[This article contains SPOILERS for the Preacher season 1 finale.]
God came to Annville on the season 1 finale of Preacher, or at least that’s what Jesse Custer believed would happen when he used the celestial phone and a spare angel hand Cassidy just happened to have lying around to call heaven. The extra-long episode worked its way around several of the loose ends the series left dangling in the build-up to the finale, but instead of just tying them up in one neat and tidy knot, the series blew most of them away… literally. As it turns out, Annville was wiped off the map and everyone in the town went along with it thanks to a methane reactor mishap that, ironically, was sort of like the town had been smote by a certain someone who has gone missing from heaven.
After a season spent delivering big moments and then some hemming and hawing, Preacher has positioned itself to move into a much larger storyline, one that is full of ancient religious conspiracies and clandestine organizations, as well as one nasty Cowboy chasing everyone down. But before that discussion begins, what actually went down in ‘Call and Response’? Seeing Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy drive off to find God, leaving Annville a smoldering crater in the Texas sun, while Tom Cruise’s ashes are blasted off the planet in rocket seems pretty straightforward, but there’s still plenty to discuss and plenty more to ponder.
What Does Annville’s Destruction Mean?
This seems like a pretty direct question, but it’s connected to the biggest event to happen in the series since Genesis found Jesse Custer as its host. It’s an event that, while providing the season finale with no small amount of spectacle and an entertaining montage of Annville’s residents processing the news that God has abandoned his seat in heaven set to a slow (well, slower) version of Blind Melon’s ‘No Rain,’ has long-reaching implications for the framework of the series itself.
As the news report near the end of the episode states, “Authorities fear that a blast of this magnitude will have left no survivors behind.” That means everyone who was featured in the montage – who didn’t already hang it up – was likely killed off when the fecal furnace went nuclear. That means Preacher season 2 will likely have to do without Emily, Donnie, Betsy, Sheriff Root, and certainly Jackie Earle Haley’s Odin Quincannon. If that’s the case, then ‘Call and Response’ may go down as one of the most radically transformative season finales in television history, dismissing the majority of the series’ supporting cast and wiping its established setting right off the map.
Let’s Take a Road Trip
“The Beginning is Nigh.” That was the tagline plastered on the series’ posters before its premiere. At first, the line seemed in reference to the beginning of the series itself, but after the three main characters are spared the blast that destroyed Annville, thanks to Tulip’s craving for French Fries, it is made clear this is the beginning to which the poster was referring. The conceit of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s comic books was Jesse and his misfit associates heading off on a massive road trip in search of God. At the end of ‘Call and Response,’ that’s literally what they are preparing to do, “Drive around, shooting people, getting wasted, and… looking for God.”
It’s a strange thing to spend 10 episodes setting up the premise of a television series only to promise that the real story will begin with season 2, but that’s how it goes with Preacher. There were inklings that this was the case throughout season 1, as Tulip’s arrival in Annville felt temporary to say the least, and Jesse’s role as a humble preacher didn’t seem to suit the wild streak simmering just beneath that white collar. Meanwhile, Cassidy literally dropped in out of the sky, leaving his own storyline behind, so now that the trio is on the road, the vampire hunters will likely be out in force looking for him.
But what’s the endgame? Well, Preacher was kind enough to spell that out too. As Jesse said, they’re going off in search of God, and “If God wants our help, we’ll help him. If he doesn’t, we’re gonna kick his ass.”
Is Carlos a Reason to be Worried About Cassidy?
All season long, Tulip was itching for revenge on some poor schmuck named Carlos (played brilliantly by Desmin Borges of You’re the Worst). Through a series of brief flashbacks, it was clear Carlos had screwed her and Jesse over at some point in their violent past, and there was a score to settle. In the penultimate episode, Tulip had run off and found Carlos on her lonesome, but in the finale she brought him to Jesse as a way to make the preacher face his past and recognize the man he truly is. There’s a bit of revenge to be had, as the two give Carlos a good beating off screen, leaving him shambling into the dark with swollen eyes and a mouth devoid of any teeth.
But what’s the point of Carlos beyond telling of Jesse and Tulip’s True Romance-like true romance and the baby she lost? Carlos betrayed them because he was jealous of their happiness. Could it be a portent of things to come on the epic road trip the two would-be lovebirds are about to take with a vampire whose undead heart stirs for Ms. O’Hare? It certainly seems like history is doomed to repeat itself somewhere down the line. That should provide an interesting wrinkle to an already curious dynamic among the three characters. Besides, how much can you trust someone who doesn’t like The Big Lebowski?
What’s Going on with Eugene and Fiore?
Two supporting characters that managed to make it out of the finale – well, sort of – are Fiore and Eugene. The latter is presumably stuck in hell since Jesse sent him there several episodes ago, whereas the former recently returned from a trip there without his partner in crime (and life) by his side. Did DeBlanc really die in hell when the Cowboy turned his revolver on him or is there more to the story of these two angels? Considering the last place DeBlanc was seen alive is also the place Eugene was unwittingly sent to, it stands to reason that their paths may cross at some point in the next season.
Then again, there’s a chance that, because he’s a tricky character to deal with – not only because of the prosthetics that are required for the role, but also because of the circumstances surrounding his appearance – there’s a good chance Eugene will be remanded to a figment of Jesse’s imagination and a reminder that his quest to find God comes with a subplot of pulling Arseface from the pits of hell whenever he figures out a way to do that. Given that it’s been established Fiore can travel between heaven, hell, and earth, perhaps Jesse’s last hope of rescuing the young man rests on the angel’s sad shoulders.
What is the Cowboy’s Role?
‘Finish the Song‘ gave viewers a better look at who the Cowboy is and what his role in the series will be moving forward. He’s a killer (better known as the Saint of Killers in the comic books), and before he ventilated poor DeBlanc, the Cowboy was enlisted to help find Jesse Custer and to wrangle in the most powerful force in the universe, Genesis. In their desperation to contain a formidable force, Fiore and DeBlanc turned to and unleashed another power they couldn’t possibly hope to control. By setting the Cowboy loose, the two have set in motion a major plot point for the series’ future and an antagonist that will threaten everything and everyone in his way.
But why is he such a threat? Well, it hasn’t been completely established in the series yet, but that information is almost certainly forthcoming. While Preacher may have saved a portion of the Cowboy’s backstory for a later date, it didn’t shy away from demonstrating what he’s capable of. In other words, it appears he can put those pesky Seraphim down for good with his trusty six shooters. While there’s a chance DeBlanc may return to the series, his absence when Fiore is seen at the bus stop, coupled with the despondent look on his face, suggests otherwise. And when the Cowboy put a hole in the troublesome angel that gave Jesse, Fiore, and DeBlanc the fight of their (many) lives, there was no telltale flash of light or a return made by the blonde Seraphim. So, in other words, when the Cowboy puts you down, it there’s no coming back, no matter who you are. And that’s just part of what makes him so scary.
What Did the First Season Mean?
So what did season 1 of Preacher boil down to? Well, it would seem as though, the end of season 1 was actually the end of a 10-hour preamble that set up the characters of the series and established their backstories and motivations, before shifting course to a plotline that more closely resembles the graphic novels on which the series is based. It’s a new beginning for Preacher and one that suggests a more propulsive narrative is in the works. Does that retroactively make season 1 more or less important to the overall story? Well, that depends on where the series actually goes from here. Good or bad, it means season 1 will be worth revisiting once the end of season 2 is being discussed.
Preacher will return for season 2 in 2017 on AMC.
Photos: Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Television