‘Preacher’ casts the role of a lifetime and strikes up an unlikely friendship.
After all of last week’s excitement, “Viktor,” the fourth episode of Preacher, is an exercise in waiting. Eugene waits for his hell to be fixed. Tulip waits to talk to Viktor. Cassidy waits for Jesse to worry about Tulip. Hoover disguises himself as a sign spinner and waits for movement. So does the whole secret organization behind him. We wait for Herr Starr to come back.
The only one being proactive is Jesse, and the first thing he does is take a nap.
This isn’t to say nothing happens in the episode. There are some funny and bizarre scenes that the show is known for and does so well. But especially in light of the way we left things last week—the culmination of Tulip’s fears, a huge secret conspiracy, and Hitler himself—“Viktor” has surprisingly little payoff. Everyone is treading water.
This results in the under-use of some of the best characters. Usually, Tulip and Cassidy are unique and defined, with distinct but multi-faceted ways of acting that can still surprise and almost always delight. They’re so much fun to watch both because you think you know what’s coming and because occasionally you get something different. Either way, they’re at their best with new stimuli.
And this episode gives neither of them anything new to work with.Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), Denis (Ronald Guttman)
Tulip is stuck in stasis at Viktor’s, unable to leave, meeting no one new. She learns in the first scene that she’s a pariah, and she spends the rest of the episode relearning that same fact. For the most part, she has one note—quietly trying to ingratiate herself. She breaks out a little by the end, but most of her scenes feel like repetitions of themselves.
Cassidy doesn’t fare much better. His single note of the episode is quiet and earnest concern for Tulip, and it starts to get a little tiring. Even his texts are repetitions of the same simple sentence—“R U OK?” It’s an interesting change of pace to see Cassidy so sincere, but it goes on for too long to have staying power.
The only time Cassidy really gets to shine is during the Teddy Gunth scene, which itself is a standout part of the episode. James Hiroyuki Liao is fabulously sleazy, and Cassidy’s Game of Thrones hard balling is a welcome return to his usual self-serving and hilarious self.
It also makes for an interesting moment of repetition—just like in Tammy’s office in episode one, a lot of attention is paid to the framed headshots on the wall. This might just be coincidence or repetition for the sake of style. But now that our characters are starting to make their own connections, I’m tempted to assume that there are clues they’re overlooking.
There’s another possible connection that stands out a bit more. Between Katrina and The Amazing Ganesh, we’re two for two with tv ads telling us not to forget. At the time, The Amazing Ganesh tagline “a performance to remember from a performer you’ll never forget” just made for a fun joke about Cassidy almost forgetting.
But this bizarre moment of repetition in the Katrina infomercial stands out for its awkwardness: “When it comes time to give, what do we say? Don’t forget!” It may just be the icing on the cake of a comically bad infomercial (with just the right amount of famous Frankie Muniz).
But it might be something more.
Although it too is all about waiting, the most enjoyable focus of the episode is on poor Eugene and his unlikely friendship. It’s always a bold move to make Hitler likable, but here it’s certainly an interesting one. Noah Taylor is adorably sympathetic in his frustration over Hell’s filled-in puzzle books. And popped collar Tyler (Justin Prentice) is exactly the kind of bull goose douche you’d expect to take charge even on Hitler’s cell block.Adolf Hitler (Noah Taylor)
While our first real look at Hell is interesting, it’s the hints of what’s to come that are more tantalizing. The janitor repairing Eugene’s hell clearly has something up his sleeve. Word that the Saint of Killers is out seems to be spreading. And something has happened to make Hitler nice.
Maybe Hell is actually an effective correctional institution.
By the end of the episode, things start moving a little more. Cassidy cracks and Jesse looks for Tulip. Eugene makes a decision. And we get an interesting fight scene between Jesse and Ben the torturer.
The choreography of the fight is a real feat—appearing as one continuous take, it has only a couple very obvious cuts taking unashamed advantage of Jesse’s head to toe black outfit. It’s a technically impressive scene, but this is due in part to its length. And when one of the big selling points of your scene is its duration, you have to be careful it doesn’t just come across as too long. I’m not sure the Billy Joel and the technical choreography sustain it to the end, particularly as the finale of a particularly slow episode.
But maybe I’m hard to please—I’m still chasing the high from that season one angel fight in “Sundowner.”Eugene Root (Ian Colletti)
“Viktor” may be slow, but it’s still good. It has some quality moments that I’ve come to expect from Preacher, and it’s shown me things I’ve never seen before. Whatever happens next in Hell, I’m excited to see it. And while the characters up on Earth may have been at a standstill, things are bound to pick up next week.
If nothing else, Jesse and Tulip are going to have some serious words.