Monday, June 26, 2017

REVIEW: 'Preacher' - Jesse and Cassidy Reach Out to an Angel to Help Stop the Saint of Killers in 'Mumbai Sky Tower'

AMC's Preacher - Episode 2.02 "Mumbai Sky Tower"

Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy track down a lead from Heaven to find out more about who The Cowboy is and why he's trying to kill them.

Not many of the supporting characters from the first season of Preacher were that great or interesting. The ones that were are still around this season. That's a list that largely just includes Graham McTavish as The Saint of Killer, who is mainly just a menacing and lethal presence, and Ian Colletti as Eugene, who hasn't even appeared yet and who Jesse seems to have forgotten about until he's reminded of him in this episode. The rest of the ensemble was easily disposable. The town of Annville blew up and made it all seem pointless for getting to know about those characters on a personal level at all. And then, there were the two angels - Fiore and DeBlanc - who sprung the Saint from Hell to track down and kill Genesis. DeBlanc was killed during that trip while Fiore was able to make the deal that freed the Saint. If he killed Genesis, then he could see his family again. Those stakes were clear. There didn't need to be any more time spent on that story. And yet, "Mumbai Sky Tower" brings Fiore back into the narrative. It's not under the guise that he will continue to be a main presence on the show. He's just a nice connection to last season that allows the main characters to get up to speed about the man who is trying to kill them at the moment.

However, this episode is amazing because of the heartbreaking and devastating performance that Tom Brooke delivers. Last season he was asked to be one half of a pair of performances. Fiore and DeBlanc were always together. They were unified in their mission and their beliefs. They had knowledge of what was actually going on in this supernatural narrative. But the only thing that differentiated them were minor character quirks. Yes, things were personal between them as well. That close bond was intriguing to see. But now, it carries so much more weight because Fiore is in mourning. He's back on Earth dealing with the tragic death of his partner. The two of them have died countless times. They always come back to life. That's their trick as angels. They can't be killed. They resurrect. But the Saint has the ability to kill them. He killed DeBlanc. And now, Fiore has to find a way to continue living without him. It's so wrenching to watch as he kills himself in numerous ways every night. He wants to be released from this existence but can't because he's a supernatural being. He's able to mask that pain for a little bit by becoming a hit magician in this casino. He toplines a hit show that brings in the crowds. But he's still desperate and alone. He doesn't appreciate the acclaim and attention. He still just misses his best friend and partner in the universe. He can't move on without DeBlanc. Their bond was really that strong.

Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy show up and change this existence for DeBlanc. He's still operating under the belief that Genesis is dangerous and shouldn't be used at all. If it can't return to Heaven, then it needs to be killed. He's still committed to that mission. He tells Jesse and Cassidy everything that he knows but he doesn't choose to end the deal he's made with the Saint. He reveals that Jesse using Genesis is what allows the Saint to find him and his friends so easily. That makes a lot of sense. He was an expert tracker in the premiere that built to a huge confrontation. The opening sequence of this episode is just as intense and exciting to watch as the action scenes that started the season. It's amusing to think that Jesse was saved from a bullet just because a truck driver happened to be going by at that exact moment. That's such a startling and surprising visual. But it also proves just how indestructible the Saint really is. He survives being hit with a truck and a hundred bullets and a grenade launcher. He can survive all of that and take out the citizens of this motel so easily. He will kill anyone who is even in the proximity of Jesse. That makes it dangerous for him to use Genesis this season. It's a tool he's grown comfortable with and wants to use to find God. But now, he'll have to accept that using it will also carry the burden of a number of deaths. He shouldn't use it until he can take the Saint out. But odds are that won't happen anytime soon and he'll still need Genesis at some point.

