Warning this contains spoilers.
“I can call upon the angels. I can send a man to Hell if I want.”
Following last episode’s grounded effort from Preacher, Sokoasha brings back an element of the comic-booky supernatural to produce an episode with character-focused gravitas.
Having been hunted by the Saint of Killers for several weeks now, Jesse begins to look for a more permanent solution than avoiding using Genesis, so he can search for the AWOL Almighty in peace. Deducing that The Saint of Killers has no soul to kill or control is a huge step, and allows to audience to see that his stylishly repeated story from Season 1 was his Hell. While The Saint of Killers’ backstory is fascinating, it is oddly outshone in the scene by the awkwardness of Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy solving their problems through dedicated library-based research and calm discussion of their options against a being whom Satan himself is said to fear.
Jesse’s first exchange with The Saint is smooth and tense, with Graham McTavish’s murderous outlaw living up to the high expectations after a season and a half of build-up. McTavish and Cooper shine throughout the episode, embracing the ticking clock and genuine risk for two larger-than-life characters, giving their performances a raw edge made of taut threats and whispered deals.
Agreeing to search for a soul while The Saint holds Tulip, Dennis the Frenchman and Cassidy hostage, the race against time gives the episode a contained feel, ensuring the focus is totally on Jesse’s search. While it seems a convenient soul business has been lurking in the background the entire time, the clumsy inclusion of the answer is well covered with the inclusion of the perfectly mysterious James Kyson (Heroes), as well as Tulip’s ability to break into armoured trucks via telephone – as if we ever doubted her.
While Jesse’s search takes up the majority of the episode – and keeps seat edges everywhere warm – the major moments occur with Cassidy’s shock revelation about his unwilling French landlord and with Jesse’s deliverance of his promise to The Saint. Cassidy’s admission of being Dennis’ father not only draws an emotional reaction (with a spluttering Ronald Guttman adding even more pressure throughout), but also ensures Cassidy is given the depth to avoid becoming the comic-relief sidekick he fights against becoming, even if that depth is careless and uncomfortable.
The final few minutes of the show comfortably produce some of the best work from Preacher so far, as Mary Laws’ writing not only keeps the titular Preacher on the razor-edge between good and bad, but also endures the soul-transferring business is more than a gimmick, heavily suggesting that even 1 per cent of a soul is important. Laws and director David Evans turn a questionable premise into a suspenseful, intelligent episode of AMC’s wildest ethical drama.
Preacher Season 2 is available to watch online in the UK exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription. New episodes arrive weekly on Tuesdays, within 24 hours of their US broadcast.