“Preacher” S01E09: Finish The Song

Despite having a literal vampire as one of the major characters,  Preacher  rarely feels like a horror television show. This week, Sam Caitlin and his staff made up for lost time. This is definitely the goriest episode of  Preacher, but also the most horror atmosphere driven. There’s a burnt up vampire, more than a few bodies and even a visit to Hell itself. Yet, none of this is without purpose. The bloodshed here represents a purifying bath that reinvigorates these characters anew, for better or worse. There’s an unease that permeates this penultimate episode, showing these characters at their lowest points, resulting in the lowest possible means to pick themselves up and start all over again. Desperate times call for desperate measures and everyone on  Preacher  is looking for a last-ditch effort.

DeBlanc and Fiore love a rainy night.

Two such folks are DeBlanc and Fiore, who have exhausted every other option in attempting to exhume Genesis from Jesse. Now, they’re on their way to hell to exhaust the nuclear option. These scenes with Fiore and DeBlanc this season have been an interesting source of universe building for  Preacher. In a world where a budget  doesn’t allow  us to visit the elaborate  realms of Heaven or Hell as seen in the comics, there’s a need for creative adjustments. Thus, we see more of the bureaucratic line between Earth and other realms, in the form of a red tinted dingy travel agency that does backdoor dimensional transport. It’s almost like a low rent take on the caseworker society from  Beetlejuice, only with more of a pathetic lack of decorum  for all those involved. The  deadpan delivery of Tom Brooke, Anatol Yusef and Taran Karsian  adds a dry comedic interplay that’s helped improve Preacher  vastly over the last several weeks. Plus, it’s capped off with a nice nod to  Breaking Bad  with the bus location and even the same dog walking across the street from the  “Ozymandius” episode. Though unlike Walter White, Fiore and DeBlanc are heading somewhere far less snowy.

The Cowboy experiences his own personal Hell.

Our angels are of course on a mission… to Hell. Their last possible option is to seek the help of our favorite western long face The Cowboy, who is currently experiencing a certain circle of Hell. Specifically, his own cyclical Hell that has him repeating his dirty deeds over and over again. The repetitive nature of his Hell is literally shown to us through reusing footage from previous episodes in a seemingly endless fashion. It’s an effective way of getting across how unrepentant Hell is in this universe, but it’s admittedly a bit frustrating to sit through this stuff over and over. This does include the stellar opening sequence that gives us our episode title “Finish the Song.” The one shot gory shoot out and stone faced glare of Graham McTavish shows the true Saint of Killers comic fans have been waiting for since  Preacher  started. A merciless unstoppable killing machine who fuels his unending hatred with a torrent of blood. There’s a sign of slaughter to come now that Fiore and DeBlanc have given The Cowboy a mission. One that will hopefully lead to a church confrontation and a few more deaths in Annville.

Sheriff Root’s pain may be in vain.

Until then, we’ll have to settle for the two gorier moments of this episode. After Jesse Custer escapes his grasp, Sheriff Root is on the hunt when he’s called upon a disturbance at the local motel. When he arrives in Fiore and DeBlanc’s old room, Root stumbles upon our unstoppable female angel from “Sundowner” in her lowest state. With her limbs cut off and soaking in a bloody bathtub, Root is essentially pressured into a mercy kill for an angel just wanting to be reborn into a new body.  Preacher  does an incredible job of implementing dramatic irony in a fashion that’s both compelling and darkly humorous. W. Earl Brown‘s mental breakdown here is incredibly compelling, with a full sense of regret weighing on his shoulders as the angel’s new body disappearing behind him makes it all the more crushing. This on top of Eugene’s disappearance feels so cruel, but shows yet another character finding themselves at the bottom of the barrel.

Emily tends to the rabbits, giving Jesse pause.

The second gory moment of  Preacher  comes in the form of another’s attempts to heal… quite literally. As Cassidy tries to treat his sunburns, Tulip leaves him in the brief care of Emily, who she instructs to feed Cassidy one of various animals she has in her house. Instead, Emily decides to order a different kind of take out by having The Mayor – who has been  breathing down her neck for a relationship this whole season – come into her trap. He arrives, walks down a creepy dark corridor like your average dumb horror protagonist and gets mauled by Cassidy. This is the true conflicting point of “Finish The Song.” On one hand, this doesn’t really serve much of anything that came before with the Emily character beyond her slight disdain for The Mayor as a character. On the other hand… it’s the most interesting Emily has been this entire season. It’s a well orchestrated horror moment for Preacher  in general, yet it still leaves Emily relatively unfazed about taking a man’s life, something a character this Christian would probably take into account. Even when Jesse comes in and finds Emily trying to free rabbits, it seems as if that moment never happened to her, like it’s just another chore she had to do for the church.

Crispy Cassidy and Jesse have a tense one-on-one.

Jesse finally gives Cassidy a visit, seeing his friend in full on Brundlefly duress. The make up department did an incredibly job of selling the horror of Cassidy’s charmed body, as does the physicality of  Joseph Gilgun. His disheveled crouching posture has a wounded bird quality, one that makes a confused Jesse see the error of his ways in terms of treating his newfound friend.  Their reconciliation even manages to seem genuine, with the darkly heartwarming sentiment of putting out flaming flesh. It’s a moment that shows the characters of  Preacher  are willing to trust each other even as life  drops situations like a dead Mayor in their lap. There’s an unease that makes us wonder if these characters are sympathetic enough to  follow, but a disturbing sense of joy in seeing their unified efforts to throw a corpse into a ditch. It’s the best example of Preacher  actually managing to live up to the AMC mandatory standard of anti-heroes on its own terms.  As they do, Cassidy retrieves the hand from either Fiore or DeBlanc’s corpse in the trunk, hoping to use it on the stolen Heaven phone and confront God come the next Sunday Service. Will God pick up the line? Will Tulip extract her vengeance against Carlos? Will Odin Quincannon destroy the church before any of this happens? Will the female angel and The Cowboy kill everyone in Jesse’s church before any of that happens? Tune into the  Preacher  season finale next week to find out!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Thomas Mariani
Thomas Mariani is a born geek, with a bit of nerd mixed in here & there. A native of the (less) swampy parts of Florida, Thomas has always been a fan of films, television & other sources of media ever since he was a child, having been raised on Jim Henson, Star Wars and the basic cable cartoons of the ’90s & ’00s.

Some of his favorite horror films include Evil Dead II, Poltergeist and An American Werewolf in London. He already has experience writing and podcasting about pop culture, which you can read/listen to on sites like www.oneofus.net, www.horrornews.net or even on twitter as @NotTheWhosTommy.