With Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) in the hands of the Grail, and facing torture, Tulip (Ruth Negga) is on a mission to free him. And while Jesse (Dominic Cooper) also makes an attempt, he’s more interested in going to confront the Almighty (Mark Harelik) about his abandoning humanity…
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“Feels like the end, almost” says Tulip during a quite moment with Cassidy during the first episode, which feels like a meta commentary on the fact that this is indeed the final season of the series adapted (very loosely) from Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s infamous graphic novel run.
Yet for all its attempts at keeping up its insane levels of blasphemy, violence and shock, Preacher ironically feels left in the dust by another adaptation of a Garth Ennis title, also produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Amazon’s The Boys. Jesse and co. might be able to drop all sorts of bad language and slice body parts off, but Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) and the twisted superheroes he faces off against go that much further with the relatively looser restrictions of streaming services.
So, what’s left for Preacher? At least we’ll always have the Grail, and Pip Torrens’ driven, lunatic leader Herr Starr. This season so far, he’s still having chats with God and remains obsessed with carving a similar injury into Jesse’s head that was inflicted on him. The rest of the Grail organisation has largely turned into your stock hench-person assortment, but there are bright moments, such as the interrupted sing-along in episode two.
As season four kicks off, the show takes its typically leisurely time setting things up. Yes, there is some action, such as Tulip and Jesse’s attempts to break Cassidy out of the Grail’s ancient base, Masada. But for the most part, it’s mostly the poor vampire being tortured (until he turns the tables) and the others musing on their lives as events unfold around them – with Jesse’s story featuring two egregious example of shock for shock value in killing several animals. No, we don’t mean the stop-motion dinosaurs, who pop up in one of the series’ wacky diversions.
Preacher likes to believe it tackles big themes of divine indifference (even as God is revealed to be plotting something big this season), guilt and friendship, but it rarely digs into them in any real way. It’s mostly concerned with serving as a sarcastic delivery system for craziness and violence, and the moments of reflection still never quite feel as authentic.
On a character level, Cassidy and Tulip remain more compelling than Jesse, though that’s no fault of Cooper, who finds levels to the not-always-so-good preacher. The big issue is Genesis – the series might twist itself into contortions finding ways around Jesse’s superpower, and there’s some fun to be had with his use of it, but it’s all so convenient now he has it back.
Hopefully, Preacher will wrap up successfully, and keep on finding new ways to offend as many people as possible. But the feeling is certainly that it’s time to let the show go. The end? It’s arriving just in time, almost.
Despite its continued commitment to shock and gore, Preacher’s fourth season still shows some of the lagginess of earlier years. Here’s hoping the show can stick the apocalyptic landing.