Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Preacher, Season 2, Episode 5: Dallas

So last episode Jessie discovered Tulip was previously married and now Jessie angrily drags Viktor to his own torture room and hangs him up in the newly vacated harness. Tulip begs him to stop, apologises, pleads, tells Jessie she was just there to get divorce papers.

He doesn’t listen to her and tells her to leave - using the Genesis Voice. She takes Viktor’s daughter with her and goes back to Cassidy - to punch him in the face for telling Jessie because she knew this would happen. She also assures Cassidy there was no way Viktor would hurt her

He asks Tulip why she would marry Viktor - and she points to all the money, “anyone would”. Cassidy doesn’t buy it - why would SHE do it.

Viktor has that answer for Jessie - because Jessie is an arsehole and Viktor made Tulip happy and was good to her

Time for a flashback

After the disaster with Carlos, when Tulip lost her baby, Tulip and Jessie fell into an utter rut. They stop doing jobs for their criminal contact (even refusing to kill her husband) and Jessie settles for a life of watching John Wayne on television and drinking beer all day. He also has a fellow slacker friend Reggie. While Tulip goes out, gets a conventional job and comes home to cook and get Jessie his beer...


In between drinking beer and watching television they have lots and lots of joyless sex because Jessie is desperate for Tulip to get pregnant again. He also slips into religiosity which rather clearly makes Tulip uncomfortable and she tolerates it.

This grim existence continues for a long long long time and Tulip doesn’t get pregnant until Jessie finds her stash. It includes money which she is getting not from a legitimate job, but from returning to a life of crime. And it includes the pill - as in the contraceptive pill - Tulip has been taking without telling Jessie. She doesn’t want to be pregnant. She doesn’t want this life. She’s an O’hara, she doesn’t even understand this life (a stark call back to her upbringing). Before Carlos, she loved what they were doing, they had fun - she wants to return to that

In return Jessie shames her, attacks her for that same upbringing and crosses every line. When she calls him on his he snaps and brutally beats the helpless Reggie while Tulip begs him to stop - much like she did with Viktor

The next day he tells Tulip he’s returning to his dad’s church to be a preacher - leaving her. She only leaves her happy life with Viktor when she hears Carlos has been found.

In the present Cassidy goes to Jessie and talks to him - he babbles away but ultimately explains why Tulip went to Viktor: she and Jessie had a fight she was angry and hurt and Viktor was the on there to pick up the pieces. Jessie throws a lot of contempt at Cassidy, as a liar, untrustworthy drug user and vampire - which Cassidy fully owns. He isn’t here to ask for Jessie’s trust or beg him not to kill Viktor - he’ll support Jessie no matter what as a friend

Jessie thinks Tulip will leave him if he kills Viktor - but Cassidy denies that, he’s sure Tulip will say with him no matter what

I’m wondering at Cassidy’s aim here, i mean, he’s no picking a side but nor especially doing anything overtly to stop Jessie.  But maybe he’s reminding Jessie that he doesn’t need to do this, gains nothing from doing this and he has friends and Tulip already devoted to him

He goes back to Tulip and, eventually, so does Jessie… he cut down Viktor. Literally, cut through the harness and let him go. Much to Tulip’s relief. And Viktor’s daughter’s. Tulip kisses him and takes the divorce papers.

Of course it’s short lived because the Saint of Killers catches up with Viktor and kills him - and nearly kills his daughter but she’s smart enough to tell him where Jessie is

This episode is… painful. It’s painful because it doesn’t just show a really bad time in Jessie and Tulip’s life but it throws their whole relationship in a new light

I mean, before we saw glorious chaos and endless mayhem, death, destruction and these two badass characters leaving an awful yet amazing swath in their wake. And they were fun together. Ok there was Jessie’s religious leanings that Tulip was patiently enduring and waiting and trying to pull Jessie back - but mayhem and fun coming!

Until it snaps into place that waiting and enduring and tolerating Jessie’s whims and playing by his rules and waiting for him to come back to her is not a blip, it’s Tulip’s existence. From him ignoring her wishes over her husband, to her patiently waiting for him while he played preacher (and not really making a concerted effort to tempt him away from this life and she even makes an aborted attempt at playing church lady) to this whole quest for god she endures while Jessie blatantly ignored Tulip’s discomfort, to her playing servant and supporter while he pushes his own agenda and vision.

Tulip lies about her husband and New Orleans. Tulip lies about her job and being on birth control. Tulip is a woman constantly in thrall to Jessie and the only time she gets to assert any of her own will is by lying to him because she knows her views, her wants will never be respected.

And as we saw with her husband, as we saw with Reggie (a scene utterly brutal - more so than most on this gore soaked series because it WAS brutal, savage and lacking any kind of zaniness. This wasn’t an over the top fight or resurrecting angels or armies or vampires - this was a strong man having a tantrum and beating someone weaker than himself: a violent abuser, a bully) - how much of Jessie’s violence is him acting out?

Even Cassie’s words about Tulip and Cassie being together no matter what leaves a bad taste - is it devotion or simply because she just tolerates his bullshit no matter what

And that’s a lens which starkly changes the whole series.

My one shred of hope, one shred? “I’m so bad for you”. Jessie may actually realise he is toxic for her… but “we’re bad for each other” makes me worry that Tulip doesn’t realise it.

Honestly, I started this episode writing shallow comments about how Jessie was super hot when working for Carlos and then somehow even hotter as a dead beat… but that just feels deeply wrong in the face of what we’ve seen