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What Does Arseface Have In Common With Captain America, And Other Lessons From The Season Finale Of 'Preacher'

By Tori Preston | TV | August 27, 2018 |

By Tori Preston | TV | August 27, 2018 |

preacher finale (1).png

Last night AMC’s Preacher wrapped up its third season with a bloody, raucous finale that capped off a consistently fun season (seriously, what’s with cable shows hitting their stride in the third season? Not that I’m complaining…). And though there’s no official word yet on whether the adventures of Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy will continue into a fourth season, the show has plenty of plot left on the table if AMC picks it up. In fact, I’d say the finale moved a lot of key chess pieces checkers into position, poising the series to head into its endgame.

But what would that endgame look like? The comics provide a lot of clues — though if the previous three seasons are any indication, we should only expect to see general broad strokes from the source material on screen. Still, that’s enough to speculate!

Spoilers ahead!

Here’s where things stand by the end of the episode:

- The Angelville storyline wrapped up in a weirdly heart-wrenching fashion. One of the things I think the show has improved upon over the comics is the character depictions (and corrected its own assassination of the Jesse/Tulip relationship) — and that’s especially true of the side characters. Gran’ma was so much more hateful, and more pitiful, than I’d ever imagined, but it was the demise of Jody and TC that actually made me a little misty. Look, they were sadistic bastards, but there was some genuine emotion underneath all the violence and animal-fucking. Jesse, fully powered up with Genesis once more, chose not to use his voice in his final brutal showdown with the man who killed his father — and Jody refused to die before saying he was proud of Jesse. Then TC chose to stay behind and burn rather than escape, because no matter how wicked it was, Angelville was the place he belonged. In the end, Jesse left his ancestral home in flames — which is one way to get closure, I suppose!

- Tulip escaped Hell’s clutches thanks to the timely arrival of some Nazis (in a truly outstanding bus-fight sequence) — and the intervention of God, who saves Tulip from a tank mortar and gives her information about Cassidy. All he wants in return is for Tulip to convince Jesse to stop looking for him. Tulip naturally refuses, because she’s fine on her own and also FREE WILL. In a show that’s so concerned with literal Heaven and Hell, there’s something refreshing about God trying to cut a deal with a woman he acknowledges has killed people horribly in the past — and Tulip, knowing damnation is a real thing, is still unimpressed by God’s mercy. It’s not about right or wrong — it’s about living life the best way you can in the moment. She has no regrets. Though she does have a few concerns about Cassidy’s wellbeing…

- Arseface punched Hitler in the face (just like Cap!) while the Saint of Killers destroyed the Nazis. Then they return to Hell without Tulip… where the Saint of Killers KILLS SATAN IN THE FACE. He sets off back to Earth with Eugene, whom he decides truly doesn’t belong in Hell. And Hitler is left behind in Satan’s office, settling into his now-vacant desk chair…


- Cassidy saved himself from crucifixion and got revenge on Eccarius by convincing the Les Enfants Du Sang posers that their compatriots weren’t sent away as missionaries but killed. So they all become vamps — and Cassidy watches while they turn on their former master. But by the time Tulip comes to get him, she finds a hole in the ground where the building had been. The Grail, led by new-vamp Hoover, has finally succeeded in capturing Cassidy as bait to lure Jesse. And when they get him to the stronghold at Masada, Herr Starr kills Hoover because… I’m going with hat-jealousy?

- Oh, and in the Grail dungeon with Cassidy is what appears to be an angel…

Because the show has liberally remixed key story arcs from throughout the comics, it’s a little hard to pinpoint precisely where we are in the source material. Nothing goes down exactly the way it did in the comics, but after three seasons, process of elimination can come in handy. And more than that, we’re seeing the motivations of characters begin to line up in very precise ways. The Saint of Killers, for example, finally has a reason to hunt down God in addition to Jesse Custer, which is essential to the conclusion of the comics. Similarly, Herr Starr is now in control of The Grail and holed up at Masada with Cassidy, with a (dickless?) torturer named Frankie on the way. This actually happens a bit earlier in the comics (Cassidy is captured by mistake, because Starr thinks he IS Jesse), so it isn’t necessarily the stage for the final showdown. However, Herr Starr isn’t looking for a replacement Messiah anymore. He wants revenge against Jesse for all of the humiliations he’s suffered, which does line up with Starr’s final motivations in the comics (minus that whole bit where he ends up having his leg eaten by cannibals).

And that angel in the dungeon? In the comics, it’s revealed to be the father of Genesis, which makes me think we might finally be returning to a focus on the nature and history of Jesse’s powerful passenger.

But there’s a lot of other stuff from the comics that I suspect the show will sidestep entirely. The Jesse-Tulip-Cassidy love triangle has already been tackled, and Jesse is aware of Cassidy’s feelings. I would be surprised if the show revives it to go the route the source material did, where Cassidy takes advantage of Tulip’s depression and substance abuse to manipulate her into a relationship after she thinks Jesse has died. Though maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part. I like the show’s version of Cassidy, and I don’t want him to turn into his comic counterpart. But if Jesse and Cassidy never have that massive falling out, then the conclusion from the comics fundamentally can’t happen either.

And for that matter, I’d be surprised if the scene of Jesse’s apparent demise — the Monument Valley showdown — takes place at all. Jesse loses his eye, threatens God, and winds up the sheriff of a tiny town where his (surprise not dead!) mother has been hiding out. It also happens to be the town where the depraved Odin Quincannon was running his creepy meat plant. Since the series has already dispensed with Quincannon back in Annville, and since we’ve witnessed Gran’ma killing Jesse’s mom in that flashback, I think a lot of these events have been circumvented already.

So look, Jesse and Tulip have to rescue Cassidy from Masada. The Saint and Eugene are on their tail. The Grail is ready and waiting — and God is worried enough to keep butting in. That could be the set up for a final showdown, except for one thing: in the comics, the big conclusion takes place at the Alamo. Which is obviously pretty appropriate, symbolically, but I don’t see how it could happen as things stand in the show. The showdown ends up being between Jesse and Cassidy, who had betrayed his friend with Tulip. And Jesse had struck a deal with the Saint of Killers to go after God, while Herr Starr kills Jesse and Tulip kills Starr and Cassidy kills himself, and…




Look, It’s all a fucking mess. If the show can clean all that up while keeping the characters as playful, complex and sympathetic as they have been this season, then I’m FINE with it.

Tori Preston is the managing editor of Pajiba. She tweets here. You can also listen to her weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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