Preacher: The End of the Road

"Everything has a price. You understand?"

How do I put this?

I know this is the season finale, but, if I’m being honest, it felt like it could be any other episode from this show. Maybe that’s because it just didn’t have the impact that last season’s’ finale had.

This is a show built upon outrageous events. Every episode is jam-packed with a special kind of craziness. The beautiful thing about the first season was the way it gradually builded toward the cataclysmic season finale where the town of Annville gets wiped out in an explosion of cow shit, the Saint of Killers is unleashed and our heroes set out on their journey.

I’m really not sure what all of this season’s whacky antics were building up to.

It must not have been Jesse accepting his role as Herr Starr’s messiah figure, because that’s clearly not something he’s committed to or anything. And I don’t blame him, since Starr seems to have focus-grouped Jesse’s rise to demigod-hood past the point of utter mundanity. Though I guess it makes sense, seeing as how the messiah is only really supposed to be a puppet that the Grail can use to control mankind.

Was it Tulip’s death? If so, I feel that’s a failure. Because, aside from the dramatic scene of Jesse and Cassidy fighting and failing to save her — props to Dominic Cooper and Joseph Gilgun for their acting in this scene — I really didn’t feel much when she died. As I’ve stated before, Tulip is not a very likable character and this episode did not do much of anything to endear her to me. Unless, getting shot trying to bring a screwdriver to a gun fight is meant to be endearing; although, part of me really digs that striped dress she was wearing.

It’s also hard to care since she’s obviously going to be resurrected. AMC’s not ballsy enough to have someone like Featherstone (Tulip’s killer) be the female lead of this show, and I see no other reason why Jesse would return to Angelville.

You might say the season has really been building toward the introduction of Angelville and all its terrors, which we get our first really good look at in this episode. Jesse’s spooky grandma and her henchmen, Jody and T.C., are sure to be next season’s primary antagonists. But they are all as yet unseen, likely because none of them have actually been cast yet. Anyway, this whole plot thread was more akin to last season’s Saint of Killers arc.

They were definitely building up to the moment Cassidy decides to cast out Denis. Cassidy’s moral ambiguity is so subtle in comparison to Jesse and Tulip. He is constantly self-aware (and self-loathing) of his true nature, but he’s such a joy to be around for so much of the time that it’s easy to forget.

This episode really highlights Cassidy’s internal conflict, all of them. There is his desire to be a good friend to Jesse in conflict with his deep love for Tulip. There’s his deep love for Tulip in conflict with his monstrous vampire impulses. And, of course, there’s his desire to be a good father to Denis in conflict with the knowledge that his son’s twisted behavior will bring out the worst in him. Finally, we see just how bad Cassidy can get when he pushes Denis through a window, trapping him outside to burn in the sun. He would give in to his darkness only a little bit to kill his own son rather than let him live and risk giving in to it completely.

Maybe it was all leading up to Eugene and Hitler's escape from Hell? I'm torn over the entire plot thread taking place in Hell. On the one hand, they get to explore some unique ideas, the most recent of which is that Satan and all his demons are no longer playing by the old rules now that God has abandoned his post. Then again, this scenario makes me seriously fear that Preacher is going to be like Supernatural, where all these ancient beings and their unimaginable worlds are reduced to boring old human standards. Meaning we have to accept that the forces of Heaven and Hell are just a bunch of relatively average-looking men and women playing dress up and killing each other with crossbows and such.

I will give this show credit, though, for actually making me believe Hitler could redeem himself and then hilariously subverting it by having him return to his evil, cowardly ways as soon as he knows he's loose. My guess is old Adolf will be a new antagonist as well. How very topical.

For all I know, the big thing this episode was banking on was the moment God, in all his bright and shiny glory, steps out of a motel bathroom after taking a leak. Speaking of which, that Man-Dog suit is still one of the freakiest things to look at. Portraying the almighty God as a creepy weirdo is probably the right way to go.

In case you can't tell, I didn't feel very strongly about this finale or the overall direction this season went in. Don't get me wrong, I'm still fully enjoying the show's surreal aestheticism and many of its characters. I still have a lot of hope for Preacher as a show. It has exceeded my expectations, for the most part. The show has all the pieces it needs, and I get that being vague adds to the general what-the-fuckery they're trying to evoke, but it still feels rudderless. I think the problem has more to do with the network than anyone involved in the show. Like The Walking Dead, they're trying so hard to make this be like Breaking Bad -- extended scenes of people doing random tasks in silence, clouding every character's motives in obscurity for maximum complexity, over-dosing on strange metaphorical imagery -- that it kind of hurts the show. What totally works for one show is not guaranteed to work the same way for another. The story of Preacher, while sharing some similarities, is an entirely different beast than the story of Breaking Bad.

Perhaps this season really only served as a grand set-up of future seasons, but I'd be lying if I were to report that it wasn't a wild ride full of zany, jaw-dropping entertainment. Because it was and is.

