‘Preacher’ Episode 1.9 “Finish the Song” (8.5 out of 10) Developed by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg & Sam Catlin; Starring Dominic Cooper, Joseph Gilgun & Ruth Negga; Sundays on AMC.

Okay, “Preacher.” We can still be friends. Tonight’s episode was just what we needed to get us stoked for the season finale. Spoilers ahead!

The Cowboy is a Murder Machine

In addition to Jesse’s (Dominic Cooper) shenanigans in present-day Annville, we’ve been getting snippets of a particularly dark moment in Ratwater, Annville’s old west predecessor. We’ve seen the Cowboy (Graham McTavish) get the crap kicked out of him, watch his horse get shot and then return home only to find that his family has perished from disease. The scene in which we get to see him exact his revenge on the denizens of Ratwater is one of the series’ most visually striking. Until now, we’ve seen them as mostly trash humans, but when the Cowboy arrives with an American flag filled with the heads of Ratwater’s children during an almost religious observance of a tavern goer’s singing, it’s hard not to feel bad for what happens next.

We see the scene unfold from the Cowboy’s perspective, peripherally watching every man and woman take a bullet while the focal point remains fixed on the singer, whom the Cowboy commands to finish his song as he sows death and destruction. This scene drips with elegantly staged violence—we see this man who the comics call the Saint of Killers execute each person with orchestral precision. It’s a scene that is replayed from many different angles within the Cowboy’s mind as Fiore (Tom Brooke) and DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef) arrive in hell to bust him loose so he can kill Jesse Custer.

I figured that the Cowboy would have a grudge against preachers in general since one killed his horse and, by extension, his family. The real question will be whether or not the Cowboy is going to be a willing tool in the hands of Fiore and DeBlanc, or pursue his own path of death and destruction that leads him to the throne of God Himself. Either way, I’ve loved seeing Graham McTavish take this role into some dark places.

Keeping Cassidy Fed

Tulip (Ruth Negga) and Emily (Lucy Griffiths) had another great interaction tonight, and it showed us that Emily, who has been a bit of a sideline support for Jesse, definitely has the stomach for the weird world that is rising up around her. After she has a revelation about her relationship with Miles (Ricky Mabe), she decides to trick him into becoming a meal for Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), since groundhogs and goats haven’t seemed to help him heal from his massive sunburn. Also, I felt more sympathy for the small rodents that Tulip and Emily were feeding Cassidy than I did for the mayor of Annville—something might be wrong with me.

On one side, this action doesn’t seem very congruous with Emily’s character thus far. She’s tough as hell, but crossing the line to murder seemed a bit out of her moral code. In a show like “Preacher,” however, it’s a very appropriate way to show how Emily has chosen to side with Jesse and his crew instead of the town of Annville. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to endear oneself to a vampire.

Planning for Jesse’s Sermon

We know that Jesse has stolen Fiore’s and DeBlanc’s celestial telephone, and we also know that he’s planning on placing a direct call to God and using the power of Genesis to command him to appear before his congregation. It’s a bit of batshit craziness, but sounds like the perfect setup for the season finale. Jesse’s scenes had a quiet sort of restraint to them—eating breakfast with two vagrants paints a very biblical picture, and his reunion with Cassidy is tinged with a melancholy sort of acceptance of the road ahead of them.

Verdict

Based on tonight’s episode, next week is fixing up to be quite the showdown. Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley) is planning on facing off with Jesse as the Preacher plans to summon God Himself. Plus, we have the added intrigue of the Cowboy’s release from hell to look forward to. Oh! And let’s not forget that time when Sherriff Root (W. Earl Brown) finds the dismembered-yet-living body of Susan the angel (Juliana Potter) and decides to pity strangle her, thus throwing her machinations back into the mix. Until next week, friends!

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Tags: Ruth Negga , Joseph Gilgun , Preacher , Dominic Cooper , AMC