Well, that’s certainly one way to end a debut season of a television series. There was a lot packed in to the first season of Preacher, and much of it came back around in the end. The first season of the show certainly didn’t end with a whimper, and is setting us up for a much bigger world for these characters to inhabit.
Of course, with the town of Annville going the way of the dinosaurs, there may be some discontent. It certainly seems likely that we won’t encounter most of the people that we spent ten weeks getting to know ever again, unless there’s some clever reason why they weren’t around. But we got some answers for a few questions. True to the episode itself, maybe not all of those answers were what we were hoping they would be, but they were indeed answers. There are still plenty of threads left dangling, some of which that weren’t singed off, and Jesse has a new mission before him. While his Call and Response may not have been quite what he expected, there’s a new opportunity, and we only have to wait until the second season to see where we’re going now.
The opening for this episode shows that things aren’t necessarily going great for our preacher. Jesse is still on the run from the police, and, while aspects of the town are supporting him, he certainly isn’t a safe place. We also got a lot of callbacks to moments from earlier in the series, being reminded of the weirdness of the mascots, the looming threat of Linus and his school bus, and the nature of Donnie and Betsy’s relationship. Tulip’s return also let us know how Annville feels about Jesse’s promise to bring God to church on Sunday; a lot of the residents are nervously excited, and there’s a line of women making sure to get themselves looking their best.
For much of this episode, Jesse and Tulip are a united force. Sure, Tulip is initially under the belief that Donnie has done something terrible to Jesse, but that idea gets squashed quickly. Jesse has actually inspired mercy in Donnie. Apparently Jesse isn’t as bad at this “man of the cloth” thing as it seemed. Together with Tulip, Jesse is able to play a darker side of his personality, and that is shown in the interaction with Carlos. By the same token, he is able to keep his hands relatively clean, and keep himself the “good guy”.
The flashback showing why Carlos was hunted down by Tulip makes it understandable why she would be seeking her revenge, and also shows why things started to fall apart between her and Jesse. A heist gone wrong that took an even more difficult turn thanks to a miscarriage, and all of it caused by pure jealous? Yeah, Carlos kind of asked for what was coming, especially given the fact that, at the time of his betrayal, Jesse and Tulip certainly weren’t operating on any good side of the law. The act of taking care of Carlos reunited Jesse and Tulip, and a glimpse into why they worked together so well before is shown. That moves them on to the bigger task of bringing God to Annville, as long as they get french fries afterwards. And, if you’ve been paying attention, you know that Tulip is going to get her french fries.
Cassidy also shows his dedication, and, when he is able to join up with Jesse and Tulip, the threesome is so much stronger than they would be alone. That said, Cass is probably the one who is best suited to being on his own, and one has to wonder if the flashbacks to Carlos are a big of foreshadowing for what might happen with Cassidy. Cassidy seems to be a more loyal type than Carlos, but sometimes emotions cloud things. Right now, though, the vampire is firmly sided with the preacher, as he is willing to take multiple bullets from Sheriff Root (who pieced together the truth) in order to protect the secret of what happened to Eugene.
The big thrust of the episode is, naturally, Jesse using the heaven phone to bring God to the church, and, after a quick tutorial (from Betsy, of all people), Jesse is ready to do just that. It seems like everything is going according to plan, and the caller from Heaven speaks in platitudes, doing just enough to placate the people of Annville, including Odin Quincannon. That is, until Jesse asks if Eugene, like “everyone else” is saved. After an affirmative answer, Jesse sees through the ruse, eventually using Genesis to demand to know where God actually is. Turns out, He’s missing, and nobody in Heaven knows where He’s gone. Oops. Yeah, the humans certainly weren’t supposed to know that. The reaction of the people of Annville is probably one of the most understandable things that could happen. You take a community that’s very religious, and has a large amount of faith. They’re told that they’ll be able to meet God, only to learn that God is apparently missing. The crisis of faith must have been crippling, and it leads to a domino effect of people acting out in some very base ways. After all, without an Almighty, is there a reason to keep toeing the line of goodness (note: this is not an actual philosophical discussion I’m proposing, but attempting at an explanation as to why this particular group of characters acted as they did). We see people destroy the church, schoolgirls exact their bloody vengeance on Linus, Tracy Loach being euthanized, and the strange battle between the two mascots coming to a tragic end. We also learn over the course of the episode what exactly the panel of dials and gauges was for, as it’s keeping track of the methane content powering Annville, all thanks to Quincannon Meat & Power. Pappy, who was venting the methane slowly when it got to be too much, is now dead, and the hooker he hired for his final bliss isn’t equipped to deal with it. The methane releases all over town, and one stray dropped cigarette later, say goodbye to Annville.
Of course, that isn’t the end. The show is going to continue for another season, and it can’t do that if literally everyone is dead. Turns out that getting Tulip french fries meant leaving the blast radius of Annville, so Jesse, Cassidy, and Tulip are just fine, being some of the only people to escape the methane explosion. They’re going to travel the country, on an epic road trip to try and find God. Before they leave, Tulip insists on learning what Genesis does, so Jesse uses it to have her kiss him. Unsurprisingly, she punches him as well. Tulip is not the kind of person who Jesse should consider using Genesis on, especially not in the way he did. They aren’t the only three who survived our first season, either, as Fiore is back from Hell, and the Saint of Killers, our illustrious cowboy, is along for the ride, to chase down the preacher. There’s also Eugene stuck in Hell, and Jesse is determined to try and get him back. We probably won’t see anyone else from Annville, and the show did everything it could to wrap up most of those stories for us. Sure, there’s always the potential for more, but how many of these characters would make sense in a bigger story of cross-country travel?
Overall, the first season of Preacher was a strong one. Was it a perfect show, by any means? No. Of course not. But perfect isn’t messy, and Preacher is at its best when it’s portraying a little bit of that messier side of things. There’s a lot of potential moving forward, and still plenty of questions left unanswered to keep the audience invested in our heroes, whether they end up being true to the title, or dancing closer to the anti- side.