REVIEWED: SEASON 4 (EPISODES 1 - 4) | WHERE TO WATCH: AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
Garth Ennis's Preacher is one of the fastest-paced comic books of all time, taking its ragtag heroes on a hectic road trip around America, from Texas to New York and beyond, barely stopping to breathe in-between. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's Preacher, by comparison, is a continued exercise in frustrating wheel-spinning and narrative inertia. It took a whole season to get out of Annville, at which point they then spent two whole seasons milling about in some guy's apartment and the family ranch.
Now that the show's fourth and final season is upon us, one would be forgiven for expecting a little urgency from Jesse Custer and the showrunners. The season begins promisingly enough, with Jesse and Tulip mounting a rescue attempt for Cassidy, held at the Grail's underground headquarters in the Middle East. Cass is freed, Tulip and Featherstone have another brutal showdown, and Jesse jets off to Australia. It's starting to look like Preacher is on the move! And then... everyone sort of just stays where they are, for another excruciating three episodes.
As ever, the things the show gets right, it gets very right. Its villains are beautifully realised, with Herr Starr and the Saint of Killers looking and acting exactly as though they just stepped off of Ennis and Dillon's comic book page. In some places, there's even improvement – underutilised as she may be, Ruth Negga's Tulip O' Hare beats the book's wet blanket deep into the ground. It's worth it too, for the spot-on adaptation of Cassidy's transformation into a vampire, set in period Ireland.
The biggest problem remains Jesse Custer and his chemistry-free relationship with Tulip, Cassidy and himself. Never has Dominic Cooper felt so little like the Jesse we know and love as when he sits outside of the Jesus DeSade (!) mansion, umming and ahhing as to whether he should rescue a child from the grip of a literal child molester. Sure, the subplot gets us a cool Oldboy-esque fight sequence, but it's simply not Jesse Custer. And without that, this show isn't Preacher.
Even if this weren't an adaptation of an iconic comic book series, its languid pacing and lack of momentum would remain a serious issue. The aggressive commitment to ensuring that no one ever gets anywhere leaves Jesse stranded in contrivances for episode after episode. And yet it's too witty to dismiss entirely; too inventive to give up on, in spite of the interminable plotting and endless procrastinating.
The end nigh, Preacher remains its own entity. With the grand showdown between God, Hitler, the Saint and Starr still to come, it’s unlikely that we'll get Alamo (even if Jesse does get his eye patch by then). For those of us who have stuck with the show through thick and thin, or simply never read the source material, it shows just enough flashes of brilliance to stick through to the end. However, the back half of Preacher will have to pull a miracle out of the bag for this not to be remembered as a disappointment and a missed opportunity.