‘Preacher’ Season 2 Episodes 12-13: Right Back Where He Started

Well, that happened.

On the season finale of “Preacher,” things came to a surprising end, as Jesse reunited all too late with his friends and we got a little more of his back-story, in the aptly-titled “The End of the Road.” Before that went down, however, there was still the Saint of Killers to deal with in the prior episode, “On Your Knees.”

In that episode, we discovered that The Grail had arranged for the Saint to be dredged up from the swamp for one sole purpose- to drive a wedge between Jesse and his friends. And if he managed to take some of them out, all the better. That would have been one less thing standing in the way between Jesse taking Herr Starr up on his offer to become the “new” Messiah, taking the place of the decidedly less desirable Humperdoo.

Of course, this has been brewing for some time, and as in real life, these things tend to happen when you least expect them. While Tulip was still struggling with her PTSD to some degree, certainly, just as she was starting to come back to some semblance of herself- as were the gang in general- the Saint was unleashed, after himself coming to terms with the “rules” of his proper release, as per the demands of The Grail, via the ever-patient Hoover.

The battle turned out to be well-worth it, not in the least because Tulip finally got a second chance to stand up to her biggest foe. Sure, Tulip ended up getting smacked around a good bit for her troubles, but she certainly stood her ground and stood up for herself as much as could be expected, and we finally saw some of that grit and verve we haven’t seen much of this season from her.

Even better, we got to see a full-on smackdown between the Saint and Jesse, whose powers somehow failed him this time around, very nearly resulting in his untimely demise. Of course, those paying attention probably noticed that his powers have seemingly been on the fritz for a little while already, something that is not resolved by the end of the season, so we’ll have to wait and see what that’s all about.

Lucky for Preacher that Hell intervened, in the presence of Ms. Mannering, who snatched SOK away from Jesse, just as he was looking to scalp the preacher alive. Telling him that if he didn’t come with her, she’d send either his wife or his daughter down to Hell in his place, SOK begrudgingly went, but he promised Jesse his day would come, eventually.

Speaking of Hell, we also saw Eugene confront his worst fears in The Hole, where he finally stood up to Tracy and even his father, played by a returning W. Earl Brown, himself in Eugene’s typical “Arseface” make-up, to disturbing effect. It was a great scene, which, in a weird way, made all this Hell business worthwhile, though the scenes have had their moments. It also showed there was a point to all of this, as Eugene at long last stood up for himself and was justly rewarded for it.

While the resolution of the SOK plotline in particular was a bit too tidy for my tastes, I suppose it was inevitable, as the alternative would have obviously been to kill Jesse. But the more important thing was the fact that it resolved Tulip’s PTSD in earnest, as she can now rest easier with SOK firmly in Hell, where he belongs. At the same time, with a further glimpse into SOK’s past, one couldn’t help but feel a bit of sympathy for the old devil, in spite of all the nasty, horrific things he’s done over the years.

Meanwhile, I do think that, while the whole Eugene in Hell subplot was a bit too dragged out, in the end, it was worth it as well, for two major reasons: it completed Eugene’s ongoing journey to stand up for himself and be a better person, and it also resulted in Hitler ultimately being unleashed on the world again, which should be something to see in Season Three.

Finally, the gambit did essentially work for The Grail, or rather, Herr Starr, as it further drove a wedge between Jesse and his friends, who realized the extent of all that he’d been keeping from them, and were none too happy about it. Tulip, in particular, was stunned that Jesse was even entertaining the notion of becoming the “new” Messiah, to say nothing of the fact that he lied about SOK being in Hell in the first place.

In the season finale, things came to a head, with Tulip opting to leave town with Cassidy and his son, Denis, rather than stick around to hear about Jesse’s exploits in his new role at The Grail, which seemed more and more unavoidable. Note her glimpsing a news report on Jesse on TV when she went shopping at that convenience store, which all but set off her old ways, leading her to rob the clerk on duty there.

Meanwhile, Jesse begrudgingly settled into his new role, paying a visit to a local Catholic school, where he was ostensibly there to give a speech prepared for him by Starr, but got into a somewhat pre-arranged fight with a group of Armenians (!) instead. It did not go unnoticed by Starr that Jesse didn’t use his Genesis power, though he played it off well, but it’s obvious that his powers are indeed failing him for some reason. Maybe it has something to do with Starr now possessing the bit of Jesse’s soul that SOK once had.

Just as Jesse was scheduled to leave, a frantic Cassidy called him for help, thus screwing up Starr’s impending plans for the moment- though an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s show seems a bit of a low-rent place to start Jesse’s takeover of the “new” Messiah spot in earnest, so maybe Starr doesn’t know what he’s doing after all. (I did like the fun aside that Jesse was being bumped by Kylie Jenner, though. Seems about right in the time we live in.)

Ironically, it was his own team that caused the screw-up, as Agent Featherstone found herself between a rock and a hard place when Tulip came by to say goodbye, just as she and Cassidy were about to leave, and Tulip found out what she was really up to, living in the same building as Jesse and company. Would that she hadn’t, as the end result was her getting shot. Not that Tulip knew it was coming, mind you, but she should know you never bring a screwdriver to a gunfight.

