So where exactly did we last leave Jesse (Dominic Cooper), Tulip (Ruth Negga) and Viktor (Paul Ben-Victor)? To answer that, I'm going to stick with the old "a picture is worth a thousand words" idiom:
Did I mention that Viktor's actually Tulip's husband? And that Jesse's just about to find out?
Which brings us to Preacher Season 2 Episode 5, the backstory-heavy Dallas…but first!
This isn't a formal review — more of a recap-ish type thing — but it will cover some themes and takeaways involving major and minor storyline developments from the episode. If you're not familiar with the comic book series or the show, you should definitely keep that in mind as you keep read on. If you're a fan of the series or have some idea of what's coming up, then spoilers probably aren't that big of a deal for you, but there may be some discussion of subtle changes that you might want to avoid until you see them for yourself.
So here's what AMC had to say about Dallas:
"After learning about Tulip's secret relationship, we revisit Jesse and Tulip's rocky past and see a darker side of Jesse."
Overall Takeaway: I'm referring back to last week's recap when I say that that my initial instincts were right: Damsels, Viktor, and Dallas really work as an effective little miniseries, giving us a ton of Jesse/Tulip backstory while still moving the over-arching "Search For God" narrative forward.
Now let me be clear: there's not a whole lot happening in this episode beyond the Jesse/Tulip story. No visits to Hell this week and no serious signs of The Grail anywhere. Anyone who's not an O'Hare or Custer is assigned the role of supporting character this week, including Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun); though the response he gives to Jesse after Jesse asks him why should he trust or believe him about anything was a major highlight and a helluva' performance by Gilgun.
But let there be no doubt about it: Dallas is The Jesse Custer & Tulip O'Hare Show, with Cooper and Negga giving intensely strong performances to two characters we are only now starting to get to know. We've been given glimpses of how Carlos' (Desmin Borges) betrayal destroyed their lives, and how a tragedy like losing a child would understandably lead to Jesse and Tulip going their separate ways. It was a backstory that helped define them, and one that allowed us to relate to them on a personal level. Dallas makes us feel for them on a personal level by filling in the blanks and showing us a couple whose lives have never fully been their own to control.
I'm a huge fan of how the Jesse/Tulip dynamic is handled in the television series, even a little more so than it was in the comic books. The history that they share together in the television series adds an additional layer to the search for God: it's not just three individuals (even though they're friends) looking for God for their own respective reasons, but also a couple looking for answers to to deal with their shared pain.
I'd slap myself in the back of the head if also didn't give special attention to how Hell was represented in this episode. Up until now, Hell has been shown to represent an afterlife punishment meant to torture a soul by having them repeat their worst moment over and over and over again. It's been represented in varying ways: directly, with the origin of The Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish); humorously, with the behind-the-scenes of Hell moments with Eugene (Ian Colletti); and metaphorically, with angel Fiore (Tom Brooke) unable to die and escape his loneliness.
Jesse and Tulip show us another aspect of Hell: the "hell-on-earth" that we create to torture ourselves for what we think are our "sins." Jesse and Tulip go through the motions of what they think is supposed to be their life: work, smoke, drink, fuck, sleep, repeat. They won't talk about the pain they share, instead choosing to suffer in silence from the tragedies each of them feels they deserved…that they earned…that they brought upon themselves. In the end, they both knew they couldn't stay together…at least not for now. Tulip found faith in a criminal life that she feels is the only thing she's ever been good at, while Jesse needed to go back home to find his faith…in something.
Spare Parts: Here are some random thoughts, quotes, and observations from this week's episode that came up along the way, just some things to keep in mind whether you're watching for the first time or re-watching for the 88th time:
● Tulip: "Alright. I got it. You're mad." Always good to start off things with a dramatic understatement…
● Jesse will not hesitate to use Genesis on anyone, including Tulip. What was more impressive was how hard and how well Tulip was able to resist it for a while…
● When you're using The Holy Bible as rolling paper and a window stop, it's pretty safe to say you've lost your faith.
● Danni (Julie Dretzin) is definitely a Debbie Downer-type with some serious personal issues with her husband who's not a fan of Jesse/Tulip trying to change…or their cooking skills: "It's a human thing. It's disgusting."
● Glad to see the John Wayne influence starting to rear its head, although Reggie needs to stop sounding like "patriarchal" was the first new word he's learned in years, so he's going to use it any time he can.
● Tulip: "No it's not. Boo Berry's awesome." Tulip takes her morning breakfast cereals very seriously.
● Lentils and Denis (Ronald Guttman) are probably not the best babysitting candidates, Cassidy.
● Cassidy: You're my friend, Tulip. You both are." Said by a man who hasn't said those words in a while…
● Tulip: "I swear to God, if Jesse kills him, we are done!" Nice to know she does draw some lines.
● That foosball stick is still the scariest thing in that torture room…hands down.
● Viktor: "A strong woman like this. A hard woman like this. What sort of fresh hell did she crawl out of? I get it now, asshole. It was you." Proving that if you think you're going to die anyway, why not go out swinging?
● The sign outside of the church that Jesse passes by to get beer, cigarettes and pregnancy tests seems more mocking than encouraging: "DO NOT LOSE HEART/FOR WE WILL REAP/IF WE DO NOT/GROW WEARY."
● Jesse discovers that Tulip has gone back to taking jobs from Danni and started taking birth control pills. Jesse and Tulip are at an impasse: Tulip wants to retreat to what "we're good at" and get back what they had before Carlos' betrayal; Jesse is looking for something, but even he's not sure what.
● Tulip: "Like your stuck-up daddy and your stupid John Wayne?" Tulip knows how to hurt Jesse just as much as Jesse knows how to hurt her. Unfortunately for Reggie, he really should've kept his mouth shut.
● Jesse: "I'm going back to Annville. Going to be a preacher." Tulip: "Good luck with that." And with that…
● In Cassidy's defense? I'd push one of them over, too…my curiosity would be too much to take.
● Jesse: "Why should I trust a lying, junkie vampire who thinks everything's a joke?" Interesting how both Jesse and Tulip didn't hesitate to unleash a little of their venom at Cassidy.
● Cassidy: "No more Jesse Custer and Tulip? Please. Such things'll never happen." Hmm…
● Viktor: "Cause you're an asshole, asshole. And I was nice to her." Viktor laying it out there to Jesse…
● Really, Jesse? You didn't think "I took him down," could be taken in "more permanent" way?
● Jesse leaving Viktor alive and scoring the divorce papers for Tulip was a smooth move…nice touch.
● Jesse: "I'm sorry. I'm so bad for you." Jesse finally owning up to Tulip…not realizing how wrong he truly is.
● Viktor: "I married a hard woman. But I love her anyway."
● Tulip left Viktor the moment Danni contacted her with information on where she could track down Carlos.
● And just in case any of us forgot that Jesse used Genesis…the Saint of Killers doesn't waste time asking questions of Viktor and his entire house crew.
● Viktor's daughter is proving the adage, "like father, like daughter" when she says to The Saint of Killers, "The Preacher? I know where he is." It's about survival, and Tulip and Jesse aren't high on her Christmas card list at this moment anyway.
So that's it for Preacher Season 2 Episode 5, folks! Join me again here next week when I recap Preacher Season 2, Episode 6…and here's what AMC has to say about Sokosha, as well as two quick pics from the episode:
"The Saint corners the trio; Jesse makes a deal with the killer Cowboy; Jesse races to save Tulip and Cassidy."