For All Its Faults, 'Preacher' Mostly Sticks the Landing in Its Series Finale
Over the summer, Seth Rogen showed up at Comic-Con to promote the final season of Preacher and ribbed the Game of Thrones showrunners for being too cowardly to come out and defend their ending. Asked if Preacher would fare better with its conclusion, Rogen responded, “I’m here, at least, so I think that’s a good sign. I’m willing to show my face.”
Rogen has every reason to be proud of his finale. Granted, it’s been a messy final season of Preacher, which has often felt more like a chore than anything else. The final season has mostly spun its wheels for the last nine episodes, but I’ll give it this much: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Sam Catlin delivered a solid emotional conclusion to the series. It was a little clumsy, it didn’t always make sense, and fight sequences were too often used as crutches, but it was a sweet and fitting end that captured the spirit of the finale in Garth Ennis’ source material. I don’t think Rogen and Goldberg did the comic-series justice, but they at least left on a high note.
Briefly, here’s what happened: The Angel and Demon who gave birth to Genesis arrive just in time to save Jesse from a Saint of Killers’ bullet to the head. The Saint, nevertheless, kills the angel and demon in one of the episode’s many protracted fight sequences. Jesse, however, convinces the Saint of Killers not to kill him by assuring the Saint that there was more to live for than one final kill. Jesse is right, but more on that below.
Meanwhile, Featherstone springs Tulip free from her cell before confronting Herr Starr. Featherstone finally stands up to him, but before Featherstone can kill him, Starr pulls out his weapon and shoots her in the head. Herr Starr — as we see in the future when he feigns masturbating on a golf course to distract two cops before he kills them, too — is just one of those guys that always manages to survive. In the face of everything else, there is some perverse evil that always lingers. That’s Herr Starr.
After Tulip escapes, she tries to get through Cassidy so she can kill Humperdoo and put the kibosh on the apocalypse (God can end the world anytime he wants, but he wants humanity to kill themselves because he is apparently still a believer in free will, and the cue for humanity to end itself is Humperdoo dancing during the Live Televised Apocalypse Event, because Jesus is “all showbiz”). Cassidy — who has been emotionally wounded by Tulip too many times — refuses to hand over Humperdoo, and he and Tulip engage in another protracted fight sequence. Cassidy gets the better of Tulip, but he can’t bring himself to kill her. He loves her too much, so he turns and reluctantly shoots Humperdoo in the head, killing “the best guy I ever knew.” Poor Humperdoo. He was too good for this world.
Without Humperdoo to cue the apocalypse, God turns to Jesus to do his breakdance routine, but after another (protracted) fight sequence in which Jesus defeats Hitler, Jesus basically tells God to shove it. “I used to [want to be the Messiah],” he tells God. “But I’m just a person. No better or worse than anyone.” Jesus just wants to be a regular guy who practices patience, love, and tolerance, and in the future, we see him doing just that as a customer service representative for a Home Depot type store.
We also get one last visit with Arseface, who somehow manages to survive being run over by a taxi cab. In the hospital, a doctor offers him the ability to kill himself. Arseface rejects the doctor. “I’ve been teased, laughed at and puked on,” Arseface tells the doctor. “But the worst part is assholes like you feeling sorry for me. Cause I’m fine. I’m better than fine. I’m Eugene Edward Root,” he says, before leaving and taking up the guitar again on the streets of Melbourne, and this time, he plays some metal music (a nod to his rock-star career in the comics).
Meanwhile, God takes off and goes on the run again. Jesse uses Genesis to command everyone in the studio audience to find God. Two years later, after Cassidy has gone his separate way, and Jesse and Tulip are living their happily ever after with a baby of their own, God is finally tracked down at the Alamo. Jesse confronts him one last time. Jesse uses Genesis to prove that he can control God, and then Jesse asks God a few questions. Is there alien life? (No.) Kids with cancer? (“Suffering teaches great strength.”) Is Jesse’s father in hell? (No.)
Then God tells Jesse that he’s ready to reclaim his throne in Heaven, if Jesse will only tell God that he loves him. “I will go back to Heaven, and all you need to do is [tell me you love me].”
“I get it. I get it,” Jesse says. “I understand.”
“Good,” God says.
“I understand,” Jesse continues, “that we’d all be better off without a needy little bitch like you around … I’m warning you. Stay out of heaven.” God tells Jesse that the only reason he doesn’t kill him is because of the power of Genesis, so Jesse releases Genesis. “I don’t f*king need it,” he says. God threatens to kill Jesse again, and Jesse says, “I still won’t love you,” and it becomes clear that all God is is a raging narcissist. The only thing he craves is the unconditional love of other people, and he’s finally defeated by Jesse’s refusal to give it.
Of course, God still returns to Heaven with the intent to reclaim the throne, but he finds that the Saint of Killers is awaiting him there. In a duel, the Saint shoots God down and takes the throne for himself. The Saint would rather “hate” God in this moment than be granted an “eternity of love.”
Cut to 40 years later, and Tulip and Jesse’s daughter is visiting her parents’ graves (they die in 2065), when she encounters Cassidy, of whom she has heard so many stories from her parents. “She loved you. Very much,” Tulip’s daughter tells Cassidy about her mother, who Cassidy never saw again after the events that led to Humperdoo’s death. Cassidy tells her that, of all the pain he has suffered in his hundreds of years of life, nothing matched Tulip’s rejection of him.
Tulip and Jesse’s daughter asks Cassidy where he’s going for his next adventures. “I always did love hearing about your adventures,” she says.
“I think I’ll try someplace new this time,” Cassidy says, and he walks out into the direct sunlight and joins Tulip and Cassidy in the afterlife as Van Morrison plays over the end credits.
Header Image Source: AMC