[Contains major SPOILERS for the Preacher season 2 finale.]
Preacher's 10-episode first season ended by obliterating the setting and just about every character we'd come to know in the series. Season 2 picks up with Annville, TX still smoldering and the trio of Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy already wreaking havoc on more unsuspecting Texas towns. The longer second season brings the series much closer to what comic fans are familiar with in the epic road trip to find God, but also further divests itself by telling new and different stories.
For the first three episodes of the second season, it appeared the series would stay on track. However, the road trip stalled in New Orleans and after a major character death in the finale, it looks like The Big Easy is going to be home for longer than any of the characters expected. The later episodes, beginning with 'Dirty Little Secret', begin to right the ship, but "The End of the Road" messily fails to drive the season's story forward and instead takes a brand new turn.
Herr Starr and the Grail, the Saint of Killers, and Eugene Root stuck in Hell all serve as distractions from season 2's search for God. With a potential third season looming, what does all this mean for Preacher going forward?
Meandering Through Hell with Hitler and Arseface
Of all the odd elements about Preacher, near the top of the list would be the deliberate choice to make Hitler a sympathetic character. During their panel at San Diego Comic-Con, executive producer Seth Rogen told fans that they approached the universally recognized as evil Hitler like they would have any other character in the series. There are glimpses of the Hitler history has told us about, but in the finale, even he recognizes that he belongs in hell. He does not believe that redemption is possible until Eugene's good (yet wildly naive) nature convinces him otherwise.
His plan to help the kid escape works, and the two wind up on one of those same buses that the angels DeBlanc and Fiore took to get to hell in season 1. Whether the intention was to highlight Eugene's innocence or to prove that not even hell can change people, Hitler runs away from Eugene and escapes back into the real world. There is no mention of Hitler in the comics, so Preacher has the freedom to take this story line in any direction for a potential third season. Other than killing some celebrities like Tom Cruise and Harry Connick, Jr., the series hasn't spent much time talking about actual real-world events. Cassidy's love of pop-culture are the only other indicators fans have of where Preacher falls in reality.
If the show is, in fact, set recently, there are plenty of ways that Hitler could easily be integrated back into the real world. If Preacher stays more metaphorical than political, perhaps Hitler could be the anti-Christ and a plot device used to drive Jesse even deeper into accepting the role of the new messiah.
Taming The Saint of Killers
For a character likened to an indestructible Terminator, The Saint of Killers has had an incredible arc through Preacher's first two seasons. He plays a massive role in the comics because of his power, but the series takes the time to explore his vulnerabilities. Learning about how he turned his life around after meeting his wife and having a child, his return to his murderous ways doesn't seem so far-fetched. The fact that season 2 provides the Saint with far more dialogue and personality makes him an even more formidable foe.
In addition to providing another layer to his character, his dialogue also shows that despite not having a soul (prior to Jesse donating 1 percent of his own), the Saint is still motivated by his desire to see his wife and daughter again. After more than a century, they can still be used as leverage against him. With Herr Starr having removed Jesse's soul from the Saint, he looks like he's back to his unstoppable ways even without his weapons.
Until Hell comes knocking and gives the Saint an option to come back to his cell in Hell, or allow his wife and child to take his place. Before he settles back into his personal cell, he asks to speak with Satan and is told the fallen angel would like a word with him as well. Surely, comic fans are chomping at the bit in hopes of a Saint and Satan meeting like their "conversation" in the books. Since Featherstone was a double agent and knows where his weapons are, it is likely that his guns and sabre find their way to Hell instead of Rio. One major question about the Saint with the conclusion of the second season is how much longer will he let himself be a pawn?
The Grail vs The World
Herr Starr was referenced in the first season, but didn't receive an official introduction until 'Pig', half way through the second season. He's always had extreme views on how the world should be run, and his ambitious rise through the ranks of the Grail show he's willing to do whatever is necessary to make it so. After some in-fighting with high ranking officials in the Christian church -- namely the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury -- Starr makes his choice to back Jesse and Genesis over the heir of Christ, Humperdoo.
The finale is a race to build name recognition for Jesse, including an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Starr has fallen victim to Jesse's whim several times since they've met, but it hasn't stopped him from doing what he can to bring Jesse into the fold. In the penultimate episode, 'On Your Knees', it is revealed that Starr has connections in Hell when he double-crossed the Saint and turned him over to the superintendent and her henchmen. "You're lucky to have a man like Herr Starr looking out for you," she tells Jesse after stopping the Saint from scalping him.
While he can still fall under Genesis' command, Starr has masterfully isolated Jesse this season by manipulating his friends and feeding him enough information to steer him down Starr's chosen path. Starr has amassed great power, but if the Grail structure is like that of the comic books, then he is still not the top of the organization. One figure that has remained unspoken in the AMC series is the Allfather, supreme leader of the Grail. Now that Starr has taken Jesse public, will his rogue behavior finally catch the attention of Allfather? There's enough backstory with Starr and the Grail for a series of its own, but it would be interesting to see if this aspect comes into play eventually.