Depending on your viewpoint, that a show as insane and blasphemous as Preacher could last four seasons on the air is either a miracle or a sacrilege. Fans who stuck with it to the end were treated to a wild finale that pulls no punches in its delightful commitment to offending anything a viewer might consider sacred.
I haven’t attempted to recap this show with any regularity and I won’t be able to detail every crazy thing that happens in the finale, but we can run through some of the high points.
Having engineered the apocalypse on behalf of God, Herr Starr (Pip Torrens) puts on a televised variety show counting down to the end of the world, which will be signaled when the new messiah – the deeply inbred descendant of Jesus called Humperdoo – comes out on stage and dances. From their headquarters at Masada, the audience is filled with Grail faithful awaiting their Rapture and enthusiastically chanting, “Kill us all! Kill us all!”
God the Almighty, decidedly the biggest asshole in the universe, leaves Jesse to be murdered by the Saint of Killers. After failing to fight him off, Jesse seems resigned to his fate. However, he has an idea and talks the Saint into not only letting him live, but allowing Jesse to kill him instead.
Jesus Christ has a brutal fistfight with Adolph Hitler that culminates in Jesus strangling him to death (which is kind of weird, given that Hitler is technically already dead).
Tulip believes that the only way stop the apocalypse is to kill Humperdoo. Cassidy has developed an attachment to the kid and fights Tulip to protect him, but ultimately realizes that saving the world is more important than any one person and tearfully shoots Humperdoo himself.
Starr’s top lieutenant, the fanatical true believer Featherstone (Julie Ann Emery), has a breakdown after discovering that her beloved commandant is just another heretic and plans to save his own ass from the apocalypse by escaping to a submarine. She tries to kill him, but Starr shoots in her in the head first.
With Humperdoo dead, God turns to Jesus as a backup messiah. When Jesus asks his dad to be merciful and loving, God scoffs at the idea. Jesus refuses to be his messiah and walks away. All his plans wrecked, God hops on a motorcycle and takes off as well.
The apocalypse officially canceled, Jesse takes the stage. He uses the power of Genesis to tell all the people watching at home to turn off their TVs, then orders all the Grail agents in the crowd to hunt down God for him, no matter how long it takes.
Eugene’s Side Story
In the last episode, Eugene was run over by a car. He survives and wakes up in a hospital, informed that surgeons have exerted every effort to reconstruct his face. Hopeful for a moment that he may look like a normal human being again, Eugene peels off the bandages and finds, sadly, that he still has an anus mouth and looks pretty much the same.
When a doctor suggests that suicide may be his best option, Eugene doesn’t want his pity and grows furious. Determined to prove everyone wrong and become a rock star like he dreamed, he grabs his broken guitar and returns to the street to perform. Unfortunately, he kind of sucks when he tries to sing Semisonic’s “Closing Time,” but he does a lot better when he embraces his anger and screams out a punk song instead. Passersby toss some change into his tin. Perhaps things might work out for Eugene after all.
Two years later, Jesse and Tulip are back in Texas, still causing trouble as outlaws. They have a baby daughter together and seem happy. Cassidy isn’t around. Jesse says that he’s off attending a “peyote conference” with Woody Harrelson.
Jesse receives a phone call informing him that Grail agents have located God in San Antonio. He drives over and finds the Almighty hanging out with his RV parked in front of the Alamo. Jesse orders the Grail agents to disband.
God invites Jesse to sit with him for a moment. Before doing so, Jesse proves that Genesis actually will work on God by ordering him to turn the night to day and back again. God doesn’t seem to want to fight anymore, and offers to answer any questions he has, even the big ones.
As Jesse runs through a handful of questions, God explains that he gives kids cancer to teach strength to those still alive, that he likes things about every religion but the non-Christians are still going to Hell, that there’s no life anywhere else in the universe, and most importantly that Jesse’s dad is in Heaven.
God tells Jesse that he loves him, and asks Jesse to say the same in return. When Jesse doesn’t immediately respond, God gets anxious. He feeds on love, and everything he’s ever done has been to make his creations love him. Disgusted, Jesse calls God a “needy little bitch” and uses Genesis to throw him around through the air and smash him back down into the ground a bunch of times. Just to prove that Genesis isn’t the only thing making him brave, he sets Genesis free and punches God with his own fist. He tells God that he’ll never love him and warns him to stay out of Heaven.
Elsewhere, we find Jesus working at the paint counter in a big box home improvement store. Unscathed by anything that happened to him and with his looks fully restored, Herr Starr is out golfing when a couple of Pensacola cops we’ve seen previously try to arrest him. He shoots them dead on the golf course and tosses their bodies into a sand trap, then continues his game.
Defying Jesse’s warning, God returns to Heaven and finds his soldier angels all dead by the hand of the Saint of Killers, who got to heaven by way of a last-minute deathbed confession. This was Jesse’s plan. God tries to bribe the Saint by offering to give him his family back, but the Saint (who has the power to kill anything in the universe, even God) blows God’s brains out and sits on his throne.
Jesse and Tulip are last seen at a drive-in theater with their baby, watching a John Wayne movie (The Alamo, appropriately) as Genesis passes through the night sky overhead.
The episode jumps forward 40 years. Cassidy, still unaged, stands over the graves of Jesse and Tulip with their now-adult daughter (also played by Ruth Negga). She’s a banker and has a completely normal, law-abiding life, with kids of her own. She and Jesse share some reminiscences. It’s clear that Cass still pines for Tulip as the love that got away. He also seems very exhausted of his eternal life.
As they part, the daughter asks Cassidy where he’s off to next. He says “someplace new,” then sets his umbrella aside, walks into the sun when she’s not looking, and quietly bursts into flames.
During its four years on the air, Preacher was all over the place in terms of quality. Some storylines were better than others, but through it all the only consistency the show had was that it was always batshit nuts, entertainingly so.
The series finale makes a very satisfying conclusion. It provides closure for all the characters, wraps up all the storylines in an acceptable manner, and even offers a few answers for some of the greatest mysteries in the universe – all while doling out plenty of the show’s patented lunacy.
While I wouldn’t say that Preacher was one of the best TV shows ever made – or even in the top ranks at all, to be honest – for the mission statement the series laid out, its ending is just about perfect.