Preacher: The End of the Road Review
AMC‘s Preacher, Season 2, Episode 13: ‘The End of the Road,’ was miles away from where the season started; but not necessarily in the right direction. It was eventful enough, yes; but it lacked either the filling or starving qualities of a culminating chapter.
Sparing us the whole ‘House of the Rising Sun’ reference, the episode hinged itself on an incremental step, along the evolutionary scale of Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper). We were introduced to an older boy-Custer (Will Kindrachuk), who – if his chosen (or, more likely, assigned) outfit was any indication – could be described as a more… Kentucky Fried Custer.
BTW, that last reference aside, I formally refuse to drop any lyrics or song titles, this review – despite the titularly obvious one.
Wait… do any of you even know the group Boys to Men?
KFC (complete with a spicy chicken) was already a grifter; but kept at the fringe of the Angelville racket. When fringe frustration got the better of him, his fringe operation was left down one chicken. Whether out of guilt, or a sense of responsibility (there’s a difference), KFC took the matter to the family’s mystical matriarch (Julie Oliver-Touchstone), prepared to pay the price.
This was the set-up to an outcome that may only seem clear in hind-sight, to some; but mostly due to the body of the episode taking the long road back to it.
That road started with King-sized Custer (KC) getting the Meet the New Messiah publicity junket treatment, Grail style. Since viewers have been made more privy to the way Herr Starr (Pip Torrens) operates, Jesse could be forgiven for not catching on to his media tour’s intro moment.
A quick aside, here, but why the Armenians? Maybe the episode went all the way back to Wag the Dog, regarding random scapegoats that no one bothers to fact-check, but does Jim Belushi know about this one?
That intro moment got the body of the episode off to a typical start – good, when you consider “typical” involves either absurd violence, beautifully ugly behavior, blasphemy, or any combination of the above. Let’s call this example ‘Fun with nuns, Huns, and guns;’ and while KC transitioning from gun to blunt instrument clicked; The Beatles accompaniment made the scene go bang.
From this solo debut, KC would spend the balance of the episode being ushered by Manager Starr, while the rest of his Sunshine Band prepped for a whole other kind of life on the road. This would be the one with far less ‘sponsatility to it – as exemplified by one example – but requiring some fairly grave responsibilities being taken care of, before hand, by the other.
Usually, I’m all for Tulip (Ruth Negga) exercising her inner social critic; but her introductory incident left me thinking of Jesse as a missing moral compass. Damnest thing to think, really; but it did occur to me. Well, beyond that, the good news is that Tulip caught on to the Grail’s band break-up scheme. The bad news is that she didn’t care.
At least, not up to a point, anyway. Uncovering the Grail plot opened the door to Lara’s (Julie Ann Emery) Tulip Garden cultivation – and Tulip was definitely inclined to take that con personally.
For reasons that haven’t really been explored, yet, so did Lara.
While on the subject of personal loose ends, Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) had to confront the outstanding matter of his own nature, and how said nature may have manifested within his now kindred son. Somewhere between the creeping onset of cravenous Denis (Ronald Guttman), and resorting to self-medication, Cass saw enough of a possible future to take the matter from serious to cinder at the speed of WTF. Welcome to the Sunshine Band, Denis. Sunny-side up?
BTW, for those of you caught off guard, by the whole Tulip, temptation, and teeth scene, just remember that crack is a helluva drug.
The two Bats Outta Hell took the scenic route to the river Styx (‘Come Sail Away.’ There. Happy?), then parted ways; but not before Hitler (Noah Taylor) reminded us that they were already in Hell – no point doing what your told when you’re already at the pinnacle punishment point. Making it worse for transgressors would just be more of the same, ja – er, yes?
Well, besides giving the Hell thread a final, tension breaking bit of ridiculousness, the Ferryman (Shane Guilbeau) also provided it with some real gravitas. The only thing really interesting about Hell Superintendent, Ms. Mannering (Amy Hill), has been her modulating voice; so her trading menacing tones with ‘Ferry’ eased me up in my seat, some. Brief though it was, their confrontation did leave me with the hopes of a real escalation in the works. On the other hand, that brevity meant a defaulting back to the thread as Hitler’s redemption.
The jury’s still out, on that particular blasphemy.
Just as well, too, ’cause when last seen, the old standard of evil seemed to be up to no good – but in the real World (where it actually matters). This is where I’d say something to Eugene about how the Road to Hell is paved; but it’d be a point pointing in the wrong direction… and I just wasn’t going to.
Given the disparity of the two principal threads, it took something pretty drastic to get them back together. Somewhere between the fear of loss, and the dread of success, however, this major turn may yet drive the band further apart. If the Tulip’s unfinished business with Lara didn’t shake you out of the pace set for most of the episode, then Cass finally coming out of his season long stage-hand role could’ve done it.
It was certainly about time, too; but Cass stepping up to the mic brought him to a line that Jesse would not allow to be crossed. A very uneasy compromise had to have been reached.
Whether out of guilt, or a sense of responsibility, KC took his band’s frayed end to a familiar place (complete with a warmed-over chicken) – likely prepared to pay a price.
Some new-age messianic laying of hands, a Denis flare-up, some BFF Bad Tea, and a Holy Crap closer made ‘The End of the Road’ a good place to stop; but it wasn’t as good as some of the Band’s earlier stops. Worse, it didn’t leave the same impact as the last finale – where the Showrunners literally blew up the spot that launched the tour.
To be fair, that marked the end of a stand-alone prequel to what is now sourced material. Ongoing source material, specifically; so threads should be expected to linger. Not ending a season as memorably as it began, however, is still not an encouraging track to be on.
Ironically, the set-up to the episode likely gave away what comes next – removing some suspense from the ending. While any number of interesting possibilities may stem from this outcome, leaving an audience further in the dark is the thing more likely to prompt viewers into returning to a series (provided there’s a series to return to).
As it was, the return to Angelville was a great way to end an episode; but even without the high bars set, it wasn’t the best way to end a season.
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