PREACHER: “PILOT” AND “SEE”
Developed by: Seth Rogan, Sam Catlin, Evan Goldberg
Starring: Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, Joseph Gilgun
Air Dates: 22nd May and 5th June (Airing every Monday onward on Amazon Prime)
If you missed the first episode of Preacher, you didn’t miss much. Besides a rough-and-tumble, out-of-place preacher, a 119 year old vampire surviving a free fall from a plane, a bazooka made by a sassy Southern Belle and two children… okay, so you missed a bit. Welcome to the world of Preacher, AMC’s madcap new show based on the comics of the same name (created by Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon). Fortunately for us Brits, Amazon Prime is airing the show a day after the US, and how fortunate it is indeed. Preacher’s first episode hit like a well-aimed fist, equal parts dark comedy, supernatural intrigue and brutal violence. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s also not what you’re expecting. Seriously, whatever you’re expecting, Preacher isn’t it.
Besides a few extra heartstrings being pulled (watch the episode and that pun will become gruesomely clear) and the funniest Tom Cruise gag I’ve ever heard, the pilot acted much like the pilot of any show. In its own unique way, Preacher introduced us to the cast with flair and set a multiple storylines in motion. While Dominic Cooper’s Jesse Custer isn’t exactly the same ugly mug from the comics, his brooding yet darkly humorous portrayal makes up for his perfect hair. The premise for his character looks simple: a bad man struggling to find his way to goodness is nothing new to us, but it’s complicated by the appearance of old flame Tulip O’Hare (played by Ruth Negga), who has a ploy to swing Jesse back to the dark side. Among other cast introduced, (including a young man named Eugene whose face…well, I’m just going to tell you now, he’s credited as “Arseface”), is Cassidy. Straight away it’s clear that Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy is going to be a breakout role. A quick-witted and quicker speaking Irish vampire on the run, it’s as easy to relish in Cassidy’s insane brand of violence as it is to enjoy his affable personality.
The first episode feels somewhat like being thrown into the deep end, so far as story goes. Preacher is a show designed for fans of the comics, so if you have no prior knowledge, the show drops viewers into scenarios with little explanation, from missing backstories to a bizarre intergalactic terror that’s blowing up preachers, which seems to have taken up residence inside Jesse. It’s a risky play, but if these storylines pay off for both previous fans and newbies alike, the wait and momentary confusion will be worth it.
For all that episode two, “See”, makes headway into answering these questions, for each mystery we come close to solving, another one appears. The spider-web of plots, including the brief introduction of The Cowboy, is growing steadily larger. While this avoids any tendency towards a “monster-of-the-week” layout, it forces the viewer to work harder and there’s a danger of the show getting ahead of itself, teasing the viewer with too many proverbial carrots. With the amount of popular easy viewing around though, this, like many other aspects of Preacher, feels like a breath of fresh air. And at episode two it’s too early to say how all these characters link up, if at all.
That said, the revelations within “See” feel exciting and there’s incremental character exploration. It feels like we are discovering Jesse’s new power at much the same pace he is and the possibilities are opening up more for the next episode. We also get to find more about Cassidy, while still retaining the ambiguity that makes him so fascinating. If anything, he’s even more entertaining and shines in both scripting and casting. The blood-soaked church scene midway through the episode was revealing and enjoyable at the same time and cemented Cassidy’s role as the most lovable vampire psychopath we’ve had since long before Stephanie Meyer ruined vampires.
Overall, the episode felt much like the pilot, both in structure and fun. While it requires a particular brand of humour and might be overlooked by many of its potential viewers, the first two episodes have given us enough mysteries to keep us coming back, and more than enough reasons to suspect that this could become a real hidden gem of a show.
I give both “Pilot” and “See” 4 crosses.