The first season of AMC’s Preacher ended Sunday night and to say it was a mixed bag would be an understatement. At times, the show reached new heights for craziness and violence on TV. Mostly, though, it was an understated deconstruction of a town and characters in crisis. The finale was more of the same but in the end, it did what it had to do — it left us wanting more.
Half the finale was building up to what the show had been teasing for a few weeks: the appearance of God. Show producer and episode director Sam Catlin even had a countdown clock on the screen to the event; a funny touch, although it didn’t add much. In the meantime, the show sped through the long-gestating Jesse/Tulip/Carlos backstory, set the characters of Donnie and his wife on a bit of a surprising path, and spun its wheels with Cassidy and the sheriff, still looking for Arseface.
Finally, though, about halfway through the episode, Jesse delivered on his promise. God came to Annville, Texas... and he looked kind of crappy. Like the most obvious, horrible visual effect God you can imagine. Which, of course, was the point — because the people of the town believed in this vision. He answered questions, laughed along with them, and eventually when Jesse realised this wasn’t God at all, but an impostor. And with the power of Genesis, he got the fake to admit that God is missing.
Finally! We’ve reached the crux of the Preacher comics! God is missing!
The episode and season then ended with Annville, and all the characters we’ve spent this season with, being blown to smithereens (anyone suggesting they may still be alive were rebuked on Talking Preacher: “They’re all dead,” said producer Evan Goldberg). Jesse, Cassidy, and Tulip finally hit the road to search for God, and the Saint of Killers returned from Hell.
That’s more or less where the original comic begins, which is great. But you have to think, if you’ve been watching Preacher without a knowledge of the comics, this was probably an underwhelming finale. Sure, we got to see “God” but almost none of the town’s issues were resolved. In fact, they were quite literally blown over. Anyone hoping for a super satisfying ending with any of the supporting human characters is likely left scratching their heads. It was a very abrupt ending to a methodically paced episode, we well as season.
On the other hand, seeing God, and simply wiping out a town we’ve spent 10 episodes with is exactly the kind of wacky, I-can’t-believe-they-just-did-that attitude that made Preacher such a cult classic on the page. And the ending of the season certain set the tone for that moving ahead.
All that said, looking back at the whole the first season of Preacher as a whole, you have to think it was a success. Sure, it stumbled along the way and took its time telling the story, but ultimately there was enough amazing craziness that I can’t wait to see them get to the events of the comics, and I’m confident non-comic fans will be equally excited to see where the trio is heading.
While it may have seemed meandering at times, this prequel season did achieve something important: it gave the audience more context for the characters. Moving ahead, we’re going to care that much more about Jesse, Cassidy, Tulip, Arseface and others because of it, and it’s going to pay off for the rest of the series.
Preacher returns for season two in 2017.