After 10 episodes of what can only be described as wild, ridiculous and downright weird, the first season of AMC’s summer hit series Preacher has drawn to a close. The finale kicks off in good ole’ Annville, Texas, where we’re taken on a scenic tour of flat streets and even flatter landscapes set to the tune of a slow country ballad befitting the desolate scenery.
This episode was one of the longest in the season, capping in at 55 minutes and 22 seconds. Nearly a whole hour of Preacher! It’s a bittersweet goodbye for me, since this series has grown to be one of my favorite shows, but the extra screen time helped sooth the pain of departing.
The episode begins with a countdown until God’s purported arrival in Annville. 17:22. There’s a fantastic shot of a graffitied wall that depicts the Preacher shouting “See you Sunday!”, while a radio announcement overlay reminds us that Eugene is still missing.
A creepy mascot that watched Tulip cradle her drunk uncle a few episodes back can be seen on the upper story window of a building, and he promptly draws the blinds shut before Jesse emerges in a full-sprint, saluting a woman on the street while the Sheriff pursues him, sirens blaring.
Cut forward and we get a taste of just how vigilant the believers of Annville are, with more Biblical graffiti and a line of women outside a salon offering a 50 percent off “God’s Coming!” bikini wax special. Ah, marketing.
Tulip’s back in town and gets filled in by a woman with aluminum foil in her hair (salon masterpiece-in-progress, I’m sure) that Jesse intends on bringing God to Texas. Naturally, Tulip doesn’t buy it. She’s told about Donnie’s ongoing beef with the Preacher, and then we’re shown a lovely scene of the man himself spanking his wife because yeah, that’s still their thing.
Donnie and his wife head to the kitchen to bask in the afterglow of their weird playtime. She sits on a bag of frozen berries to soothe her stinging tush, Tulip smashes their glass door with a pink, plastic flamingo. (Damn. What a sentence that was. Read it again.) She threatens Donnie at gunpoint and demands to know Jesse’s whereabouts. His wife tries to be smart, so Tulip slams her face into the table. Good thing she’s already got those frozen berries out.
For some reason, Jesse emerges from the other room, fresh out of the shower. Tulip is shown looking as confused as I felt as the scene ends.
The Search Continues
Cassidy has landed himself back in jail. His voice fades in over the previous scene’s closing shot of Tulip, and he’s recounting what he loves about her to a man dressed as an Indian Cheif. After his cellmate is released, the Sheriff appears and asks Cassidy where his son is.
He feigns ignorance and says he’s just been hanging out with the Preacher on the down-low, but the Sheriff tells him he wants to know where his son is. Another timestamp flashes over the screen. Cassidy just tries to console the Sheriff without giving away any detail.
You’re just going to have to trust me, Sheriff. You don’t want to know.
The Sheriff pitches a seat in front of the cell and reads off some of Cassidy’s past crimes from his record. What he really cares about are the dates, reading all the way down the list to 1922. The Sheriff lays out a list of other clues he’s picked up on. Cassidy charges at him, the Sheriff shoots him, and as he lays bleeding out of his stomach, the Sheriff pours a paper funnel cup of blood from a portable water cooler.
Torture. That’s how he plans to find out what happened to his son.
Mercy and…Other Things
Back at Donnie’s, Tulip hears all about how grateful he is to Jesse for not killing him that night in the gas station. That’s why he offered the Preacher asylum now that he’s on the run. Jesse and Tulip catch up outside, address the voicemail he left her at the end of the last episode, and he once again offers his apologies.
Only Tulip isn’t one to let go of a wrongdoing so easily. My girl can hold a grudge. She pretends to lure Jesse to her car before popping the trunk and demanding him to kill Carlos, who she has bound and gagged.
We get a flashback that clears up exactly what happened between the three of them years prior, and suffice it to say, Carlos is an obnoxious tool who screwed his former cohorts (Jesse and Tulip) over big time. Long story short, the stress of being abandoned during a bank robbery caused Tulip to miscarry. Now it’s clear to see why she wanted Carlos’ life.
She and Jesse argue over the subject. Jesse is eventually ready to go through with it out of his love for Tulip, but she stops him. It turns out, at the heart of all her hatred for Carlos and desire for revenge, what she really wanted was the man she loves — the father of the baby she never got to meet — to show her that he cared.
Of course that doesn’t mean they’re going to let Carlos off the hook completely. They hand him a wrench, a gun, and ask him if he’s ready for them. Is he ready? Absolutely not. Does Jesse care? Absolutely not. In his own words, “Tough shit.”
