would come in at the last minute and save him. It turns out that Eugene had rushed over to see his friend Tracy, who was devastated to learn that her boyfriend had cheated on her, and it will be made public by a friend which would cause utter humiliation for Tracy herself. She decides that the only way out is to end it all, locked in her room with a gun, and although Eugene manages to initially talk her out of it, he leans in for a kiss. This only serves to make the situation worse, and as a result, the gun inevitably goes off - because of course Chekov's Gun has to be taken into account in a scenario like this - and this is how we witness the origin story of both Tracy and Eugene, as he becomes Arseface, doomed to have that nickname for as long as he looks like that. The revelation of seeing Eugene experience his own worst memories over and over again and the fact that it wasn't just a flashback like it first appeared showed how clever this show can be at times, where he meets of all people, Hitler. Because of course he does. Again, there are so many moments over this show that just feel so out of place on another series, but because it's Preacher, because of the oddball tone brought to the script, it just works.

Jesse's tour of the Jazz clubs in New Orleans was a fun one, as was the argument that came with Jesse's choice of listening to Jazz music on the way to New Orleans. Tulip doesn't like eating Mexican food just because she's going to Mexico. The banter between the three characters is always awesome and they work best when they're together, so it was no surprise to see that this episode didn't quite have the charm of the previous two as it kept the trio separated for much of the hour. Tulip herself has problems that come with a trip to New Orleans as she spends some time with Cassidy, who wants to be more than just the stereotypical Irish sidekick but at the same time she wants to avoid running into her former boss. Much of this was set-up in laying the groundwork for the next episode, which is disappointing as some of the strong momentum from the first two episodes has slowed down, but then again, there was still plenty of good stuff here. It helps that the show doesn't have a larger episode count like The Walking Dead so things can move a bit quicker but even so, the momentum wasn't exactly moving along at a breakneck pace.

That said, there were some reveals that came quickly in this episode. Even if there were no appearances from the Saint of Killers we got to see some action as a mysterious group attack Jesse when he finds a Jazz singer named Lara Featherstone (Julie Ann Emery, Better Call Saul) who may in fact know more than she lets on, and finds out that Jesse has the power to use Genesis earlier than expected and very quickly. This is something that will no doubt have repercussions further down the line, and although he doesn't get a name of the organization this week he now knows they're pretty big and it will take something extraordinary to make them turn and run. It's also interesting to see that despite the Saint the show is continuing to introduce groups like this rather than having him as the main villain, which really pays off, because keeping him in the background maintains that intimidating presence of mystery that we know so little about.

As usual, I haven't read the comics, so I don't really know where the story's heading. But there is enough potential here to really explore especially with the introduction of this new organization. It really wasn't a surprise that the show wasn't able to keep up its newfound momentum over the course of ten episodes, but let's hope things don't get slower from here.

Preacher 2.04 "Viktor - Review:
Directed by Michael Slovis & Written by Craig Rosenberg

There was a lot to unpack in the fourth episode, Viktor, which took things on an even wilder ride than before. The two consecutive storylines both had strong momentum this week, with Eugene in hell dealing with the prospect of not only meeting Hitler but also exploring his own personal hell on top of that, but also Tulip's capture made for some added stakes for Jesse and Cassidy who were at the same deciding that a good way to find God may be to look for the actor who played him during the Church scene at the end of Season 1.

The strange portrayal of Hell is certainly an interesting one that we get in Viktor. Its dark, damp and colorless atmosphere has echoes of 1984 and seeing that it too is falling victim to overcrowding makes things far more complicated. This sets up to be a fantastic exploration of Eugene's character as we discover how far he's willing to be pushed around. Hell has no place for nice guys, and if he doesn't act the part, then he'll end up in the hole, which is apparently one thing worse than repeating his own personal hell all over again. We also got to see Peaky Blinders' Noah Taylor play Hitler but at the same time this storyline didn't exactly need to take up as much of it did of the episode, especially as the main interest here will be in seeing how Eugene will escape hell. Do that many supporting characters feel necessary at this stage? The novelty will almost certainly begin to wear off after a while so it'll be interesting to see how Preacher tackles his character going forward and just how changed he'll be by the experience. It's hard to imagine Eugene being changed dramatically, but then the show has always been good at extended journeys for characters who have an even bigger role later down the line, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Eugene show up again later down the line. One thing that I did like was how basic hell felt compared to other portrayals of what we've seen in different shows and indeed, other fiction. Preacher, a show known for going so gloriously over the top at times, could have had loads of fun with the setting, but the fact that it's actually not as complex as it could have been really paid to its strength.

This episode was very much a Tulip-centric one that explored her character and how she got reacquainted with her ex-husband. I was hoping that the show would explore her past at some point and it's fascinating to see that it goes down this route, especially with how it's planned out. The way Jesse used his word, not caring who he used it on to get what he wanted, was fantastic, and of course, the writers found a way to make an over-the-top fight scene even more over the top than before, by adding Uptown Funk to the soundtrack as well as providing an excuse for it to be in there that didn't feel forced at all. The music and sound editing was very on point this episode and the songs that are chosen for each episode are always a delight. Because who'd have thought that they'd manage to find a way to make Uptown Funk work as a fight song going into the episode? Certainly not me. The oddball nature of songs that we've seen used over the course of the series so far really plays in well to the tone of the show, making it right at home with The Leftovers and American Gods when it comes to just how good a soundtrack can be at times. It's also worth noting the excellent fight choreography that really made this fight between Jesse and his opponent (who was smart enough to use a way to avoid getting influenced by Jesse's word) stand out as possibly one of the best of the series so far, more than making up for the rather slow paced nature of the episode that led up to this point.

The way the show handled Tulip's scenes with Viktor also felt promising as well. The dilemma that Tulip faced on how to win over the support of Viktor and his gang again whilst finding a way to escape was an intriguing one, and seeing Jesse's reaction when Tulip told him that he was her husband certainly made for one good cliffhanger. I'm really looking forward to seeing how Viktor plays into the episode going forward, but with the Saint of Killers as always lurking in the background and presumably no doubt on the way given Jesse's far-too-frequent usage of Genesis - possibly means that he isn't going to be around much longer. But even so, one of the main strengths in this show is its characters, so regardless of how long he stays around his character will no doubt prove to be an interesting (probable) foil for Jesse.

What did you think of Damsels and Viktor? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to check out the next episode of Preacher next Monday at 9pm on AMC.

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, Black Sails, The Americans and Person of Interest. He reviews Preacher, The Mist, Star Wars Rebels, Snowfall, Silicon Valley and Veep for Spoiler TV and will be covering Castle Rock, Counterpart, Krypton, Marvel's New Warriors, Rise, Marvel's Runaways, Succession, Star Trek Discovery, and Trust. He also contributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic. He also regularly watches and reviews films on Letterboxd, and you can find his ever-changing list of 300 favourite movies here.
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