Preacher: 2.11 Backdoors
The following review contains full spoilers for the eleventh episode of Preacher season two.
Preacher is like a shark: it is an enthralling object of pure viciousness and violence so long as it retains constant forward motion. When it stops moving, it dies.
Before Backdoors, the plots weren't going anywhere. Tulip and Cassidy have barely left the apartment in hours, Jesse's search for God hit a dead end a long time ago, and Eugene's story has hit the same "it's bad to be good in Hell" note every time it has surfaced. But Backdoors undoes the stasis for nearly every plot: Tulip finally learns the truth about the Saint of Killers, Herr Starr's mission is laid out (almost) in full, Jesse finds out that he's known who God was all along, and Eugene learns Hitler's worst memory and plots his escape.
The interactions within the two trios -- Tulip-Cassidy-Jesse and Starr-Featherstone-Hoover -- have quickly become the most entertaining facet of the show, and both are in full swing here. What makes Herr Starr such an excellent villain for this show is that while the Saint is an intimidating force, Starr adds tons of character. Every scene that he's is shot through with dark humor that makes him a delight. And the dynamics between the three very different personalities at the Grail mesh almost as well as our heroes at their peak.
The revelation that the Man-Dog was actually God all along is interesting enough, even though what it's trying to say about the nature of religion and humanity -- that God has become so disenchanted that he basks in our most sinful actions -- isn't given much weight. Also, the collection of Jesse's prayers on tape was a brilliant touch of world-building, much like the commercialization of souls and that naughty or nice detector in Hell.
Speaking of Hell: for the first time this season, Eugene's story makes a lot of progress. On one hand, we get confirmation that the Saint of Killers is still at large, tying back into the big-picture plot. On the other, Eugene finally learns more about Hitler. His worst memory is not of all the horrible crimes against humanity that he committed, but of the day when he lost everything that made him good. It's a bold move to try to get us to care about perhaps the worst human being in modern history, but hey, this is Preacher we're talking about here. Plus, there's a very good chance he is about to betray Eugene, due to the fact that he is, you know, Hitler.
Ultimately, the world of Preacher is inhabited by such entertaining characters that, as long as it gives them something mildly interesting to do, it will succeed. After several moments this season where they were given nothing to do, Backdoors kicks things back into gear. If the final two episodes can go out with a bang on the same level as the first, then this journey would've been worth the bumps along the road. And based on the fact that we'll see the return of the Saint of Killers, I'd say that things are starting to look up.