AMC’s Preacher ran from 2016 to 2019. Despite its somewhat short run, it made quite an impact in the world of genre TV. Based on the comic of the same name by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, Preacher followed The “Unholy” Trinity a.k.a. Jesse Custer the preacher (Dominic Cooper), Cassidy the vampire (Joseph Gilgun), and Tulip O’Hare, Jesse’s badass ex-girlfriend (Ruth Negga).
Jesse is a preacher from Annville, Texas who’s possessed by an entity called Genesis. Said entity gives him the ability to force people to do his bidding. Jesse learns that God has left the building so, along with Tulip and Cassidy, he sets out on a journey to find Him. He encounters suspect organizations like The Grail, whose mission is to oversee the apocalypse, and meets Humperdoo (Tyson Ritter), the purported next Messiah. Additionally, Jesse flees from a hellish cowboy called the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) and delves into his devilish past with his voodoo Gran’ma (Betty Buckley).
Preacher is an adventurous romp riddled with dark comedy and some seriously strange phenomena. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. I’d say it’s a slightly tamer version of The Boys, and not just because Seth Rogen is behind both shows. Weird, kooky, and cynical. In other words: right up my alley.
Below, I’ve listed my 10 favorite episodes of Preacher. Peruse at your own peril, for R-Rated content and spoilers to follow.
Season 1 was consistently great. “Sundowner” is the perfect representation of Season 1, and it’s an episode that propels the plot forward. Jesse learns from angels Fiore and DeBlanc that the entity dwelling inside him is part angel and part demon.
Besides living within Jesse, Genesis is now out in the open. Fiore and DeBlanc were supposed to shield it from prying eyes. Now, angels and demons alike are on the hunt for it. Susan, seraphim, was dispatched to take out the two angels.
Now, what stands out the most to me with “Sundowner” is the epic battle at Sundowner Motel. Even Cassidy joins in on the bloody fun. We learned from said battle that angels can be instantly resurrected. It was interesting seeing piles upon piles of dead Fiores and DeBlancs as the pair sought to destroy Susan. Excellent effects on the Preacher team’s part.
“Call and Response” (S01E10)
The Season 1 finale truly catalyzed Jesse’s mission to find God, that which would carry him through the remainder of the show. Jesse convinces his congregation and the whole of Annville that he could get answers from Heaven to some of life’s most perplexing questions.
A giant bearded man materializes inside the church and mocks those within for relying on him. Jesse accuses him of being a fraud, but the latter refuses to address the allegations. Chief Red Savage lights a cigarette which intermingles with methane released from inside the town. Boom! All of Annville is incinerated along with its people.
At this point, Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy are out of town limits. Additionally, the finale ends with the Saint of Killers returning topside from Hell, shooting Susan the seraphim, and enacting his objective to gun down Jesse. In short, a shirt ton happens in this episode that sets the tone for the rest of the series.
“On the Road” (S02E01)
This episode has one of my favorite openings of a show ever: a car chase set to “Come on Eileen.” Dexys Midnight Runners didn’t have any hits besides this one, and boy is it a banger.
Jesse, Cassidy, and Tulip are officially on the road to find God after Annville explodes. They manage to evade the police while belting out “Come on Eileen” and doing doughnuts in a field. After their tête-à-tête with the law, Jesse and co. finally meet the Saint of Killers, who was released from Hell by DeBlanc and Fiore on the condition that the cowboy slaughters the preacher.
For me, this episode stands out because it’s the first of many times that Jesse and the Saint of Killers clash. Like the Season 1 finale, this episode helps shape what’s to come. Also, the “Come on Eileen” scene. But that goes without saying.
Now, our trio is nestled in the heart of New Orleans after getting a tip that God loves jazz. In their quest to find The Almighty, they decide to stay with a man named Denis, who just so happens to be Cassidy’s son. He also speaks French.
