Do you ever get the feeling with AMC shows that you could skip everything outside of the premiere episode and the season finale? To be fair, there are numerous scenes in Preacher’s inaugural season that are definitely worth watching, such as the motel fight in the episode “Sundowner” or the chainsaw tete-a-tete between Cassidy and the angels. However, a lot of the character development was basically all for naught after the events of this first season’s finale.
Ultimately, the end of this episode almost felt as if it could have been the end of the first episode and we would have been all the better for it. Regardless, the latest installment begins humorously enough with the town of Annville preparing for the arrival of the Almighty Himself thanks to Reverend Custer’s promises. Once again, you get a sense of the series arriving as a warped portrayal of a Coen Brothers’ film as Jesse runs from the police while also taking time to wish one of his practitioners a good day. If Preacher the television show retained anything from the comics, it’s the sense of dark humor, that’s for sure.
Tulip, still on the search for Jesse, barges her way into the house of Odin Quincannon’s right hand man, Donny, who has been harboring Custer, now seeking redemption for his past transgressions. Custer’s former flame, of course, reveals that she has a certain someone stashed away in her trunk: Carlos, the impetus of the pair’s current troubles. Quickly moving to a flashback sequence, Carlos, Jesse, and Tulip are shown attempting to rob a bank, only for things to go south when the third wheel decides to leave our protagonists holding the bag following a joking session over Carlos failing to seal the deal with a postwoman. As a result of the betrayal, the bank job goes sour and Tulip reveals that she was in fact pregnant, with Jesse being the father, and lost the baby as a result. Certainly, this is even more reason for the two to be steamed at Carlos for his betrayal, especially considering the only reason he did so was in an attempt to crush their happiness.
Now the big sticking point of Jesse Custer in this series has been his struggle with his dark side, and he seemingly completely gives into it during this episode, deciding to throw caution to the wind and murder Carlos. Surprisingly, Tulip pulls him back, stating that the simple fact that he would go through with it was enough for her. While the “Carlos subplot” acted as a way for Jesse and Tulip to be distanced from one another, it certainly didn’t have the sticking power that other subplots did. It gave us bits and pieces of the main couple’s backstory, but not enough to necessarily have a ton of weight or give us new insight into who they are. While watching the two decide to beat Carlos to within an inch of his life was a nice wrap up, perhaps they could have gone a different route for the season with this one? Ultimately though, a good conclusion for this storyline during the finale.
Meanwhile, Cassidy is being tortured by Sheriff Root, who’s shooting him in a jail cell to discover the whereabouts of Eugene, who is currently residing in hell. Joseph Gilgun continues to be a delight, his happiness and electricity being contagious in his portrayal of Cassidy here. When he rejoins the rest of the cast in the church to meet God, he reminds us that he always makes good on the promise of supplying a fantastic dry wit along the way.
Speaking of the church, the entire town descends upon it as Jesse uses a combination of the “angel phone”, the “angel hand”, and a little bit of luck to bring none other than God himself to the audience. In one of the most outlandish, yet best, scenes of the series, God begins answering questions from the town in comical fashion, even going so far as to laughing it up with the rest of the townsfolk as poor Clive asks whether his penis can be re-attached. It’s in this bizarre series of circumstances that Preacher has always shined, reveling in its idiosyncrasies compared to other television on the market.
Jesse becomes frustrated with God after several questions are batted his way and uses the power of Genesis to reveal that God is in fact not who he says he is. In a panic, “God” reveals that the Almighty is actually nowhere to be found and has left heaven before being pulled away by persons unknown. While this news spurns our trio to get off their laurels and begin the search for God, the rest of Annville, understandably, does not take the news well. Odin Quincannon fashions a version of his young daughter out of meat, the town mascots hang themselves, Emily tells her children that they never really needed God after all, and the man in charge of the town’s methane dies while with a lady of the evening. Of all these effects of God’s absence, none are felt more than the last as the methane builds up and completely destroys Annville. That’s right, everyone in the town aside from Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy is dead.
Certainly, this is a way to clear the map for next season, but it also brings you to the realization that so much of this season just didn’t matter. Remember Emily’s flings with the mayor and the darkening of her character as she essentially fed him to Cassidy? Well, she’s dead now so you can forget her. Remember Sheriff Root frantically searching for his son and seeking revenge against Custer? Well, put a cork in that because he’s dead too. Odin could have been a viable threat to Jesse down the line but no need to worry because he was swallowed in the explosion as well. I think that this episode worked to the detriment of the series as a whole in that, by wiping the slate clean, the showrunners are able to focus on what makes Preacher great but can’t reinforce any of the character building outside of the main three. For comic book fans, this is a plus, but I would imagine fans of the series may feel a bit slighted by the decision to do away with nearly all supporting characters. Granted, we do finally get the arrival of the mysterious cowboy in grandiose fashion but only in the final twenty seconds of the season.
Preacher’s first season acts as a prequel for what is to come, moving its chess pieces where they need to be in its own unique way, but ultimately, it’s a prequel without bite. It favored decompression to fill its required number of episodes and keep the story based in one town before our favorite trio finally hit the road, but it didn’t do so strategically enough to keep audiences’ eyes glued to their screens. I think you really could have had everything accomplished in either the first two episodes and been in the exact same spot as we are now. Let’s hope that Preacher’s second season takes away some serious lessons from this finale and keeps the tone we see here, while also placing the focus on where it needs to be: compelling characters with hilarious, bizarre overtones.
Rating: ★★★★ Very good
Season Rating: ★★★ Good
– Preacher’s first season was very middle-of-the-road and I just know it can be better. I really hope they take the lessons learned here and come out guns blazing for the next season. (Come on AMC, you have the money to make this a hit!)
– Jesse: “HEY MABEL!”
– Jesse: “I don’t like magicians!”
– Cassidy: “The good news is he’s alive, though that may be the bad news as well.”
– Cassidy: “Clockers and gobshites for as far as the eye can see.”
– Town member: “Just shoot its dick off!”
– Tulip: “And you made a baby cry. Told you he was a white guy.”
– God: “Balls.”
Comic Issues (AKA Spoiler Town)
– As I mentioned earlier in the write-up, we’re essentially at the point in the comic book series where the first issue ends, with the townsfolk dying and the trio on their road trip. In tackling this series, as a fan of the comics, I tried to keep my love of the source material separate from the series as much as possible. Granted, the television show managed to do a lot of unique, fun things that the comics didn’t, but it just never managed to find its footing as well.
– If we get “Gran’ma” next season, we need Jessica Walter of Arrested Development fame to play her. [Editor’s note: Or Jessica Lange from American Horror Story.]
– It stinks to get the rundown of the Saint of Killers and then never even meet Jesse Custer in this first season.