At first, Fiore isn't going to cooperate in this endeavor to stop the Saint. He's still furious with Jesse every time he sees him. That's what makes it so inspired for the show to pair up Fiore and Cassidy for a little bit. It's a sequence that just depicts them bonding as two guys while high on a bunch of different drugs. It has its sick and twisted punchlines as well like Cassidy giving Fiore too much heroin to start with. But it's just so much fun to watch. A real and genuine friendship is formed between the two in a matter of hours. Cassidy was confident that he could do this and he succeeded. He gave Fiore the thing he wanted the most in this world. He needed a friend and it felt so good to be that close with someone once more. Yes, Cassidy is very manipulative of Fiore. He has knowledge that will help Jesse in his mission. Cassidy is trying to prove his worth after messing things up at the strip club in the season premiere. That provides the urgency to this situation. Will Fiore reveal something new and shocking to Cassidy that will aid in the fight against the Saint? Or is all of it just to get him to call off the hit on Genesis? By the end of it, Fiore is cooperative. He's willing to work with Cassidy because he gave him a profound experience that was missing from his life.

And then, Jesse ruins all of it in just a few moments. Fiore is surprised to learn that God is missing from Heaven as well. He didn't know that. He has no idea where to find him either. This may ultimately just be a dead end for Jesse's mission. Of course, Jesse is still keeping busy while Cassidy is entertaining Fiore. He proposes marriage to Tulip and the two of them almost go through with it. It's just the kind of random suggestion that defines the relationship between these characters. Their love is strong but they are keeping secrets from each other. Tulip and Cassidy are keeping things from Jesse that are only bound to cause more complications in the future. That's what ultimately forces Tulip not to go through with the ceremony. Fiore is there and willing to embrace this ceremony of love and commitment. But it's actually the conversation he shares with Jesse that is incredibly telling. That moment proves that Jesse really hasn't learned his lesson about Genesis. He still wants to believe that Genesis was created for a reason. That's his outlook on everything in life. Everything happens for a reason. A lot of bad things have happened as of late and that's fueling his desire to confront God about the why of it all. If Genesis helps in that mission, he's going to continue to use it. In the end, Jesse believes he's giving Fiore a blessing by telling him to find peace. That provides him some clarity over his life. But that clarity largely just allows Fiore's mind to wipe away all the manipulation of his experiences with Jesse, Cassidy and Tulip. Finding peace means killing Genesis and hopefully reuniting with DeBlanc. So instead of continuing in this miserable existence, he asks the Saint to kill him too. It's a brutal final sight. One that the audience of his show doesn't accept right away. But a tragic ending for a character who went on quite a journey in the span of this hour. And one that keeps the severity of the story high moving forward for the main characters.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Mumbai Sky Tower" was written by Sam Catlin and directed by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg.
  • Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy learn that Annville has blown up. It's amusing to watch as they are so transfixed by the news broadcast that they completely forget that the Saint is right outside the motel killing a bunch of people just in order to get to them. That apparently shows how much they still cared about the town despite leaving it.
  • The moments where Jesse and Tulip are in mourning about Annville's destruction don't completely work. Despite so much time spent in that location last season, the emotional connection to it just isn't there. It makes sense that they would be in mourning after hearing the news. But hopefully, those emotions don't last for too much longer on their journey.
  • It's a little disappointing that Tulip doesn't get to spend much time with Fiore. She was kept away from that for some reason. And yet, she has a memorable interaction as well. Someone from her past named Gary is at this casino as well. Someone from New Orleans is looking for her and she doesn't want to call him. In order to avoid that, she has to kill this guy who is twice her size. It's another solid fight scene.
  • Of course, it's then ironic that Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy are going to New Orleans in search of God after all of this is done. It's a decision that Jesse makes purely because he knows that God is a fan of jazz. It makes sense and will probably pay off in the long run. But it's going to be very dangerous for Tulip to return to that city. That's very exciting too.
  • The show can be very arch and pointed with its depiction of gun violence. It's not afraid to kill as many people as possible because of guns. That's the weapon of choice by the Saint. But it's also noteworthy to realize that a ton of people from the motel hear the crash and respond with their weapons armed and ready to fire. It gives Jesse an army to protect him but it's a very unusual reaction to see as well.
  • Will Fiore and DeBlanc still be able to uphold their end of the deal should the Saint succeed in killing Genesis now that they are both dead? It would seem difficult to do. And yet, this is a supernatural show where death doesn't always mean the end of things. So, he could probably see his family again despite killing the two people who hired him in the first place.