Season Two, Episode Two — “Mumbai Sky Tower”
By Jarrod Jones. Preacher wants to be a goofy show. That’s perfectly understandable. Preacher was a goofy comic book. Fair’s fair.
Only Preacher the TV show has a funny idea of what’s acceptably goofy. “Side-road motel hosting a gun convention, which empties out an entire armada packing serious heat just as Jesse Custer could use his own personal army against the Saint of Killers”? That kinda goofy? It makes any attempt at pathos later on — which “Mumbai Sky Tower” definitely aspires to — feel patently ridiculous.
Preacher the comic book may have had its sex orgies, vampire dens, and cannibal melodramas, but it knew when to employ wanton abandon into a compelling saga. When Preacher the TV show is at its lousiest, it feels like interpretive fanfic, scripted by a crew of people who are expert at missing the point.
Where was it written that every episode of Preacher needed a body count? There they were on Monday night, a group of adults in their jammy-jams getting blasted into paste by the onerous Saint for no substantial reason whatsoever. As for consequences? This ain’t that kind of show. Come to Preacher for the viscera, stay because, well… because.
We could give Jesse the benefit of the doubt. He didn’t know he was dooming those people to die when he used the Word on them to open fire on the Saint, not necessarily. But after Sunday night’s episode? He might have ordered them to fuck right off into the night. “Save yourselves!” he could have said. After all, one thing Jesse should know is that O Saint will murder anyone in his path to snatch Genesis.
As for the Saint himself? He remains a cipher for the show — all his emotional baggage got dropped off at the end of Season One — so count on this duster-sportin’ Terminator to only show up when the series needs to further its own peculiar (and vaguely defined) agenda. Should be less than usual after this week.
Seems the only way the Saint’s been tracking Jesse through Texas is by following Genesis, and that demonic angel baby only makes itself known if Jesse uses it. Which brings us to the episode’s star attraction: the fallen angel, Fiore.
Despair for the Fallen, we come to find out, is one helluva thing. And’s Fiore life on Earth without his best friend DeBlanc has been one depressing slog after the other, though his string of suicide attempts — a competent example of the show’s gallows humor — does land him a successful career as a casino illusionist. That gig is what leads Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy to his front door.
The carnage doesn’t end once Fiore snags his new job, however. Here the angel discovers a new kind of hell: killing himself in front of a packed house of nimrod tourists just to resurrect himself before their very eyes. For money. (It’s a nod to one of the more amusing bits in Season One, though how the casino disposes of Fiore’s slaughtered bodies is never once addressed.)
Again, gallows humor. Though count on Preacher to take even that one step too far: later, Fiore joshes with a terminal cancer patient that he’ll never share his secret to resurrection, a particularly ghoulish twist even for a show as patently shallow as Preacher.
Anyhow, Jesse needs Fiore to call the Saint off his back, but there’s the small mountain of the angel’s apathy to overcome. And you know what that means: heroin-fueled ‘Fear & Loathing’ montage. (Wait, what were you going to say?)
Meanwhile, the Annville fallout seems to be fucking with Tulip more than expected. “I knew Walter wasn’t much, but he was all I had, y’know?” she admits to Jesse, lamenting the loss of what remained of her family. This prompts Jesse, big ol’ dope that he is, to propose marriage.
These two weren’t getting married this week — she didn’t even need to kill anybody for us to know that wasn’t gonna happen — but the episode needed something for them to do while Cassidy plied Fiore with heroin and amphetamines.
Since our motley trio are stuck at the casino for the duration, the conveniences continue. Fiore just so happens to work at one of the Texas casinos managed by Tulip’s former bosses, which leads to a hotel room battle royal of Ganolfini/Arquette proportions. (Only Tulip makes it out a little less scathed.) Tulip has Cassidy discard of the body, which only adds another secret to their heap. “Don’t tell Jesse!” she says. Why? Wouldn’t the knowledge that a bunch of murderous goons are about to barrel down on their little enterprise be something Jesse should know? Bah!
So wouldn’t you know it? Jesse’s intuition ends up taking them to the one place Tulip doesn’t need to go: New Orleans. Comic fans should be thrilled. Or should they?
“My only hesitation for helping you, preacher, my only hesitation whatsoever […] is… I really don’t give a shit.” – Fiore, to Jesse.
Tulip: “What next?” Jesse: “Bathtub seems a good size. Let’s try that.”
“Boy, Veronica’s a sly one, isn’t she?” – Cass, perusing Archie Comics.
BEST MOMENT: Fiore dying, again and again and again, with a rather bemused expression on his face.
EPISODE’S MVP: “I have to get out of here.” Tom Brooks’ nearly killed me with his sad-bastard montage of despair. His soulful eyes and mopey mug took the cake this week. He will be missed.
GONE TO TEXAS:
– Ah, the old “Axle Grease Delivery Driver-cum-deus ex machina” chestnut.
– No show this week: The Grail, though Fiore benefited from the space they provided.
– Jesse can’t even give Fiore the dignity of addressing him by his own name. (“DeBlanc was the other one,” he informs the reverend as a final kiss-off.)
– I would hope Catlin, Rogen, and Goldberg would understand Jesse Custer enough to at least have him decide not to use the Word all the time. (Because… it’s the right thing to do?)
– Jesse uses the Word on Fiore in the end; tells him to “find peace.” What does “peace” mean for Fiore? A death from which there is no escape. And that’s where we leave him, booed on stage as his last breaths exit his body.
– If Fiore is well and truly dead, is it likely he’ll pop up again in hell to save Eugene Root from eternal damnation?
– AMC’s Preacher wants to veer away from its Vertigo origins. As an adaptation, that’s perfectly natural. But going this far off road, as far as longevity is concerned? I don’t think it has enough material.
6.5 out of 10
Next: “Damsels”, in one week.
Before: “On the Road”, here.