Well that was a slightly entertaining mess wasn’t it? Preacher is, probably, the weirdest thing on television at the moment, but who could predict that it would end on a colossal fart explosion? Finales are a tricky thing, especially for first seasons: you have to tie up loose ends (not all of them mind you, if people don’t want more you’re in a cancellation situation), and set up some of next season to boot. Preacher did just that, but in doing so brought the whole of the first season to a decidedly pointless conclusion. Ok pointless may be the wrong word. Unsatisfying, silly, a bit immature maybe, and it certainly has a point to the destruction of Annville, but as it connects to Preacher’s (hopefully) ongoing tale of American faith, will season one, which up until now has been mostly great, prove the least vital part of its story in hindsight? It’s possible.
We begin with the now requisite flurry of Annville establishing shots, seriously the second unit must have come back with way too much and time is money people. Jesse’s promise to bring God to the town gives the Annvillians, trying out this nickname if you don’t like it who cares they’re dead, something to galvanise their dull lives. With the creative graffiti, the God themed bikini wax, and signs saying “run preacher, run” the town is a buzz at the heavenly possibilities. There’s another meaning to this though: showrunner Sam Catlin, who wrote and directed the episode, is giving us our goodbye tour of the town.
Throughout the season the town residents have been an odd bunch. Brought together through the group identity of Jesse’s flock, the people we’ve spent the most time with is Odin, Emily, Sheriff Root, and Donny. Donny has a surprising turnaround, claiming that through the mercy Jesse showed him in the Gas station toilet Donny showed him the same mercy by not out rightly killing him at the church. Add to that Donny is now the one hiding Jesse. Now this brings me to the first of Call and Response’s problems. When we last seen Jesse, he and Cassidy were burying the mayor. At the beginning of this episode Jesse is at Donny’s, and Cassidy is in jail. It’s not that it’s hard to see how each character got separated, Cassidy helpfully explains, but come on, if you can’t have continuity in your season finale then what’s the point. Back to Donny’s, which is where Tulip catches up with everything, give or take a broken nose.
Now this brings me to one of the things that the episode gets right, well mostly right: Tulip is actually involved in the story. Preacher has let both Tulip, and Ruth Negga down badly in season one. Introduced in explosive fashion in the pilot, Tulip has been on the fringes, shouting at people: “Carlos…revenge…Jesse” blah blah, but in Call and Response she blasts her way into proceedings. Showing some much needed agency, Tulip brings Carlos to Jesse and puts this plot to bed once and for all. While it’s not how we expect Tulip’s revenge to play out, the scene in which Jesse attempts to kill him is the best example of their relationship so far. It’s not about an eye for an eye, as Tulip first believes (rightly so as Carlos’ betrayal led to her miscarriage), it’s about her and Jesse finding their way back to each other. Her “it’s the thought that counts” reaction, in one line, sums up the complex, and messy love these outlaws have for each other. Also Tulip has a proper go at God, which is the episodes comedic highpoint, he made a baby cry after all.
The rest of the episode is disappointing. Part of this has to do with the characters that are absent until the episodes end. The Cowboy arrives in the smoking crater that used to be Annville, and by extension Ratwater, killing the seraphim (who, if she was trying to find Genesis, is really terrible at her job). This death, and the fact that Deblanc didn’t come back from hell with Fiore, suggests that no entity can come back to life after being put down by the Cowboy’s guns. This is a great touch, but last week’s promise of the Cowboy in modern day won’t be fulfilled until season two.
Back to the flock, as their time is almost over. Sheriff Root, and Odin Quincannon, two adversaries of Jesse that had more to offer, are snuffed out. Root has been engulfed by the horrors of the wider world, and Quincannon died with the literal meat puppet of his dead daughter in his arms. Emily, after her murderous actions last week, doesn’t even show up until God stands Jesse up.
The promise of God was what Call and Response, and Jesse himself, was counting on. Part Monty Python and the Holy Grail, part Zordon from Power Rangers, Preacher’s God was obviously a hoax from the beginning. Apart from Tulip’s verbal beat down, the God sequence was purely functional. It showed, through the angel’s ignorance of Genesis, and Eugene’s banishment to hell, that the angels are running around up there like headless chickens. But most importantly, it informed us, Jesse, and the Annvillians that God is missing. This sets Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy’s road trip, which Cassidy always though was inevitable, and breaks the spirt of the entire town.
The destruction of Annville is a great idea in theory, but in execution comes of as a bit silly. After the news that God is missing the town tears itself apart: mascot lovers commit suicide, the school kids murder the molesting bus driver, and Mrs Loach suffocates her comatose daughter as her son takes a selfie. Annville, the town that is shit to its very roots, is destroyed (by what people are already calling a fart explosion). The monster swamp, as Root calls it has been blown off the map, Jesse’s church, and presumably Tulip’s uncle with it.
5/10 The promise of season two is certainly a tantalising one, but Call and Response undermines much of the good work Preacher has achieved up till this point. God is gone, Eugene’s STILL in hell, the Cowboy walks the earth, and our three scoundrels are on the road, but Annville should have been left in the rear-view mirror, not blown to shit almost taking season one with it.
Season rating: 7/10