The Big Day
Tulip and Jesse use Donnie’s wife to throw the police off their trail, and they all get to work repairing the church in preparation for Sunday. No one has any idea what to expect the morning of, but excited murmurs fill the pews. Tulip and Cassidy have a mildly awkward exchange before the service begins, and finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for arrives.
Jesse stands at the pulpit and holds the angels’ phone. Silence sweeps over the entire church. Odinson tries to interrupt, cutting off the start of the service to mock the Preacher and share his own personal views that literally no one asked for or cares about. He talks about his love for the “God of Meat”, which understandably evokes blank stares and awkward silence.
Once he shuts up and sits down, Preacher removes the hand Cassidy gave him and takes out the phone. There’s a connection sound circa early 2000s dial-up, and after a few random button pushing, it’s clear Jesse has no idea what he’s doing.
People go restless. Someone calls out a rude remark. Time presses on. Odinson stands, thinking he’s proved his point, when everything goes dark. Fire bursts forth from the altar, and soon we’re all staring at a really corny rendition of God in a Party City-cheap white beard, reciting Revelations. I kept waiting for this to be some sort of prank that Odinson or a group of nonbelievers rigged, but the show actually wants us to believe that this God Himself. Color me disappointed.
God and Preacher start fighting after Tulip storms forth and gives him a piece of her mind. This entire scene really confused me because it felt like something out of a bad fanfic. Seeing people scream at and question God (questions that every human being has) was expected, but the cut-rate design honestly destroyed any sort of emotional impact this seen could have possessed.
So if we are your children, why don’t you act like a father?
Everyone rushes forward to ask a question, and the answers that God gives aren’t very satisfying. I can appreciate the light that the writers clearly wanted to shine on religious skepticism (especially that among open believers). Things just kept getting more gimmicky, and soon enough, it was revealed that this really was just a fake-out.
Let me be the first to say: Thank God! I know that the writers obviously wanted to show people how ridiculous it is to water down the concept of something as powerful as an omniscient God to a passive old man with a white beard and flowing robes, but for a hot minute I was really worried that Preacher had gone off the rails and wanted us to buy this shit. But I suppose that’s exactly what they wanted, too. So job well done.
The Missing One
God is missing. Jesse calls out the imposter, who turns out to be an angel in disguise, and uses Genesis to make him tell the truth. The fake God is wrestled off camera by other angels, the sun returns to Annville, and everyone in the church basks in the reality far worse than hearing there’s no God at all; He’s real, all right; He’s just not listening.
Jesse, Cassidy, and Tulip leave. The church is a mess. People are sobbing, others immobile, shocked into silence. Emily taps a few keys on the organ as the crowd files out. Odinson and other return later to destroy the church; shattering the windows, breaking the pews, even ripping the crucifix.
Emily tries to tell her kids that everything is okay. God’s absence doesn’t negate Heaven and life can go on as normal. She tells them that they never needed God and never really did. But she’s wrong. Many people did. Many people needed God, even when they weren’t so sure He existed. The Indian Chief Cassidy talks to in the cell earlier hangs himself after hearing the news. A group of little girls murder that pedophilic bus driver. The mother of the girl Eugene shot suffocates her own child while her teenage son takes selfies in front of the whole ordeal.
Odinson, in perhaps the most disturbing response of all, fills his dead daughter’s ski suit with meat and coddles it in a chair.
Everything has changed.
The Control Room
It turns out the room we’ve seen throughout the season belongs to a methane control factory. The man who operates it no longer has a will to live, so he lets temperatures build until it pressurizes and releases into the town.
This creates an explosion that completely obliterates the town. Annville is nothing but a pile of ruins. Fjord returns from Hell, so it’s assumed that when Deblanc was shot there in the last episode, he actually died.
Cassidy, Tulip, and Jesse are all in a diner outside town. “What’s the point?” Cassidy asks, but it turns out that he’s really just going on about The Big Lebowski again. Jesse doesn’t seem too worried. He says his plan is simple: to find God.
So we’re just going to ride around shootin’ people, gettin’ wasted and lookin’ for God?
Oh, I am so in.
The Preacher is still hallucinating Eugene. This time it’s at the register, where he tells him that he hasn’t forgotten about him and will get him out of Hell. Jesse leaves right before a news story about the reactor explosion airs on the TV.
Outside, before they take off, Tulip asks Jesse about Genesis. He uses it to make her kiss him. Gag. The entire episode ends with a slo-mo montage of the two swapping spit and a disgruntled Cassidy watching from the back seat of the car the gang will share as they hunt down God in season 2.
BUT WAIT. There’s just a little bit more. In the smoking ruins of Annville, we see the seraphim from earlier wandering around. She’s taking in her surroundings when a hole is blown straight through her chest. It’s the cowboy. He’s come back from Hell, and now he’s only got one thing to say.