Preacher‘s first season ends with a lot of activity, the start of the graphic novel series, and some questions. This review will also consider “Finish the Song.” The final two episodes really feel like a two-partner, even by the standards of a story-arc show.

It’s the end of the season. Expect unconcealed spoilers.

Title: Call and Response

Directed by Sam Catlin
Written by Sam Catlin
From the graphic novel series by Steve Dillon and Garth Ennis

Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer
Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy
Ruth Negga as Tulip O’Hare
W. Earl Brown as Hugo Root
Derek Wilson as Donnie Schenck
Jackie Earle Haley as Odin Quincannon
Jamie Anne Allman as Betsy Schenck
Lucy Griffiths as Emily
Desmin Borges as Carlos
Ptolemy Slocum as Linus
Bonita Friedericy as Terri Loach
Gianna LePera as Tracy Loach
Tom Brooke as Fiore
Biff Yeager as Pappy
Alex Knight as Clive
Keith Jardine as Vern
Catherine Haun as Ms. Oatlash
Luke Gallegos as Tommy Woodrow
Christopher W. Garcia as Jack Loach
Frances Lee McCain as Mosie
Joseph Gallegos as Elliot Woodrow
Madelyn Henderson as Alice Woodrow
Caroline Patz as Angie
Jodi Lynn Thomas as Pearl
Kristen Loree as Mrs. Root
Graham McTavish as The Cowboy
Mark Harelik as God

Premise

The Angels hire the Cowboy to take out Jesse, Tulip kidnaps Carlos, the Schencks assist our protagonists, Cassidy gets interrogated, Not-God goes to church, chaos spreads and most of the townspeople die.

High Point

“Finish the Song” features a disturbing but comprehensible vision of Hell; “Call and Response” gives us Hell on Earth, as Annville descends into dark and occasionally darkly funny chaos. Little girls seek revenge on the bus-driver/molester, Mrs. Loach loses hope, and that mysterious control room features a gag and an explosive finale.

Low Point

This episode, and the season it completed, feels a little like your self-proclaimed edgy acquaintance who goes out of his/her way to prove personal edginess. The violence, general weirdness, and dark humour often feel forced, rather than integral to the episodes, or in service of any particular plot or character point. A show with Preacher‘s premise is going to be weird, dark, and violent. It doesn’t need to be forced.

The Scores

Originality: 2/6 The last couple of episodes led us towards the encounter with God, which serves as a metaphor for the modern condition, life without God or the certainty of God. That encounter feels like a cross between Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and a Monty Python sketch. Both execution and meaning are predictable, though they set up the second season nicely.

Effects: 6/6 The last two episodes feature perhaps more visual effects than the previous eight, and they are convincing.

Story: 6/6 These episodes explain nearly everything, bringing multiple plot strands together. I’ll give them the mascot costume as a lingering mystery, likely never to be explained.

Acting: 5/6 The show features a strong cast. Joseph Gilgun is excellent. They’ve assembled his character from clichés, yet he feels alive. Lucy Griffiths’ final (?) appearance as Emily gave her a lot of subtle things to do in a limited time, and she made them memorable.

Emotional Response: 4/6 The violence is leaving me numb, and the show never really found the right balance of tones in the first season.

Production: 6/6

Overall: 4/6 The show is well-produced. I do wonder about the decision to show a prequel season, instead of starting with the quest for God and flashing back to relevant past stories, as the graphic novel series apparently does. A lot of this season felt like wheel-spinning, prior to the last two episodes.

In total, “Call and Response” receives 33/42