The long-awaited adaptation of Preacher doesn’t kick off as you might expect with a look at its title character, the reverend Jesse Custer. Hell, he doesn’t even show up for the first couple of minutes. Instead, the show opens with a record-scratch, a dustily projected image of a few planets emblazoned with the words “OUTER SPACE”, and a screaming cosmic being whose flight is accompanied by a horn section of air raid sirens.
Hanging a left at Saturn, our space oddity flies to a church in Africa (the globe helpfully says “AFRICA”), where it briefly inhabits the body of a preacher who is conveniently talking about the Book of Revelation. After knocking him over and stunning his congregation into silence, the preacher stands up and addresses the crowd with a booming, Paul Robeson-esque baritone. At the very moment the preacher takes on a mantle as a prophet … he explodes. Oops. From this, we can surmise two things about Preacher: this show will be extremely goofy, and there will be a lot of collateral damage.
‘The time of the Preacher’
For people who aren’t fans of the comic the show is based on (which I’ll try to reference only when necessary), Rogen and Goldberg do a fantastic job introducing Jesse as he wakes from a nightmare. His back is covered in scars and tattoos, his desolate room is littered with empty bottles of whiskey, his hair is perfectly tousled even though he barely takes care of himself. He’s an archetypal hard-drinking southerner. But he’s also a terrible preacher, flatlining in front of his congregation and putting in a half-hearted effort, at best, to connect with anyone.
The introductions continue with the show’s lovable, godless rogue, who turns out to be a far better preacher than Jesse. As Irish drug addict/pyrotechnics enthusiast/vampire Cassidy, Joseph Gilgun’s cadence is musical, seductive, and practically incomprehensible. It doesn’t matter that all he has to do is talk. And talk he does, pretending to be the attendant on an extremely expensive-looking, coke-and-weed-fueled private flight, before he realizes that his fellow passengers are vampire hunters carrying marked-up Bibles that look like leftover props from The Number 23. (On top of all that, two mysterious men who have been tracking the entity’s path of destruction finally arrive in Annville, their intentions unknown.)
To escape, Cassidy jumps out of the plane, eventually landing in a field – we find out some logistics of his vampire life – he can repair wounds but needs blood to do so, on this occasion he eats a cow. Before that, he breaks a champagne bottle open in a guy’s chest and uses it as a blood tap. This manic spirit imbues all of the fights, from Cassidy hitting things off a table with a golf club at his assailants to kicking a chair at someone in the middle of a bar fight. It seems like everyone is having fun with the fights, ridiculousness and all, rather than joylessly trading punches like they’re healthy lunch snacks.
But the best fighter of all might be Tulip, Jesse’s ex-girlfriend and the show’s biggest immediate draw. Ruth Negga is a soulful whirlwind of menace, staking out Jesse’s house, biting a guy’s ear off, giving important life lessons about feminism to some random children, building a bazooka. You know, the usual.
‘Open your heart’
Jesse is trying to follow in his father’s footsteps, as characters on prestige television shows must. It’s true that the flashbacks to Jesse’s father being murdered in front of him serve a narrative function (we don’t see who’s pulling the trigger, but if the comics are any indication Jesse’s family situation is about to get a lot more complicated). But they’re also so boring and portentous that I’m having trouble writing this sentence, and by far the worst part of the pilot. Self-seriousness is not a good look on this show.
The series’ version of Annville is, at least in part, the nuts and bolts version of what you would expect from a small town in Texas (this isn’t Friday Night Lights, my dudes), but Rogen and Goldberg do a decent job fleshing it out all the same. Among the many locals the pilot gives us are the surly, morally panicked sheriff, his son, the extremely chill and fun and relentlessly positive Arseface – sorry, Eugene – and Donnie, the local thug who might be beating his wife, but also might be in a marriage with some weird kinks.
