Season 1, Episode 10: “Call and Response”
Directed & Written by Sam Catlin
* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 1 episode, “Finish the Song” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 premiere, “On the Road” – click here
With the Season 1 finale upon us, will Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) get God to come to his church service? And where’s Eugene (Ian Colletti)? So many questions.
Well, we open on Annville, all it’s simple, rugged beauty. Love the quaint Texas charm. Meanwhile, everybody is very interested about what happens Sunday. Then Jesse goes flying down the road past one of his regular congregation, police in tow. The residents are all getting dolled up, waxing is half off, hair foils being put on all over the place. Tulip (Ruth Negga) is trying to figure out exactly where the preacher is, and realises the answer may lie with Donnie Schenck (Derek Wilson). Speaking of him, he and his wife Betsy (Jamie Anne Allman) actually do have a BDSM thing going on, so that’s actually surprising. I never believed it early in the season.
But most interesting is that Jesse’s there. Towel on, just had a shower.
In jail, Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) is chatting with other prisoners, handing out life lessons. He’s been busted up at the whorehouse. Then there’s Sheriff Hugo Root (W. Earl Brown), still requiring a bit of help to figure out exactly where his son Eugene’s ended up. Root sits down with the file on Cassidy. They go through a ton of nasty behaviour. Some extremely nasty. “I sort of lost my head a bit there; crime of passion,” he says after one photo shows an attempted murder. Strangest still are the dates. Root adds them up back to 1922. “And yet I look so young,” Cassidy quips. When the old vampire takes a run at the sheriff he gets a gunshot in the gut. Afterwards, the curious Root pumps out a little paper cup of blood and offers it up. Wow, that is an intriguing little pair. What will come of this new relationship?
Jumping back to Donnie and Jesse – the actual conversion in Annville has happened to Donnie Schenck. He decided to show the preacher mercy, as he was shown, when they confronted one another in the church. However, Tulip isn’t there for any of that sweet bullshit. She’s there for Jesse. Outside, she lures him in with the slight suggestion of sex. But really, she has a friend in the trunk. You know it: Carlos.
We flash back to Carlos himself. He is one greasy little bastard. And his flirting game is awful. He’s outside, as Jesse and Tulip are inside looking through safety deposit boxes in a bank. Then Jesse finds a double-fisted dildo: “It‘s like Lady and the Tramp except in our butts,” he jokes shaking it at his girl. The whole sequence leads to when Carlos decides to leave the two lovers behind, seeming jealous of their relationship. He cuts a security guard loose; the who ends up dead at the end of Custer’s gun. And worse? At the same time, Tulip – carrying a baby, which was hinted at a few moments earlier – obviously miscarries, or begins to, as the sirens start blaring.
In the present, Jesse asks the tied up Carlos why he did it: “You were happy,” his only response.
Back at the Quincannon factory, Pappy (Biff Yeager) stands watching a pool of bubbling filth, talking on the phone. I have a feeling we, the non-comics readers (I’ll be buying soon), are going to find out more about him soon.
In jail, Cassidy lets the newly informed Hugo in on a bit of what happened to Eugene. Then he starts questioning the father about whether he’d be happy if Eugene simply disappeared. He pushes a bit too hard before Root pumps him full of lead. Prior to letting the vampire go.
The Schencks sit in bed while in the kitchen Jesse and Tulip argue over an “eye for an eye” and if someone has to pay for their child dying. What a devastating conversation, even if it isn’t long. That river of pain between these two lovers runs deep. It’s at that moment Jesse decides to kill Carlos. Only Tulip doesn’t want to get her car dirty. Or, maybe she’s changing her mind. They let their captive go (while Johnny Cash’s “Personal Jesus” cover plays). They even arm him. Make sure he’s ready. Not long later he stumbles down the road, beaten to pieces. Yikes.
