Pilot – Time of the Preacher


After what feels like many, many years of false starts and sudden deaths, AMC aired the first episode of Preacher Sunday night.

Aw man, there’s about forty different ways I can think of to start this…

I can make some fun referential jokes to the source material; cite my sad, sad, sad knowledge of the source material, or I can wax poetic (already did that on my own blog). Honestly, though, that kind of shit gets grating real fast.

635971782418409829-PRE-S3-Jesse-smoking-MC-0626-V2So, let’s get to the short of it: I’m recapping Preacher weekly (to the best of my ability) here at Shotgun Honey. As the show airs, I’m going to do my very best to avoid comparing the show and the comic. Yes, I have knowledge of where the story CAN be going, but I think it’s a disservice to do a recap and then focus on what’s come before. Let’s judge the show by its own merits.

Also, I feel this goes without saying, but SPOILERS will follow.

With that said, this is a damn strong pilot.

We kick things off in ‘Outer Space’ as seen through the eyes Wes Anderson (seriously, there’s a great little homegrown feel to the effects here, I really dug it) and the wail of a prison siren. Cue Genesis. This ball of fire makes its way through the cosmos and towards our little blue pebble. Genesis wails (literally) down into Africa and right into the breadbasket of an Africa preacher—who is ominously talking about the book of Revelations and a specific horseman.

Genesis’ stay isn’t very long as it seems the entity may be a little too much for our friend to handle and after displaying a very odd ability to make folks listen to what he tells them; the preacher explodes in a bloody mess all over his congregation.

Genesis – 1 Humanity – 0

Cut to West Texas. Big sky. Chapel in the distance. Willie Nelson strikes a chord and Time of The Preacher plays. We get a good look at the back of our main character, Jesse Custer. He’s scarred and sports an interesting tattoo on his back (we’ll get to this later). He’s a sullen guy. Seems to dream a lot of his father getting shot in the head (apparently also a Preacher—big shoes to fill).

Jesse’s not a very good Preacher, but his congregation seems to like him enough. After an awkward sermon, one of his parishioners, a kid, tells him about his father’s penchant for physical abuse on the family. He mentions Jesse’s past, about how the town knows he’s got a penchant for violence. He’d like Jesse to handle this problem, to make his father stop hitting his mom. Jesse gets a little cold when he explains the cycle of violence, then tells the kid he’ll do things the right way, much to the kid’s disappointment.

In the meantime, Genesis – 2 Humanity – 0. Poor Russian Satanists.

Preacher/ PilotWhile Jesse wanders about and deals with the idiocy of his small town, we take a trip back skyward to a private jet midflight. There’s an Irishman entertaining a group of drunken men. He seems to be a casino worker by the name of Cassidy. Comes across as the type of guy anyone would love within moments; charming, a laugh riot, and a hell of a lilt. Cassidy hits the head and finds a bible in a cabinet with all sorts of fucked up notes. Taking that as a sign of impending wackiness, Cassidy exits the loo with a joke and proceeds to beat the living shit out of a plane of men with bizarrely archaic weaponry. Also, he’s a vampire! We find this out as he tears an attacker’s throat open and partakes of some drink. Oh and there’s also filling up on some of the red stuff before leaping out of the plane with an umbrella and no parachute. Mary fucking Poppins, indeed.

Jesse pays a visit to an old drunk to check in. He goes to get the poor fella a shirt and cue ominous showering: someone’s there. Jesse gets the hell out of dodge and we’re treated to the back of a woman watching as he drives off.

Cut to not that long ago in the middle of a cornfield in Kansas where we meet Tulip O’Hare. She’s in the middle of trying to drive while murdering the shit out of two very irate men that seem to want a map. She makes short work of them and finds herself at a house where two kids are all alone. A quick message pops up on her phone giving her a short window before something comes and she takes the kids inside for some arts and crafts…

Well, homemade bazooka kinds of arts and crafts. I think it’s obvious with that Tulip is officially the most awesome and terrifying character on this show.

We then find out what happens to an Irish vampire when he hits the earth at terminal velocity. Apparently, it’s bad news for cows.

Back to Jesse. He pays a few visits on his off-day. Makes it over to a meat supplier by the name of Quincannon (here’s hoping this goes as bat-shit as it could) and meets with that kid’s mom. Another awkward conversation ensues (we’re seeing a pattern with Jesse here, no?) and he’s told all that physicality is something the lady likes. *womp womp*

tulipThe next stop of the sad sack tour takes Jesse to Tulip’s front seat. Seems she accidentally left some “lunch” in the car and really wants Jesse to buy in to a new scheme she has brewing—maybe involving that map—and is deeply disappointed in Jesse’s coiffure. There’s words, some definite hard feelings, and Jesse calls it quits. Jesse definitely has a rough past, and it seems a lot of it was shared with Tulip. She doesn’t believe he’s changed that easy, though, and is set on him coming back to his old ways.