The Saint tracks Jesse down yet again and the pair square off. Jesse offers to find a soul for the Saint so the latter can go to Heaven to be with his long-deceased family. The Saint grants Jesse an hour to do so, otherwise, his friends will die. After overpowering the Saint, Jesse entraps the former in an armored vehicle and drives it into the swamps of Angelville.
I really dig this episode because Cooper and McTavish’s shared scenes are mesmerizing. You have a preacher, a supposed representative of “Heaven,” and a cowboy from Hell duking it out. But in reality, Jesse harbors an immensely dark side and isn’t that much different than the Saint. We’re also introduced to Grail Industries and their incessant meddling in Jesse’s affairs.
“The End of the Road” (S02E13)
The Season 2 finale opens with a flashback into Jesse’s past in Angelville working for Madame L’Angelle a.k.a. Gran’ma. Hitler and sweet Eugene (Ian Colletti), who doesn’t get enough airtime in general, finally escape from Hell! Jesse teams up with Herr Starr (Pip Torrens), the leader of The Grail, and accepts his post as the world’s next Messiah after agreeing that Humperdoo is just a hot mess. Cassidy pushes his vampire son Denis out a window in broad daylight. You can guess what transpires next.
Tulip and Cassidy decide to leave Jesse behind and flee the scene, but unfortunately the former is fatally shot by Lara Featherstone (Julie Ann Emery). Jesse returns home and lays the smackdown on Cassidy. That’s what you do when your best mate is in love with your dying girlfriend. Unfortunately, Tulip dies. Fortunately, Jesse knows how to revive her: by taking her to his Gran’ma in Angelville who knows a thing or two about dark magic.
This episode is chock full of explosive action and oodles of heartbreak. Cassidy deciding to burn his son for the greater good of humanity, since as a vampire Denis is out of control. Tulip and Cassidy attempting to leave Jesse. Jesse and Cassidy’s fight, which undoubtedly throws a wrench in their friendship. Adolf Hitler escaping from Hell! Oh, and Tulip dying. That was a punch to the gut.
“The Tombs” (S03E04)
Season 3 is my favorite Preacher outing. Buckley played a formidable baddie as Gran’ma, and I loved the voodoo Louisiana magic that was infused into this season. Now, Gran’ma helped bring Tulip back from the dead, but at a cost.
In “The Tombs,” Jesse helps resuscitate the family business, particularly the macabre tombs used for punishing those who attempt to break Madame L’Angelle’s deals. There are flashbacks of young Jesse in Angelville interwoven throughout the episode. Additionally, we see the Saint of Killers in proper Hell and chatting it up with Satan, because why not?
“The Tombs” shows us Jesse’s dark side, and it marks Cassidy’s temporary departure for greener pastures back in New Orleans. Well, if “greener pastures” is code for “a vampire cult.”
I love delving deeper into Jesse’s tumultuous past, and this episode does that and then some. Not to mention, Preacher does a superb job of developing the relationships between our core trio. It helps that Cooper, Gilgun, and Negga are consummate performers.
“The Tom/Brady” (S03E08)
Besides this Season 3 installment boasting an excellent title, “The Tom/Brady” follows Jesse and Tulip as they team up with Starr and The Grail to save Gran’ma. Tulip and Lara Featherstone, the best of buddies, join forces by going undercover to steal souls in New Orleans and Osaka. All for Gran’ma … and the world, of course.
Inevitably, Starr turns on Jesse and takes him hostage. Humperdoo isn’t cutting it as the Messiah, and since Jesse later rejected Starr’s offer, kidnapping was the only solution. Apparently, The Grail has a solution called “The Tom/Brady,” which is a mixture of Thomas Jefferson and Wayne Brady’s DNA. This was supposed to be injected into Humperdoo.
Meanwhile, F.J. Hoover (Malcolm Barrett) is captured by Cassidy’s new vampire cult, “Les Enfants du Sang.” He’s definitely vampire chowder. “The Tom/Brady” has some deliciously fun scenes with Negga and Emery as Tulip and Featherstone. Of course, bad blood brews between the two since Featherstone fatally shot Tulip. I also love Cooper and Torren’s rapport as perpetual adversaries. Really, everyone is in top form here.