The gang is readying Custer’s church for Sunday service. The big one. On the altar, Betsy has a look at Jesse’s little phone to God, and they try sussing out how to work the thing. Love how nonchalant she discusses it with him. When the day comes, everybody’s present. Waiting to see what goes down. Pappy’s there, of course Emily (Lucy Griffiths) and her family, even the Loach family with Tracy propped up in her bed. They’re all there.
Before Jesse can get things rolling, Odin (Jackie Earle Haley) stands up to talk about how all priests and holy men and preachers are “full of shit.” So the preacher sets about using the phone, angel hand and all. There’s even a positive winding up, but the contraption doesn’t seem to work. “Just shoot its dick off,” someone yells from the crowd.
Out of nowhere, all the light disappears. The sun is darkened. And then a blast of light opens up at the altar. An image of God (Mark Harelik) appears, speaking to them from a throne in white. Although he gets a bit angry. Doesn’t please him to just be called up suddenly. This leads to Jesse lashing out at his God, telling him of “sin winning” and the good side losing. “Why don‘t you act like a father,” he scolds the Creator. Finally, he agrees to ask a few questions. Typical stuff. Then he claims that we need both love and pain, in order to understand being a human. Things devolve and people shout all their questions. Odin can’t stand it, though. He asks about his deceased daughter; God affirms she’s there in heaven. This just about floors Quincannon.
But God wants to hear from Jesse. What he’d like to know. He wants God to tell him his plan, for Jesse personally. “You have not failed,” the big man in white lets him know. God says they are all “saved” and that also extends to Eugene, apparently. Jesse says he sent the boy to hell. Seems God’s not particularly keen on letting anyone else know about Genesis. The preacher needs more answers. He knows this man is not God. The power of Genesis comes out of Jesse and discovers from the impostor: “God is missing.” Then people come on the other end of the camera to take the angel away, a rogue giving out secrets.
What will become of Annville, the world, if God is gone? The church gets trashed for now and the congregation leaves. Everyone is lost, not just God.
There’s not much hope left for anybody after finding out God’s up and vanished. Suicide, mischief, murder, maybe even worse – the paedophile bus driver gets killed and has a copper rod shoved in his ass; Tracy Loach’s mom puts her out of her misery; Hugo sits at home in a daze; even Donnie is thrown completely for a loop, not knowing where to go from here; and Odin, he’s been far gone a long time, anyway, now making a small child out of meat.
Can’t forget the basement of the factory, the Methane-Electro Reactor at Q.M.& P. Pappy’s cheated on his wife with a prostitute, who is now flicking all the switches, pushing buttons, and making the place go wild. Oh, damn. The pressure is ready to explode – these are the little valves we’ve seen blowing around the town from time to time. Now, they’re letting loose all over the place.
And after not too long, a massive explosion blows the Custer church to bits, sucking it almost right into the Earth.
After the trip from hell, Fiore (Tom Brooke) arrives back at where he’d been picked up. Alone. He looks a little sad, as well. Or maybe he just had a rough time.
At the same time, Jesse, Cassidy, and Tulip are planning on a massive roadtrip. To look for God. This pleases the ancient vampire, though Tulip wonders exactly why, or how they’ll ever find him, what they’ll do if they track him down. And this time, Custer wants answers. He’s on the side of the Lord yet he wants to take the Lord to task.
Oh and Jesse still sees Eugene now and then. Promises to get him out of that fiery pit in hell. I hope the poor kid can last. On television at the diner, we find Annville has been totally blasted off the map. Everybody dead, no survivors. Holy shit.
And so heading into Season 2 we’re likely to get into the bulk of the comics, more storylines directly from the pages. That’s my guess, as I understand there’s more of a roadtrip-type aspect to places they go, et cetera. That’ll be interesting. And now that Annville is gone – only that reincarnating lady-demon from the motel still lurching around through the rubble – the settings will have to change.
Plus, we’ve got The Cowboy (Graham McTavish) on the tail of the preacher.
What a god damn Season 1 this was! Loved every last bit of it. So good. Excited now for a second season to take things up a notch. It’ll be impressive, I’m sure.