Preacher Episode 1.01 “Pilot”
Directed by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Written by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Sam Catlin, Garth Ennis
Starring Dominic Cooper, Joe Gilgun, Ruth Negga, Lucy Griffiths, W. Earl Brown, Anatol Yusef, Tom Brooke, Ian Colletti AMC
Air date: Sunday, May 22nd, 2016, 9pm
Full disclosure warning…
I know nothing of the Preacher comics, story arcs, or characters. Thanks to some helpful direction from friends on Facebook, to origin story videos on YouTube, I now have a loose idea of what to expect. Preacher is a series from DC’s/Vertigo comics, written and created by Garth Ennis back in the mid 90s. There were several attempts made to get the comic put to film as early as 1998 with Kevin Smith attached as a producer. After almost 15 years bouncing around studios, then off to HBO, the series was finally greenlit by AMC thanks to the efforts of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who also co-wrote and directed the pilot. If you’re looking for a detailed analysis of all the similarities and differences between the comic and the series, I can’t help you. But I will say when it comes to other comic book interpretations, some of my favorite MCU films were based on comic characters I knew little to nothing about, such as Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy. Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, “with great power comes great responsibility.” I’m telling you, “with no comic knowledge comes no irrational disappointment.” So onward we go…
Warning – SPOILERS for Preacher Season 1…
Opening in outer space, we watch this white flashing light careen down towards Earth; Africa more like it. There, a preacher’s sermon about the Book of Revelations is interrupted by the flashing light that appears to possess him… until he literally explodes from within spewing his congregation with blood and guts…. Welcome to television Preacher!
On to Annville, Texas, where we see Preacher Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), and it’s clear he’s no ordinary man of the cloth from the empty liquor bottles that adorn his bedroom. His parishioners are lethargic at best, apathetic and ignorant at worst. They mess with the church sign, use their phones and tablets during his sermons and rush out before he even finishes talking. Strangely, outside of church, no one can resist talking his ear off, including a young boy who asks the Preacher to beat up his abusive dad.
30,000 feet above Annville, a crazy Irishmen leads a drunk coke-fest onboard a plane. That is before the gang he’s with pulls out old-school weapons and tries to kill the “abomination”. He with the nametag Cassidy, (Joseph Gilgun) shreds them apart, and in brutal fashion laughingly swigs some of their blood, before leaping out of the plane with only an umbrella. It’s pretty clear he’s a vampire, so there’s that potential fun.
Now to Kansas, not too long ago, an ultra violent fight takes place in the backseat of a car, while the now driverless car veers through a corn field. After attempted shooting and stabbings fail, the female passenger goes to the old ear bite before a stomp to the nads, and death by corn finish off the male counterpart. Yes, I said death by corn. All seen by two kids which gives us this hilarious back and forth;
Kids – “Awesome, so awesome!”
Tulip (Ruth Negga) “Hey guys… yeah so he was a really bad man, your parents around?”
Little girl – “Our mom’s dead and our dad’s at work, but I’m 10. I’m in charge.”
Tulip – “I bet you are.”
Tulip recruits the kids to help her prepare for an incoming assault. Explosions, gunshots, loud noises later, the kids comes out to find many many dead people… “AWESOME!”
Across to Russia now as this show is conquering the globe like Napoleon on steroids. A Russian clergymen is screaming to officials about a horrible disgusting event where the Magister leading a service exploded – arms, legs, brains everything. Turns out it was a Satanic Temple, so there’s that potential fun.
Annville again and Tulip tries to recruit Jesse back to their old ways before his conversion to a preacher. He refuses any advances. “We are who we are Jesse Custer,” she warns him. He pays a visit to the sheriff’s house to see his son Eugene (Ian Colletti), whose appearance lives up to the billing of “Arseface” and drinks his dinner (raw meat smoothies) through a straw. He doesn’t come to church because he feels God is mad at him. When he prays, he gets no answers. Preacher assures him God will always forgive, and appears to give some comfort.
He’s off to the bar where the TV top story is the death of Tom Cruise by… you guessed it, explosion in the Church of Scientology! That. Is. Priceless. Cassidy finds his way there as well, seemingly healed from his skydiving sans parachute adventure. A group of reenactors stumble in drunk. One is Donnie Schenck (Derek Wilson), the abusive dad/husband he heard about earlier. Things devolve quickly with Donnie attacking him and promising a huge beatdown. And that was just about the worst mistake to make, because Preacher channels Stone Cold Steve Austin, and opens the biggest can of whoopass I’ve seen on screen in a long time, capped off by a graphic arm break that reminded me of the arm wrestling scene from The Fly (1986)… weak stomachs be gone from this place!
Cassidy and Preacher end up in a prison cell shooting the shit. “Jesus what kinda preacher are you?” asks Cass in his thick Irish accent. “The lousy kind,” Jesse responds. They have an interesting conversation about the nature of faith and promises, before Jesse goes out on bail, and their new friendship is sealed with a handshake. He decides that he’s quitting the church and the announcement will come Sunday during mass. He gets back to the church and the doors are rattling and lights flickering (always a good sign). He makes a final plea to God before telling the almighty to “fuck off,” and on cue he is visited by a powerful invisible force that blasts into him and leaves his unconscious for three days.
When he wakes it’s Sunday and he has an announcement to make. His most annoying parishioner, Ted Reyerson (which has to be a play on Ned Reyerson from Groundhog Day) keeps pestering him, and Jesse tells him once and for all to confront his mother, tell her the truth, and open his heart… only this time the message comes from a different place, as if Jesse is empowered to force the will of people now. He realizes as he speaks to his congregation that he can’t quit but rather that he will fight the sin of Annville, and avenge the innocent, and above all, save them. While he comes to this life altering goal, Ted (Brian Huskey) visits his mom in Florida, and takes the whole “open your heart” thing a tad too literal.
Whoa, that was a lot to process! Preacher is gory, gritty, and has a hard old fashioned feel to it. Dominic Cooper is authentic as Jesse Custer. and over the course of the 90 minute pilot I winced from graphic violence, laughed at the quirky dialogue and characters, and empathized with the emotional plight of the main character. Being on AMC where The Walking Dead rules the roost, can only be a good thing for Preacher, which caters to the same audience of horror and comic book fans. Knowing nothing of the comic series before watching the pilot, allowed me to have a clean slate and have zero preconceived notions and I loved what I saw and can’t wait for episode 2. Even better, the responses of my friends who ARE familiar with the comics were equally positive, so I know that Rogen, Goldberg, and company are doing something right here.
Preacher will return with a new episode in two weeks on Sunday, June 5th. You can catch the replay of the pilot, next Sunday night at 9:00, followed by the first episode of Talking Preacher hosted by Chris Hardwick at 10:30.
Preacher: ‘Annville’ Official Series Premiere Trailer
Don’t miss the premiere of AMC’s original series Preacher, Sunday, May 22.