Review: Preacher 4×04, “Search And Rescue”

Aaron Neuwirth reviews the season four premiere of Preacher, which featured episodes "Masada" and "Last Supper" back-to-back.

While many of my remarks concerning last week’s episode of Preacher, “Deviant,” made a note of the lack of forwarding momentum in any real way, “Search and Rescue” feels like the show taking a few steps forward. I’ll likely keep pointing out how essential that is, given these are the final episodes of this series. However, that’s also going to lead to one of the significant issues of this last season, the stakes. For all the good that came from seeing Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy deal with some problems effectively this week, I’m not into the pool of villains that have all wound up in Masada, and what that potentially means for the wrap up of this series.

Staying on that point, we revisit the reveal of God working with Starr and the Grail. As the show has arrived at a fourth season, having to wrap everything up at this point seems to mean dealing with the economy of characters to do so effectively. However, I haven’t enjoyed the God performance the show has forced on us over and over. Not helping now is the impact his involvement with the Grail essentially neuters the satirical nature of the organization. By making the Grail a tool of God at this point means the group is simply a batch of heavies to go after Jesse and the gang, which is far less interesting than the goals not only in the comic but with the Starr we were first introduced to in the series.

I can only hope the writers have some exciting twists up their sleeves as the season wraps up. For now, I feel stuck in a fairly standard villain plot within a series that takes a lot of pride in shock humor, subverting expectations, and playing into some interesting concepts in regards to religion (something Garth Ennis handled much better in the original books). Not helping is the presence of Hitler in this location as well, as he’s another inessential character I’ve been plenty critical of, but let’s move on.

Last week Jesse was about to crash. This week we see the results of his airplane going down for “reasons.” It’s incredible how this plotline has so much more weight and impact than a wild sequence featuring a stylized action sequence, lots of dead bodies, and other imagery. Comparatively, we have Jesse and Steve the pilot stuck in a raft for most of the hour. And yet, the thematic concept of this (basically) innocent pilot going through the motions of slow death, while Jesse tries to maintain his optimism and shout at God at the same time is incredibly effective.

I’ve often been critical of how this show utilizes Dominic Cooper for Jesse-based plots that feel less effective than they should be, but sometimes this show delivers. Here, I was really into the plight of these two guys, seeing some of the comedy that came with it but also feeling the drama that came out of the inevitable death of Steve. Yes, they laid on the gore as far as his sunburned legs, and eventual bitten-off hand (let alone the cruel results of his burial at sea), but it all applies as character development for Jesse, which worked.

Meanwhile, Cassidy gets an equal amount of great material. First, he’s finally able to take out Frankie Toscani, the ex-mafia torturer who’s caused so much pain “downstairs” for Cass. It’s a clever bit of staging, with a rightful sense of anger and accomplishment brought forward when our favorite Irish vampire ends Toscani for good in a way entirely fitting for this show. And then Cassidy gets captured again, but not before doing some terrific face-acting from Joseph Gilgun in the midst of communicating to Tulip secretly, while being held at gunpoint by the always-pissed off Featherstone.

None of this stops Cassidy, however, as he eventually goes through an even gorier ordeal to get out of his shackles, leading to a new plan of escape, involving the angel that’s been strung up above him in his jail cell. Given the lack of explanation for this angel thus far, I look forward to a bit of expansion in terms of the show’s reason for the character.

Tulip’s material may be the least impactful from a character standpoint, but she does spend the episode infiltrating the Grail compound and meeting Jesus in the process. It’s another “look how wacky we are” moment for the show, by reintroducing Jesus this season (in addition to his previously established son, Humperdoo, both played by Tyson Ritter of the All-American Rejects). Does it mean much for the show? So far, not really. This take on the character is a “chill dude” who wants to help but has plenty of curiosity. Again, not sure how this will all factor into the endgame for the series, but I can only hope it amounts to more than just shock for shock’s sake.

Wherever things are currently headed (we may be leaving Masada for an extended look at Australia now), I was happy things at least pushed forward this week. If the show is going to have some big meetup between a lot of key characters, I want to have it all be worth it, without having wasted too much time in the process. That’s, of course, asking a lot for a show that has enjoyed letting the characters hang out in certain locations for extended periods, without always doing enough to make that hang-out scenario work. Still, if we can get good stuff out of Jesse in a raft for a whole episode (let alone the generally great production values that come with this series), all is not lost.

Preachin’ To The Choir:

  • “He’s something else…” – Starr doesn’t have a lot of impact on the plot these days, but his dry delivery in describing Humperdoo is fun. His ear stuff…less so.
  • “I hear he’s a great dancer” – Asking about Humperdoo’s dancing abilities, and then denying us a scene of him doing so, even as Hitler plays the piano, is cruel.
  • The character is not ultimately important, but Jesse and Steve had good chemistry.
  • The Saint and Eugene managed to take a big shortcut through the earth this week, so now they’re in Australia too. Good times ahead, I guess.

Written by
Aaron is a movie fanatic and loves talking about such things…a lot. He is from Orange County, California, but earned a degree or two at UC Santa Barbara. He describes himself as a film reviewer, writer, podcaster, video game player, comic book reader, disc golfer, and a lefty. His mind is full of film knowledge and random trivia, but he is always open to learning more, whether it’s through box office stats, reviewing Blu-rays from The Criterion Collection or simply hearing first hand from filmmakers and others about various productions and behind-the-scenes tidbits.

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