WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Season 4, Episode 9 of Preacher, "Overture," which aired Sunday on AMC.
Make no bones about it, the version of Jesse Custer portrayed by the insanely talented Dominic Cooper on AMC's Preacher is a giant jerk.
He's cold, crass and revels in his more violent tendencies. To be fair, protagonists can exhibit these undesirable attributes and still manage to keep viewers on their side. We've seen plenty of ill-befitting behavior from "heroes" on shows like Breaking Bad (we're referring to Pinkman, by the way), Sons of Anarchy and countless others, who can still garner sympathy from viewers. Jesse Custer is not one of these "heroes," however, and his sudden change of heart in the ninth episode of Preacher might be too little, too late.
Jesse Custer is a complex man, one who is riddled with remorse but can't seem to stop himself from succumbing to personal demons. His struggle with faith sits over his shoulder like a vulture eyeing fresh roadkill from atop a telephone pole, waiting until the coast is clear, only to swoop down to seize an opportunity. If Jesse's faith waivers, people die. If it stands true, people still die, but it's not Jesse's fault. This sort of damned if you do; damned if you don't existence would test anyone's faith. "Overture," the penultimate episode of Preacher, finally gives Jesse the faith he needs to save the world.
Last episode, Jesse shambled through Tulip and Cassidy's hotel room door and collapsed into his long-lost lover's arms. The reverend had spent time in Hell and had his eye plucked from his skull by God Himself, so it's hard to blame him for being tuckered out. The experience left Jesse with a newfound respect for the Almighty. But that respect was born from fear. Jesse couldn't wield the power of Genesis to use "The Word" on God. The Alpha and The Omega had Reverend Custer at a loss for words... literally.
The fact that the power which is neither of Heaven nor Hell could not be mustered at his most desperate hour forced Jesse to look at himself in the grand scheme of things. For the first time, Jesse Custer was humbled. Of course, this didn't last. Jesse's sense of faith didn't return until he realized God wasn't quite as all-powerful as once suspected.
After making his way through The Grail's compound, Jesse once again found himself face to face with God. Jesse backed down, letting his fear get the best of him, but when he told the Almighty to just reach in and take Genesis Himself, God could not muster the might to do it. This moment signaled a turning point. Jesse Custer realized the being he had dedicated his life to, either through hate or admiration, was not all He was chalked up to be. God has a weakness, and it's one Jesse can exploit.
While seeing Jesse humbled does give us hope that maybe we'll see the tough-but-fair Reverend from the comics long-time fans have been chomping at the bit for, it does feel a bit cheap. From letting kids get killed to banishing innocent people to Hell, the Jesse Custer we know on screen has been a bad egg from the get-go. Finally finding faith in himself in the eleventh hour doesn't exactly make up for that.
However, from a story-telling standpoint, it is a clever way to wrap things up. The hero's journey is nearly complete as far as most viewers can tell, and that's probably good enough. No matter how things shake out next week in the series finale, Jesse has seemed to have learned some sort of lesson. At least he didn't freak out about Tulip and Cassidy's romantic fling. At least, not yet.
Preacher was developed by Sam Catlin, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. It stars Dominic Cooper, Joseph Gilgun, Ruth Negga, Ian Colletti, Graham McTavish, Pip Torrens, Noah Taylor, Julie Ann Emery, Mark Harelik and Tyson Ritter. Preacher airs Sundays at 10:05 pm EST on AMC.