Preacher – Season 1 Episode 9
“Finish the Song”
As Preacher builds towards the climax of its first season, Quincannon bides his time whilst Jesse Custer escapes the law to attempt what could be his final gamble. After distancing himself from his closest friends (even if they are crazy and/or a vampire) Custer looks to rebuild bridges. Reflecting on their failure last week, the angels debate more powerful options for removing Genesis from Custer. Tulip and Emily make some questionable ethical decisions, allowing Cassidy to continue to heal after an episode’s absence, and thanks to an abbreviated make-up session, the vampire is reunited with his com-padre, Custer. The flashback sequences are eventually laid out chronologically, allowing us to see the full (?) picture and are tied in to current events in a surprising and satisfying way, rewarding viewers for their patience.
DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef) and Fiore (Tom Brooke) have had an interesting journey. They began as menacingly silent agents early in the season, showing up in various locations around the globe to pick through the carnage wherever Genesis had been detonating unsuspecting ministers. When they first came after Custer they brought some serious equipment – most notably a chainsaw – with which to separate the preacher from his newfound power. It was around this time that we began to see their softer, odder side as custodian of Genesis. The coffee can, the intermittent squabbling, the fear of the phone line to ‘upstairs’ – all added depth to the characters, and made them more sympathetic in our eyes. Despite the fact that they were residents of heaven, we could relate; they were just two guys trying to get the job done, with as little fuss as possible.
Unable to retrieve Genesis through what they would consider conventional methods, DeBlanc and Fiore are faced with a choice: return to Heaven, and face the boss’ wrath or travel to Hell to seek a different help in another form. Again, despite the specifics of the situation being incredibly outlandish, the rock-and-a-hard-place decision is relatable and hilarious in equal measure, as the pair flips a coin to determine their fate. Fiore’s child-like moment of delight amongst the difficult decision-making is wonderful. The blood-stained walls of the motel room are another nice touch, subtle reminders of the manic fight between multiple copies of DeBlanc, Fiore and the Seraphim.
In order to get to Hell, the angels visit a noir-ishly rain-soaked and neon-lit travel agency that specialises in the supernatural, like something out of Beetlejuice. The mundane and the ridiculous are perfectly blended as the agent asks for suitable fake occupations (they’re going to ask if you’re going to Hell). DeBlanc plumps for “serial killer”. “Architect”, replies Fiore. Later on, keep an eye out for Fiore endearingly lamenting that he won’t be able to take his comics collection to Hell. These are great examples of the welcome spotlight the characters are given this episode; they’re very well-written, with plenty of neat touches, and have continued to develop throughout the season.
Fans of the more horrific aspects of the show will be pleased by this weeks’ offerings. Tulip’s affront to dog lovers has escalated into sacrificing beloved pets of all shapes and sizes to the recuperating Cassidy. The scale of her enterprise is reflected in her admission to Emily that “Pet Express are on to me”. Tulip continues to show flashes of badassery and devil-may-care attitude, but it feels that she’s sometimes given short shrift; earlier in the season she was a bit single minded and one-dimensional, and now that she’s fleshed out it would be nice to see a bit more of her each week.
Not to be outdone by Tulip, Emily makes a shocking decision, and a bold character turn when she uses Cassidy’s bloodlust (she found out he’s a vampire) to rid herself of Miles Person’s deadweight, luring Annville’s mayor to his doom. It would have been nice to have seen glimpses of Emily’s impulsive nature in earlier episodes, hinting that she may one day do something drastic, but we’ll have to accept that her motives were based on the build-up of pressure caused by her mundane small-town life (why should anyone be immune to Annville’s crazy influence, after all?).
Sheriff Hugo Root (W. Earl Brown) encounters another of this episode’s really arresting images when he stumbles upon the dismembered Seraphim in DeBlanc and Fiore’s motel bathroom. We never actually saw how the Custer and the angels finally subdued her after the inventive fight sequence a few episodes ago, but here we have to deal with the gory aftermath. Even the knowledge that she’s an immortal supernatural being doesn’t diminish the shock value of seeing her in that state, and W. Earl Brown’s Root bears the full brunt of the emotional discovery. It’s well played by Brown; so far Root has mainly oscillated between abusive father and minor antagonist, but here (and in his reaction to Eugene’s disappearance) he’s afforded some humanity.
It could be argued that Custer takes a back seat in his own show this week, even though his reunification with Cassidy is the plot point we’re driving at, just in time for the finale. The two leads share a bromantic make-up scene that is acknowledged as such when Cassidy asks afterwards “do you fancy a shag?” After that it’s back to business and banter as usual (although Cassidy does spare himself a brief moment for a genuine smile at having buried the hatchet with his best friend). Together again, they head off in search of angel hands (which both treat as perfectly normal), with which to operate the stolen Heaven Phone. They’d only been separated for an episode, but seeing them working together again is a reminder of the importance of this central relationship to the success of the show.
Until now, the western-themed flashbacks that have been peppered throughout Preacher were difficult to decipher and could only be related to events in present-day Annville through broad themes and supposition. Here, we finally see the full picture in chronological order and learn how The Cowboy’s actions in the town of Ratwater will link to the main narrative. It’s a twist of sorts, although it’s difficult to explain without spoiling. The Cowboy has appeared an intriguing and haunted spectre every time we’ve checked in with him, and now we can look forward to the part he’ll play n the show’s finale.
An episode that is as fun as it is dark – DeBlanc and Fiore play a starring role and enjoy plenty of great scenes. They’ve quickly become one of the standout components of the show and have provided much of the comedy during Cassidy’s convalescence. Speaking of which, Cassidy’s back! He and Custer reunite, just in time for the big finale. The pieces of the Ratwater puzzle finally come together in a way that rewards viewers for sticking with the show. Comedy, horror, drama – Preacher has done it all this season, often in fresh and inventive ways. Will Jesse Custer live up to this promise and deliver the goods in next week’s final episode?
- DeBlanc and Fiore fully embracing their time to shine
- flashbacks putting the puzzle together
- Custer and Cassidy reteaming (has it really only been one episode?)
- more preamble to Emily’s decision
- not enough Tulip