Gotta give ’em credit, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s adaptation of Preacher is not afraid to embrace the insanity of the comic. They’re refreshingly very content not to explain what the hell is going on to people who haven’t read the source material.
Let’s talk about that gonzo cold open: It’s 1881 and a creepy looking cowboy leaves his home to find medicine for his sick little girl. Awww. While on the road, he meets up with an overly talkative group of fellow travelers – doesn’t do or say much besides be ominous, then presumably the next morning – he enters the delightfully named town of Ratwater, whose entrance is kindly marked by a bunch of dead Native Americans hanging from a tree. And….that’s it.
Here’s the kicker – this scene has no bearing on anything else we’re going to see the rest of the hour. Fans of the book (including me) perked up immediately, because we know who that is – but for those who aren’t familiar with the source material, it had to be confusing. It’s also pretty ballsy. I love that the creators of the show have the testicular fortitude to just drop that scene with no context, and trust the audience to trust them going forward.
In the present our erstwhile Preacher continues to struggle with his place in life and his faith. Of course, as seen in last week’s pilot episode, this struggle is tested even further by the presence of Genesis inside Jesse – a presence he’s not fully aware of….yet.
Last week, Jesse used his new talent to drive a dude to off himself right in front of his dear old mum. This week, Jesse uses his powers thrice more – and slowly starts to understand the magnitude of what lies inside him. It starts innocently enough (it always does) but soon Jesse is noticing something is amiss and starts to test his powers: making a local (and disgustingly unrepentant) pedophile forget about the underage object of his affections. Jesse begins to realize the potential of his power and finally – in the episode’s closing moments, commands a local girl who is in a coma to wake up.
These events bring up an interesting discussion point about free will. Does Jesse’s “word of God” rob people of free will? Does he have a right to do that, even if his intentions are good? It’s a question I’d like to see the show explore and Jesse ask himself. It’s here that we’ve hit where the TV show and the comic are most different. In the book, Jesse discovers the power inside him and sets off on a road trip to find God. However, in the TV show, he looks like he’ll at least try to help the bedraggled people of Annville.
Hey, it’s one way to keep production costs down.
The people of Annville are the least of Jesse’s problems though, the creep-alicious hit men introduced in the final moments last week waste no time confronting Jesse. They know what’s inside him, and they want. it. out. This gives way to a truly bizarre segment, where some really…inventive…machinery and a deliciously creepy nursery song are used to try to remove Genesis from Jesse.
Luckily, Jesse’s new bestie, Cassidy, is here to interrupt this weirdo fest, only to make things weirder. What follows is a fight scene that sort of defies description. It made me think I had mistakenly wandered into an episode of Ash vs The Evil Dead…complete with a chainsaw.
Other than his ode to Leatherface, Cassidy doesn’t have much else to do this hour. There’s a nice scene in the church where Cassidy confides in Jesse that he’s a vampire, he’s being hunted, and he thinks the Big Lebowski is overrated. Needless to say, Jesse doesn’t quite believe in vampires, and (rightfully) disagrees with Cassidy’s opinion of The Dude and Walter. Something tells me he’ll get on board the vampire bandwagon soon enough.
Ruth Negga continues to be a vibrant actress to watch, but Tulip doesn’t have much going on besides trying to convince Jesse that he’s a bad man, one who is unfit to be a Preacher, and should be a criminal alongside her. It helps flesh out Tulip – but it felt a bit like she was stuck in the mud this week. It’s a minor quibble, and there’s plenty of time left.
- We’re briefly introduced to Odin Quincannon, played by Rorschach himself, Jackie Earl Haley. As the Boss Hogg of Annville one would imagine he isn’t here to make Jesse’s life any easier.
- We get a few more moments with Eugene a.k.a Arseface, who continues to question his faith wondering if having an ass for a face is exactly what God intended.
This was a solid, if understandably slower hour of television than the pilot. The overall storyline is still shrouded in mystery, which is fantastic. I would love for more writers and directors to respect the audience’s desire not to have everything spelled out for them. Hopefully audiences are as confident as I am that all will be explained it due time.
3.5 out of 5 Arsefaces.