Ron Hogan

Jul 11, 2017

Once again, Preacher finds a way to make violence entirely too much fun in the latest bold episode…

This review contains spoilers.

2.4 Viktor 

There are a lot of things you can say that Preacher has done that not a lot of other shows can claim. It’s shot off more penises than any other show on basic cable. It’s a show with a vampire that isn’t a show specifically about vampires. It’s killed more people in three episodes this season than every Godfather movie combined. However, one of the weirdest things you can say about Preacher is that it’s made Hitler into a likable character. Yes, Eugene, that Hitler.

In the world of Preacher, Hell is an interesting place. It’s essentially a combination of solitary confinement in a modern-day prison mixed with a little bit of the paranormal waiting room in Beetlejuice. Especially in this episode, Hell as bureaucracy is never more apparent, because even the guard who escorts Eugene from his cell during repairs to his nightmare projector seems to be suffering, if only because she’s forced to wear the mask she wears and cannot talk in the demonic voice she keeps slipping into. Perhaps Eugene’s presence, which is clearly disrupting the torture technology being used by Hell, is her form of torture. However, as she makes clear, Eugene is in Hell, so he’d better act accordingly.

That’s probably the saddest thing about Eugene’s current fate. He’s in Hell, reliving the biggest failure of a life full of failures, and he’s still allowing his fear of the responses of others to keep him from coming to the aid of his friend Hitler. Instead, Eugene, after struggling with just what to do, has to join in on the group beating of Hitler in Hell’s holding tank. The only person who has stood up for him is now the person Eugene’s kicking right alongside of the rest of them, because he’s afraid of what will happen if he doesn’t.

It’s a weirdly touching moment, because Ian Colletti and Noah Taylor are able to do some excellent acting work with just their eyes and expressions. Taylor has a huge task; he’s got to make one of history’s greatest monsters into a pathetic, pitiable person. He’s still Hitler, and he’s still intimidating, but he gets beaten up by Tyler (Justin Prentice) because Hitler was a lot of things, but physically imposing wasn’t one of them. Ian Colletti’s skill of acting with just his eyes has been noted before, but it’s always really impressive to see just how much he’s able to communicate with half of his face obscured by make-up.

The show’s effort to humanise their version of Hitler is fascinating, if only because it’s uncharted territory and diverges from the source material. The only connection to Nazis in the original comic book was Herr Starr; it’s not a coincidence that he’s introduced about the time Hitler shows up. Still, making the fictional Hitler a likable character—frustrated artist, bad with women, vegetarian, kind of meek—is an incredibly bold gamble, but between Noah Taylor’s performance and the way Michael Slovis has chosen to emphasise that Hitler is intimidating as an idea, not as an actual person. given the way the other prisoners of Hell gather around him and give him a good stomping, there’s no doubt that Hitler won’t be winning any fisticuffs like Jesse.

Speaking of Jesse, the B storyline of Jesse’s attempt to rescue Tulip from Viktor, and Cas’s nervous attempts to get Jesse to worry about Tulip without expressing just why he needs to be worried, works really well. Joseph Gilgun has such an interesting screen presence, and he communicates the character’s weird nervous energy really well. That Cas is worried sick while Jesse isn’t concerned at all reveals a lot about Tulip’s character, and Craig Rosenberg’s line about Tulip being the sort of girl who can handle herself pays off as we watch Tulip try her best to get back in the good graces of Viktor’s criminal organisation (while also trying her best to get her hands on a gun).

Tulip’s interactions with the other characters prove to be interesting, because they’re not mad at her. Even Viktor isn’t really mad at her. Everyone she interacts with, save Viktor’s daughter, seems hurt and disappointed in Tulip over her disappearance. As mentioned in the episode, she was taken into a family, she betrayed them, and it shows in the way they all give her the cold shoulder (save the sadistic torturer). 

Jesse finally comes charging in to save the day, using Genesis on anyone and everyone he comes into contact with before meeting his match in the form of Viktor’s personal torturer, whose love of Billy Joel renders him immune to the Voice and required Jesse to have to fight him. It’s an amazing fight sequence; yet again, Preacher finds a way to make violence entirely too much fun. It’s practically a Jackie Chan fight scene. Jesse uses everything he can get his hands on, including a severed arm and a Foosball table, to fight off Viktor’s most evil goon. The fight choreography brilliant, in that pleasantly morbid way that Preacher goes about its business. After all, a dead person hanging from the ceiling is a very convenient meat shield, severed arms might as well be used for something, and don’t introduce a Foosball table if you aren’t going to use it. 

It just doesn’t make for as enthralling a tableau as Eugene in Hell making friends with Hitler. That’s no slight on the main cast, but… it is Hitler. He’s pretty fascinating as far as evil dictators go, and to make him feel less like a cartoon and more like a real person is a very, very bold move.

Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Damsels, here. 

US Correspondent Ron Hogan just has to wonder why Hitler, aside from his evilness making him a natural for Hell. It probably has something to do with the mustache. Find more by Ron daily at PopFi.