There are pretty strict guidelines for a good episode of Preacher. A good episode will be snappy, it will be weird, it will push boundaries, and most importantly it will move the plot forward. Those are the basic tenets that kept the previous seasons (especially Season 1 and Season 3) moving so well, and why the first few episodes of Season 4 have felt lackluster. Sure, they’ve been weird, and they’ve been snappy, but we’ve been trapped in Masada and the Middle East. Things have certainly happened, but by the end of the episodes very little had changed.
I’m happy to say that “Search and Rescue” finally gets the ball rolling and feels like good old Preacher again. Cassidy and the angel continue to be a delight (snappy: check); Jesus shows up to party (weird: check); Jesus offers to get involved in a situation that could involve murder (boundary-pushing: check); and we get the hell out of Masada (plot: check).
So, once again, let’s break it down by character and see what’s happening to our horde of heretics, starting with last week’s cliffhanger: Jesse.
Unsurprisingly, Jesse and his captain, Steve, have survived their plane crash, though a little worse for wear. Steve is pretty upset at this turn of events, as his largely pants-less time with Jesse hasn’t been great. This leads to Jesse using Genesis, which leads to more hijinks, which leads to Genesis, which leads to more hijinks, which ends with a shark biting off Steve’s hand and, consequently, his death. There are two important take-aways from Jesse today: one is that Genesis is definitely bad news; the other is that God is undeniably messing with Jesse, as the moment Jesse watches sharks eat Steve’s body, he finds himself drifting just off a beach in Australia.
Meanwhile, Tulip and Cassidy’s adventures in Masada seem to be wrapping up. Cassidy, in yet another bid for freedom, makes good on his promise to shove that gun up Frankie Toscani’s ass and blow his brains out. Unfortunately, this particular escape attempt doesn’t get much further. Cassidy is quickly recaptured, but not before running into a disguised Tulip on the elevator. Tulip makes it away unnoticed but is quickly stopped by Two-ver (I will never call him Hoover Two) and made the personal valet of Jesus Christ. A short chat later, Jesus is on team Tulip and raring to help bust Cassidy out. Of course, they don’t need to worry too much, as Cassidy has a pretty successful plan of his own: tear the skin off his hands to escape from the chains, kill the angel so he’ll respawn, then fly the hell out of Masada. And voila, it was that easy all along. Tulip finds the empty cell, celebrates, and plans her own exit. And Jesus Christ, son of God and good dude extraordinaire, decides that he’d like to go along with Tulip to experience a darker side of the world, so that should be interesting.
Finally, we check in with our pair of wanderers, the Saint of Killers and Eugene, as they reach the Gulf of Mexico. Then, as you do when you’re some sort of demi-god, the Saint fires a bullet through the Earth to Australia and climbs out of the hole with Eugene in tow.
And that’s your “Search and Rescue” synopsis, leaving just the big questions. So, like before, let’s start with Jesse.
Obviously, God is messing with him, leading Jesse to disaster after disaster and killing anyone he tries to help—carving a metaphorical vagina on Jesse’s soul, if you will. But that doesn’t clear up everything that happened on the boat because, sure, it seems like God is trying to ruin Jesse’s life, but what if he’s not? The common theory is that God is controlling Jesse from afar, but what if that’s too easy? What if God is simply controlling the circumstances and planning for a desired outcome?
At one point in the life raft, Steve turns to Jesse. He looks up and proclaims that he believes: he believes in a god, he believes in Jesse. Herr Starr wanted Jesse to be the messiah, and up till now, we had assumed that it was his idea to make Jesse humanity’s savior. But perhaps God has been pulling the strings for longer than we thought. Perhaps God has set all this in motion not to torture Jesse, but to drag him back, to make Jesse accept his role as a messiah. There’s not a whole ton to back up this idea yet, but their conversation certainly has the makings of a more sinister plot.
Of course, this all hinges on Jesse not getting wary of Genesis. Jesse has been pretty reckless with his Genesis usage up till now, but it’s getting clearer that using this power to force change isn’t good. Every recent usage has led to disaster shortly after. Hopefully, Jesse realizes that sooner rather than later, but knowing Jesse, it may take him a hot second to put two and two together.
In lighter news, what’s the deal with Jesus? He certainly seems eager to get out and have some fun with Tulip and Cassidy, but why? There aren’t any sinister vibes behind his actions this episode, so he could just really be a chill dude. But that still doesn’t really explain why the son of God would want to hop out of a meeting of Heaven and Hell to go hang out with the likes of Cassidy and Tulip. Personally, I’m hoping he’s entering his rebellious years, and this is all just to piss off dear old dad.
Lastly, we have the setup for next week’s episode: the meeting of Hitler and Humperdoo. It’s a pretty safe guess that it isn’t the real Humperdoo, given how dodgy Herr Starr gets when anyone brings up Humperdoo, and it’s a pretty safe guess that Hitler is going to be none too pleased to discover the messiah is missing. Of course, if Hitler’s end goal is to kill Humperdoo and he somehow doesn’t realize this could be a fake, this may play out alright for everybody. Hitler gets to kill the messiah and no one else loses anything except a clone.
And there you have it. This was a strong return to form for Preacher, as “Search and Rescue” manages to finally get some plot moving without doubling back on its own timeline to show us some extraneous guff. Now we just need Season 4 to keep up like this and we’ll be golden.