Bits and Pieces:

* "My Sweet Lord" by George Harrison; a nice blast from the past. I also like that we have another fun scene of Jesse beating down hopeless thugs while out-of-place music plays.

* Jesse's power is not just experiencing a glitch. It's now completely inactive. I bet it has to do with how detached he let himself get from Tulip and Cassidy, his kindred spirits. Now that Tulip's dead and his friendship with Cassidy is on the rocks, I'm thinking he'll have to make do without Genesis for awhile. Luckily, Jesse is one hell of a fighter.

* Herr Starr has the piece of Jesse's soul that had been given to the Saint. Maybe that was part of whatever deal Hoover made with him on behalf of Starr.

* We get what I believe is our first reference to Les Enfants du Sang, or The Children of Blood. These are vampires/vampire fanatics who revel in killing and feasting on humans, like the vampires of old. Cassidy discovers Denis had been following them online, and he looked rather tempted by their gory video ad himself. This also reminded me that Cassidy was introduced as being on the run from vampire-hunting religious fanatics. Whatever happened to that?

* How did no one hear Denis screaming bloody murder as he burned to death outside?

* My Favorite Part: Eugene casually turning to walk the other direction after watching Adolf Hitler run away, get hit by a car and then knock down a disabled homeless person. Hahaha, yeah, best not stick around before he gets blamed for setting Hitler free in modern-day Texas. That's just what our beloved Arseface needs.

* Second Favorite Part: The little schoolgirl asking for her farting frog toy back as a miracle, her teacher stating sternly that she'll never get it back, and Jesse clearly deciding his miracle for the kids will be to make the teacher give the toy back (only to be interrupted by fake Armenian terrorists). This whole Sunday school scenario had to be the most I've liked Jesse all season. He really felt like his comic counterpart here.

Quotes:

Teenage Jesse: Madame L'Angelle is a world-renowned spiritist, a diviner, and a mistress of the pyramids. She sees through walls, around corners, into human hearts.

Jesse: (reading Starr's messiah speech) Look around. The world has fallen into confusion and decay. Murder, rape, sedition, incest, lesbianism-- (looks sharply at Starr)

Jesse: So this worked out then?
Herr Starr: Yes, minus the anxious pupil who defecated on my shoe.

Jesse: I didn't sign up for this shit!
Herr Starr: Spoken like a true messiah.

Charon: Looks like they were pretty rough on you down there.
Eugene: Oh. No. No, this is pre-existing.
Charon: Oh... shit.

Jesse: You hate me now? Just you wait.

Though disappointed in what I feel is a lack of either clarity or commitment, I am excited for Season 3 and still think this show is a lot of fun to watch. Three out of four dead chickens.

3 comments:

Sam Smith said...

I've seen it said elsewhere that we need to give up on the idea of Preacher that the comics and the first couple episodes of this season gave us. Everyone thought that the show dragging it's heels all throughout season 1 was just the prologue, but this season proved that that is the new status quo. As much as I would like an insane show that moves at the speed the first couple episodes of this season did, I think there needs to be a balance struck, because any more episodes like Holes and this show is dead in the water. On a different note, I've been disappointed with everyone but Jesse's story this season. Cassidy's was very interesting and complex, but too lowkey and dragged out to hold up the season, and Tulip's was nonsensical and, towards the end, infuriating. I cannot stand ressurection plotlines unless they are started and resolve in a single episode. Despite all this, these reviews have been excellent and informative :). Keep up the good work Logan!

Logan Cox said...

Sam, sadly I think you're right about this most likely being the status quo of the show now. If so, I'll be disappointed, since this is one of the primary reasons I fell out of love with The Walking Dead. Even so, I'll probably stick with it to see certain things come to fruition, and because I simply love this story and these characters, even if it has diverged somewhat from its original spirit.

Thank you for the positive feedback.

Henrik Bennetter said...

Logan, great reviewing. The word "Rudderless" stands out for me in this review in describing this whole season - which I've just now finished.
To be honest it feels like they spent an entire season in Denis' kitchen, looking angry or mopey and arguing with one another.

I actually feel quite disillusioned and disappointed. Jesse is a douche, Tulip is whiny (and I'm really sorry but I don't think Ruth does a very good acting-job. Maybe it's lack of direction) and just...meh.

Cassidy on the other hand, Joseph Gilgun is my absolute favourite. He's actually sympathetic. But then he first "saves" Denis and then kills him. I don't get it. I mean - I get it, I just don't get it get it.
And the saint. What a waste of such a brilliant character! I mean what the hell (pun intended)!?

So. Yes. I guess I've understood now that I won't be getting even a resemblance of the source material - which is a crying shame. There is so much in there that they've just let go and ignored.
So much stuff was done so much better in the comic.

I don't think I'll keep watching. I don't care what Jesse does, I don't care that Tulip will be resurrected. As far as I'm concerned, there is no redeeming features in any of the characters.

Such a shame. Such a damn shame.