This Preacher review contains spoilers.
Preacher Season 2 Episode 13
AMC’s adaptation of Vertigo’s Preacher comic book series has taken a lot of liberties with the source material, while still remaining true to its essence. On the page, writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon took aim at theology, sexuality, the occult, and the high cost of immortality, among many other things. AMC’s adaptation has pretty much done the same, amping up Preacher’s inherent subversions and perversions week after week, to mixed effect. In this season alone we’ve been introduced to incremental soul transactions, edible hemorrhoids, and a deadly drone strike on Harry Connick, Jr. Preacher’s sophomore season also gave us the idea of cached prayers and a kinder, gentler Adolf Hitler. That our main characters are fleshed out by crackerjack actors certainly helps, even if sometimes this season’s writing hasn’t always done their talent justice (like with Ruth Negga and Tulip’s PTSD). But when this season was firing on all cylinders, Preacher was a sight to behold. “The End of the Road,” which brings this season to its messy, violent conclusion, ties up some loose ends even as it leaves others dangling. Eugene has gained back his freedom but the search for God continues—neither of which is particularly surprising. What happens to Denis and Tulip, however, is unexpected, but more on them in a bit.
It was pretty much a given that Eugene would get out of Hell. The show reminded us time and again that he didn’t belong with the worst of the worst. What was less certain was Hitler’s ultimate motive for helping Eugene escape. That Hitler deems himself unworthy of freedom makes sense. He may be a changed man, but he can never undo the atrocities he’s committed. Sacrificing himself to save Eugene is his one good deed. And from a viewer standpoint, this is fine. Against all odds (and contrary to notions of propriety) Preacher manages to transform Hitler into a tragic, vulnerable character. But Eugene has cornered the market on tragedy and vulnerability. Why else would he insist that one of history’s biggest monsters is worthy of redemption? Of course, once Hitler reverts to his old ways, it’s easy to wonder if staying in Hell was what he needed to remain good. We’ll never know. But does acknowledging that Eugene’s heart is in the right place excuse der Führer being unleashed upon the world once again?
Though not as bad as Hitler, Denis is another fiend that good intentions unleashed upon the world. Of the two, one could argue that perhaps the wrong monster met his demise in this episode. And Denis’s end, while a long time coming, is unexpectedly grisly. Cassidy’s relationship with his estranged son has made for some compelling drama, due in no small part to Joseph Gilgun. He made Cassidy’s moral quandary believable and relatable. Indeed, Cassidy probably had the fullest character arc of anyone this season. Not only was he grappling with fatherhood, he’s struggled mightily with a growing bloodlust. These two conflicts crystalized themselves in his son, whose own bloodlust grew stronger every day.
Had Cassidy been more actively involved in his son’s life, would Denis have become a different kind of vampire? Would he have been more in control of his darker urges? Again, like Hitler, we’ll never know the kind of person (or vampire) Denis might have been. His gruesome demise reminded me of Toht’s face melting in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but way, way worse. Last week’s underwater model work wasn’t the best, but this immolation scene on the balcony is fantastic.
For me, one of the finale’s highlights comes down to Jesse and Cassidy grappling on a bloody linoleum floor as Tulip lies dying a few feet away. Just last week, in “On Your Knees,” we saw our three friends reunited in a quiet little diner scene, engaged in witty repartee. Their camaraderie was not only obvious, but quite winning. It made me care again about Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy as a team. So to see Jesse and Cassidy literally at each other’s throats is a pretty stunning 180. Cassidy’s intentions are good, if a bit misplaced. He and Tulip are friends, yes, but he wants so much more from her than friendship. Whatever his motives are, every second, every heartbeat is so crucial. Gilgun sells me on Cassidy’s pain and confusion and heartbreak as he struggles mightily with his desires as both a man and a vampire. At the end of the day, he and Jesse Custer aren’t friends, they’re rivals.
Luckily, Preacher still has one trick up its sleeve. There’s a resurrection in the cards, one that points the way to Jesse’s past, even as AMC’s Preacher careens toward a new season that will give us more of the mysterious Gran’ma L’Angelle. The Grail may be abandoned for now, but in possessing a piece of Jesse’s soul, it’s the “bulbous one-eye git” who ultimately holds all the cards.
Some closing thoughts:
Humperdoo is not messiah material—but neither is Jesse. Dressing him in an 11th-century fencing cloak is akin to putting lipstick on a pig. His heart’s just not in it, even though he’s always up for a brawl. Back in the season-opening “On the Road,” Tulip made it clear that using Genesis to manipulate people was not fair—and she was right. Jesse’s brawl with the Armenians is both inventive and satisfying.
Eugene doesn’t know about Annville’s fate. How is he going to react when he finds out that his father, along with the rest of the town, has been wiped from the map? More importantly, what’s going to happen if and when he comes face to face with the man who banished him to Hell? One would think if he could forgive Hitler, Eugene could forgive Jesse, too. But what would be the fun in that?
Les Enfants Du Sang is a nod to the comic’s actual New Orleans storyline about a goth vampire cult. While it looks like next season’s action is moving to Angelville, I wonder if the cult storyline is still a possibility. In some ways, while there have been many nods to the source material, there’s a lot that can be mined from the comic. I hope more of the page makes it to the screen in season three.