Spoiler Warning: This post will be loaded with spoilers from the Preacher comics and television show. You can catch up on write-ups for previous episodes of Preacher here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Seputus doesn’t have anything to do with the Preacher series, but I’m as stoked for
Man Does Not Give to come out as anything else this year.
“Vampires, government agents, psychopathic preachers – it’s all an unmitigated monster swamp”.
“Call and Response,” the finale to Preacher’s first season, answers most of our questions and ties up most of the loose ends. The Carlos subplot is (thankfully) resolved. Jesse Custer’s spiritual battle with Odin Quincannon is laid to rest, without a clear victor. The Danger Methane Meter, foreshadowed over many episodes, comes to a climax, and many supporting characters are killed. The Saint of Killers is introduced to the modern day world. We viewers get an answer to the question “WHERE IS GOD?!” Most importantly, as we have suspected all season long, “Call and Response” basically ends where the Preacher comic begins. Season one of AMC’s Preacher is the prequel we all thought it would be. This is Ground Zero.
Several supporting players are given a chance to shine before The Big Important Events of “Call and Response” take place. First, Donnie (or Donny? subtitles say Donnie, Wikipedia says Donny, I can’t be bothered to check what way I spelled it before) comes full circle at the end of the first season. He was Jesse Custer’s punching bag in the first episode, and disgraced for it. He snuck up on Jesse in the third episode “Possibilities,” but was quickly subdued with Jesse’s newly acquired powers. It was Donnie, as much as any other character in Annville, who was aware of Jesse’s power after that, and it was Donnie who figured out how to beat it. In the end of “El Valero,” Donnie got the drop on Custer, but it’s the beginning of the finale when Donnie has his moment. Jesse’s mercy on Donnie is paid back by Donnie as he takes Custer into hiding from local law enforcement. Tulip’s reaction to Donnie’s story is something along the lines of you dumb redneck, but I genuinely appreciated Donnie’s response and reaction to Custer, how he perceived on being saved. Dude grew on me a lot during Preacher’s first season.
Next up: Sheriff Root. He was described as inconsistent several times by Zack Handlen at the AV Club, but Root was one of my favorite characters from Preacher’s first season, hands down. As I referenced in my article last week, it didn’t hurt that Sheriff Root was played by W. Earl Brown, who is just a beast of a supporting actor. Once again, he just nailed his scene opposite Cassidy/Joseph Gilgun in his efforts to find Eugene. Dude should win an Emmy for his facial expressions over the last two episodes alone. The look of sheer hatred he gives Cassidy and the utter exhaustion on his visage during the end of the church scene and watching Tom Cruise’s last flight was spot on. W. Earl Brown was (in my mind) one of Preacher’s unsung heroes.
The bulk of “Call and Response” focuses on Jesse’s reconciliation with Tulip. Admitting where I got it wrong (again), I was pretty annoyed to see Carlos show up in the trunk of Tulip’s car. I had hoped she just tortured and killed him last week (let’s get on with it, people!), but honestly that wouldn’t have resolved a plot that had been dragging and nagging us all season long. It was Jesse’s voicemail that brought her back with Carlos as cargo. Jesse, predictably indecisive, is finally convinced by Tulip to murder Carlos (for their lost child) before Tulip flips out of it and convinces him to stop. It was one of the weaker parts of the finale, but seeing Jesse and Tulip together afterwards was fun to watch.
Jesse’s plan to call Heaven reached its conclusion during the finale. It was surprising, funny, cheesy as fuck, and ultimately revealing all at the same time. With assistance from Betsy, Jesse uses the angel hands to power up the angels’ phone. The people of Annville are given the chance to ask “God” all of their questions, from the standard “why do bad things happen to good people” to “what happened to the dinosaurs” to Quincannon asking if his Lucy Loo is up in Heaven. It’s when God dismisses Jesse’s announcement of Genesis that the gig is up, and Jesse uses The Voice to reveal that God as an impostor and the real God has left his post. It’s at that moment AMC’s Preacher and Garth Ennis’ Preacher truly collide for the first time, and TV’s Jesse Custer finally discovers his purpose as the protagonist of this series. It also feels like the moment when Jesse loses his uncertain teeter-tottering. The man has a mission, and the plan is simple: “Find God.” As for the rest of Annville, the absence of God leads to a montage of sad or despicable moments (over a just-killer “No Rain” cover).
