They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and Jesse Custer certainly found that out the hard way during what might be seen as a comic book timeline prequel of a first series.
It seemed like we’d skipped some pages between the end of last week’s thrill ride episode and this one, what with Cassidy having landed in jail for being in a brothel with the fugitive preacher, and Jesse hiding out at the residence of unlikely new allies, Donnie and Betsy Schenck. Cassidy found himself caged and at the mercy of Sheriff Root, who had put two and two together and realised that the Irishman’s criminal record stretching back several decades, and his penchant for sunglasses meant something was distinctly off, and proceeded to pump him full of bullets while interrogating him over Eugene’s disappearance. Meanwhile, Tulip tracked Jesse to the Schencks’, but was surprised to find they were helping him evade capture, Donnie having decided that the preacher had shown kindness in letting him live after their encounter in that bathroom stall (that will never not sound dirty), so he should return the favour.
Tulip had a surprise for Jesse in her trunk, and we finally got to see the backstory of Annville’s answer to Bonnie and Clyde and the man who has been a bone of contention all season. It transpired that the three had been working a bank job together, but Carlos betrayed them out of jealousy, setting free a security guard whom Jesse had to put down with a bullet to the head, leaving Carlos free to make off with the cash. The stress of it all caused Tulip to lose the baby she was carrying, hence the breakdown of her relationship and the awakening of her bloodlust. Jesse finally reasoned as he was going to Hell anyway, he might as well put Carlos down, but Tulip stopped him at the last second, having only ever wanted to know that he would do it for her, and the two set about giving Carlos a sound whoopin’ instead. So some reconciliation for our strained lovebirds, even if it came via a slightly lazy plot device. It never sits easy with me when female characters are only ‘bad’ because they’ve been denied the love of a man and a chance at motherhood, so I hope Tulip isn’t going to lose her teeth in the upcoming season.
Thankfully, she showed no sign of that when the congregation finally came face to face with the Big Man Himself…or at least thought they did. Betsy smuggling Jesse back to the church and helping him set up a conference call with Heaven, by way of a severed angel hand, was one of the bizarre comic moments that have made Preacher so enjoyable, even when other areas have been patchy. And because the horror is never too far away, Emily’s explanation to her daughter that Miles was ‘meeting God somewhere else’ was enough to send a shiver down anyone’s spine. After a dial up tone, The Almighty appeared in a flash of golden light, and set about reprimanding the townsfolk for daring to summon and question him. Most of the cowed congregation quaked in their boots, but Tulip wasn’t having any of it. Neither was Quincannon, although he piped down with a reassurance from His Beardiness that his daughter was in Heaven. But Jesse smelt an unholy rat when it seemed that ‘God’ had no idea about Eugene’s fiery fate, and Jesse’s part in it, and lo! The celestial impostor revealed that actually God was missing and no one knew where he was.
The fallout was quick and brutal. Quincannon demanded Jesse denounce God, and the townsfolk set about desecrating the church. He then went back to his office to cradle an effigy of his dead daughter made out of ground beef. As you do. The town mascots hanged themselves from the scalping tree, while the children of Annsville murdered their paedophile bus driver. Mrs. Loach decided to put Tracy out of her misery by holding a pillow over her face while her brother took a selfie. And most crucially, the guy in charge of making sure the levels at the methane plant didn’t go supernova, died having ambitious sex with a ball-gagged prostitute, causing an explosion which it seems has wiped out the entire despairing town.
All except Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy who apparently travelled an inordinate distance for some French fries. Having missed the destruction of the town, our trio decided to hit the road and look for the missing deity, blissfully unaware that Fiore had returned from Hell with The Cowboy, but minus Eugene and DeBlanc!
So the scene is set for next season, picking up where fans of the comics may have expected to be a while back. It seems singularly cruel to have spent ten episodes making us emotionally invest in this bunch of oddballs, only to have them all blown away in the finale. I’m not sure who – if anyone – will survive to return next year, but I was surprised to find how much I cared about some of those characters, especially Donnie and Betsy, and of course, DeBlanc, especially in light of the touching exchanges between him and Fiore last week. While there have been issues with pacing, plot, and with characterisation being jerked around all over the place (think Jesse blowing hot and cold, or Emily suddenly feeding Miles to the vampires), for the most part Preacher has been entertaining and unlike anything else on TV at the moment. I, for one, am looking forward to taking one Hell of a road trip next season.
Final Grade: B
+ The idea that the townsfolk were lining up for discount bikini waxes to meet God really tickled me. In fact, the signs around Annville and outside the church have been a highlight all season.
+ AU Tom Cruise finally got blasted into space. It’s what he would’ve wanted.
+ Can we talk about how freaking awesome the music was in this episode! From Willy Nelson’s “Time of the Preacher” to Johnny Cash’s version of “Personal Jesus” to Dave Lichens’ cover of “No Rain” by Blind Melon, every track was killer.
– The Seraph was dispatched very easily by The Cowboy at the end. How come it didn’t know about the sermon when everyone in the town was talking about it?
– Tulip and Jesse’s relationship still doesn’t feel authentic to me, although kudos to Tulip for smacking the preacher after he used The Voice to steal a non-consensual kiss!
– Having the entire town wiped out after ten episodes seems mean on a Game of Thrones level. Say it ain’t so!
So what did you think? Will you be calling shotgun for next season, or getting the Hell out of Dodge? Sound off in the comments or Tweet us! Until next time, my faithful flock!