In “Schwanzkopf,” Starr and Allfather (Jonny Coyne) are preparing to transfer Genesis from Jesse into Humperdoo. After an altercation, Jesse narrowly escapes death again and manages to blow up Allfather, who’s not a small guy in stature. Jesse and Starr duke it out. Tulip and Featherstone are essentially arrested by the Angel of Death who’s taking them, along with Hitler and Eugene, on a bus to Hell.
The Saint of Killers is besties with the Angel of Death now. Cassidy is getting bad vibes from his vampire cult leader and lover Eccarius. Eccarius is a rampant killer, but he forces Cassidy to remain mum on the subject. A bomb goes off and flips over the bus Tulip and co. are in courtesy of a slew of Nazis. Jesse, much to Starr’s chagrin, unleashes the mob of Humperdoo clones into the world.
So much happens in this episode! There’s Satan, the Angel of Death, and Nazis. An exploding person. Vampires! Preacher has no shortage of the supernatural. Plus, it’s one of the few episodes wherein all three of our main characters fight their battles separately.
“The Light Above” (S03E10)
Season 3 finale time! Jesse returns to Angelville to kill Gran’ma, because that’s what good grandsons do. Tulip teams up with Eugene as they fight for their lives amid a squad of Nazis and literal demons from Hell.
Les Enfants du Sang is ultimately destroyed by The Grail, and Cassidy is taken captive by Herr Starr in retaliation to Jesse angering him. Jesse fights T.C. and Jody, lackeys of Gran’ma, in The Tombs. It gets bloody and brawl-y. Oh, and F.J. Hoover is now a vampire. Mark Harelik returns as God in a latex Dalmatian suit, but that’s definitely not the weirdest thing we’ve seen on Preacher.
Again, a shirt ton of action unfolds in “The Light Above.” Jesse effectively cuts all ties to his Angelville past and successfully defeats Gran’ma, albeit Starr is still at large. I love watching Tulip battle Nazis because it seems like something she would do as a hobby.
It was intriguing seeing our heroes embarking on separate storylines, but I think it also gave each member a chance to shine on their own. This episode is pure Preacher in every sense: zany, compelling, dark, and witty.
“End of the World” (S04E10)
“Til the end of the world,” is a phrase Tulip and Jesse often say to each other on Preacher. Yes, there’s only one episode from Season 4 on this list. It’s not that Season 4 is bad, but it’s overall subpar compared to its predecessors.
To me, Season 4 has more interesting, singular moments as opposed to consistently great episodes throughout. In Masada, the “Apocalypse Revue” is underway, in which Humperdoo’s big showstopping tap dance number will literally stop the world. Thankfully, Jesse, Cassidy, and Tulip successfully avert the apocalypse. All the baddies, including the Saint of Killers and Herr Starr, are defeated.
Fast forward a few years later, after Jesse and Tulip have a child. God returns to have a final face-off against Jesse. Naturally, Jesse kicks his jazz-loving arse to high heaven. Huzzah!
The saving-the-world bit happens rather early on in this episode, and the series finale is almost an hour long. It’s quintessential Preacher and the elements mesh well together. But the real prized jewel of this episode is its final moments.
We see Jesse and Tulip’s daughter, Lucy, standing in front of their tombstones in the cemetery. They both lived to ripe old ages. Cassidy joins her. Apparently, he never maintained contact with Jesse and Tulip for the rest of their adult lives. He just disappeared. It’s clearly a painful regret for him. Gilgun delivers a subtle yet beautiful performance here. Cassidy leaves Lucy. While the camera mostly focuses on her, we see Cassidy engulfed in flames in the background. He cast aside his umbrella in broad daylight and let the sunlight consume him. It’s depressing, but I never expected a happy ending for Cass.
What are your favorite episodes of Preacher? Let Your Geek Sideshow and sound off in the comments below!