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PREACHER Review: “Call and Response” Brings New Beginnings

Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of Preacher! Proceed with caution. For reals, if you haven’t yet watched “Call and Response,” we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Then let’s go.

We’ve come to it at last–the tenth and final episode of Preacher‘s first season. And I’m happy to say that Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Sam Catlin’s adaptation of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s acclaimed DC/Vertigo comic sticks the landing. One could argue that’s not as hard a feat to pull off with just half the amount of episodes given to most every other show based on a funnybook (that doesn’t air on Netflix). But Preacher is such a unique beast, its style and subject matter so different from most everything on TV these days, that there have been at least as many opportunities for missteps as one finds in a series twice as long.

“Call and Response” goes a long way towards answering most of the questions raised this season. Most of the important ones anyway, as well as a lot of unfinished business. Yeah, I’m as disappointed as anyone that we weren’t treated to a showdown between Jesse and Graham McTavish’s Saint of Killers, especially when last week’s episode implied it was coming sooner rather than later. But I’d rather wait until season 2 for that no doubt gore-soaked spectacle than drag Tulip and Jesse’s issues out any further. Here, we learn what most of us have long suspected–that Ms. O’Hare didn’t want Jesse to kill Carlos so much as prove to her that he was willing to kill him. “That’s the most beautiful thing anyone’s ever done for me,” she tells him.

Of course there’s still room for debate as to whether or not Jesse was bluffing. But do two people in a relationship ever really know each other? And isn’t that part of what keeps them together? We definitely now know what tore them apart. Since we’re finally treated to an extended flashback sequence in which we see she suffered a miscarriage when Carlos left them to take the fall for their robbery.

Cassidy, meanwhile, spends a long day in prison being “interrogated” by Sheriff Root, who we discover really does want his son Eugene back more than anything. Though I’m still slightly puzzled as to why Root lets Cass go when he got him to admit Jesse was responsible, and it’s clear that he has even more information. Hey, what’s a few more rounds between friends?

As for the climax that we and all of Annville had all been waiting for, the promised appearance of God in Jesse’s church… I knew as soon as Tulip’s “white guy” appeared that something was amiss. (Well, that coupled with the fact that the angels had already told Jesse God had abandoned them after Genesis was born.) It’s no less amusing, however, to see the false deity avoid questions ranging from Eugene’s fate to “What did you do to the dinosaurs?” before being dragged off his throne by a couple of heavenly bureaucrats. Prompting the congregation to destroy Jesse’s church, the town’s mascots (both the racist and non-racist ones) to hang themselves, Mrs. Loach to smother her comatose daughter Tracy (while her son takes a selfie), and Annville’s children to murder their pedophile bus driver. Shortly before the negligent operator at QM&P’s “methane electro reactor” allows his ball-gagged mistress to destroy the town.

It’s comedy of the blackest sort. And it all serves as mere preamble to the point at which the Preacher comic book begins–with Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy in a diner (hey, the woman’s gotta have her french fries), and embarking on their long-promised road trip to find God; and either help him or kick his ass.

It’s largely futile to say what could be improved in the show’s second season, since the format will most likely change radically. Yet whether or not its structure falls more closely in line with that of the comic, I’m all in favor of the Preacher the show maintaining the tone it’s so steadily developed over these ten episodes. Its comedy is broader than that of the book, with a lot more quirk, a lot less ugliness, and far more jokes per installment. But it suits this version of Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy–as well as Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, and Joe Gilgun’s performances–to a tee. My fingers are crossed that as Preacher loses its small-town setting, its humor still works in the larger world it’s poised to explore.

W. Earl Brown as Hugo Root - Preacher _ Season 1, Episode 9 - Photo Credit: Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Preaching to the Choir

— If Annville’s been obliterated, are we to believe that Emily and Root are gone for good? Root I can live without, but the thought of losing Lucy Griffiths’ wide-eyed hilarity is a little too much to bear.

— “Uh oh. Manila folder type.”

— After watching the extended flashback, I’d say Jesse’s hair has definitely improved over time. (Mullets just don’t work after 1987.) But is it wrong to admit I find Tulip’s old ‘do a little more flattering?

Gorillas in the Mist… Now who says Donnie’s not a intellectual?

— “Miles isn’t coming.” “He doesn’t want to meet God?” “He’s meeting him somewhere else.”

— “Cruise’s final flight. Ashes shot into space.” Godspeed, Tom. May Xenu embrace you in his loving arms.

— “Can I get my dick back on?”

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).

Images: AMC

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