Mumbai Sky Tower: Suicide and Showbiz in ‘Preacher’

‘Preacher’ kills an old friend over and over again.
By  · Published on June 27th, 2017

‘Preacher’ kills an old friend over and over again.

“Mumbai Sky Tower,” the second episode of Preacher, begins right where it left off, with Jesse finally discovering the limits of Genesis and the power of the Saint of Killers. And since Jesse can’t stop the Saint, we continue last night’s tradition of offing every minor character we meet in a complete bloodbath.

We also close one of the gaps of knowledge that I spoke about in yesterday’s review. Episode one had a fun running gag of our heroes just missing the news of Annville’s destruction. Now, finally, Tulip catches a news broadcast and everyone is on the same page.

But this device of lack of information and varying levels of information is far from gone. In fact, this episode picks up a fun new trend of letting its characters forget the things they know, getting them sidetracked. It brings them back eventually, with exterior reminders and delightfully cartoonish indicators. When Frank Patel the lounge singer tells Jesse to remember the music, a light literally goes on behind his head. The same happens to Tulip when Jesse finally reveals that they’re moving on to New Orleans next week.

Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper)

And, of course, Cassidy remembers seeing an ad for The Amazing Ganesh. It’s only when he reads the slogan about “a performer you’ll never forget” that he realizes he almost forgot about him. Even when our characters do know things, we can’t count on them to keep it in their heads.

It’s another layer added to the show’s many layers of understanding, and I’m interested to see how far it goes.

But this time Cassidy does remember, and we get to catch up with Fiore the angel (Tom Brooke). We also get a fantastic series of montages. Because while plenty of other things happen, at its heart this is an episode of montages.

I spoke last week in my preview article about the shift in humor from the first season to the second, and Fiore’s deaths are a prime example of this. Last year a lot of the humor came from the strangeness and the outrageousness of the show, particularly its violence. We didn’t especially know why the violence was happening, or what would come of it, but it was almost always fun.

Now, however, we’re old hands at certain things like angel death—we know that when an angel dies, there’s a flash of light and he respawns nearby. That’s what makes Fiore’s grief-addled suicide montage so surprisingly funny. And what makes it possible.

Suicide montages are rare for a reason.

And that humor is accelerated when Fiore accidentally exposes his talent to the public. The uninitiated are horrified by his death… until they catch onto the way things work. Then they’re delighted and what was a regular old suicide montage becomes a fun, stylish, showbiz suicide montage. The crowds come to expect the same thing we do—each death is followed by that comforting flash of light and a new body for Fiore, The Amazing Ganesh.

Of course, when Jesse and Cassidy come to see him, we get to see more of the pain behind the humor. Grief-addled suicide montages aren’t all fun and games. And to top it all off, Fiore seems to be sick and tired of the fame.

Unfortunately (or fortunately for us), even angry, bitter Fiore is funny. He was always, if we’re being honest, a little bit of a dick, especially to Jesse. It was part of his charm. And Jesse’s always deserved it, now more than ever. It’s because of him that DeBlanc’s dead and Fiore’s stuck posing for pictures with Make A Wish kids.

Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun)

Which brings us to the episode’s last montage: its strangest and its best. It’s hard to imagine, when he brings it up, what Cassidy’s skill set could possibly be. But it turns out to be the two things we already knew he had plenty of: drugs and charm. And he’s so confident it’ll take him 2 hours and 45 minutes that we get the same timer from last season that counted down God’s appearance in church.

First, we get one last comic death, a nice little parting shot. Cassidy’s drug cocktail has a smidge too much heroin in it, and we get that flash of light from the next room that we’re so used to by now as Cassidy accidentally overdoses a friend.

Thank God the two of them are effectively immortal.

And next is the fabulous speedball montage. Right down to the casino hotel room, it’s like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but with more sexual tension. I half expected to see Johnny Depp sucking on an adrenal gland.

And once Fiore opens up a little, we learn about his and DeBlanc’s legendary friendship. Yes they slept together—they did everything together. As Fiore says: “He’d do something, and then I’d do something in response. And so on.” When it comes down to it, it’s about the most adorably boring description of a relationship there is. But to Fiore, it was legendary, which is heartbreaking in its own way.

Unless it really was legendary, of course. Last summer a fan theory floated around that Fiore and DeBlanc are actually Genesis’ parents, and I’m for it 100%. Here’s a Reddit thread that articulates it very well and more at length than I have room for here. If this is the case (and I for one am sure that it is) Fiore is the angel and DeBlanc is the demon who fell in love and gave birth to Genesis, the most powerful being in the universe and the reason we’re all in this mess.

That is legendary.

But for the time being it’s still a theory that can only be backed up by some subtle wording. Cassidy says the Saint can kill angels, and Fiore corrects by saying it can kill “anyone.” And he comes up a little short when asked about the sex—that’s how Genesis came to be, after all.

Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), Fiore (Tom Brooke)

So instead of any big reveals we get good, clean, utterly bizarre fun. We even get to see that comic collection Fiore was so sorry to leave behind last season when he and DeBlanc went to Hell. And when the foreskin conspiracy makes another appearance, Fiore is completely on board with it. What exactly happens in those last 3 minutes and 26 seconds of Cassidy’s countdown? We may never know. But it sure works.

Until Jesse ruins it.

This is another improvement, in my opinion, of the source material. Where the Preacher comics are more about Jesse plus his girlfriend and best friend, the show treats them very much as an ensemble cast. Tulip and Cassidy are just as important and, one might argue, better at what they do than Jesse is. Jesse comes close to getting the Saint of Killers off his trail, but his pride gets in the way. By insisting that he won’t stop using Genesis, he convinces Fiore to go back on his promise.

It’s a satisfying update to the trope of the hero who always knows what’s best.

So Fiore betrays Jesse and follows through with his Genesis order to find peace. It’s his final death, and it has all the poignancy his montage of deaths lack. Where do dead angels go? This is, as Fiore tells Cassidy, the question. Maybe we can tell ourselves that since Fiore has to follow Genesis’ order, it’s a given that his death has to bring him peace.

That’d be nice.

I’m taking more solace in the fact that the Fiore and DeBlanc theory hasn’t actually been proven, which means chances are good they’ll have to come back to prove it. There’ve been enough sly little scatterings of clues—it’s not the kind of thing to finally be revealed in passing.

In the meantime, Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy are off to New Orleans to follow the jazz. The show’s implying that Tulip has a few secrets there. Fans of the comics know a few secrets too, and hopefully have reason to be excited about this next stop on our road trip.

Fiore (Tom Brooke), Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga), Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper)

“Mumbai Sky Tower” is even deadlier than last night’s episode, although to be fair half the deaths belong to the same character. Fiore’s endless suicides are a wonderful example of the rules of the Preacher universe and the joy that comes with their familiarity. The final end to his suicides delivers a rare poignancy the show doesn’t often deal in. It may take a while, but really hope we do find out where angels go when they die.

And I hope it’s better than Texas.

Preacher is back next week with “Damsels” at its new day and time—Monday 9/8 central.

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Liz Baessler is a frequent contributor and infrequent columnist at Film School Rejects. She has an MA in English and a lot of time on her hands. (She/Her)