Donnie’s son, unaware of the intricacies of consent and the thin boundary between pain and pleasure, asks Jesse to beat up his dad. This kicks off what will probably be a big part of the series’ ongoing plot: Jesse breaks Donnie’s arm, giving in to his violent instincts from a past life with Tulip (who has tried to get him to go back out on “jobs” that almost certainly involve guns), and getting himself sent to jail with Cassidy in the process.
Then we get to the curious case of Ted Reyerson, a congregant who keeps talking about his overbearing mother as if straight from the pages of a Woody Allen script. It would be easy to assume he’s just supposed to comic relief. Instead, Jesse accidentally uses the power of the space entity – real name Genesis – (which, by the way, has entered his person in the middle of the night during a crisis of faith-type-situation) to tell him to open his heart to his mother. Ted does so, literally cutting his body open and depositing his heart in the middle of a confession. It’s grim, sick, and above all, amusing as hell. Praise the Lord.
Notes from the nave
It helps that the script was written by the series’ secret weapon, Sam Catlin. Catlin, for non-TV nerds, is a veteran of another AMC show that combined western instincts with dark comedy: Breaking Bad.
- “I just Abe Lincoln-ed that squirrel!” Great introduction to Donnie
- The airline Cassidy is on is called Babylonian, because of course it is.
- Rogen and Goldberg pack frames full of visual gags that function the way isolated panels do in comics, like the wording on the church sign.
Obligatory Johnny Cash song
Scripture of the week
The African preacher quotes Revelation 19:11-13 just before things go pop:
- 11 “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
- 12 “His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.”
- 13 “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”
Johnny Cash was keen on the first section (it’s quoted at the start of The Man Comes Around), while the rest acts as a precursor to the episode’s bloody action.
Most ridiculous death
It’s a tie between Cassidy’s makeshift blood tap and Tulip’s bazooka, if only because we (smartly) don’t actually see Tulip use the weapon. Also, the blood tap is a genuinely original vampire kill idea, which I thought was a myth like Bigfoot or successful sitcoms starring a post-Friends Matthew Perry. Honorable mention for Tulip’s use of an ear of corn as a spear.
Cassidy kill count
Five humans and one cow.
What is the first episode on the Preacher about? ›Why was Preacher canceled? ›
After crafting the bible for a potential series, HBO — under new executives — passed on the project. The network, Johnson said, thought Preacher was “too dark and too violent and too controversial.”Who is the kid in the first episode of Preacher? ›
At the Sunday barbecue outside the church, a young boy named Chris (Thomas Barbusca) tells Jesse that his father, Donnie (Derek Wilson), abuses his mother. He asks Jesse to hurt his father, though Jesse warns him that violence simply leads to more violence.Does Jesse lose his power in Preacher? ›
Jesse gave up a piece of his soul to save Tulip and Cassidy from The Saint of Killers. In doing so, however, he lost the power to use Genesis as well.What happened to Eugene in Preacher season 1? ›
When Tracy's mother began knocking on the door and asking what was going on, Eugene tried to run off. When he knew he had no way out, he shot himself, but a grazing shot left him alive and his face horribly disfigured. Due to this, Eugene was banned from attending church by his father.What possessed Jesse in Preacher? ›
Jesse (Dominic Cooper) has abandoned his life of crime and violence to preach indifferently at a tiny church in his hometown. Out of the blue (more or less literally), he's possessed by a creature known as Genesis, which gives him the power to make people do whatever he says.How did Jesse lose his eye in Preacher? ›
Jesse refused and attempted to use his power; however, God attacked him, biting out his left eye and leaving him a wreck. Before finishing the job, God fled when He detected the Saint of Killers approaching. Though physically ruined, Jesse happily realized that God was afraid of the Saint.Is Preacher Marvel or DC? ›
Preacher is an American comic book series published by Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics. The series was created by writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon, with painted covers by Glenn Fabry.What happened to Jesse in Preacher? ›
After he was buried, Jesse was sent to Hell and God put him several tests to see if he would be tempted. While Jesse seemingly passed, God resurrected him but told Jesse he failed as he sensed his temptation before biting his eye out and sending him to reunite his friends to watch the Apocalypse.Who is the real God in Preacher? ›
So there you go! The Preacher goD actor is Mark Harelik. He's an actor named Mark Harelik, playing an actor named Mark Harelik, who turns out to be goD.
