[rating=7.00] “Finish the Song”
If there’s one problem with this first season of Preacher it’s that of a lack of real progress. Being stuck in this one small town hasn’t done much for them by way of plot progression no matter how interesting things get in Annville. Perhaps that’s not fair of me—it’s been clear from the get go that this wasn’t going to be the Preacher I know and love and have read countless times; and while that’s all well and good, and while I overall appreciate the direction they’re going in, it’s hard watching wheels spin in Annville when there’s just so much more that I know they’re trying to get to.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. What I know or suspect about the direction of the series is irrelevant in the fact of what we’re given, which is, slow moving or no, a solid and enjoyable show that teeters the border of truly awesome. While it hasn’t quite taken the dive into the waters of amazing—not since the pilot, anyways—it has stuck its toe into it, sometimes venturing far enough out to wade. It’s your typical first season fare, sure, but they need to get on with it.
Last night’s episode represented the best and worst qualities Preacher has offered so far, all packaged in an enjoyable façade that wasn’t difficult to watch, in and of itself. As a penultimate episode, however, it was somewhat lacking. In terms of the main story, at least.
The best parts of “Finish the Song” were the bookends of The Cowboy, which finally gave us some connection between him and the present day. It opened with him coming back to Ratwater and laying waste to all its denizens in revenge for the delay that led to the death of his wife and child, becoming the most violent and gratuitous opening of the series so far. One by one, The Cowboy shot down all the men, women, and children in the town, grabbing himself a drink as a storm moves in. But more on this later.
Back in the present, Jesse is on the run after escaping from the back of Sheriff Root’s squad car. It’s clear from their conversation that Jesse is now a suspect in the murder of Eugene, perhaps a not inaccurate assessment of the situation. It didn’t help that Jesse told the sheriff he sent his son to Hell. Again with the word choices, Jesse. Jesus.
But Jesse has a promise to live up to; he told the town he’d be calling God himself down to answer for his sins come next Sunday, and now he’s got to follow through. That, of course, will depend on whether or not he can make it through the week without getting arrested. To do that, he’ll need friends. And friends isn’t a commodity Jesse has in abundance right now.
Tulip is still pissed about Jesse’s insistence on living his new life; Emily doesn’t appreciate Jesse betting the church; Cassidy is, well, still largely burnt to a crisp; and Fiore and DeBlanc have bigger concerns right now. Tulip, Emily, and Cassidy all tie together; the angels are a different story all together.
Tulip has had it with waiting on Jesse, and she’s going to go get revenge on Carlos herself. The only problem with that is she’s been taking care of Cassidy, who’s reverted back to a more primal, animalistic state now that he’s hidden in Tulip’s uncle’s house. Tulip asks Emily to come lend her a hand, which Emily does.
The scene itself was a bit rough; the matter-of-fact deliver of “he’s a vampire” and Emily’s subsequent no-questions acceptance of that as God’s truth feels a bit weak, especially given the overall widespread acknowledgement of the supernatural in this world. But she seems perfectly okay, if not somewhat uncomfortable, feeding small animals to the injured vampire, that is until he screams for more.
Emily then proves she’s not as goody goody as it seems when she calls the mayor over for “help”. The mayor, thinking she’s finally coming around to his advances, quickly leaves a makeshift fight club held by Quincannon to come to her rescue. Once at Uncle Willie’s he’s lured into the room Cassidy is locked in to be attacked and killed by the vampire, who’s slowly regaining his strength.
Meanwhile, the angels are concerned with what they’re going to do. Their choices are return to Heaven or go to Hell. After a few coin tosses, they decide to return to Heaven to face their consequences and seek help with Genesis. It’s then they realize that their phone to Heaven is missing, which cuts their options in half. Hell it is.
Apparently, you can just book some travel into damnation, which is good to know for my future vacation plans. After securing passage, Fiore and DeBlanc wait for their transport, which allows the show to shoot a fantastic homage to AMC’s breakout show, Breaking Bad. It was almost shot for shot a redux of Walter White’s wait for the fixer, right down to the stray dog running across the street as they drove away.
Meanwhile, Jesse goes to Tulip’s house to make amends, only she’s busy in Albuquerque torturing Carlos. He does find Cassidy, however, and the two have a beautiful if somewhat silly heart to heart about the nature of their friendship and let bygones be bygones. Jesse agrees to help dispose of the mayor’s body while also showing that he stole the angel’s phone so that he can call God and make him come provide his flock some answers. The only problem is, the phone works only when touched by angel hands. To that end, Cassidy can help.
The two bury the mayor and the bodies of all the dead animals in the spot where Cassidy buried the bodies of the Fiore and DeBlanc back at their first confrontation. The shot of them burying the body reveals a tree that looks remarkably like the tree where the town of Ratwater hung dead Indians as a warning, which brings us back to the Cowboy.
We’re given a truncated loop of the entirety of the Cowboy’s story so far; again and again we watch his journey repeat, from the beginning with his wife and kids, to the Cowboy drinking while the storm rolls in. Over and over, until it stops. A door opens. Fiore and DeBlanc walk in. The Cowboy is in Hell, and his Hell is to relive his final days, and the death of his wife and daughter, over and over again. The angels offer an out—kill a preacher, and he’ll be free of Hell.
It was a lot to happen in a single episode, but there’s a lot to wrap up as we move into the finale. As a penultimate episode, it does serve to whet the appetite for what to come, promising big things (like an appearance from God himself) without trying to overshadow whatever big things they’ve got planned as they close out their first year. Hopefully, things move a bit quicker next season and we get right to the nitty gritty of what this story has to offer. For now, it was a perfectly fine, if somewhat uninteresting, episode that is little more than a stage setter. Well, the stage is now set, and hopefully that means big things for next week and Preacher’s future.