PREACHER: CALL AND RESPONSE
Developed by: Seth Rogan, Sam Catlin, Evan Goldberg
Starring: Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, Joe Gilgun
Air Date: 1st August
“It’s like Lady and the Tramp but with our butts!”
In an episode of lines like this, one might not believe that “Call and Response” was an episode of big questions and powerful moments, but therein is the beauty that Preacher has missed for a while now. While there are some hilarious lines delivered by almost everyone (but of course, perfected by the brilliant Joe Gilgun), this episode looked deep into the Monster Swamp of Jesse’s world, filled with the sinners that Cassidy condemns as “plonkers and gobshites as far as the eye can see”.
Last week, Jesse promised us that we would meet God. A tall order, angel phone or not, and a request that, as it turns out, is too difficult for even the angels themselves. The first ten minutes quickly cleans up the mess from last episode, establishing a gripping countdown clock to Jesse’s big day. The tensest moment of this countdown happens between Cassidy and Sheriff Root in a one-on-one stand-off that could have been taken from the most involving of thrillers. Cassidy can be a riot, and this episode does as much to prove this, but one must not forget the danger behind his skinny jeans and Irish lilt. The darkness to Cassidy lingers with him in the jail cell as he taunts the Sheriff, reflected back at him as he drives Root closer and closer to the edge. It’s not the first time that Cass has been at the mercy of someone else and has resulted in him lashing out, but the tight setting and cinematography went a long way to securing a tensely ticking time bomb.
The relentless march towards Sunday is slowed however as we also go back in time, to witness the event that created Tulip’s obsession with Carlos, and solidified her devotion to Jesse. The reveal of Tulip’s deep-seated pain and fury isn’t the most shocking news (there wasn’t that many explanations as to why Tulip has spent this season so completely obsessed with these two men), but it contributes to explaining exactly why she’s been so avidly persistent. The flashback is a fun little detail, side-tracking us just long enough to build up the suspense for what we’ve all been waiting for.
Which, of course, is meeting the Big Man himself. If one is completely honest, there is no telling what Preacher’s audiences were expecting at this point. Once Jesse dialled the angel phone, the show was catapulted into unseen territory, as much for the viewer as for the baffled congregation. But whatever they expected, Preacher delivered on it with its own madcap flavour. The Godly Q&A ran like a Monty Python sketch, as if the Book of Revelation was being enacted by a local improv group with no script. It’s a moment of genius and the more shocking Revelation (see what I did there?) at the end of the scene rocks the show to its very foundations, setting up an entirely new storyline for season 2. It’s a smart move; finally taking Preacher on the road and giving it the kind of focus and movement it needs to survive. While the announcement of season 2 had previously filled me with unease, the prospect of seeing these characters hit the road on a bloody, God-hunt across country makes me as eager as Cassidy to get stuck into next season.
The final moments of the show brought us back to the tone of the pilot and it even referenced the first episode in a funny news clip regarding a certain someone’s ashes. It gives us hope that this was the plan all along, that Preacher really did have a sense of where it was headed, and that the bizarre yet thoughtful tone was destined to return to us. In a montage of Annville’s crazy reaction to the news of God’s disappearance, we once again are shaken by the absurd, freakish violence and humour that capitalised the finest episodes of the show, while also whispering artfully in our ears: Who are we without faith? While it’s God that is missing, the people of Annville have lost hope, lost morality and, in a final sweep, lost their lives. The climax of the finale is a discussion of pessimism (in fact, Quincannon’s worship of a Meat God references the most basic of nihilistic philosophy, the notion of humanity as a sentient meat in contrast to a divinely created being of moral value). The contrast of thought provoking religious questions and zany, uncanny violence and comedy is where Preacher is at its very best and it’s so good to see the show return to this in its finale, while also setting up a number of storylines to keep us hungry for more next season. There are a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of characters left at a loose end (Carlos, The Cowboy and Fiore being only a few), which will hopefully be seen once more next time.
Preacher ends on a high-note, with a culmination of excellent performances, music (notably the inclusion of Johnny Cash’s cover of “Personal Jesus” and “Go Down Gamblin‘” by Blood, Sweat & Tears), editing and story. It provided us with the kind that faith that the show will only continue to improve next season. With a murderous road trip, a hellish villain and some equally hellish heroes on the cards, Preacher Season 2 is going to be one to watch out for.
I give “Call and Response” 4 blood-filled paper cones