The season finale of PREACHER has finally arrived. Loose ends get tied up, and a few more mysteries get solved, but was it really the explosive finale that we were hoping for? Well… sort of.
The episode picks up with Jesse still on the run from the law after the disappearance of Eugene Root, a mere seventeen hours before his big showdown with Quincannon. Everyone else in Annville is getting ready for the show too, most of them optimistic that Jesse will be successful and that they will get to see God for themselves. The strangest thing about that is just how many people think that Jesse really does have the power to call down God. As a viewer, there’s a certain suspension of disbelief that has to kick in during these preparatory scenes. Maybe I’m cynical, but the idea of an entire town – even a South Texas town – ready to believe that this is even possible with so few dissenters speaking up is the most ridiculous thing this show has thrown at us so far. But then, it’s fiction, and there are a lot of liberties that can be taken in the name of an interesting plotline when it comes to fiction. And this one’s pretty good.
As the clock winds down, Tulip returns from Albuquerque to find Jesse safe and sound at Donnie’s house. Donnie has apparently had a change of heart between now and the time he held a gun to Jesse’s head a couple of episodes ago. Now he’s ready to help Jesse do whatever he needs to do in order to prove to the citizens of Annville that not only is there really a God but also that Jesse has powers beyond what mortal men possess. Tulip is still skeptical, not to mention she has slightly more pressing business in the trunk of her car. Rather than killing Carlos in Albuquerque, she brought him back with her for Jesse to kill. The two fight over the justice of the situation, whether “an eye for an eye” will really fix the pain he caused them, or if forgiveness and moving on with their lives is better. In the end, Jesse decides he’s going to Hell anyhow; he might as well, and it’s Tulip now on the other side of the argument, trying to convince him that Carlos isn’t worth that pain. The two split the difference and end up beating the heck out of him before letting him go on his way.
The next morning, Donnie, his wife, Jesse, and Tulip dutifully prepares the church for the big moment, cleaning up debris and fixing what was broken when Quincannon’s men stormed the building. With everything in place – and Cassidy back from jail, where he was essentially being tortured by the sheriff – the moment everyone’s been waiting for has come at last. Jesse makes the call to Heaven, and God… actually appears. Darkness envelops the church before a blinding golden light fills the room and the image of God appears above the altar. It’s a glorious moment for everyone in attendance, their faith confirmed and an opportunity to ask God what they’ve always wanted to know is in front of them. Even Quincannon’s faith is reaffirmed for a moment. But then Jesse has to go and be honest and noble about the whole situation and ruin it for everyone. Because this isn’t God. This an imposter trying to fill in for God while the man himself is missing. No one knows where he’s gone, or why he left, but everyone in Heaven seems to be trying to operate as if it’s business as usual. And with the awe suddenly broken, knowing that he’s lost to Quincannon despite everything he’s tried, Jesse simply walks out of the church with Tulip and Cassidy to get french fries.
In the aftermath of their disillusionment, the people of Annville are broken. There are at least two suicides, a murder, and a mercy killing that we see first hand, and no doubt dozens more. Some, like Emily, try to keep up the hope, but most simply fall into despair. But the biggest blow comes when one of the girls from the brothel accidentally overloads the reactor at Quincannon Meat and Power which causes a violent reaction between the methane gas and flammable “run-off” from the meatpacking plant. The result is catastrophic, essentially flatting Annville and killing everyone in the town. But, fortunately, Jesse and the gang aren’t in Annville anymore. They’re in a diner, who knows where, ready to set out on the road and find God – to either rescue him or make him pay.
It wasn’t really the explosive end to the first season that many viewers were hoping for. In fact, the whole episode had a surprisingly slow pace. It felt like a very natural forward progression, very in line with the rest of the season, but a few moments seemed to be glossed over rather than punched up like we might have expected them to be. The music, while good, didn’t help this at all. However, I think the sense of melancholy and the underwhelming nature of the last half hour of the episode was entirely intentional. It feels like hopelessness, and I think that’s a lot more affecting than loud explosions and drama. It was a surprising choice, but now that I’ve watched the episode a couple of times, I think it was a good choice for the pace and the underlying message of the show.
I’ve got to say that I’m looking forward to the next season even more than I was last week. Now that our trio is finally on the road, doing something, taking pages from the source material, I think that the pace will pick up and a lot of die-hard comic fans will get into it more. I’m also looking forward to seeing some more of the secondary characters that have been teased in this season – not just the Cowboy, but also the Man in the White Suit (whose identity was confirmed on TALKING PREACHER). I think some of the more extreme characters, including my personal favorite, might not show up on screen until the hypothetical third season, but I’m still really eager to see what teases come out in the coming months, once filming starts up again.
The second season of PREACHER will premier in 2017 on AMC, and until then there are Blu-Rays and DVDs coming out in October to look forward to, as well as a bunch of swag for fans. Let me know in the comments what you thought of the first season, and I will see you right here next year for more PREACHER reviews.
God is coming to Annville - or is he?
The final showdown between Jesse and Quincannon is just around the corner, and everyone in Annville is preparing for the big moment. But nothing is ever that cut-and-dry for Jesse Custer and his friends, so it stands to reason that this isn't going to go off without a hitch... or two.