Preacher is undamaged, unloved and doomed, but Tulip continues

In the fourth and final season of the adaptation of AMC & # 39; s comic books Preacher, tough female lead role Tulip O & Hare (Ruth Negga) is subjected to a psychological evaluation of the Rorschach test. She does her best to pass it, looks at every image and eagerly describes the creepy murders she sees in every ink stain. After she finishes, her friendly doctor explains nervously: "The test results indicate that you are an unrestrained disorder with a personality disorder susceptible to psychopathic outbursts. And a gun fetish. And unresolved abandonment problems."

Tulip, who was painfully hopeful a moment earlier when he talked about breaking up and headshots, sinks into himself and acknowledges that the diagnosis is appropriate. When the doctor tries to comfort her, she only smiles at him, as if trying to cheer him up. "It's okay. Some people can't be helped."

The scene feels like a Monty Python skit with a heart, a nice encapsulation of why Preacher has been such a great show. It may also explain why the series was largely ignored by critics and gradually abandoned by viewers. The setup for this scene – Tulip's ridiculous, hyperbolic blood and brain responses to a simple association test – is an absurdist sketch comedy. But Negga is so completely committed to the bit that it doesn't feel like a cheap punch. It is more like she comes to terms with the joke that is her life. Her combination of cynicism and sincerity, of ironically fantastic story and of course, nuanced acting seems almost designed to alienate every potential audience.

Preacher is based on the famous profane Garth Ennis / Steve Dillon Vertigo comic about the little preacher Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) in Texas, inhabited by Genesis, the most powerful entity in the universe. Genesis gives command to Jesse, which means that he can let everyone who listens to his voice do what he says. Angry about how the world is confused, Jesse goes looking with his girlfriend Tulip to find God and to explain to himself.

The comic was a blasphemy exercise, and in four seasons, the TV show took that dirty baton and ran away happily with it. The first season ends with almost every character who dies in a huge stool explosion when the safety systems do not work properly in a pigshit management facility. A person who escapes is called Arseface (Ian Colletti) because his face, seriously malformed after a failed suicide attempt, looks like a giant anus. In the meantime, God (Mark Harelik) has come to earth to listen to jazz and participate in unspecified sexual acts while wearing a full-body dog ​​fetish suit. In the fourth season the gross humor does not let go. Jesse & # 39; s vampire friend Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) is captured and tortured by having his foreskin removed repeatedly. (Vampires regenerate.) The foreskin is then processed, packaged and sold as a high-quality anti-aging cream.

Photo by Lachlan Moore / AMC / Sony Pictures

Preacher stages of this kind of nasty setpieces with a joyfully common witty inventiveness. A recent episode opens with a pitch-perfect advertisement for that Cassidy foreskin cream, complete with fashion-shoot jackets and a cute slogan. When asked about the secret to young skin, the model whispers: "I will never tell." Cut at Cassidy screaming like a machine like a grocer who is constantly cutting him. (Yes, there is a shot of the bloody pieces that are piled up.)

In the comic, Jesse is a fairly typical tough guy with a code; he is a sympathetic cowboy hero. In the TV show, however, he is a religious megalomaniac man who is convinced of his divine destiny. He is also a jealous, controlling friend. He is not very sympathetic. And that means that the focus of identification in the series shifts to Cass and Tulip, who eventually try to help Cassidy when Jesse, typically, skips over to continue his own quest.

Gilgun is great as Cassidy. He does not play the vampire as a loving villain, but as someone who acts as a loving villain. His true self comes through periodically, with flashes of sadness, confusion, and murderous self-hatred. But Negga really steals the series. Strong female characters are generally inexplicable badasses. They alternately go the Buffy the vampire killer route, showing their vulnerability by tormenting whether their strength makes them abnormal or non-feminine.

Photo by Lachlan Moore / AMC / Sony Pictures Television

However, tulip is different. She likes to fight and break things. She is confident that she can beat the tar of any opponent. But at the same time she is deeply uncertain about her own judgment and darling. Her uncertainty and self-confidence are subtly linked to racism. Jesse & # 39; s family despised Tulip's, and that rejection is still high. The father of Tulip was also murdered by the police. She is the product of a society that has sent her the lifelong message that she is not good and that all her projects and dreams will fail.

Tulip has internalized that message and she can easily succumb to despair. Negga lets the audience see her think. When Jesse leaves her, she is not angry with him (as she should be), but with herself for failing him. Her anger and sadness are directed inwards; she thinks she got what she deserves. But her reaction to despair is inevitable to pick up herself and do what she thinks is right. She may be useless and unloved, but she can still love and she can still be a hero.

Of course her plans don't work as they should. Cassidy is also a confused mass of uncertainty, and when Tulip tries to save him, he nods every attempt. But that does not mean that Tulip's goals are wrong or wrong. In season 3, God himself (in that dog costume) tells her that she is an asshole. She thinks about it for a moment and answers that he should step out of her face, otherwise she will kick him in the ass. It may be a false bravado, but God looks nervous. After all, the world is just absurd enough that maybe it could do it.

Photo by Lachlan Moore / AMC / Sony Pictures Television

PreacherThe absurdity is intentional and philosophical. Jesse, Tulip and Cass fight and drink their way through a world that is not only indifferent, but even evil. In season 4, God gratefully arranges the unlikely death of anyone trying to help Jesse, including cute dogs and children. It's funny as Kafka is funny, albeit with more chases and explosions. Just like Sisyphus, the characters continue because they have no choice, but perhaps also because they have decided that a stone won't beat them.

In the same way, Preacher the series has reached a fourth and last season, even though no one seems to be watching it anymore or writing a lot about it. It is unclear how the series will be completed, although it is already clear that the end will differ considerably from the conclusion of the strip. Will Tulip find happiness, hopefully with someone other than that bastard Jesse? Probably not; this is an unfortunate God-damned world, and it does not offer much hope or help to anyone. Few television programs recognize the bitter things in life with such imaginative humor, and few characters are confronted with this kind of cynicism with the two-handed grace of Tulip O & # 39; Hare.