For yet one more episode, Preacher has managed to keep all its balls up in the air. Though the sentence feels strange to type out, “Hitler” is the best episode yet this season, setting up what promises to be a rip-roaring final act.
It also assuages my fear that the series would continue trying to make Hitler a sympathetic character. Though Hitler’s return to the land of the living has been uneventful so far — as “David Hilter,” he works at a Subway knockoff and has been so docile as to be named employee of the month — as it turns out, he’s still an anti-Semitic monster. Far from making amends, he’s planning to reinstate the Third Reich.
Luckily, the Saint of Killers has other plans, and whisks Hitler out of the sandwich shop along with the still-in-tow Arseface. It doesn’t go all the way towards making up for just how sympathetically the show tried to play Hitler last season, but it gives me a little more faith that there’s a less unpleasant shape to the narrative arc, or at least some course correction going on.
It helps that the rest of the episode moves at a clip without sacrificing any emotional beats, particularly when it comes to Cassidy. Given the mild existential crisis he’s been going through over the nature of his vampirism, his burgeoning relationship with Eccarius makes sense, especially as it’s explained that Eccarius makes other vampires in order to send them out into the world to found missions. Eccarius’s goal, according to those who follow him, is to make the world safe for vampires.
With that in mind, Cassidy agrees to turn the girl he met at the bar, and afterward, goes out carousing with Eccarius. In a sequence that might as well have been pulled from a twee romcom, they go flying, they glamour folks, they drink — Eccarius even has coffins made for the both of them. They need — and want — each other. So it comes as no surprise when, after they make short work of a Grail ambush, they share a kiss.
But this is Preacher we’re talking about, which means that nothing good is gonna last. Unfortunately, Eccarius’s missions are bullshit — he despises vampires, and kills those that he turns, leaving body-shaped piles of ash in what I can only describe as a murder field. That begs the question of what his intentions are with Cassidy, of whom he does seem genuinely fond. After murdering his latest vampire, Eccarius returns home, snuggling with Cassidy in one of their well-appointed coffins.
It’s a twist of trust that’s flipped on its head when it comes to Jesse and his dealings with the Grail. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that the show was gearing up to add Starr to the team. Torrens is so consistently given the best material (and makes the best out of it) and is low-key going through a crisis of faith that’s on par with the trials faced by the show’s three leads.
Upon being summoned to Angelville (and sporting a beanie), he strikes a deal with Gran’ma: in exchange for borrowing Jesse to sort out Grail business (“public relations, crisis management”), he’ll get Gran’ma some souls. The Grail owns a soul repository called “Soul Happy Go-Go,” located in Osaka, Japan, which Starr describes as so chock-full of souls that it resembles “Willy Wonka’s Oompa-Loompa room.”
Getting the souls, however, isn’t quite as easy as Starr makes it sound. It’ll take a robbery, the execution of which is entrusted to Tulip, Featherstone, and Jody (TC would go, but he’s apparently not allowed on airplanes anymore), in what promises to be one hell of a road trip, not least because none of them are particularly happy about it. Featherstone’s attempts at cooking up an elaborate cover story only meet with boredom on Starr’s end, and Tulip’s worried that her O’Hare blood will get her into trouble again.
In easily the episode’s sweetest moment (and a handy reminder of just how well Tulip and Jesse work as a couple), Jesse tells her not to worry, calling her the “toughest, most surviving-est woman I’ve ever met.” It’s enough to assuage Tulip’s nerves, at least for the moment. And so off they go, armed with copies of Japanese for Dummies and Starr’s culinary advice: “There’s a sublime sushi omakase at the Imperial Hotel; I doubt you’ll have time, but if you do, keep your receipts.”
With the soul retrieval mission underway, Starr and Jesse head to Grail HQ. It’s the conversation during the drive over that makes me wonder exactly what’s in store, as things take a surprisingly earnest turn. Starr asks Jesse to promise not to betray him once Genesis starts working again, promising in turn that he will take Jesse to his soul. “No matter what happens from here on out, I’m with you, Messiah,” Starr says. Just so long as Jesse kills the Allfather, first.
• There’s trouble brewing on the horizon. TC overhears Tulip and Featherstone talking about Genesis, and though they tell him it’s a band when he asks what they’re talking about, he goes ahead and asks Gran’ma, too. Naturally, Gran’ma’s got an inkling of what’s afoot, though she spares the time for a truly great burn: “You’re simpler than a box of empty baskets.”
• Speaking of which, her plea with Jesse not to leave with Starr is absolutely killer. Betty Buckley veers between heartbreaking and heart-stopping in the same instant. “TC is making chicken biscuits and you love chicken biscuits so that’s it, you’re gonna stay,” she says, near tears, before all semblance of tenderness seems to vanish as she tells him what she’ll do if he doesn’t come back. “I’ll tear you in half, suck out your soul, and send you to Hell the way I did your momma.”
• Jesse and Tulip share a tender moment before the robbers depart. Starr politely looks away, but Featherstone seems stricken, as she almost immediately tries to replicate it, to no avail. “I’ll call you from the car.” “Why?” “I’ll text you from the plane.” “Why?”
• Apparently, the usual preferred mode of transport for souls is FedEx.
• Cassidy is, as ever, wiser than he appears. As he tries to play down what it’s been like to live through history, he says, “There’s no point getting soppy about how good things used to be. Most times, today is better.”
• Shout-out to Jody’s in-flight sleeping mask.