Only one episode remains after this past weekends entry into the story of Preacher. It’s been one heck of a ride so far, with action punctuated by dark humor and a strong sense of place, with the West Texas background being displayed beautifully on screen every week. Of course, with a desire to bring the series to a second season, they can’t wrap up too many of the loose ends that they’ve created. Also, with all of those loose ends, it wouldn’t be feasible to tie everything up into a pretty bow right away. Clearly the creators of the show need to keep dangling threads, but they have to avoid the pitfalls of The Walking Dead, which sometimes completely ignores plot holes that have been created just to leave a cliffhanger for the next season.
So how does Finish the Song work with the rest of the episodes? Honestly, it presents a nice continuation of the build up that we’ve been seeing all season long. The characters are coming back to what you could reasonably assume are their true selves, and story elements are being pushed only when needed, with a seeming willingness to close off pieces that aren’t going to serve the greater story. There were definitely moments where the dark comedy aspect of the series was replaced with simply a darker angle, but that actually helps raise the stakes. The song may not be quite finished, but it is hitting a strong melody as it approaches it’s coda.
Our opening segment this week returned us to the town of Ratwater, with the Cowboy entering the saloon, interrupting the start of a surreal song. The Cowboy’s presence makes everyone go quiet, until the town’s preacher introduces him as the “Butcher of Gettysburg”. As a response, the Cowboy empties the bag he had slung over his shoulder, rolling decapitated heads out for all to see before starting a slaughter, all backed by the song he interrupted earlier. Once again, a scene that was terribly bloody was also far more humorous than it probably otherwise would have been, due to the highly stylized nature of the cinematography, and the soundtrack layered over the top. When finished, the Cowboy poured himself a shot and drank it while the earth shook around him. We’re then deposited back in the present.
This week was a big week for Jesse Custer. After using Sheriff Root to get himself away from Quincannon’s men, he showed his ingenuity by escaping from the back of the squad car, and keeping himself hidden enough while also reestablishing the connections he had previously been burning apart. This is incredibly important, especially as a continuation of last week’s hallucination. If Jesse is going to be any sort of character we want to see more of on screen, we need to not only see his competence, but we need to see his willingness to admit his faults. In an attempt to set things right, Jesse goes to the house where Tulip has been staying with her uncle Walter, only to find Emily there instead. This leads to Jesse seeing Cassidy, and we learn that Jesse actually was the one to save the vampire, and the two have their reconciliation moment. Meanwhile, Jesse is still working on his plan to bring God to Annville, getting a little assistance from the Heaven phone and some spare angel hands.
Cassidy spent a good portion of the episode doing what he did last week, as well; hiding behind a closed door. There’s a good reason for this, as he is slowly healing after his experience in the sunlight. Tulip has been taking care of him, providing him with pets from seemingly everywhere she can get them, but it’s only doing so much. It isn’t until Emily has her plan that brings Cassidy back to the light of day, so to speak, and that’s followed by Jesse’s arrival. There is seemingly no reason for Cassidy to want to even associate with Jesse, let alone extend a hand of friendship again, but that’s exactly what he is willing to do. As it turns out, Jesse not turning away from the vampire was all that it took to show his character to Cassidy, and pulling his burning body from the sunlight convinced him to offer a second chance. Cassidy is clearly someone who is unflinching in his loyalty, even in situations where it seems that he shouldn’t. However, he’s seen something in Jesse that he wants to bring out, and he isn’t going to give up easily. Besides, it isn’t like Cassidy had any real use for the extra angel hands.
Tulip is also taking this episode to stand true to herself. Her dedication to attempting to help Cassidy is clear, based on the number of animals she’s gotten for him. Still taunted by the knowledge of where Carlos is, she was split on what to do, until she stepped aside and decided to put her trust in Emily’s kind nature so that she could get the man who wronged her on her own. Tulip’s strength is her unflinching drive, and she’s using her passion to help draw more people into her social sphere, as opposed to push them away. We have yet to see how Jesse’s phone call to her will resonate, but it does seem possible that even she may be willing to give the preacher another chance , but she’s certainly going to hold his actions against him. Still, it will definitely be hard for her to remain completely cold to him, especially with him again mentioning “til the end of the world”.
As for that end of the world, well, it might be coming quicker than Jesse and his friends might want. Fiore and DeBlanc, pursuing their Plan B to retrieve Genesis, make their voyage into Hell, and specifically to a little town that we’ve seen a few times. Yes, they’re visiting Ratwater, and the Cowboy as he relives the death and destruction around him. Clearly, he is their second option, as they tell him that they’re hiring him to “kill a preacher”. Of course, when they return with him, there’s a chance that it will embolden Jesse’s desire to rescue Eugene. Meanwhile, the only other character who really got a strong moment to shine in this episode was Emily, in what could have easily been wasted screen time. Instead, she is the one who pushes the story from the dark comedy straight to a darkly serious tale, as she, in her own attempts to get Cassidy back to full health, manipulates Miles into being a feast for the vampire. Miles has clearly been trying to pursue his own goals, at the expense of everything Emily holds dear, but for her to show such a callous disregard towards him, knowing what would happen, was fairly shocking. Sure, she was kind of seeing him as a surrogate while Jesse continued to rebuff her advances, but it’s a big step from that to specifically feeding him to Cassidy. It should be interesting to see how Emily’s character is changed by this one action.
The penultimate episode of Preacher packed a lot in, but it also set up what should be a strong conclusion. The show runners have been doing a good job spacing out the action scenes with quieter moments of introspection, and the stakes have been steadily growing since we first saw Genesis inhabit Jesse. We’ll only get to visit this particular corner of the world one more time before we have to wait for more, but the people behind Preacher have made sure that we’ll be eagerly waiting.