Jesse finishes his town tour by visiting the root household, his presence requested by the Sheriff’s son, Eugene. Eugene’s got a bit of a thing with his face, but wants to know if God forgives him for what he did to look the way he does. Jesse assures him God holds no grudges but Eugene’s not so sure. He says he used to pray and God replied. After what he did, God no longer answers back. Slightly downtrodden, Jesse retreats the local watering hole where we found out Tom Cruise exploded.

Genesis – 3 Humanity – 0

You know what? Fuck that, it was Tom Cruise.

Genesis – 3 Humanity – 1

We also get the first meeting between the soon-to-be BROS FOR LIFE, Jesse and Cassidy. It’s a solid meet up; Jesse can’t understand the Irish bastard and Cassidy sinks to drinking out of a bottle labeled RATWATER.

Things go to hell when that wife-beating husband shows up—bonus douche points; he’s a Civil War reenactor—and he’s mighty pissed Jesse was asking questions about his rough and tumble redneck ways. Needless to say, the town finds out Jesse knows how to make a man sound like a rabbit in a bear trap, which lands him a prison cell with his new Irish friend.


Jesse’s bailed out. He gets a ride back to his church from his assistant/organ player and breaks the news: he’s quitting. Jesse’s realized he’ll never be able to keep the promise he made his father and figures the town is better off without him. He goes to his church, lights a smoke, and gives God one last chance to answer his prayers.

Enter, Genesis. Such a needy little fucker.

Jesse wakes up three days later, we get more of his dream: the night someone put a bullet in his father’s skull as he watched. He was still a boy. He cried, but his father told him that Custer men didn’t cry. He made Jesse promise him one thing: to be a good guy, because there’s already enough bad (kudos to Rogen and company getting what’s probably the most important line of dialogue from the comics in—I was worried).

So, back to the pulpit! But first, a parishioner that’s been on Jesse’s ass about his overbearing mother once again corners Jesse on the way to make his announcement. Fed up, Jesse takes a breath ad tells him one last time: “Be brave, tell her the truth, open your heart”—only this time, there seems to be more conviction there as our parishioner repeats the same words and ditches.

At church, Jesse’s got a full house. Tulip, the men he beat up, and Cassidy. He admits to his faults, but now, feeling something new; he’s decided to stay. He’s decided to do right by his town and live up to the promise he made so many years back.

It’s after all these events two very interesting things happen:

  • Genesis’ presence has not gone unnoticed. Two strange men with an affinity towards regionally appropriate attire have been tracking the events. We end our episode with both showing up at Jesse’s church—snazzy Stetsons and all.
  • That parishioner? Seems Jesse has a newfound effect on folks. This guy took a plane down to Florida and went to his mother’s nursing home. He told her to respect him, to stop criticizing his choices and very self, and promptly sinks a cake knife into his chest to tear his own heart out and present it to her as he draws his final breath.

In the words of one Sam Beckett—oh boy…

So, that’s the pilot wrapped up. What’s Jesse going to do when he realizes what happened to him? What’s Cassidy’s deal; who’s hunting him? Tulip: what’s her plan?

We’ll be back after the June 5th airing of episode 2. Thank Memorial Day for the break between the premiere and follow up.

Some quick thoughts:

  • Tulip’s map. Grail Industries? If you’re familiar with the comics, then you know she may be bringing some real fucking heat down on Jesse.
  • Cute bit with Ratwater whiskey. Familiar silhouette.
  • Who the hell was Cassidy calling on the phone? They found him again? Interesting to note: he called someone else with a lilt.
  • The tattoo. We see it on Jesse’s back in the open. You know where else we see it? On the forearm of the man who murdered his father. I may have screamed. That’s some deep shit.

What did I love?

  • Joseph Gilgun and Ruth Negga are a fucking joy as Cassidy and Tulip respectively. What phenomenal performances. That they steal thunder from Dominic Cooper is an accomplishment (he’s no slouch). I’m very confident in the leading cast.
  • The maintained spirit. There are MANY changes here, but it still feels like Preacher. The black humor is perfect and very well-realized.
  • The violence is there, man. Holy hell—open your heart indeed.

My biggest gripes?

  • Eugene/Arseface’s makeup? Terrible.
  • The rest of the townsfolk are fairly forgettable. Here’s hoping Odin Quincannon changes things. I mean, it’s Jackie Earl Haley. Still, I’m not attached to anyone in particular.
  • Accent slips can be annoying. This can improve, though.

Angel Luis Colón is the Derringer and Anthony Award shortlisted author of HELL CHOSE ME, The Blacky Jaguar novella series, The Fantine Park novella series, and dozens of short stories that have appeared in web and print publications like Thuglit, Literary Orphans, and Great Jones Street. He also hosts the podcast, the bastard title. Keep up with him on Twitter via @GoshDarnMyLife