Puzzle Piece: Vampires and Prostitutes Gone Wild in ‘Preacher’

‘Preacher’ unites its stars and celebrates father-son time.
Herr Starr Preacher Puzzle Piece
By  · Published on August 15th, 2017

‘Preacher’ unites its stars and celebrates father-son time.

“Puzzle Piece,” episode 9 of Preacher, is the story of how Jesse and Herr Starr finally come together. Or rather, it’s the story of how Jesse finally worms his way into Herr Starr’s consciousness.

And Jesse has no idea that he’s doing it.

Despite every attempt to be proactive, Jesse has come up with nothing, resorting to searching for God on YouTube in the middle of the night. It’s only by a series of coincidences (an uncomfortable dinner date, a popup cat question, a misjudgment in prostitutes) that Herr Starr gives Jesse a second chance.

And it’s a good thing, too, because Jesse is at the end of his rope. He’s having no luck finding God and, whether he’s aware of it or not, he’s seriously falling out with his only two friends.

He finally seems to be taking notice of Tulip’s problems, which is good, because I’m starting to get a little tired of aimless Tulip. When she went back to the Hurt Locker, it felt like she was starting to make progress. Not healthy progress, mind you, but she was doing something.

That was several weeks ago. Frankly, I miss the old Tulip, and watching this new Tulip stumble through life without the help she needs (and without an entirely clear reason for her distress) is wearing thin. Tulip is a wonderful character, and it’s a shame to see her stuck in the same rut for so long.

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

Cassidy’s drifting away from Jesse, too, although his troubles are more interesting to watch. Denis’ introduction as a vampire is great, as are the hints that there’s already trouble in paradise. A certain memorable character in the comics lives in New Orleans, and I have an inkling that some aspects of him are going to come out in Denis.

For the time being, though, their difficulties are more fun than ominous. The ear-splitting “Je Ne Regrette Rien” is a lovely little role reversal—Denis the son playing loud music and Cassidy the invalid hobbling after him. It’s a sweet, almost normal introduction to what is destined to be a very problematic relationship.

What’s less sweet is Cassidy’s relationship with Jesse. Cassidy clearly resents Jesse for not helping with Denis, especially when he’s so quick to use Genesis on Tulip (and against her will, at that). And while Jesse insists he wouldn’t have objected to Cassidy biting Denis, the two of them have a complicated history regarding the acceptability of vampires.

In the standoff between Jesse and Cassidy, it’s hard to see both sides.

Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper)

Which is odd, since Cassidy really seemed to be taking a darker turn for a while. He used Fiore and left him. He never learned to speak to his own son. He tried to break up Jesse and Tulip. He was on his way down an unlikeable path.

But recently, he’s been almost unequivocally good. He nursed his dying son, then saved his life. He sacrificed his fingers, and then his whole body to rescue his friends. And now, with only half of his intestines, he’s being asked by Jesse to sacrifice himself again, without so much as a thank you.

He’s old and lonely and being used and he knows it.

Cassidy is a wonderful character—it’s hard not to be charmed by him. But part of what makes him so good is that the charm is balanced by a selfishness, an innate badness. At the moment, however, he’s not only charming but also extremely relatable and pitiable.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of his darkness, but I’m worried it’ll be a long fall.

Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun)

Meanwhile, the introduction of the Grail as real players in the story is very exciting. Their presence makes the show feel much more like the comics.

And it brings up storylines I honestly didn’t think would make the jump to tv.

As soon as the rape fantasy prostitutes were mentioned, I knew what was coming, but I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. It’s not too shocking or too strange, but accidental gay is a little stale as a punchline these days. Herr Starr’s blasé acceptance of having to wait out a vigorous pounding is, at least, a funny twist. But between this and last week’s handjob suicide, I’m curious about what else Preacher is willing to show us.

At least we know it’s still willing to explode real people. The killing of Harry Connick Jr. is a fun jolt back to the “real world,” a lot like Tom Cruise’s first season explosion. I sincerely hope this is the start of a trend and another classically handsome middle aged star blows up next season.

F.J. Hoover (Malcolm Barrett), Lara Featherstone (Julie Ann Emery)

“Puzzle Piece” is a nice collision of three major parties who’ve been destined to meet for a while. It pairs the further deterioration of Jesse’s world with the first real break he’s gotten all season.

I wouldn’t count on Tulip or Cassidy making much progress next week, but I’m excited to see Jesse finally get some answers.

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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)