'Preacher' season 3 episode 7 review: What's wrong with 'Hilter' is exactly what's off about the show
While Jesse and his dealings with the Grail and his Gran'ma continue to be the star of the story, his trusted allies are dabbling in different narrative arcs this time around.
For a dark comedy with deep roots in comics literature, the challenge often is to find a strong footing between the absurd and the more rational aspects of the storyline. About seven episodes into the third season, AMC's 'Preacher' is still walking the thin line - on one hand trying to provoke viewers with copious amounts of ludicrous and on the other hand, making an attempt to keep the show grounded with more substantial elements like Jesse and Tulip.
And as a fan of comic book adaptations, I have no issues with absurdity. If anything, 'Preacher' can continue to strive for excellence based on its outrageous and in-your-face kind of narrative. Into the seventh episode - strategically titled 'Hilter' - however, the emphasis of the narrative on the farcical parts of the deep, dark comics appeared to be dwindling a little bit and leaning more towards the outlandish. You got a flying vampire in the episode, then you have the flying vampires going all gay and happy and sharing a kiss, and last but not the least, a surprise introduction in the concluding few seconds.
It's safe to say that a lot is going on in Angelville right now. What started out as coming to terms with the twisted, unconventional relationship between Jesse and Gran'ma (undoubtedly the heroes of this season) has transformed into this everyone-is-invited kind of party. With each new episode, a new group of antagonists, antiheroes, and Grail operatives join the rollercoaster ride with our leading trio - Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy. (Although the friendly neighborhood vampire is having more than just a ride with his latest partner in crime, Eccarius). And I get why!
With seven episodes down, season 3 is in full swing. And it's just a matter of time before the curtains part to reveal the big finale cards 'Preacher' has been holding close to its chest all along - a sneak peek of which was even teased at the end of 'Hilter', making me skip a beat or two. But before the gigantic cliffhanger of episode 7, came several plot twists our way - some out of the blue and few totally predictable.
After weeks of teasing and baiting, the preacher finally arranged a much-anticipated meeting between the two antagonistic forces of the season, Herr Starr and Madame L'Angelle. While the opposite parties, engaged in a sit-down in the same frame itself is quite thrilling, what added to the equation was their exchange, a deal wherein Jesse helps out with some Grail business and in returns Gran'ma gets her share of souls.
At his best, Starr - the one chosen by the upper echelons of The Grail - can be trusted to not to trust. His Machiavellian maneuvers have been on display for the better half of the season, especially that one time when he swiped clean the entire Hare Krishna temple without a hint of regret. But in a contradiction to his own character, in 'Hilter' fans find him letting his guard down in front of Jesse. In an uncharacteristic move, Starr chooses to confide in the preacher, promising to find Jesse his soul in exchange for loyalty once the Genesis is in work.
“No matter what happens from here on out, I’m with you, Messiah,” Starr (Pip Torrens) says, making the lot of us wonder if he indeed is being earnest or has some ulterior motive up his sleeves.
The fears only get worse in the closing scene of the episode - drumroll for the grand cliffhanger please - in which, after weeks of waiting, fans of 'Preacher' are finally introduced to Jonny Coyne's Allfather D’Aronique. Gigantic, gruesome, and grotesque, this head of the Grail could easily be the most powerful man in the world. And his appearance in the final scenes of the episode surely indicates that something sinister is headed Jesse's way - perhaps more chilling than Gran'ma herself (who unfailingly keeps surprising us with her heartlessness).
Just before the doors are opened and the preacher is presented before the Allfather, however, Starr lets slip a significant clue as he strikes a deal with Jesse under the condition that he kills the Allfather. Not only does this make us question the Grail operative's loyalty but also his grit and resolve; characteristics that are aptly brought out by Torrens' cold demeanor in his portrayal of Starr.
There are multiple layers to the episode. While Jesse and his dealings with the Grail and his Gran'ma continue to be the star of the story, his trusted allies are dabbling in different narrative arcs this time around, almost, at times, convoluting the focus of the plot.
After many a will they/won't they moments, Tulip (Ruth Negga) - a character whose potential has been vastly undermined in season 3 - seems to be getting a share of the spotlight in episode 7 as she, Featherstone, and Jody undertake what seems to be a one helluva road trip. Sadly, though, the same can't be said for Cassidy, the friendly vampire stuck in a romance of sorts with Eccarius while Hoover is on his trail.
The confusions of the narrative and the subplots, in fact, are reflected in the episode title itself. 'Hilter', supposedly a play on the character based on the infamous Hitler, appears for an altogether of five minutes and at the beginning of the episode.
Fresh out of hell and straight into a Subway knockoff, 'Preacher's' version of David Hilter, however, remains as antisemitic as was his real-life counterpart. For actor Noah Taylor, who has already portrayed Adolf Hitler in 2002's 'Max', playing the dictator once again might not be much of a grind - but his minutes-long appearance is exactly what makes a typical 'Preacher' viewer pause, and take a good, long watch at the series and its comic iterations like "Hilter".
Is it too late for Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy to save the world?
'Preacher' returns on AMC next Sunday (August 12 ), with episode 8 titled 'The Tom/Brady'. And one look at the episode synopsis, and it's apparent that danger and more puns are lurking around the corner. "Annville, Angelville and the Grail team up to steal souls in New Orleans and Osaka in a last-ditch effort to satisfy Gran'ma and save the world."