We started off this season of Preacher on the road following the destruction of Annville, and we ended up with Jesse and Cassidy speeding away from New Orleans and towards a new chapter in Angelville, having lost a couple of casualties in this high-octane season finale.
While many of the plots that have been bubbling away this season were resolved – some in shocking ways – this final installment set up lots of tantalising new scenarios for the series’ third season, and left some all important questions unanswered.
The cold open saw a young Jesse, working as a kind of barker for the mysterious Marie L’Angell and her brood in their roadside attraction, stomp a rooster to death in a fit of rage, only to be filled with remorse, and begging the creepy matriarch to bring it back to life. Gran’ma L’Angell’s warning that ‘everything has a price’ nicely foreshadowed the catastrophic climax of the episode, in which Tulip’s lifeless body lay in the backseat of her car, clearly destined for reanimation, but possibly with a nasty twist. The shot of the cock running across the road offered a touch of black humour but also hinted that Tulip’s second life will be unnaturally long and potentially fraught with the same problems as her vampire friend’s.
Cassidy’s arc continued to be the most compelling as he finally conceded that his wayward son would have to be dealt with. After finding a vampire thrill kill cult website open on his son’s laptop and a pair of lacy smalls from a victim in his laundry, Cassidy started having violent fantasies about Tulip, and was finding it increasingly difficult to quell his own bloodthirsty impulses. With him and Tulip set to leave Jesse to his quest and leave the US for the paradise of Bimini, Cassidy took the plunge and sent Denis to a fiery death by daylight. Both Joseph Gilgun and Ronald Guttman nailed this scene, with Denis’ goosebump-inducing taunting of his father in perfect English being the final straw for self-loathing Cass.
Meanwhile, in Hell, Eugene made it to the homestretch with the help of his pal, Hitler. Almost falling at the last hurdle when Ms. Mannering killed the Ferryman who was to row him back to the land of the living, Eugene finally made it into the boat, where he encouraged the Fuhrer to join him in escaping. While Hitler seemed reluctant at first, citing his past transgressions as a reason to stay in eternal torment, Eugene persuaded the despot that his kindness towards the young Arseface showed that he was a changed man. It seemed like Eugene may have been somewhat duped though, as the minute they were back topside, Hitler bailed on him, kicking a crippled man along the way, as if further proof of his inherent evilness were needed. It was always going to be an interesting challenge to make such a loathsome historical figure into a sympathetic character, one which this show constantly rose to. It was kind of inevitable that Hitler’s redemption was going to be a long con because, realistically, it is deeply problematic to ask an audience to side with a totem of genocide and hatred, and I think the reveal was handled with enough comedy and absurdity to pull it off. What fresh havoc will the resurrected Hitler inflict on the world next season?
And speaking of scams, Herr Starr’s manipulation of Jesse reached new heights when he staged an attack on a class of convent school kids by some Armenian gunmen in order to make a viral video to strengthen the preacher’s position as the new Messiah. A beautifully choreographed fight to the strains of “My Sweet Lord” painted Custer as a hero, and got him invited on Jimmy Kimmel‘s show, but Jesse realised two things during the course of the stunt – firstly that the ‘gunmen’ were using blanks and so the whole thing was a set-up, and secondly that Genesis no longer worked.
While Starr was able to play Jesse like a fiddle, Featherstone and Hoover fucked up royally, allowing Tulip to discover that her friend Jenny was really a Grail agent. When it comes down to screwdriver v. gun, a bullet is always going to win, and Tulip ended up bleeding out from a gut shot. Cassidy called Jesse, who ditched Kimmel to run to Tulip’s side, little knowing that Starr had prevented the ambulance that had been called from turning up. Back at Denis’ apartment, Jesse and Cassidy fought to save the life of the woman they both love (in their own, messed up ways) and then fought each other when it became obvious she wouldn’t make it. Cassidy wanted to make her a vampire, even knowing what had just befallen his son, but Jesse was adamant she should be allowed to die. While Cassidy has no idea about Marie L’Angell and her necromancy powers, it seems he’s willing, for the time being to be locked in a miserable companionship with his former friend.
So with nowhere left to turn, Jesse is headed for the old family home he despises, and the people who tortured him. With Genesis muted, Tulip dead (for now), and Cassidy more bitter rival than friend, it remains to be seen if Herr Starr’s machinations will serve to win him round. I also fear that Featherstone and Hoover may have bungled their last. However, God is still on the scene. Sure, he’s a Furry now, and living in a gross motel room, but he’s around and bound to have a huge part to play next season.
While it may have lacked the raw emotional clout of episodes such as “Mumbai Sky Hotel”, “The End of the Road” was a solid season closer which offered moments of horror, heartache, and humour, and went some way to pulling us back towards viewing Jesse as a sympathetic main character. Some truly stand out performances and a great soundtrack added to the enjoyment, and there were enough surprised and teasers to get me excited for next year. See you in Angelville!
Final Grade: B+
+ Great use of music in this episode.
+ Will Kindrachuk gave a brilliant performance as young Jesse. His rage, hurt, and remorse gave me the kind of complex characterisation I want to see more of from Dominic Cooper‘s antihero.
+ The dog lived!
– I really wanted the moment when Cassidy declares his hatred for Jesse to be an epic, heartbreaking moment of bromance gone sour, because what is hate but the flip-side of love. But despite Gilgun’s best efforts, I’ve never felt much chemistry between the two characters.
– A few little continuity niggles this week. When Cass gets into Tulip’s car initially, he uses an umbrella to shade himself, but seconds later he gets out and moves to the front seat in broad daylight. Just a little thing, but following a dramatic immolation of a vampire, it jars.
Extra Thoughts: Eugene doesn’t yet know about Annville being blown skyward, so I’ll be interested to see his story progress and find out whether the boy who forgave Hitler can bring himself to do the same for the man who sent him to Hell.
What did you think? Was this finale a Holy Roller or a God Awful Mess? Sound off in the comments, or over on Twitter!