Various elements of the episode will be discussed in this review, so beware spoilers. And watch the episode before you read on, lest you face the wrath of the almighty. Or Cassidy…
So, farewell then, Preacher Season 2. It dawned with a lot of promise but got bogged down in keeping the budget within acceptable limits and reduced fun, likable characters to shadows of their former selves. Not what you might call the most successful result for a TV show that thrives on madness, mayhem and doing all it can to push boundaries. Though the last few episodes seemed to be building to something interesting, that has all been pushed down the line again in favour of more low-energy interactions (one moment excepted – see below) between the increasingly fractured central trio.
The finale got some fun mileage out of Jesse taking down some “Armenian” soldiers (even if they were revealed to be a stunt planned by Herr Starr), with another entertaining fight scene showing just how committed Dominic Cooper (and, when needed, his stunt team) can be to battles on screen. But while there is still something to be mined from the idea of Jesse as Messiah, the series chose to swap that out for the reunion between Custer, Cassidy and Tulip which, while it provided its own little action beat, didn’t really satisfy. More on that shortly.
Threaded through this season has been Eugene’s misadventures in Hell (invented solely for the show), and while it hasn’t always worked, and has occasionally felt like an unnecessary diversion, a siphoning off of time that could have been used to give Tulip and Cassidy a little more room to do anything but mope, the escape was at least entertaining. Best bits? The reveal that the mysterious figure on the shore is a lot more casual than you might expect, the stylish scene setting for his lakeside locale and the idea that Hitler really was faking it as Eugene’s friend and dashed off into the world the first moment he got. Watching Noah Taylor run in a hoodie (and get hit by a car, only to dust himself off) was at least worth a chuckle.
And then we had the tiny check-in with Featherstone and Hoover, with the former still a fanatical follower of Herr Starr and his new plan to have Jesse be the spiritual leader of the world and the latter remaining less than sure about the idea. Tulip stumbling on the fallen camera was inevitable, but the show decided not to bother with any sort of fight on that front, simply leaving her dying in a pool of blood.
On the Cassidy and Tulip front, we at least had some time to spend with them and the misery-flecked subplots. Cassidy, still wracked with guilt over abandoning his son, makes the tough-but-smart decision to end vampire Denis in spectacular fashion, and it was interesting that in the car with Tulip, he looked more like the Cassidy of the comic books than ever before. Tulip, meanwhile, finally seems over her PTSD (even if she’s still holding a grudge against Jesse) but despite her big holiday plans, she still ended up shot by Featherstone. The odd moment between she and Cass worked (such as his nightmare vision of tearing out her throat in the throes of passion), but all in all it hasn’t been the most satisfying use of the pair.
Season 3 (yet to be commissioned) promises to explore Jesse’s past more thoroughly – the initial scene with Custer’s younger self working at Angelville (and dressed like he’s aiming for Colonel Sanders cosplay) was all a set up for the final twist of needing to help Tulip. Will it work? We’ll see. Season 2, meanwhile, was mostly a frustrating squandered opportunity punctuated with a few good ideas added in (Herr Starr and the Grail chief among them – we’re glad they’ll still be around). The show needs to prove it can get out of the maudlin groove if it’s to keep our attention.
Highlight: The mercenary battle.
Lowlight: The “solution” to Tulip’s little mortality problem.
Kill of the week: RIP (then not) to a chicken, while Denis burned his last bridge. Oh, and Tulip died, but like the clucking bird, we doubt she’ll stay that way for long.
MVP: Denis brought some real emotion in his final moments. Kudos also to the VFX team for his fiery demise.
Random thought: So now we know that God really was in the dog suit. Suppose we’ll have to wait for Season 3 to find out who they’ll cast as the Almighty.
Aired on AMC Monday nights in the US, Preacher remains available on Amazon Prime Tuesdays in the UK.