On the surface, it really doesn’t feel like “Damsels” has as much going on as the first two episodes of this season. But where this episode lacks in spending on the VFX budget, it more than makes up for in laying the foundation for the rest of the season. We meet Herr Starr, the promised Big Bad for the second season; Jesse’s past is creeping up on him; and Tulip’s past has her in a stranglehold. All with New Orleans’ most famous attraction, Bourbon Street, as the backdrop.
Jesse is convinced that God is in The Big Easy, and he’s determined to find him even it means scouring every bar in the city. His quest gets off to a rocky start after their search for God leads them to a dank basement where they find themselves in the middle of an expensive kink scene, involving sex toys and a man in a dog suit. As disgusted as Jesse is, it’s impossible not to laugh as Cassidy causally reaches into his pocket to pay the man for service.
Crazy encounters aside, Jesse is well aware that Tulip is keeping something from him, but he doesn’t press her for information. She claims she’s got a stomach ache and that she doesn’t feel good, but she’s visibly anxious in the crowd, worried that someone she knows will spot her. Tulip has been weird since she had the run in with Gary in “Mumbai Sky Tower.” Cassidy knows she’s on the lam from someone named Victor, which is already more than Jesse knows. The knowledge is just another secret in the growing pile of things Cass can’t tell his best mate. But Tulip, being Tulip, is too proud to ask for help even though she’s clearly shaken by this Victor character.
There’s no mention of the name Victor in the comics, but given the situation, it could allude to Tulip’s first stint as a hit-woman that went terribly wrong. When Cassidy says he can help her, she just replies, “all that matters is that I screwed him, and now I’m in his backyard.” Comic Tulip borrowed money from a criminal and was unable to pay back the money. In a recent interview with Complex about Preacher‘s second season, Negga promised a deep dive into Tulip’s history, and it looks like fans won’t have to wait on the slow burn.
While Tulip’s story feels urgent, there’s still a lot viewers don’t know about Cassidy. Yes, he’s a vampire, yes he’s on the run from a different group of religious fanatics, but other than his penchant for strippers, drugs, and alcohol, we don’t have a lot of insight into him. He promised that while in New Orleans, the three of them could stay with his good friend Dennis, but Tulip isn’t convinced that this Dennis character doesn’t hate Cass. When they arrive, Dennis is a surly old Frenchman who doesn’t seems to speak of a word of English (and neither Cassidy nor Tulip speak a lick of French).
With both Tulip and Cass having left him alone, Jesse finds himself wandering from bar to bar drinking and asking anyone who will listen if they’ve seen God. He’s met with jeers, hostility, and even suggestions about the man-dog he’d already met earlier. Eventually, a kind bartender sends him to see a lounge singer, suggesting she might be able to help with his quest. After talking with her, he sees the woman get kidnapped by a bunch of men in white suits, red ties, and ski masks. Jesse uses Genesis to make them stop their getaway van, then proceeds to beat the lot of them in hand-to-hand combat. The singer tells him about another man who had told her that God was missing and that he was being chased by men in white suits, but now that man was dead.
Jesse, so desperate to find God, eats up everything this woman is telling him. Turns out she is one of the higher ranking officials in Herr Starr’s organization, which in the comics is called The Grail. The bartender that sent Jesse to see the singer is also in on it, and they escalate Jesse’s “file” all the way up to the big boss.
Starr, as per the comics, is ruthless, unfeeling, and doggedly determined to see his plans through no matter what. Oh, and as we’ve come to expect with Preacher, he’s a complete sexual deviant. As the second in command of The Grail (behind a figure called the Allfather), Starr becomes increasingly more interested in pushing his own agenda forward. Without potentially spoiling too much of this season, Herr Starr wants Jesse’s power for his own means, and suffice it to say that being on this man’s radar is not a good place to be.
After Jesse’s drunken bar crawl turns up no new leads, he heads to a jazz bar to end his night with a little music. As he’s walking into a bar, he notices a poster that says, “Welcome to Angelville.” He’s immediately mesmerized and frightened as the symbol on the poster is the same one tattooed in the middle of his back. In season 1, when Cass asked about that ink, Jesse said he got it from “a mean old lady.” What he failed to mentioned was that old woman is his grandmother, Marie L’Angelle.
When “Damsels” opens, Tulips reminds Jesse that he doesn’t even like New Orleans, which is why they should look for God in Mexico instead. He corrects her saying, “I like the city fine. It’s the swamps I don’t like.” Angelville supposedly rests on the border between Texas and Louisiana, in the swamplands. Series faithful will also remember that the man who killed Jesse’s father also had the “Angelville” tattoo on his arm. If AMC is setting up an inevitable showdown with Jesse and his psycho, bloodthirsty family, this season is really shaping up to be one explosive road trip! Perhaps we will finally get some backstory into how Jesse was shaped into a criminal, combat expert, man of God.
Preacher returns Monday, July 10th, at 9/8c on AMC.
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