'Preacher' season 3 episode 4 review: From 'Gladiator' to 'Star Wars', pop culture references abound

For the most part of season 3, AMC's supernatural comedy has delivered a lukewarm version of the 'Preacher' despite Jesse steeping into the abyss of savagery that is Angelville.

                            'Preacher' season 3 episode 4 review: From 'Gladiator' to 'Star Wars', pop culture references abound

The Jesse Custer withdrawal finally comes to a cease and how. 

For the most part of season 3, AMC's supernatural comedy has been delivering a lukewarm version of the 'Preacher.' While the titular hero has already stepped into the abyss of savagery - Angelville - Jesse has assumed this annoyingly stoic stance, where he is passively involved with the events of the episodes. Granted, he is under a spell cast by Madame L'Angelle aka his beloved Gran'ma (the wicked witch fittingly portrayed by Betty Buckley), but that doesn't mean our main star's arc needs to be put on the backburner, while everything around him literally falls apart or burns to ashes.     

With episode 4 'Tombs,' the 'Preacher' showrunners were (somewhat) able to do away with the confusion (thanks in part to this season's continued style of flashback storytelling), and provide some background to Jesse's dislike towards the place and his soured relationship with Madame Boyd. In all honesty, though, the allies of this fan-favorite preacher make a considerable contribution in the fourth episode towards adding pace and intrigue to the plot. 

Had it not been for Ruth Negga's 'Mad Max' driving skills or her character's indomitable guts, holding someone like Madame Boyd at gunpoint - I doubt, if 'Preacher' would have spiraled down the same tragic circle of boredom by the fourth week. Even better, this week's episode had Cassidy the vampire breaking out into sweat and blood (literally) as his former bud Jesse chopped him into pieces to be parcelled off to safety. 

Jesse Custer is finally back as the ringleader of the "tombs" in 'Preacher' season 3 (AMC)
Jesse Custer is finally back as the ringleader of the "tombs" in 'Preacher' season 3 (AMC)


And all of this went down at the infamous "Tombs" - the underground fight club, which was once run by none other than Jesse. Going back to his roots, however, the multifaceted preacher puts on his old cap, shepherding the outcasts and miscreants who have come to the "Tombs" to fight Jody and reclaim their souls. Only this time, the one serving the blows is not Jody but Cassidy, who naturally is able to take down a pedophilic teacher. 

Cassidy wins the fight, and Jesse manages (or at least attempts) to get his vampire friend out of the horrid realms of the town. And at a catastrophic moment - when Jesse is chopping off his buddy to aid his escape - Tulip also arrives at the tombs. Amidst all the hubbub, though, the fact that Jesse is not a lost case unlike his bizarre and evil magic-practicing family is hammered until the nail twists, poking a Jesse-shaped hole of confusion in our heads. Indeed, the layers of maliciousness have to be toned down by leaps and bounds for the small screen, but not without altering the impact of a brutal and in-your kind of face narrative that is 'Preacher.'     


Characters like Boyd, Tulip, Cassidy are literally holding the grounds while Jesse as an anti-hero is flung around, from one polarizing end to another. He is either being manipulated by his daunting Gran'ma or forging alliances with the rival gang, the Grail (and in between these, navigating through his messy relationship with Tulip). The lack of a truly moral or evil preacher, somehow, hasn't helped much when it comes to the first few episodes of the third season. The potential, the hell hole that is Angelville and its host of weird and whacky creatures hold is somewhat undermined by Jesse's hazy leaning.


But there are strong suggestions that this season could take a turn for the better - beginning with Madame Boyd. Unsurprisingly, there is more to her and Jesse's story, which is dealt with in details in the fourth episode, in the form of a flashback to the time when the two were lovers. Just at the moment, when the young pair was about to take things to the next level, a teenage Jesse appears to ruthlessly dump Boyd, telling her she is nothing more than a trash. It breaks her heart, but in the hindsight, we are made aware that it was all an act to protect Boyd from Angelville and Gran'ma. 

In fact, in a re-narration of the scene where Jesse ends up killing Boyd's brother in the tombs, it transpires that it was all but an act of self-defense. As Jody and not Jesse, in a true Gladiator-style proclaims "are you not entertained?" (a pop culture reference only second to Cassidy's mumblings about a Star Wars-inspired escape, which, needless to say, got the true fan all rilled up and excited.)


Jam-packed with action, perhaps, the only poignant moment in the episode takes place between Tulip and Cassidy - when the latter is shut down midway as he expresses his love. Heartbroken and rejected, the fan-favorite vampire is New Orleans-bound but not without danger lurking around the corner. To be more precise, a certain Lara Featherstone.        

Four episodes into the season, it is safe to say that 'Preacher' has finally begun picking up the pace. Although it would have been wise to ruffle Jesse's storyline by now, episode 4 hasn't been a complete disappointment - especially after that burning glimpse from the hell, where Satan and the Killer of Saints seem to have a tete a tete.

What's next for Jesse and gang?

'Preacher' will be back on AMC this Sunday (22 July ), with episode 5 titled 'The Coffin' and going by the official plot synopsis, the future seems to be quite grim for Cassidy. "As Cassidy falls in with a group of mysterious strangers in New Orleans, Tulip and Jesse deal with the fallout of a failed escape from Angelville."