Preacher series finale was the perfect, bittersweet sendoff

Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer - Preacher _ Season 4, Episode 10 - Photo Credit: Sarah Enticknap/AMC/Sony Pictures Television
Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer - Preacher _ Season 4, Episode 10 - Photo Credit: Sarah Enticknap/AMC/Sony Pictures Television /

The Preacher series finale was both the end of the show and the potential end of the world, and it ended with one last spiritual moment.

In many ways, Preacher ended exactly the way fans expected it would after watching the premiere four seasons ago.

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for the Preacher series finale.

Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) finally found God, and had the confrontation that he’d always been headed for. Genesis was resolved, Armageddon was averted, and everyone got what was coming to them…well, almost everyone (looking at you, Herr Starr).

The whole point of the AMC series was Jesse’s search for God, so if he hadn’t found Him, it would have been a giant middle finger to the audience (and to his character besides).

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And if the world had actually ended, it would’ve been an incredible letdown, as if to say all of this—all of the suffering and crazy stuff and deaths and people literally going to Hell—would have been for nothing.

And as insane as Preacher is, it’s always been kind of a hopeful show. So the writers had set themselves on a certain path, and the final episode reached that destination with the usual wild developments, inappropriate jokes, and a fair amount of things for the audience to chew upon.

There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s break it down in segments, shall we?

Jesse vs. God

The moment audiences had been waiting for finally arrived in this episode: Jesse had a much needed conversation with God. And then he delivered the smackdown to Him that we’d all been wanting to see.

Preacher didn’t just go right into the shenanigans, which was crucially important, because this wasn’t just a revenge mission. Jesse started out looking for answers, and he deserved them, and the audience wanted them too. So we got a half-cocked explanation for pediatric cancer (“Suffering is a great teacher”) and found out that Jesse’s father went to Heaven, not Hell, as he had prayed for.

An emotional Jesse was visibly moved by realizing his prayer had been denied, and by God going on about how He loved him, which was at some point all Jesse Custer had wanted to hear. It was akin to the moment a few episodes ago, when our hero had broken down overwhelmed by seeing God after choosing not to take His throne. Despite everything, he still wanted to believe.

But that finally stopped now, after God revealed that his Grand Design for creating the human race—and creating our would-have-been replacements—was to be loved. Yep, we were all an ego trip, a way for him to cure his loneliness and feel better about himself. It was the most self-centered motive, in direct contrast to Jesse’s incredible selflessness.

Jesse, naturally, advocated for the human race as he has done all along. And then proceeded, in a cheer-worthy moment, to call God a “needy little b-tch” and smack him around for a while. Get it out of his system (and ours).

The most important moment, though, came when Jesse compelled Genesis to leave him. Why? “I don’t f–king need it,” he announced, and it was important that the fateful blow which ended the scene wasn’t dealt with some higher power, but just Jesse Custer’s own fist. It was as if to say, it wasn’t Genesis that made Jesse powerful; he was powerful simply by being himself, and Genesis was just his enabler.

Think of it kind of as David and Goliath—a mortal man was able to knock out God simply with his own fist and four years (if not a lifetime) of pent-up emotions.

But the departure of Genesis also has a deeper meaning in the context of Preacher. The Godlike power departs, leaving Jesse to spend the rest of his life as a normal human. It’s seen again later on, still flying aimlessly in the night sky, so clearly it doesn’t have another host yet and perhaps it doesn’t need one. Its work is done, too.

That sends a message to the audience: it’s just fine being who you are. You don’t need a higher power to live your life; that’s not to say you can’t believe or have faith, but you aren’t obligated to follow like Preacher‘s God expects of everyone. Everyone can make the spiritual choice that’s best for them and they’re the only people who should decide what’s best for them.

This wasn’t just the best sequence of Preacher season 4; it was some of the best moments of the whole series. As it should have been.

The baby Custer

The Preacher finale revealed that Jesse and Tulip had another baby, and were for some time living happily back in Texas before God resurfaced. Aside from the “aw, it’s a happy ending” moment, it was a plot twist with huge emotional resonance, because fans know the one huge wound that Tulip still carries is the loss of their first child back in Dallas.

Nothing will ever quite take that away, but having another daughter is as close to healing for Tulip as she can get. Her conversation with God in the previous episode showed how much the loss of her first child hurt her, and that there was a certain degree of self-loathing in that loss. Now she has gotten to have a child again; a happy, healthy child that audiences see in the final scene has grown up safely and has a family of her own (and also played by Ruth Negga).

Tulip did get to be a mother, and a damn good one, and that’s a big transformation for someone who started the series as largely an agent of chaos. In the end, she was bulding a life instead of taking things apart.

And by having a family, things came full circle for Jesse—because the root of his pain, the thing that broke and he was never able to get back, was his own family. The death of his father was the chain around his neck, and now he got to be a father, and find freedom in that way.

In dealing with God, and then dealing with his father’s death, Jesse was finally completely free. (Does anyone else want to know what they ended up doing for the next 40 years? Because they were definitely the cool parents.)

The dearly departed

It wouldn’t be Preacher if somebody didn’t make it to the end of the episode, and the finale did see some characters die. Hitler was one, which was fitting because seriously, it’s Hitler (if you haven’t seen Noah Taylor’s much more serious portrayal of him in Max, you’ve missed out).

And this was also the end for Lara Featherstone—sorry, Flufferman—but that was also fitting, too, in that the character who least represented free will, the one who had signed herself over to The Grail, was the one who didn’t get the happy ending.

The most notable was Cassidy’s act of self-immolation, but as much as we love him, one can’t argue with that either. Cassidy spent so long tortured, struggling with who he wanted to be, that with everything done—with the battle over and seeing that his friends and their daughter turned out okay—he found peace. That peace, for him, just happened to be death.

Plus, Jesus got to spend awhile in customer-service purgatory and Eugene got to be famous and universally beloved after years of being ostracized. All of the characters got to a place that felt like it fit perfectly with who they were.

Credit is due to Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Sam Catlin, because they could have easily taken the Preacher comic they so loved and just delighted in the craziness of it all and gotten lost in the mayhem. Lesser TV shows would’ve done that. But they always saw and appreciated the complex material underneath, and carried that through into the series, right up until the end.

It’s a definitive ending in one way—the stories of Jesse Custer, Tulip O’Hare and Proinsias Cassidy are definitely over—but in some ways it’s not. Because Preacher leaves us looking toward the future, with the feeling that things are going to be okay.

Next. Preacher concludes having left its mark on TV. dark

You can rewatch Preacher on Hulu and Amazon Video. For more on AMC series, follow the AMC category at Hidden Remote.