Previously on Preacher, “On Your Knees”
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
– Matthew 7:15
When it rains it pours, and the floodgates have finally burst from the pressure of Jesse Custer’s continually poor choices and unchecked rage. Now soundly under the tutelage of Herr K. Starr, Jesse has taken to his grooming of becoming the new Messiah far too well for all concerned… and to be honest, all two of his critics are hastily losing interest in their former friend. While Custer nonchalantly basks in the glow of potential godhood, Tulip and Cassidy attempted to sort out their respective difficulties in the only ways they know how.
Between the trio’s personal conundrums and emotional strife, and Eugene and Adolf’s fantastical escape through the jungles of Hell, “End of the Road” concluded Preacher’s sophomore season with all the bluntness and unrestraint of a hammer striking a bent nail. It reveals ugly truths among the characters, is frank with its opinion of our world and “how it works”, yet solidly drove home what’s in store for all next summer – and it sure as shit won’t be pretty.“Everything has a price. You understand?” Click To Tweet
Once more we dive into the mire that was Jesse’s twisted upbringing on the L’Angell compound/plantation tour/gator show/souvenir shop. If there’s anything good you can say about Custer’s backwater family, they are industrious. Now some years since his experience in the airtight coffin at the bottom of a swamp, teen Jesse is relegated to greeting duty for all the tourists, and overall suckers that believe that Marie L’Angell can free them from their despair – as long as they’re willing to pay.
Ultimately this desire for assuagement has been the underlying theme this season, though dressed in a number of zany, downright absurd ways for every character. Jesse’s big quest to find God and understand Genesis was his driving force as we all know and from that, his friends and enemies splintered into their own existential crises thanks to Custer’s unyielding aspirations to have a chat with The Creator of All Things. Think about how insane that sounds. Yes, it’s the whole point of the show which drew inspiration from the Ennis and Dillon’s fantastic comic series… but when say it aloud in your mind, Jesse’s level of self-importance must be freaking off the charts.
If Custer had been just a smidge more receptive to his partners’ concerns, fears and traumas suffered in their adventures, so much pain and death could have been avoided. This isn’t a new personality trait so much as the intensification of Custer’s myopic view of the world. We watched this in “Dallas”, when Jesse languished as a civilian with a boring 9 to 5 job and climatically vented his frustrations by tenderizing his roomie Reggie’s face with his fists. Jesse is unwilling to look within for his answers and latches on to anyone or anything to lay blame for his misfortunes. Tulip, Cassidy, Fiore. Victor the kindly kingpin, the now-soulful Saint of Killers and Herr Starr himself… no one is safe from his misplaced anger, which all stems from the L’Angells, who will be revealed in all their malevolence for season three.
For a megalomaniac like Starr, Jesse’s attributes have given him the best opportunity to shape the world in his image; whereas for Custer’s best mates, enough is enough. Tulip and Cassidy seemed all right in continuing their road trip without Padre. New Orleans had left a bitter taste in their mouths, with the Saint of Killers nearly living up to his moniker (twice), the Grail’s failed raid and the unsorted mental traumas created by those events. Having no other outlets to relay their own inner struggles, Proinsias and Tulip did as best they could to cope with their guilt and paid deeply for their choices.
The dynamic between Cassidy and Denis (Ronald Guttman) has been a rocky one narrative-wise, especially since the latter was turned out of desperation and regret after Cass abandoned his son for decades. It was fairly obvious to me that Denis was going to be a handful from the moment viewers saw him take his first sip of blood. In mere seconds he gorged himself and Cassidy denied his son’s instant blood lust as enthusiasm to begin his second life. In the episodes since, Denis’ thirst had become overwhelming, to the point that he wanted to drain his pet chihuahua Banjo and browsed the site for a vampire enthusiast cult Les Enfants du Sang (a group in the comics led by Eccarius, whose quirks and story line were partly adapted for Denis).
Knowing how far he’s come to regain his humanity after roaming the earth as a bloodthirsty miscreant for most of his existence, Cassidy paid the ultimate price for giving the gift of new life to Denis by taking it away, suddenly and violently.
Perhaps the most shocking scene (for non-comic readers) was Tulip’s intense confrontation with Featherstone (Julie Ann Emery) and her achingly slow demise. After discovering the apartment was bugged by The Grail for most of the season and confirming “Jenny” was an agent as initially suspected, Featherstone gained the upper hand on O’Hare and shot her center mass. The following scene involving Cassidy and Jesse fighting over who gets to save Tulip appeared ridiculous on the surface, but it was also an indictment of sorts on The Women In Fridge trope that continues to be employed in numerous TV series and films. Hell, Tulip died right next to the goddamn refrigerator. In this case, at least to this humble reviewer, it proves that Jesse and Cassidy are/were unworthy of Tulip’s love and adulation; everything they sought to do involving her was chiefly for their gain, be it a ridiculous quest or the scant potential for a budding romance.
Now legally dead, if it goes as Custer hopes, O’Hare will be under the auspices of the L’Angells – if properly resurrected. And you and I both know Tulip will not abide by that whenever she returns.
Oddly enough, the lighter fare in “End of the Road” involved Eugene’s successful escape from Hell. It can’t be written that Ms. Mannerling (Amy Hill) didn’t give Root and Hitler a run for their money, but the former despot gave his new pal the precious seconds he needed to board Charon’s boat. After all these weeks in thinking Adolf Hitler would inevitably turn against Eugene and leave him to rot in damnation, he actually turned out to be a stand-up guy! Wow! Color me impressed!
Said no one, ever.
Poor, simple Eugene truly believed he made a friend in one of the world’s most vicious dictators but he learned toot sweet that Hitler doesn’t have time for teenage friends now that he’s topside. If your pal is willing to get hit by oncoming traffic to leave your ass (quite literally in this case… where were Eugene’s pants?), he may not have been that great of a guy to begin with. You know Adolf was ready to book it from his wardrobe. No one wears a track suit in the middle of a Louisiana summer unless they’re looking to shave a few seconds off while sprinting away from a bitch. So yeah, Hitler’s on the loose. Imagine the fun the writers are going to have with him next year given the current social climate…
“End of the Road” packed a lot of punch in Preacher’s vastly improved second season. Some risks were taken in the characterization of the leads and the addition of new wrinkles in overall story arc, but there remains a shining promise for the series as it rambles on in darker, possibly even more graphic territory.