In the lead-up to season three, Preacher has run an aggressive campaign, with ads advising the “easily offended” against watching the show. It’s obviously a bit tongue-in-cheek, if not completely unwarranted given the show’s penchant for chaos and blasphemy. For the most part, this season has been pretty good about keeping things zippy instead of getting stuck in self-satisfaction at how clever it is. But, as seems to be Preacher’s bottom line, nothing lasts forever. “Gonna Hurt,” while still plenty fun, starts to verge into less assured territory.
The best thing to be said about the episode is that there’s a hell of a lot of Tulip. As much as I love everyone else, I may just love Tulip best. It’s hard not to — Ruth Negga is terrific, and she’s given many of the series’s best set pieces, from the purgatory sequence in “Angelville” to the multiple romps here.
Still determined to set things right for Jesse, she tracks down the Grail headquarters, which have unfortunately been emptied. As she leaves, she’s visited by God, who pulls off His dog mask to reveal a face that, as Tulip points out, looks “just like fake God.” In one of the crueler moments of the series, He tells her that He was counting on her to screw up, just like her father, and that He’s working on a pass/fail test for humanity. When she tells Him that she thinks He’s just screwing around, He starts glowing and growing taller, and tells her not to push her luck before throwing her back against her car.
Naturally, it’s not a response that convinces Tulip. “I’m gonna find you,” she says, as He rides away on a motorcycle. “And I’m gonna kick your ass.”
Given that she’s not afraid of God, it should come as no surprise that she’s not afraid of Gran’ma, either. Though Jesse warns her off of going near her, Tulip knows there’s something funky going on. Since Jesse isn’t giving up any ground, she plies TC for information. Though it’s certainly in character (at least going by the comics), the scene in which TC asks Tulip if she wants to see his “dingle” feels like shock value at best, especially since she takes him up on the offer in order to sweeten him up, though she affixes the teeth of a dead lizard to said part when it turns out he isn’t really going to be of help.
As TC tells her, the handkerchiefs are signifiers of blood debts, and even destroying them won’t lift the debt owed. Only Gran’ma has the power to lift the spell. The anecdote accompanying this particular lesson is shot in black and white, and with Dutch angles galore, mimicking classic monster movies. It’s significantly more gruesome than the pictures it’s emulating, though, as it ends with a torn handkerchief leading to a torn torso. And if Tulip doesn’t know any magic or voodoo, she doesn’t have anything that Gran’ma will be willing to take to lift Jesse’s debt.
But Madame Boyd, the other local witch, might. The catch is that she already knows who Tulip is, and sets a trap for her that seems to have taken every escape route into account. (Though it looked painful, I couldn’t help but laugh when Tulip threw herself out the window, only to be hurled back in seconds later.) The last we see of her in this episode, her face-off with Boyd and her cadre of henchmen has turned into a stalemate, as Tulip draws her gun right in Boyd’s face.
Though the tension between Jesse and Cassidy has been palpable enough that even Tulip’s noticed it, she’s too preoccupied with helping Jesse to notice that it might actually be putting her in danger. In despair, Cassidy takes Gran’ma up on her offer to whip him up a love potion, which doesn’t bode well for anyone. He’s not leaving Angelville without Tulip, no matter what he takes. It’s a plan that’s going to be have to be put on hold, though, as Jody and TC discover that he’s not quite what he says he is, and quickly make it known that Angelville doesn’t take kindly to monsters.
As foreshadowed in the show’s opening credits and by one of the illustrations hanging up on the estate’s walls, they string Cassidy up by his feet to hang until the sun comes up. In a last-ditch effort to save him, Jesse suggests the Tombs instead. There, he sets up a fight between Cassidy and the teacher from the last episode, presumably to last until one of the two men ends up dead.
Despite what Cassidy might think — especially after Jesse’s confession that Cassidy is his best friend ended with him stabbing the vampire in the chest — it truly does seem like Jesse is starting to give up parts of himself in order to save the people that he loves. He tied himself to Gran’ma in order to save Tulip, and he’s now reopened the Tombs (despite being so resistant to do so at Gran’ma’s suggestion) in order to save Cassidy. He’s also begun trying to bring back prey for Gran’ma, though most of her old clientele have gone over to Madame Boyd.
• This is one of the funnier episodes so far, from Tulip telling Jesse she’s going to kick God’s “dick-ass,” to Jesse chasing a chicken, or reappearing like Beetlejuice as soon as Tulip starts talking to TC.
• There’s also a terrific shot of Cassidy’s bullet wound closing up. As he drinks from a blood bag, the camera finds itself inside Cassidy’s body, watching the flesh mend itself until it closes over the lens.
• Among the things that Tulip finds in Gran’ma’s room — including a mysterious body and a phone that seems permanently connected to some other line — is a set of black gummies (licorice?), one of which she eats. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine myself eating anything I’d find in that room.
• Custer family history runs deep. While Tulip wheedles TC with her company, Jesse is trying to get Jody on his side by reminding him of how much he cared for his mother. It’s a nod to the strangely parental role that Jody seems to have had in Jesse’s life — though apparently Jody is still loyal first and foremost to Gran’ma, as he elbows Jesse in the face as soon as he tries to leverage his mother’s memory.
• So do we think Cassidy will actually use the potion? I’d like to think he’s ultimately aligned with the angels, though you never know on this show.