[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Director: Wayne Yip
Writer: Sam Catlin
Starring: Dominic Cooper, Joseph Gilgun, Ruth Negga, Pip Torrens, Julie Ann Emery, Malcolm Barrett, Noah Taylor, Ronald Guttman, Ian Colletti
In the finale episode of this season of AMC’s Preacher, Jesse (Dominic Cooper) and Herr Starr (Pip Torrens) begin to spread the word of the new Messiah to the world. Tulip (Ruth Negga) starts to ease back into her usual, morally ambiguous self before she finally discovers the truth about her friendly neighbour. Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) mulls over his more primal appetites and questions the limits of his own self-restraint while trying to hold back his son Denis’ (Ronald Guttman) depraved bloodlust. Finally, Eugene (Ian Colletti) and Hitler (Noah Taylor) finally escape Hell, with thanks due to the late Grim Reaper (Shane Guilbeau).
Eugene’s trials in Hell have been some of the best parts of this series, exercising a deadpan irreverent approach to some of the grimmest elements of theology. The climax to this subplot was short-lived, but it still retained some amazing moments such as Eugene’s small talk with the Ferryman of the Dead (Shane Guilbeau) and his argument with Superintendent Mannering (Amy Hill), or Hitler’s reaction to returning back to the world of the living…
Joseph Gilgun acted the crap out of his part in this episode. Cassidy is a complex creature and his reactions to some of the more bizarre elements of the show can be hilarious, but there is a very dark side hiding just out of sight that Gilgun manages to pull out with some very intense facial expressions. The scene in this episode where he finds Denis’ computer left open showing snuff porn, the expressions Gilgun gives turn from fearful to lustful in the most disturbing and subtle way. The guilt he emotes for the urges he has is palpable in the episode and reveals hidden depths of Cassidy’s whole addiction complex.
Finally, there were a couple of fantastic fight and action sequences. Jesse’s staged bust-up in the classroom against Armenian hitmen was as good if not better than the first bar brawl of the pilot episode, verging on a Kingsman-esque visual style. Tulip’s bleed-out scene in the apartment at the end of the episode is uncharacteristically raw for this show, almost like a scene from an Irvine Welsh novel. Jess and Cassidy get into a scuffle, ending with the poor junkie bloodsucker stuck in a headlock watching someone he loves drown in her own blood, while his only friend is resolved to just watch her choke. It’s pretty God damn dark, very emotional and really feels like the show has entered a new level as it ends the season.
The young-Jesse (Will Kindrachuk) flashback that began the episode fell flat for me. While it was an interesting enough sequence and my curiosity about this weird mystic swamp death cult is rampant, it didn’t feel like finale material. Moving at a far slower pace than the whole rest of the episode, the flashback sequence could have played out earlier in the series and didn’t make much sense for this episode outside explaining the probable means of Tulip’s revival. In terms of actual context for Jesse’s old cult friends, we’ll have to wait until next season.
Cassidy and Denis’ subplot reach a climax in this episode that really felt a bit rushed. While tension has been building between the father and son for a few episodes now, it really feels the whole story lurched forward quite rapidly towards the end. It might have been nice to have seen more of Cassidy’s guilt-ridden dark side whilst having to confront his son’s reckless bloodlust. Cassidy also had a pretty brutal solution to the Denis problem, which sort of underlined how hasty the end of this story came across.
Fans of Eugene and Hitler will be very pleased, and surely hoping that their side adventures continue on in the third season, provided Herr Starr doesn’t proclaim the resurrected Adolf Hitler as the Grail’s newest Messiah. Fans of Tulip O’Hare might feel a little edgy but at least we now have a chance to see how our favourite anti-heroine fares in Hell, or what her worst memory would be (I’m guessing something relating to Dallas). Anyone particularly eager to see Jesse ascend to Godform or watch Cass and Denis play catch in a park at night will be a little disappointed, but with the deep cuts and heavy emotional blows of this finale in consideration, I think we can expect a different class of moral and emotional brutality in the next season.