“It’s a miracle.”
PREACHER is based off the 1990s comic book by Garth Ennis and and Steve Dillon. I’ve heard of the source material, but never read it, so these reviews will be based on solely what the television adaptation has to offer. As we delve into more of their backstories, we’re sure to pull back the covers a lot more and learn motivations and histories, and what makes these colorful personalities tick, but on face value, what “Pilot” does well is let you know who Jesse Custer, Tulip, and Cassidy are. And that’s crazy.
Holed up in the local church in Annville, Texas. Jesse is a minister who speaks to his congregation with little excitement and enthusiasm. He smokes and drinks, and fixes the front marquee daily from delinquents who switch around the letters to form obscene phrases. There’s a sadness that’s evident. His one friend seems to be Emily (Lucy Griffiths), a single mother raising two children, and the church’s organist.
Dominic Cooper is a good actor and plays understated well. When Jesse confronts Donnie, an abusive husband in a bar, he gets the worst of it at first, but our first glimpse of the real Jesse Custer emerges, and he quickly dispatches of Donnie and his friends with brutal efficiency. When the fight is clearly over, he coldly snaps the wife beater’s arm and gives him a compound fracture.
Between Tulip and Cassidy, it’s difficult to choose the winner for most electric opening. For Tulip, we’re jump started right into the backseat of a speeding car, barreling through a corn field. Tulip and a nameless opponent are beating each other up, kicks and punches thrown, eventually a knife is used. It’s a great action piece, especially when the camera cuts away to show the chaos from afar, the car swerving back-and-forth amongst the cobs. Tulip eventually meets up with Jesse and there’s an obvious history between the two. Tulip needs his help with something, but the preacher refuses, not wanting to get back to the life he’s tried hard to leave behind.
And Cassidy? Well, he’s apparently a booze guzzling, potty mouthed, Irish vampire. He’s first seen up in the air aboard a private jet. He pours drinks, and laughs with a group of people before he heads to the bathroom and notices a defiled bible. What follows is a fantastic fight scene. The group of people in question are some form of vampire hunters (we’re not told anything about them yet), and Cassidy quickly lays waste to the lot. The highlight is when he smashes a bottle through a man’s chest, and then uses it as a faucet to drink blood from his body. Then as the plane is going down, he opens the hatch and leaps out, eventually landing (see: splattering) in a field, his body literally eviscerated. Then he eats a cow to somehow reassemble himself. It’s going to be that kind of show.
The most important revelation is a form of energy that appears from outer space. During the show’s first few minutes, we see it emerge from a wormhole and eventually makes its way to Earth, more specifically Africa. It enters the body of a local priest, knocking him back. He stands up and says ominously, “I am the prophet.” before exploding in a gooey mess all over his clergy. Throughout the episode, you see instances of the energy in different places around the world (there’s a darkly funny moment when we learn that Tom Cruise spontaneously combusts on a stage at a Scientology gathering), but it eventually settles in Annville, as Jesse looks for answers to his plight. Opposing the initial arrival of the energy, when it literally burst through the doors and violently penetrated the African preacher’s body, here, the spirit meticulously creeps up to Jesse before “standing” face-to-face. Perhaps it’s a way for the mysterious energy to get it right this time, making sure it’s selected the correct vessel.
We’re very much confined to the goings on of Annville. Aside from Cassidy’s intro, we never stray from the city limits (and Cassidy eventually ends up there anyway, in a bloody heap). I’m curious to see how far reaching the show goes, or if we’ll mostly be based in the Longhorn state.
• It’s clear that the entity that enters Jesse provides him with powers. The only one shown thus far is persuasion. As an mousey member of his church constantly asks him about how to confront his mother, Jesse gets fed up and tells to tell her the truth and open his heart to her. The man gets on a plane, later a rental car, all the while mumbling Jesse’s words to himself. He makes it to his mother’s retirement home, and pours out his emotions, telling her that she can’t control his life any longer, before literally cutting out his beating heart as blood spurts everywhere.
• Cassidy doesn’t follow the rules of a traditional vampire. He clearly walks around during the day, but must evidently avoid direct sunlight, as that sets him aflame. We’ve seen him drink blood, but it’s still unknown whether he needs it to stay alive or simply because he loves the gore. And it’s clear he’s able to ingest other things, having already downed many bottles of booze and an entire cow.
• Jesse makes a visit to the local sheriff’s house, where we see the officer making an odd smoothie made out of a variety of foods, including raw steak. Jesse is tasked to bring it upstairs, and the music sets it up like something is about to happen. When Jesse opens the door, we see a boy with a horribly disfigured visage. He gleefully gulps down the meat smoothie with a straw. I had to look up the boy’s name. It’s Arseface. PREACHER should be an interesting ride.