TV Show Review

TV Review: PREACHER: Season 2, Episode 9: Puzzle Piece [AMC]

Pip Torrens Dominic Cooper Preacher Puzzle Piece

Preacher: Puzzle Piece Review

AMC‘s Preacher, Season 2, Episode 9: ‘Puzzle Piece,’ left me with a delightfully odd place to start: wondering whether I should eat crow. Should I eat crow over claiming the anti-heroes had all gone soft; over remarks about the local Law’s response to TSK’s house call; or over calling the God Squad a way to pass time, between Big Bad drop-ins.

Well, if anyone asks: Herr Starr (Pip Torrens) did get here; so I wasn’t entirely wrong.

After a whiff of last ep’s drama commanded Tulip (Ruth Negga) out of her PTSD insomnia, Herr Starr looked it over… and was even more bored than any viewer might’ve been, about that drama. He just wanted them all dead. That, and maybe just getting on with a defiling of… date with the Governor’s daughter.

Enter The One True God Squad (the Samson Unit, according to the Grail… and the show), with all the all white tactical flair of Imperial Stormtroopers; but with a more Human touch. These guys had names – the first person shooter cams gave them to us. They also knew each other – when the best laid plan went red-over-white, Genesis made the carnage personal.

The sound-proofed, night-vision, first-person shooter cam was the kind gimmickry that works, here; and the result was something of a send-up of Found Footage horror flicks. As opening carnage moments go, this was right up there with the season premier. That one caught us by surprise, really; but this one came with every player on the field.

Jesse (Dominic Cooper) might’ve provided the first jump-scare, to this House of Horrors mission, but it was Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) that got the carnage going, as only Cass can.

Well, that is until shooter one shot Denis (Ronald Guttman). How many of you did not know what that meant?

Even as Cass took the brunt of the violence (both ends of it), Jesse did manage to show off boss form. His experience with Genesis countermeasure in evidence, he had a ruthlessly effective means of bringing the action to a useful end… except the expected Denis reveal happened. Somewhere between the Gollum like glee, with which Denis joined the line-up, and Tulip’s reaction to the aftermath she awoke to, there was reassurance that this might not have been a one-off moment of crazy.

Okay, so maybe Cass & Denis took up some Tulip slack, this time around; but for the sake of resolving the previous drama, Tulip had to be proven a liability, this ep – even as Jesse overcompensated for getting careless.

I have to wonder, though – did the Grail know about Cassidy? Considering he’s been hunted by various religious Orders, I’d guess yes; so chalk it up to Starr’s overall indifference, then?

That indifference was the titular tipper to the episode. Despite a literal dressing down of the State Debutante (clearly demonstrating why the offered proof of Jesse’s power did not impress him), Starr managed to take something away from his aborted dinner date (besides said Deb’s dignity). How he finally applied it to Jesse Custer’s case – that’s the sort of thing you might want to keep to yourself (and maybe the large Mob boss you had just attempted to run over, at a cross-walk, before Zed showed up).

The best thing about the episode, was the fact that the slam-bang opener wasn’t the most guano-crazy part of it. The craziest thing was just how ordinary it all was, for the Grailings. Ordinary employees don’t take to termination as gracefully as Starr’s outfit did – despite the former case only referring to the job. Makes me want to use Shogun as qualitative adjective. So, I will – it was Shogun – the whole Grail operation was so Shogun.

I think the screen portrayal of Starr -notably less high-strung than the source character – has helped to make this corporate-militant culture of the Grail stand out so well.

Between Herr Starr’s job ‘perks,’ and the subtle Featherstone & Hoover (Julie Ann Emery, Malcolm Barrett) bond – albeit a tad lopsided – the Grail may have framed the dysfunctions to the God Squad as being the more pedestrian of the two camps. That’s kind of a feat.

Ace job on hyping Brad, I gotta say. Somewhere between Herr Starr questioning Brad’s involvement, as overkill – Herr Starr did this – and Lara dismissing having armed Tulip as useless against Brad, it was almost like having my own Abraham Ford, preemptively demanding “who’s Brad” over my shoulder.

Well, Brad turned out to be every bit the insurmountable measure as promised – with bonus points for throwing random red herrings into the mix. Serves us right for overthinking it, it did.

On a side note: somewhere between Saving Private Ryan, Inception, Madagascar 3, and an old commercial (where a broke guy resorts to frying his goldfish, for breakfast), Édith Piaf’s rendition of ‘Non, je ne Regrette rien’ has become the go-to song, for shrugging off absurd situations. I was glad to see Preacher carry on the tradition.

‘Puzzle Piece’ seemed to cure a lot of ills, that the season’s been having, as well. If Cass has any more hand-wringing to do, over Denis, it won’t be for the same reasons as before; Jesse got out of his gumshoes, and back on his warhorse, finally; and maybe it took war being declared (or waking from a Jesse sleep Command to one in progress), or maybe a memory of that “Love and Darkness and my Sidearm” mojo, but Tulip got the intervention nudge.

While Lara didn’t get to working her full spy game, on Tulip, I still expect them to get some quality time together – now that Tulip was officially put on mend notice.

It just occurred to me: I had a Lara in my life once. Greatest feeling in the World, at times. Wouldn’t wish it on anyone; but at the time, crazy bad girl felt good. I should recuse myself from further commentary, on the Featherstone-Hoover relationship.

At its most basic, ‘Puzzle Piece’ was delightfully pointless exercise, resulting (through a tarp-worthy clerical error, of hemorrhoidal proportions) in Herr Starr reconsidering Jesse’s case. To wit, the episode ended with a cordial drink & proposal. I don’t know about you guys, but if getting off Herr Starr’s hit-list means more white marshmallow Starr, in the God Squad serial bowl, then I’m game for a gear shift.

Wouldn’t it be better to have Herr Starr next to you, than behind you, at this point?

Don’t answer that, too quick.

The good news, is that an otherwise disappointing set-up episode served a solid follow through one. The bad news, is that I will expect every slow episode to do the same, from now on. It may prove to be an impossible standard to live up to; but it’s the showrunners’ fault for feeding the wildlife, on my side of the screen. Miss an expected feeding, and they will snap at you.

BTW, fans of Harry Connick Jr., the line starts some ways back of the Church of Scientology, and is definitely extending (heh heh)….

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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