Honest question: can we keep Jesse, Cassidy, and Tulip on the same continent for longer than a single episode this season? They don’t necessarily have to be together, but at least within driving distance as there seems to be a correlation between proximity and episode quality. “The Lost Apostle” put them all in Australia and that episode had pacing and character. “Messiahs” sends Jesse to the afterlife and we return to the just-okay quality of the first half of the season. And, as I’ve said with every other just-okay episode, it’s not actually bad, just unfortunate.
But, with the cast split once again, let’s go back to the old ways and break it down character by character.
As we saw last week, Jesse died. But, as this is Preacher, we should all know that doesn’t much matter. Heaven and Hell both exist, and both are gunning for his soul. And so, we rejoin Jesse helping a young girl fish, at least until Fiore (the angel from the first two seasons) barges in to offer Jesse the opportunity of his afterlife: the role of God.
Heaven and Hell continue to duke it out on the regular and, with God gone, Hell has started to gain the upper hand. So, who better to take God’s place then the rough-and-tumble preacher with the power of Genesis to back him up? Jesse, idiot that he is, refuses. He still believes that God has some divine plan, something that will make all of this make sense. Shortly thereafter, we get the big reveal that Jesse is not, in fact, in Heaven but deep in Hell, which really should be no surprise. Barring all the murder and stuff, Jesse’s grandma did sell his soul to Satan.
Jump to the end of the episode and we return to Jesse, once again under Hell’s mind lights and once again chatting with Fiore. We learn more about Genesis’s disappearance, see what God did on Earth, and finally learn of God’s climactic plan: to have another extinction event and replace humans with a new creature—that is, unless Jesse takes the role of God.
But first, we need to check in with everything else going on. Tulip and Cassidy remain in Australia for just a bit longer—Tulip to finish grieving and Cassidy to eat some chickens and heal up his “sunburn.” Tulip finally reads Jesse’s letter before lighting it (and an innocent church) aflame. From there, it’s off to America to grab Humperdoo as a bargaining chip against God. A short bit of murder, brutalizing, and gallivanting later and Tulip and Cassidy have their messiah.
Lastly, we have the Grail. Herr Starr did indeed live and thus rewards us with a remarkably unfunny scene of him crawling across the desert after the dog that took his penis. Ha. Hitler reveals to Jesus that the Humperdoo that the Grail has is nothing more than a clone and offers Jesus the opportunity to reprise his role as messiah. In another moment of inexplicable plot development, it turns out Two-ver is an American cop, and as soon as this bit of plot is introduced, it wraps itself up. Featherstone, disguised as a barista, shoots him in the head.
Featherstone may be the key to understanding why Season 4 feels so off. That’s not to say she’s the problem, but she is wrapped up in every single problem the season has had. Stuck at Masada for half of the season? She’s involved. Contrived plot twists that go nowhere? She’s involved. Running out of ideas to complete the rule of three in your analysis? She’s involved with that, too.
I like Featherstone. I think her dynamic with Tulip has been great and I’ve enjoyed watching them recognize themselves in each other. But I was honestly thrilled to see her fly out through the window a few episodes ago. I had assumed that would be it for her. It wouldn’t have been a satisfying conclusion, but it would have at least removed one of the plethora of characters from the show. She hasn’t really been adding anything to the series since Cassidy got out of Masada so it would have made sense for her to stay gone. But here she is again. I suppose someone needs to be there for Starr.
“Messiahs” also makes me want to talk about Humperdoo, which is something I’ve been wary of doing. How do you talk about someone with cognitive disabilities, who is the product of incest, with sensitivity? My answer is you don’t; instead, you talk about the situation around Humperdoo.
Preacher has, by and large, done a good job of poking fun at the right people: killing Nazis, laughing at Shitler, mocking those who abuse religion. It’s a show that isn’t afraid to push boundaries and break norms. Sometimes that puts me in a position I’m not totally comfortable with and I’ve come to terms with that. Mostly. Humperdoo remains and, at this point, feels like a poor joke that has gotten away from the show—a joke that has gone on too long and become too integral to the plot to reel it in.
Humperdoo’s initial reveal was effective. It showcased both the lengths the Grail would go to make sure the bloodline remains pure and the sheer lack of understanding of consequences. The joke wasn’t so much at the expense of Humperdoo but of the Grail. Now Humperdoo has become a key piece in the plot and his every moment on screen highlights how out of place he feels. He doesn’t blend in with the world of Preacher; he sticks out in a way that feels intentional. It’s like the show wants us to laugh at the absurdity of a messiah with cognitive impairment. Instead, I’m just left cringing every time I see Humperdoo and willing the scene to end as quickly as possible. Humperdoo is not and has never been funny. Ideally, he never would have been introduced, but at this point, all I can wish for is that his role will soon be over.
On the lighter side of things, Tulip O’Hare continues to exhibit psychic powers. That’s not to say she actually has psychic powers, just that she always seems to know where the plot needs her to go. It’s totally possible that the letter Jesse left her tells her where to find Humperdoo, but I have no idea why Jesse would have included that. I had assumed it to be a letter of apologies, of sad farewells, not a list of instructions.
Let’s end on a positive note. Cassidy continues to kill it with his speeches and his dynamic with Tulip is great. Their scene in the restaurant is fantastic. The determination, the struggle, and the ambivalence all came through in spades and the payoff was peak Preacher: both shocking and blasé. Cassidy’s speech on God in the Jewish Temple a few scenes later was just as charged, delivering the mania that comes with being an immortal vampire hell-bent on killing God.
With only three episodes left, we’ll probably see the outcome of their quest sooner rather than later. There’s a lot left to wrap up and, with Preacher adding more plot every episode, those three episodes are feeling more and more like a countdown to disappointment.