Get some whiskey from the barkeep and plan out your next murder, it’s time for a new Preacher y’all! There’s nothing scarier than the Saint of Killers, so this week we’re spending an entire episode with him. Sprinkle some salt into your milk, because here be spoilers for season two, episode twelve, “On Your Knees.”
1. The secret door out of Hell
Adolf’s get out of Hell free plan has been vague, but it turns out the door out of Hell is largely an emotional one. Eugene needs to prove that he doesn’t belong in Hell but overcoming his worst impulses and unlike a lot of weird sequences, this one really, really worked. ‘Ol Arseface stood up to Tracy, forgiving himself for her suicide. He stood up to the prairie dog-headed mascot who was implied to be his abuser. He even stood up to his dad, who shows up sporting an arseface of his own. The best part of the whole thing is Hitler’s “wunderbar!” and appreciative head nod. For all that the character of Hitler has been something of an empty joke, Noah Taylor brings a lot to the role, and having him become a surrogate father to Eugene is a fun new dimension.
2. What happened to the Saint
Hoover, stupid useless Hoover, is actually the one who cuts a deal with the Saint. He fishes him out of the water, replaces the truck with an identical truck, and brings him into the fold. Seeing the Saint (“William”) as a good man trying to do right by his family, and even being baptized, was the right move to remind us who we’re dealing with. That’s especially true as his second baptism in the swamps of Louisiana doesn’t seem to do the trick.
My one question had to do with all the souls in the truck with him. The camera panned over the vials a number of times, and Chekov’s law of disembodied souls never came into play. Was there a purpose to reminding us that the Saint was down there with the souls of dozens of men and women?
3. What the Saint does
He gets himself some whiskey, and then it’s right back to menacing the Preacher. His plan is a sound one, knocking Tulip and Cassidy halfway across the room, spinning Dennis’s head right round, and hitting Jesse in the throat before he can use the word. Then he gets to monologuing, which is an amateur villain move.
So does Tulip overcome her terror of the supernatural cowboy? With a Ripley-like “Get away from him you ASSHOLE,” Tulip is back in the game, and puts up a great fight, but ultimately it is for naught. I appreciate her bravery in stepping up, but after having her so messed up for so friggin’ long, I wanted her to, I don’t know, do something? She gets in some good knocks, but doesn’t save the day.
What does save Jesse from getting scalped is a diabolis ex machina. The forces of Hell arrive, as sent by Herr Starr, to take the Saint back to his prison cell. With God missing, hell is getting aggressive in how they conduct business. That’s an interesting development, as is the Saint’s final moments in the episode, when he demands an audience with Satan. That dude is gonna be demented.
4. Dog is God backwards
Seems like Preacher Jesse is forsaking his quest to find God. He found in (in the form of a fetish dalmatian), didn’t recognize him, and thus has failed the test. What have we learned?
“Preacher“ is a road trip story. Our three main characters drive around, looking for God and learning lessons about America and about themselves. As we wrap up season two, is Jesse much different from the man he was last season? I don’t really think so, but the show seems to be acutely aware of that. He tells the Saint that he believes men can change, the exact kind of thing you’d expect to hear from a man of God addressing a sinner. The Saint spits that back in his face. Men can’t really change. Of course, he’s the bad guy, and Jesse immediately tries to make a world-shaking decision…Continued below
5. Abuse of power: get on your knees edition
One of Jesse’s tricks has been forcing people to kneel before him. The Saint even throws it back in his face this episode. Then the episode ends with Herr Starr willingly getting down on his knees (hey, that’s the title of the episode!) before the man he would make the new messiah. Is he supplicating before Jesse the divine? No way. Starr is asserting his power, and that’s what this season has really been about. Jesse is powerful sure, but he’s a slave to his own impulses to be masculine, to be American, and to be Christian. Those three things are just an act though, the masks he wears when he feels lost in the world. Having guidance is well and good, but when Jesse doesn’t know who he is, it’s easy for others to manipulate him. By appeasing all of Jesse’s worst instincts about the structure of power, Starr has dominated Jesse, even though superficially, it looks like the opposite thing. Until Jesse is brave enough to be true to himself, he’s just going to be a cartoon version of American Christian values. But who is Jesse really? We only have a few episodes left this season to find out!