So, I am loving the Preacher pilot. In the interests of full disclosure, I did read a few of the graphic novels, off and on, back in the day, so I only remember bits and pieces of the books. I wasn’t exactly clear on what powers, if any, Preacher possessed, although I knew there was a vampire involved in the story-line, and I was aware of the existence of “Arseface” which is what Cassidy, the vampire, called an unfortunate young man with a shotgun hole in his face. Where the story went and what plot points were involved are lost to time and I have no plans, or time, to re-read the series.
At any rate, I like to avoid the books for TV shows sometimes, because my impression is very different, when I have no idea what’s been changed from the books, or know what’s going to happen to any of the characters. Its one of the reasons why I won’t read The Walking Dead series until the show is long off the air.
But I love this show! This show is totally batshit! Its not as crazy as True Blood, which is in a class all by itself, but Preacher is definitely in the top ten of shows that you cannot watch if you are high on something, or they will mess you up.
Preacher has, hands down, one of the weirdest openings I have ever encountered for a western. Think Cowboys Vs Aliens.A strange glowing object heads towards Earth, specifically a church in Africa, were the light invades the body of the lone standing person, the Preacher, briefly gives him the superpower to command people’s actions, and then blows him up. (This is probably something like the Angels in Supernatural. If your’e not part of the Angelic bloodlines, you lack the ability to host a being so powerful, and you explode.) This creature, or force, tries this in several places, always with the result that the inhabited person explodes.
These incidents are eventually investigated by two odd gentlemen who are either alien beings, Angels or MIBs. It is clear they are on the trail of the “Exploding Preacher-Creature”. (Its always churches, and always the preacher.)
Next we go to Annville, Texas, where Preacher, aka Jesse Custer, is giving one of the most lackluster, non-fiery sermons I have ever heard anyone give (and I’ve been to Catholic church sermons.) His heart is totally not in it. The handful of parishioners are bored, the air conditioning is broken, he drinks too much, so he’s hungover, and he forgets his speeches. His organist, a single mother named Emily, is the only one who supports him. He’s considering quitting being a preacher and wonders why he ever came back to this po-dunk town.
At the church picnic, Preacher is approached by a little boy who asks him if he will hurt his Dad for him because he’s heard stories that Preacher used to do stuff, and his Dad keeps hurting his Mom, (this is Donnie and Betsy).Preacher witnesses, the boy’s father quietly twisting his wife’s arm at the picnic, but is still reluctant to get involved. He’s got some issues with violence which we will learn about in a little while.
Can I just point out, that as world weary as he seems, Dominic Cooper is till the sexiest Preacher on TV. Cooper is most famous as Howard Stark from the first Captain America movie and being an asshole in Dracula Untold.
We meet Cassidy on a plane above Texas. He gets into an altercation with some assassins. We know this because he asks one of them how they keep finding him, before stabbing one of them with a wine bottle, decanting his blood into a bottle of whiskey, and then jumping out of the plane, when he realizes he killed the pilot. He lands in an open field with his insides on his outside, but seems more inconvenienced than in pain. He remedies his condition by attacking one of the nosy cows wandering near him. The next time we see him, he’s intact, and still drinking from what appears to be that same bottle of, I want to say, liquor, but its probably not.
Tulip gets the most explosive entrance. Literally! Played by Ruth Negga, she is getting many laudations for her role here, as she totally inhabits it. We come upon her fighting for her life, in a car that’s zooming through a cornfield. She encounters two nosy kids after she emerges victoriously from the vehicle, and proceeds to teach them how to make a homemade bazooka, which she uses to blow up some helicopters, that had been following her This is, without question, one of the most awesome character entrances ever filmed for TV, and I love Tulip already.
Tulip heads out to Annville, where Jesse is still reconsidering his job as a Preacher, but so far, has only mentioned it to Emily. Jesse meets with the local sheriff and counsels his son, Eugene, an unfortunate soul with a gunshot hole in his face, whom Cassidy later renames “Arseface”. He then counsels Betsy, who tells him she’s likes it when Donnie hurts her, but I very much suspect, and so does Jesse, that she is lying. Tulip shows up and hits Jesse up with a job offer but he turns her down , saying that he must follow his faith, and she ain’t it.
Later that evening ,while contemplating his increasingly complicated present, Jesse gets set upon by Donnie, Betsy’s husband. To show you what kind of character we are dealing with, Donnie is a Civil War re-enactor, for the losing side, naturally.
This is where we get into the issue of why Jesse has been trying to avoid violent activity. He initially balks at fighting Donnie but Donnie insists, so Jesse kicks not just his ass, but the asses of his dimwitted friends too, and you can tell he absolutely loves it. Actually it’s the only time in the entire episode that we see Jesse smiling. Not only is he thoroughly in his element, but he wears a look of total peace on his face, that is kind of creepy. Of course, Cassidy admires this level of carnage, and the two of them form a bond that can only be forged through shared ass-kickin’, and jail time.
After Emily bails him out of jail, Jesse, regretting his actions in the bar (but not too much) , sits in the empty church, contemplating his future, when he is possessed by the alien entity. But he doesn’t explode. Instead he wakes up three days later, feeling refreshed, and tells Emily that he’s changed his mind about leaving the church.
When one of Jesse’s parishioners, who has been bothering him for days about his travails with his mother, comes to Jesse for advice, Jesse tells the man to open his heart to her and tell her everything.The same advice he’s been giving the man for some time now, but this time it has a different effect. The man travels all the way to Florida to tell his mother what he thinks, and initially you think he might kill her, but he rips his own heart out instead, and offers it to her. Jesse’s possession, which he doesn’t really remember, has some unintended side effects, that he does not yet know about. Everything I’ve just recounted is Jesse’s crazy as shit life when he doesn’t have superpowers. Lord help us, when he figures out he does.
And the MIBs are now on his trail, too…
So, for the rest of the season, I definitely expect wackiness to ensue.
Essentially, this show began like most shows do, introducing the main characters around whom the storylines will revolve. All of their stories begin separately, but soon, everyone converges in Annville, where the story could go in any direction, really. So far, Seth Rogen, who has really been a huge champion of the show, has remained more or less faithful to the books, at least as far as the character names, and such. Tulip has been race-bent, but its a lovely change because, c’mon! who don”t like Ruth Negga? The creators even managed to choose the other actors to look, more or less, like their book versions.
I like the main characters so far. Jesse is gloomy but intriguing, Tulip is definitely going to bring the craziness factor, and Cassidy brings a supernatural wild card element. There’s not a show on TV that can’t be improved by the random addition of a vampire.
I just want to give a shoutout to AMC. AMC (and HBO) has been tearing it up in the series department. Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, Into the Badlands and now Preacher. AMC seems to have an uncanny ability to choose stories and then turn them into successful adaptations. Its the network against which all other ones are being compared at this point, with its uncanny ability to hit it out of the park with show after show. (Keep in mind, I have never shouted out to a television network before, not even the Syfy channel.)
I’m looking forward to Preacher joining my roster of shows.