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...
Of the three main characters, Dominic Cooper's Jesse Custer, despite being the focus of the series so far, has struggled the most to make an impact. And even when he does, there is the problem that he seems to drift between moods faster than a car changes gears. One minute he's desperate to escape his past and be a good man and a good Preacher, the next, he casually walks out of his church as his flock go mad after learning that God has forsaken them and vanished somewhere. That said, we got some good moments between Jesse and Tulip, particularly as the show finally filled us in on what happened with Carlos in a full flashback that was by turns funny and emotional. Hopefully finally getting down to his mission in the comics will breathe additional life into Jesse Custer; and thankfully it seems he learned his lesson quickly that trying to use the Genesis power to make Tulip kiss him doesn't end well for him (or his face).
The flashback that allowed some good work from Cooper was also a fine showcase for Ruth Negga who, let's face it, has been pretty wonderful all season. Tulip here got to be tragic alongside her usual kick-ass anger, and the scene where she and the Preacher hand Carlos weapons before proceeding to kick the living snot out of him (off-screen) was a great piece of dark comedy. She suffered a little later on from the focus switching back to Jesse, especially during the arrival of "God" but with luck, the reduction in the cast down to the core leading three will make sure she stays in the mix from now on.
All you really need to do is give Joe Gilgun someone to play off of, and here he has Sheriff Root, who is still looking for his son. The jail scene was a great example of using Cassidy's seemingly immortal nature well, and allowed him to be as caustically charming and funny as ever. We'd also note his delight at the idea of the road trip and yet another chance for him to potentially make a thousand more enemies via his dislike for The Big Lebowski.
The Sheriff has been a typically odd character for the show, but he hasn't always appeared to be functioning as a human being might. That's no fault of W. Earl Brown, though: the same can be said for everyone in such a strange town in a story determined to be weird sometimes at the expense of even the show's internal logic. Still, Brown has given the lawman heart and soul, and his "interrogation" of Cassidy is a fantastic use of both characters undercut slightly by the fact that Root learning of Cassidy's true nature (and not instantly trying to kill him for being a monster) seems a little out of left field. As does his sudden decision to let the creature go and all but dropping his concern for Eugene until he has the chance to ask "God" for his whereabouts.
Despite the work being done to build up the various oddballs, rednecks, perverts and meat obsessives of the town, it would seem they were only destined to survive the first season. We don't yet know of anyone really has survived the methane reactor explosion that appeared wiped the town off the map, but if that sets the show on the path to becoming more like the comic, then perhaps that was a good thing. Many of the townsfolk's stories had little impact on the grander scheme of things and others (such as Emily) were inconsistent from week to week. Still, you have to give it to the show for being willing to shake things up to such a degree.
And so the first season ends with a bang. But also something of a whimper. The finale – an extended episode to tie up some storylines and kick one off anew – delivered on the madness levels we've come to expect from the series, but show-runner Sam Catlin (who both wrote and directed) didn't quite pull it off to perfection. Some sequences, including the whole scene in the church with "God" and the jail chat worked wonders. Others had some impact (it was nice to finally get the full story of Jesse and Tulip's rage against Carlos), yet somewhat served to slow things down when the finale could have been ramping up to a fast conclusion. It has definitely been a bumpy first season, but you can't deny the creators' ambition and commitment to making the show crazier than most of what is on our screens right now. Preacher looks and feels like nothing else, and comic book fans will likely be thrilled to see that this first batch of episodes effectively served as a long pilot for the road trip show to come. We're not sure we'll miss Annville all that much, and it's fun to think of the possibilities that lie ahead.
Highlight: A chat with "God."
Lowlight: The montage of townsfolk going nuts rang a tad hollow.
Kill of the week: Everyone in Annville! Except maybe Eugene. Who remains in Hell.
Quote of the week: "Balls." - "God". Hhhm... You can't tell Seth Rogen had something to do with the show, can you?
MVP: Tulip, for several different emotional reasons.
Random thought: Donnie is reading Gorillas In The Mist in bed. We'd love to see that book club meeting, but sadly it won't happen now.
Airing on AMC Sunday nights in the US, Preacher is available weekly on Amazon Prime Mondays in the UK.