With the past year all but wrapped, we’re looking back at our favorite entertainment things of 2018. Today, Preacher’s explosive third season.
Preacher has always been a great show. The AMC series has built upon Garth Ennis’ comics and taken on a life of its own—a crazy, scary, funny and surprisingly emotional life. That’s never been more evident than this year, when Preacher season 3 was its best run yet.
The third season had a simple but powerful premise: that Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) would have to return home in order to save his deceased love Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga). But Angelville was far from heavenly, with Jesse’s grandmother Madame L’Angelle (Betty Buckley) at the top of the food chain.
This is some of the darkest material in the comics, and the series didn’t shy away from that. It was one-part backstory, one-part “the devil you know” story, and it was honestly surprising how much of an emotional rollercoaster viewers went on.
Preacher is as well-written as any TV series out there, and the third season was tightly plotted as well as deliciously complicated. It started out with a jaw-dropping, devastating flashback (wherein Gran’ma cuts open her own daughter—Jesse’s mother—and leaves her to die) and there was at least one moment in every episode that was similarly memorable. It could be shocking, it could be funny, or it could be moving.
There was plenty of action for people who’ve enjoyed the show’s off-the-wall adventure, from The Tombs to priest assassins to neo-Nazis and a literal bus stop to Hell. But what made this season so great was that everything underneath that had a chance to shine. Preacher got the most out of the writing and the excellent acting, thanks to one legendary guest star.
Betty Buckley is a stage and screen icon. She originated the role of Grizabella in Cats and won a Tony Award for it in 1983. She was an Olivier Award nominee in 1994 for playing Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard opposite John Barrowman. But her work as Gran’ma made it impossible to ever look at her the same way again.
There’s a twisted, yet bittersweet relationship between Jesse and his grandmother. She truly loves him, but she also manipulates him for her own ends—and oh yeah, she’s a deranged fanatic who traps people in a coffin and hoards human souls. At the same time, Jesse can’t easily turn his back on her because she’s the only family that he has, even if it’s a terrible one.
The dynamic between the characters was so complicated and intense, and Buckley and Dominic Cooper were unbelievable together. They’re what happens when two great actors are able to play off one another and make each other even better. Every scene they shared was must-watch TV, right up until the incendiary final showdown between Jesse and Gran’ma in the season finale.
Cooper is one of the most criminally underrated actors in the business, doing so much more with characters than ever ends up on the page, and Preacher season 3 pushed him forward with a juicy storyline and a fantastic dance partner. He should win an Emmy for what he did this season.
And he wasn’t the only actor on top of his game—Ruth Negga and Joseph Gilgun continued to turn in good work as Tulip and the Irish vampire Cassidy respectively. The three leads of Preacher are a true core that writers can only dream of building a show around; they shine on their own but they also collaborate so well together.
Julie Ann Emery (Better Call Saul) and Malcolm Barrett (Timeless) had their best outings yet, even if it didn’t work out as well for their characters. The third season also served up appearances by Satan (The Walking Dead‘s Jason Douglas), the Saint of Killers (Aquaman‘s Graham McTavish), and Hitler (Noah Taylor from Game of Thrones). Preacher was a veritable buffet of awesome talent this year, and provided the writing to back it up.
Every single aspect came together in a way that took a great series and made it excellent. This season of Preacher was what television was made for. The only bad thing that can be said about it, is that topping it will be a Hell of a task—pun intended.
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