From the very beginning, “Preacher” has teemed with potential. The AMC series, adapted from the popular comic book created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, was brought to fruition by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg through sheer persistence. The pair behind hits like “Pineapple Express” and “This Is The End” had unsuccessfully pitched a “Preacher” adaptation after selling the screenplay for “Superbad.” But that failure didn’t manage to deter them.
“There were just a lot of iterations of it and we were always just very vocal, to our agent or whoever was around who would listen to us,” Rogen said last year. “That it was something we were big fans of and that we thought we could do a good job of adapting in some way.”
Well, the second season of “Preacher” — which also counts “Breaking Bad” alum Sam Catlin as a producer and showrunner — certainly proved enjoyable at times, good even. But the series is still woefully inconsistent. It never feels like it’s living up to its best self. And it’s a bummer.
“Preacher” is at its best when it’s amping up the violence and the tenacious bond that Jesse (certified zaddy Dominic Cooper), Tulip (Ruth Negga) and ol’ vampire Cass (Joseph Gilgun) share, honoring the graphic novel from whence it came — which itself is super brash and delightfully over the top. At its worst, the series is bogged down by convoluted plotlines or unintentionally murky motivations.
Last night’s finale, for example, had one or two too many bait and switches. Jesse was — then was not — being groomed as the new Messiah with a potential appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel” and a staged shoot out. The Saint of Killers’ exit seemed too easy — was it part of Starr’s plan all along? Sure seems like a lot of work for a little pay off. Tulip is dead, except she’s probably not. And what in the actual f—k is going on with Eugene and Hitler?
The finale was admittedly as funny as the series has been in a few episodes — nobody can be as tender and aloof as Cass when he’s smoking crack in the afternoon — and it capped off a disjointed season as satisfyingly as it could. Yet it still managed to leave our protagonists in a somewhat predictable place. (Like seriously, y’all. Tulip ain’t dead.)
The sophomore season was a lot more self-serious at times and by the end, it was less about the adventures the trio has, and more about the machinations of their relationships with each other. In the second half of the season, it’s unclear why Cass and Tulip even hang with Jesse in the first place — he’s got great hair, but he’s essentially a selfish f—kboi. And it’s a shame: Watching these characters crackle off of each other is one of the best parts of the series. When they’re having fun, the audience is, too. Frankly, it would be enough for me to watch Cooper, Negga and Gilgun chat in a room for an hour, but I suppose that doesn’t qualify as primetime television.
All in all, it still seems like the supernatural Western can’t quite figure out what it wants to be — but two seasons should have been plenty of time for “Preacher” to find its footing. Here’s hoping the series gets a third season — and maybe it’ll finally get out of its own way.
Follow Rachael Vaughan Clemmons on Twitter — @rachaelclemz