In addition, Cassidy, after realizing all too late that turning Denis was a dreadful mistake, opted for the most horrific solution imaginable, by tossing his son outside into direct sunlight, where he was burned to death. Jeez. It would have been more humane to let him die in the first place, but lesson learned, I guess.

This was yet another spin on something that happened in the comics, but it was far more impactful here, as the vampire Cassidy flambéed was his own son, whereas in the comics it was a random vampire he met that got on his nerves. Speaking of the comics, nice nod to “Les Enfants De Sang” there, via the internet site Cassidy visited. Might that plotline be coming up in the next season as well? If so, that would be cool. If not, it was still a nifty Easter Egg for comic book readers.

Tulip being shot and potentially resurrected in Season 3 is also something that happened in the comics, though in a completely different way than it happens here. It would be impossible to get into it here without going into some detail, as the people who do it haven’t really been properly introduced on the show, but suffice it to say, it involves Jesse’s grandmother and the two thugs that are shown harassing him at the beginning of the episode, T.C. and Jody.

However, the means by which Tulip is seemingly going to be resurrected are completely new to the show. From what I can tell, the show is going to use Jesse’s arrival at his former, not-so-happy home to delve more into his past, which has already been glimpsed here and there on the show, notably in the scene in which a young Jesse is punished by being submerged in a coffin until he does as his grandmother asks. It will be interesting to see who the show casts as Jesse’s grandmother, as well as T.C. and Jody.

That’s basically it for the finale, but it was enough, really. Although it didn’t entirely seem like a finale until towards the end of the episode- actually, last week’s episode felt more like one than this one did, for the most part, what with the epic showdown between the gang and SOK- the show booted and rallied for a strong, unexpected finish. Who’d have thought Featherstone would be the one to bring down Tulip, and after she’d faced SOK in the prior episode, no less?

I imagine Starr isn’t going to be too happy about all of this, but with Jesse’s powers on the fritz anyway, it might be just as well that he’s taking a little time off for the time being. Besides, I’m excited at the prospect of the show’s version of the events from the comic, in regards to Jesse’s grandmother. Obviously, the show is going to do its own thing with the material, but I’m hoping at least some of the plotline emerges intact- just enough to keep comics fans guessing as to how they’re going to approach it.

All in all, this was a decent enough season. I’m not sure that expanding the season did “Preacher” any favors, and there were definitely some lags in the various storylines and certain aspects of the show were dragged out far too long. It was sad to see the gang at odds for most of the season, and even worse to see them off their game and depressed for the majority of the time, and the Eugene in Hell thing could have been resolved a little quicker, for instance.

But overall, the season had some great moments, notably the stuff with the Saint of Killers and Herr Starr and the Grail. All of that worked like gangbusters, leaving the villains to outshine our heroes more often than not. Kind of an odd gambit, to be sure, given that the show is called “Preacher,” after all, not “The Grail and SOK,” but sometimes our heroes are only as good as the villains they face, and at least these villains were formidable, and even better, in completely different ways.

While SOK was a more overt, psycho-killer villain type, The Grail were more insidious, worming their way into Jesse and his friends’ lives before they even knew it. Indeed, only Tulip realized to what extent they had by the end of the finale, and she ended up dead- for now, at least.

But what made SOK and Herr Starr great foes in particular was that we got these great flashbacks to their histories, shedding light on who they were and how they came to be the way they are now in a way that fleshed them out as characters, thus making them all the more formidable- and grounded in some semblance of reality, even by “Preacher” standards.

You might not have been able to relate to their stories, personally, per se, but you absolutely emerged with a better idea of who they were and why they were the way they were. Granted, you got some of that with the heroes as well, courtesy of Jesse’s flashbacks, Tulip’s past secret marriage coming back to haunt her and Cassidy’s burgeoning relationship with his son, but to me, none of those were as compelling, though Jesse’s has the potential to be once we get deeper into the specifics, certainly.

I also did enjoy seeing Eugene before he became “Arseface” and seeing what really went down with him and Tracy, and the resolution to all of that was satisfying, even if the overall Hell subplot was a bit of a dead end and sort of monotonous at times. Still, even there, we get one- ahem- hell of a pay-off, what with Hitler being let loose on the world again- in a hoodie, no less. (Loved that nod to “Midnight Cowboy” in the scene with him and Eugene on the bus back to civilization- too bad we won’t get to see the ensuing “buddy” flick that might have resulted in a Hitler/Eugene on-the-road movie!)

So, while the season was a bit overlong and hit-and-miss, it certainly had its moments, and some cool surprises, like the whole God-as-Dog thing, which was confirmed in the finale; and Fiore’s death-defying-until-it-wasn’t lounge act; and the nifty way Julie Ann Emery drifted in and out of different personas within the same character- she might just have been the season’s MVP. Got to be her or Pip Torrens, as Starr.

I certainly look forward to whatever Season 3 holds, and on the whole, I do think that the showrunners are doing a good job translating the comic’s oft-mental storyline into something feasible by cable TV standards, without completely betraying the source material. No easy feat, that. All they need to do now is to learn how to streamline the stories and character arcs at hand and they’ll be in business in earnest, and that’s completely doable.

What did you think of Season 2 of “Preacher”? Did you like it better than Season 1? If not, why not? Who were your favorite new characters? What do you hope to see in Season 3? Were you glad the show was renewed? Or were you disappointed by this season overall? Let me know what you thought down below, and hope to see you next season!