What happened to Cassidy in Preacher season 1? ›
Cassidy was taken to Masada, where it was quickly realized that he wasn't who he claimed. Starr hired a special torturer to interrogate him. While Jesse was storming Masada, God stopped time to speak to Cassidy. He gave him the same message he had given Tulip: Tell Jesse to stop searching for him.Is Preacher a vampire? ›
Anyone who's seen AMC's Preacher, the funny and frequently bizarre supernatural comic-to-TV adaptation, can't help but have been bewitched by Joe Gilgun's Cassidy: the fast-talkin', fast-drinking, fast-fightin' Irish vampire that aids Jesse Custer in his extra-earthly endeavours.Does Jesse know Mike's dead? ›
In the next episode Jesse tells Walt that he things Mike is dead and mentions that “walt would have to look over his shoulder if Mike was alive…” this dialogue is referring back to the shot over Walt's shoulder. that's how Jesse knows.Who is the villain in Preacher? ›
God is the overarching antagonist of the comic book series Preacher, and its 2016 AMC television series adaptation of the same name. He is the creator of the universe, who ran away from Heaven years ago under mysterious circumstances.Does Jesse get a happy ending? ›
The finale did give Jesse a happy ending of sorts when Walt, finally showing something like remorse for what he'd done to his former student, set him free.What did Eugene do to the girl in Preacher? ›
Family. Tracy Loach was a close friend to Eugene. Once Eugene kissed her after misreading a situation, Tracy tried to kill herself by shooting her brains out. However, Tracy survived the blast but was left in a coma.What did Eugene do to Tracy? ›
Custer finally reveals some much-needed information about Eugene: It looks like Eugene is responsible for Tracy Loach's “coma.” After confessing his love to her — which she did not reciprocate — Eugene shot her in the head with a shotgun and then shot himself (which we already knew).How did Cassidy became a vampire? ›
In his earlier days, Cassidy was a freedom fighter for the Irish republic. But after watching his best friend killed, he deserted his post. While deserting, Cassidy was attacked by a vampire living in a bog and was inevitably turned into a vampire himself.Is Jesus related to Jesse? ›
See Genealogy of Jesus for more explanation of the differences, but both lineages permit the interpretation that Jesus is the "stem of Jesse" by his descent from Jesse's son, David.Does Jesse become a vampire? ›
Jesse was a college student and a friend of Aaron Whitmore. He displayed an interest in Caroline Forbes and was involuntarily turned into a Augustine vampire. He was killed by Elena so she could save Damon.
Why is the Saint of Killers so powerful? ›
The Saint is described as "a grim, taciturn, implacable killing machine" with supernatural abilities involving divinity, immortality, and influence over Heaven and Hell. His goals typically centre on bringing down individuals through destruction and death by the laws of Paradise.What is the story behind the Preacher? ›
Preacher tells the story of Jesse Custer, a preacher in the small Texas town of Annville. Custer is accidentally possessed by the supernatural creature named Genesis, the infant of the unauthorized, unnatural coupling of an angel and a demon. The incident flattens Custer's church and kills his entire congregation.What is the plot of the TV show Preacher? ›
Premise. Jesse Custer is a hard-drinking, chain-smoking preacher who, enduring a crisis of faith, becomes infused with an extraordinary power. He embarks on a quest to better understand his new gift and literally find God, alongside his trigger-happy ex-girlfriend, Tulip, and new vampire friend, Cassidy.What is sins of the Preacher based on? ›
Inspired by a true story, the film portrays the shocking tale of the mysterious suicide of Debbie Martin, the beloved wife of Andrew Martin, the town Reverend. But as days pass, Andrew's strange behavior catches the eye of Debbie's mom, Susan Parker, who suspects something is not right.