Clearly there are multiple SPOILERS ahead concerning the exploits of Jesse Custer, Cassidy, Tulip and Arseface. Read if you’ve seen it or need a thorough primer
Right, let’s start at the beginning shall we? You are either aware of the Preacher comics, and thus most probably a rabid fan, or are coming to AMC’s new series completely cold, in which case you’d be forgiven for scratching your head and mouthing “WTF?” at the end of the pilot, albeit with a huge grin on your face.
We open with a mysterious force careening through the galaxy before landing in Africa, and into the body of a well-meaning preacher mid-sermon. This preacher isn’t our Preacher however and the entity, whatever it is, decides to depart, which results in the explosion of this particular minister all over his shocked flock. And thus the tone is set.
Quickly we’re introduced to Jesse Custer, a man who’s returned to his Texan dustbowl home of Annville to continue his late father’s church. In flashbacks we see that Daddy Preacher died by a gunshot to the head from assailants (as yet) unseen. Jesse is well known and decidedly not your average holy man; discussing the large levels of violence he could mete out to an abusive father with his young son is not the usual vicar talk one expects post sermon on a Sunday morning.
In quick succession we are then introduced to Cassidy (and if he looks familiar, that’s because he’s played by one-time Woody from This is England) as he trashes a plane full of would-be assassins, quickly followed by the aircraft itself, and Tulip, who’s despatching a similar killer in the back seat of her car as it roars through a cornfield. We are clearly in a mad world here, one that would make Twin Peaks look like a sleepy Derbyshire village. Finally we meet the sweet, young Eugene, a young man who has had a brush with some serious self-inflicted violence in his past that resulted in a bizarre facial disfigurement. His nickname is Arseface and if the name fits……
As the mysterious entity tries and fails to find a suitable host – in a superb, throwaway, just glimpsed news nugget it transpires that Tom Cruise exploded at a Scientology meeting – we learn a little more about Jesse and the town’s somewhat leftfield inhabitants. Jesse despatches a bar full of hooligan drunks with decidedly un-Church like levels of violence, an evening that lands him in jail next to Cassidy. The next morning he has a final crisis of confidence and vows to leave the cloth unless God shows him a sign. And a sign he receives, in the guise of the entity that merges with him, likes what it finds and decides to stay. Jesse is a changed man, but still himself, who has now found his true calling in life; to look after the weak, the afflicted and the bullied. His first action is to implore a congregational member to finally confront his awful, controlling mother, tell the truth and open his heart. This he does. To the letter. Cutting out his heart with a knife and giving it to her. Jesse clearly now has quite remarkable powers.
Preacher has had a tortured route to the screen, the very definition of development hell, with adaptations of one form or another stretching back to 1998. It’s taken the might of Seth Rogen together with writing and directing partner Evan Goldberg to finally get it made. And based on the pilot, they’ve a major hit on their hands. The tone struck is perfect; disparate characters, multiple locations and a thoroughly batshit premise are all handled with supreme skill.
This first season is a quick, 10-episode run, and we’ll be recapping and reviewing each and every episode right here at XO.
Preacher airs AMC Sunday nights in the US and is available Mondays on Amazon Prime in the UK.