It’s the second part of the finale’s climax which threw me, even thought we all saw it coming. Annville is wiped off the map by an explosion at Quincannon Meat & Power. The majority of the characters we have come to know and like/love/despise/love-to-hate are gone in a flash of light… and winds of shit. Perhaps the show’s creators thought by showing Annville’s hopeless and vile actions after God’s loss is revealed made up for the ten episodes we spent watching them. It didn’t. While watching the finale for the first time on Monday, I remarked to my girlfriend “I love that woman,” referencing Lucy Griffiths’ Emily. She’s just one of the many characters presumed dead, also including Sheriff Root, Donnie and Betsy, and Odin Quincannon. It’s hard to imagine later seasons of Preacher without Quincannon, and this Sheriff Root would have been worth keeping around if only as an antagonist for the main characters. Lucky for us, and unlucky for him, Eugene is still stuck in Hell, and Fiore arrives back in the ABQ away from explosions of any kind.
Preacher’s second to last scene finds Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy together in a diner, discussing The Big Lebowski and deciding on a plan to find God via road trip across America. It’s a great scene, down to Jesse using The Voice on Tulip for the first time and getting socked in the face for his troubles. It’s Cassidy who exclaims, “Well, what are we waiting for?!” to start the trip and end Preacher’s first season. Earlier in the season, it was Cassidy who predicted a road trip for the trio. It was DeBlanc in “Finish the Song.” who told us to leave our comics behind. As it stands, Preacher is closer to the comics than it’s ever been.
Far from perfect, Preacher’s first season ends on a high note – the way diehard comic fans have been clamoring for. “Call and Response” had the unfavorable position of following up the stellar “Finish the Song.”, and several other tremendous Preacher episodes. It’s a solid finale. Overall Preacher’s first season doesn’t quite hit the highs of True Detective’s first season or The Leftovers’ second season, but it’s off to a good start. AMC’s Preacher was well acted, well directed, suspenseful, funny, and flat out weird. The creators did an honorable job of adapting the source material, despite heckles from the peanut gallery. It’s the kind of show I hope to see more of, and I’m real stoked for its second season.
Differences between the graphic novel, speculations, and stray observations:
- In the comics, Annville faced its destruction when Genesis merged with Jesse in Preacher #1; in the TV show, Annville was destroyed by a cow manure methane gas power reactor.
- In the comics, Cassidy faced the whole being-shot-over-and-over-and-healing-and-being-shot-again from former Mafia enforcer Frankie Toscani; in the TV show it was Sheriff Root who committed the same violence towards him.
- As far as character deaths go, Sheriff Root died early in the comics and on the TV show. As referenced in a previous Preacher article, however, Odin Quincannon died near the end of the comics (introduced as a late stage villain) and presumably very early on the TV show.
- So the Seraphim went through all that just to get gunned down by The Saint of Killers?
- Poor Fiore, and poor us as well. I loved Anatol Yusef’s depiction of DeBlanc, also presumably dead (since TSOK does have angel killing powers!)
- The god damn Chekhov’s Loudspeaker turned out to be a red herring. I’m a tiny bit bummed Jesse didn’t simultaneously save everyone, lead them into a mass suicide, or build his own army to fight Heaven’s forces.
- We only caught the one glimpse of Herr Starr half a season ago. I bet he comes back in a big way during the second season.
“Call and Response” 4 / 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Preacher’s first season 4.5 / 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell!
Huge thanks to Joe and Dubs for letting me write up Preacher’s first season, and thanks to everyone who read this series! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them. We’ll check back in on my real boy grad school schedule when the second season airs – nothing in stone editors, lol
For anyone having trouble watching the series, the first season is available on the Playstation Store.
Images via AMC and Garth Ennis’ Preacher comic.