This article contains spoilers for the second season of Preacher. I also wish the reader to know that I have not read the comics that the show is based on so all my knowledge (or lack thereof) comes from the series.
Preacher returned to our screens this summer for a second season of extreme violence, idiosyncratic humour and a large dollop of sweet, sweet blasphemy. I loved the first season of Preacher and the unique tone the series created, standing out among the enormous amounts of television available today. The second season started fantastically, creating an exceptional pace with the series peaking with the second episode ‘Mumbai Sky Tower’ which ranks among my favourite episodes of television this year. Then the action moved to New Orleans and the show slowed to a crawl and became incredibly messy and haphazard causing my interest to lessen each week to the point where I’m currently not that excited about getting a third season. So, what went wrong? Below are five missteps that Preacher took in its difficult second album.
13 Episode Season
The biggest mistake that the showrunners made with season 2 was to up the episode count from 10 to 13. All of my other issues can be seen to stem from this initial mistake with the storylines having to be stretched and spread over more episodes than necessary. Cassidy’s story with his son Dennis is a prime example with the storyline stretching from episode 3 all the way to the season finale ten weeks later. I liked the reveal of who Dennis was, Cassidy’s internal conflict with whether to turn him and then the eventual choice Cassidy has to make because Dennis is not in keeping with the moral code. The problem is it didn’t need to be a ten-hour arc because the plot just stood still for multiple episodes in the middle of the season and the writers were just waiting for the season finale for Cassidy to act when it made more sense to conclude the storyline much earlier. Back when Better Call Saul, another AMC show, was announced the show was set to get a 10 episode first season and a 13 episode second season but just after the first season wrapped the showrunners announced the second season would go down to 10 episodes because the plot didn’t justify the extra 3 episodes. I wish the producers of Preacher had made a similar decision.
The Sporadic Nature of Hell
While ‘The Sporadic Nature of Hell’ would make for a cool name for a rock band it is also one of my issues with Preacher’s second season. Generally, I liked the scenes set in Hell although quite often either the sequences outstayed their welcome or disappeared for episodes at a time. I would have liked either regular visits to Hell each episode or have a couple of the episodes in the season be primarily Hell-focused but we got something in the middle. The problem with the sporadic nature was that it highlighted the pacing problems in the other Earth-based plots because if Jesse’s search for God was having a slow week it seemed like the Hell sequences were just included to fill out the running times. I like where we left the season with Eugene and Hitler (a fun performance by Noah Taylor) walking the Earth but I could have done without the extended sequences of Eugene’s personal Hell especially the versions in ‘The Hole’.
The Grail Not Being The Bad Guys
Now this is where my ignorance towards the original Preacher graphic novels may make me look even stupider than before because I was surprised, and just didn’t like, when Jesse teamed up with Herr Starr and The Grail. When the organisation was introduced I thought they were going to be the primary antagonists, especially when Herr Star was introduced with that very entertaining sequence charting his rise to the top of the organisation. The final few episodes however portray them as a bit bumbling and without malice and with the Saint of Killers out of the way, the antagonist position is vacant. Sure, Featherstone (who I keep accidentally calling Mrs Featherbottom, Tobias’s alter ego from Arrested Development) and Hoover are manipulating Tulip and company but that feels ancillary and I wish The Grail had been villains for longer. They are set to become antagonists once again after the events of the finale but they’ll never have the same villainous presence that they had during their initial introduction.
Not Knowing What To Do With Tulip
The show seemingly has no idea what to do about Tulip which is a shame because she just might be the best character in the show. The start of the season was good with her and Jesse back together but soon the myriad of poor plot points came flying her way. We find out about her mobster husband for a two-episode arc which went unmentioned after it concluded with little fallout and consequences; it’s clear they just needed to fill out a couple of episodes to make the order for 13. Next, she has some kind of PTSD after facing off against the Saint of Killers which goes nowhere and is resolved a few unnecessary, but well-shot, dream sequences later; a plot conjured up so she had something to do while Jesse was with Herr Star. Then she is easily manipulated by Featherstone who poses as a timid and abused neighbour which I feel betrays Tulip as a character at the sake of forced drama. It may seem worse because the Tulip/Featherstone arc goes on far too long with pointless Guitar Hero games and trips to guys who melt guns just leading up to the eventual discovery of Featherstone’s true identity which is saved for the finale. It’s a shame that the most important thing Tulip did in the second season is die.
A change of location was welcome after the Texas-set first season and New Orleans was an interesting choice. It’s just a shame that so much of the season was set in the dullest apartment in the city. Whole episodes seemed to go by with characters just staying in the small, crummy set which only became interesting when either The Grail or The Saint of Killers came knocking. I hope the finale was the last time we ever have to go back there.
What did you think of Preacher’s second season? Let me know in the comments and geek out with me about TV, movies and videogames on Twitter @kylebrrtt.