This Preacher review contains spoilers.
Preacher: Season 1, Episode 2
You don’t need to be a fan of the Vertigo comic book to be a fan of AMC’s adaptation of ’90s cult classic Preacher. The show’s creators (including Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who also directed this episode) hew close enough to the source material that the show is basically a love letter to fans of gritty action and dark, cheeky humor. The pilot episode went a long way toward establishing the creators’ intentions from the start. Preacher also goes a long way toward establishing the Creator’s intentions as well — especially regarding Jesse Custer, the show’s titular man of the cloth.
Like his congregation, Jesse is a man who is in dire need of saving — from the sins of his past and the vices of his current life. There’s still a lot we don’t know about Annville’s preacher man, which is good. The writers are good at doling out just enough about Jesse’s mysterious former life to leave us wanting more. What little we’ve learned so far has either been through very brief flashbacks (Jesse’s father being shot), or through Jesse’s interaction with Tulip, his onetime partner in crime and girlfriend. To her credit, she’s tenacious to a fault, hoping to recruit Jesse for one last mission. She’s also not quite over him — and I’d like to think Jesse is resisting Tulip because he’s not quite over her, either.
But “See” isn’t really about Tulip — even though Ruth Negga absolutely lights up the screen as Tulip, commanding every scene she’s in. She’s a magnetic presence, drawing trouble to her from every direction. “See” isn’t even really about Cassidy, either, who reveals himself to be a 119-year-old vampire from Dublin City who’s being chased by vampire-killing vigilantes. He also confesses to loving Chinese food (I agree) and thinking The Big Lebowski is overrated shite (I disagree). Jesse, who has found a kindred spirit and drinking buddy in Cassidy, merely laughs at these confessions, taking them for drunken rambling. But it’s easy to understand why Jesse might be drawn to Joseph Gilgun’s Cassidy, who likewise steals every scene he’s in.
One of the episode’s highlights is Cassidy’s showdown with DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef) and Fiore (Tom Brooke), an enigmatic duo who have made their way to Annville. We’re led to believe they’re hot on Cassidy’s heels, but in fact they’ve come for Jesse. What ensues is a melee involving a chainsaw, several hymnals, and a runaway severed arm. The aftermath of this battle leaves the church covered in blood — which Cassidy slurps up directly from the floorboards. Whatever weird ritual (an exorcism?) DeBlanc and Fiore were hoping to perform with a weird ditty and an empty coffee fails miserably. The big takeaway here, though, is that whatever force has given Jesse his power of persuasion might not be the sign from God the preacher was hoping for.
The bigger story in “See” is what Jesse chooses to do with said power of persuasion. In this case, he decides to confront Linus, a school bus driver who is on the cusp of giving in to his pedophilic urges. Linus believes he’s found a loophole; by confessing his sins and being baptized he’s automatically absolved of any wrongdoing. The bus driver’s cavalier attitude doesn’t sit well with Jesse, who can’t let go of the notion that Linus may still give in to temptation. It rankles him so much, in fact, that Jesse breaks into Linus’s home and performs a second baptism, this time in a tub of scalding water, commanding him to forget the girl. From his lips to God’s ears, as it were — as all thoughts of the girl are instantly erased from Linus’s mind.
But to crib from Spider-Man for a moment, with great power comes great responsibility. Jesse decides he needs to offset his vigilante justice with a truly selfless act — in this case helping a local family with a much-needed miracle. Whether or not Tracy Loach is able to open her eyes remains to be seen, but in the meantime, Jesse’s struggle to find balance between the darkness and the light is what really gives Preacher its mojo.
Some closing thoughts:
“See” is another well-directed episode from Rogen and Goldberg, who stage action scenes and simple dialogue with confidence and tons of style to spare.
Sure, America is the land of promise and opportunity, depending on who you are. For American settlers pushing westward in 1881, the land’s current occupants and indigenous cultures are something to be wiped from the map — all in the name of so-called progress.
I’m intrigued by the powerful Quincannon Meat & Power, which seems to slaughter anything in its path. QM&P is headed up by the always excellent Jackie Earle Haley, who plays Odin Quincannon. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of him in episodes to come…
Preacher was also a topic among others on the latest Sci Fi Fidelity podcast. Listen below or visit the Den of Geek Podcast Network on Soundcloud.