A TV series as defiantly weird as AMC’s Preacher couldn’t possibly last forever. For many reasons, the fact that it survived more than a single year is pretty amazing. Back this week for its fourth and officially final season, the show seems determined to go out with a bang.
Aside from periodic check-ins, I don’t often recap Preacher because the show’s plot is so crazy and all over the place. I’m not going to hit every detail of the two-episode season premiere, but we can go through the highlights.
Episode 4.01, ‘Masada’
The first part opens with a very amusing prologue in which God (Mark Harelik) surveys his creation as dinosaurs, depicted in wonderfully chintzy claymation, walk the Earth. He sees a T-Rex take a big dump, which is distasteful enough, but he gets really pissed when he witnesses another dino walk up and start eating the pile of shit. Revolted and enraged, God declares, “You were tested and you have failed!” and summons an asteroid to wipe out all life on the planet so he can start over again. As if it weren’t established previously, God is quick-tempered and kind of an asshole.
We then cut to the modern day. Without explanation, Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) and Tulip (Ruth Negga) are together as a couple again, and Cassidy has a blond dye job. Jesse (Dominic Cooper) is not with them, and they don’t seem to care. It’s suggested that they’ve had another falling out. We then see Jesse literally falling out of an airplane as he’s seemingly thrown to his death somewhere over the Australian Outback. That doesn’t look good.
To at least start to explain some of that, the episode flashes back two months. Jesse and Tulip are still together. They’ve somehow driven Tulip’s car all the way to the Middle East in search of Cassidy, who was captured by the paramilitary religious cult known as The Grail. Cassidy is being held prisoner, locked in a cell with an actual angel hanging from chains, inside the bowels of a mountain fortress called Masada, the central command center for the organization. Periodically, he’s dragged out to be used as a test subject for an instructor teaching a class on Advanced Torture to new recruits. Because Cassidy is an undead vampire, traditional methods of torture aren’t terribly effective on him, so the torturer (an old-school New York Mafioso named Frankie) has chosen to cut off his foreskin over and over again every time it grows back.
Jesse uses the power of the Genesis voice to turn a whole bunch of Grail soldiers into his own personal army, then stages a raid on Masada to rescue Cassidy. Tulip fights her nemesis, Agent Featherstone (Julie Ann Emery), on top of the mountain and throws her off, but Featherstone’s fashionable tailored white suit turns out to be a wingsuit glider that allows her to sail down to the ground safely.
Once freed, Cassidy isn’t particularly grateful. He’d rather stay and be tortured than go anywhere with Jesse. In fact, as they get to the exit, he does exactly that, locking Jesse out and allowing himself to be re-captured.
Her Starr (Pip Torrens), leader of the Grail, survives the assault but loses an ear to a gunshot. The injury is yet another physical humiliation for Starr, on top of the previous wound that left his head looking like a penis. Nevertheless, when one of his men has a clear shot on Jesse, Starr orders him to stand down and let him go.
Tulip doesn’t understand why Cassidy wouldn’t leave. (She doesn’t know that the two men are feuding over her.) She’s determined to try again the next day. However, after a couple of nightmares, in one of which he strangled Tulip to death, Jesse wakes up in the middle of the night and skips out, leaving only a note behind.
The first episode ends with the revelation that God is hanging out with Herr Starr and told him not to kill Jesse. He has plans to make Jesse suffer first.
Episode 4.02, ‘Last Supper’
In Part 2, Jesse is mugged by a little kid, who steals his wallet and boots. He also leaves his lighter (the one his father gave him) in the truck belonging to an obnoxious American woman. He hitches a ride with a guy passing by on a camel, but gets caught in the middle of that man’s feud with another guy on a camel, which results in the two men killing each other and their camels.
Cassidy chews off his own foot to escape captivity again, but can’t quite get away. Featherstone hunts for Tulip to get revenge. Herr Starr is officially named the new Allfather while the Grail rounds up and kills many of the Humperdoo clones (severely inbred descendants of Jesus) searching for the one who will become the next messiah.
Jesse makes his way to a major city airport and uses Genesis to recruit an American airline pilot to fly him to Australia. However, when he realizes that he’s lost his lighter, he makes the pilot drive him to a brothel of some disrepute called the Jesus de Sade House of Entertainment, where he spots what looks like a young child in danger. He and the pilot enter to start a fight.
Tulip befriends a local bar owner named Kamal (Miritana Hughes). It looks like he double-crosses her to turn her over to Featherstone, but in fact it’s a triple-cross and Kamal helps Tulip stage an elaborate car chase through the desert, the ultimate point of which is for Tulip to infiltrate Masada in disguise as a Grail agent.
Herr Starr has one of his doctors fashion him a new ear out of Cassidy’s discarded foreskins. It looks… bad.
The episode ends with Jesse, presumably having rescued the child and had a good fight, back at the airport, on board a passenger jet all to himself. (I assume it’s the same plane he’ll be thrown out of later.) Meanwhile, God builds a diorama following all the places Jesse has been.
The challenge for every episode of Preacher is for the show to find new and more outrageous ways to top itself. I’m not sure that the fourth season premiere really outdoes some of the wildest high points of the past, but the two episodes certainly have their share of craziness and fun. Did I neglect to mention that the first episode makes time for a musical number?
Barely even acknowledged with only a brief appearance is the side story in which Eugene (Ian Colletti) and the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) search the world for Adolph Hitler (Noah Taylor), who escaped from Hell last season. I expect that to get a lot more screen time later, given that all three characters are featured in the new opening credits montage.
Preacher has always been an uneven show and will likely continue that way right to the end, but it’s so nuts that I can’t help loving it. I hope it wraps up well.