(5/5) Preacher’s pilot episode kicks ass. I mean that literally and figuratively. It wasn’t the story as it was entirely set-up and this time around that is a great thing. This was all about the characters. The main characters as well as the supporting characters. Missing is one important element, but I’ll get to that near the end because that missing element is more of a comic purest thing and it’s Preacher, the element is coming. Produced by Seth Rogen there is a bit of his fingerprints on it, and truthfully it worried me to hear he was the one writing it. Preacher was just a popular comic series, it was a hyper-popular comic series that had every issue flying off the shelves. Having read it a few times (which is a massive understatement) I’m familiar with the story, all the charcters, the little references scattered throughout the pilot and this is one that’s keeping the basic comic themes (and, apparently, every character the series gave us) but again this is the complete and total opposite of a bad thing. The only way to break this down is to talk about the character introductions. Mainly the three main characters, Jesse Custer, Cassidy and Tulip. There is going to be a comparing and contrasting between character from show and comics and I’ll explain why as I go along. First I’m going to give spoiler breakdown of the series.
Preacher – The Comic
A demon and an angel meet in a realm between heaven and hell. Normally this would cause both to starting fighting immediately, but the demon was female and the angel male (yeah, I agree with the micro-aggressive sexism in that one, but it was written by a man, so there you go) and end up having sex. This has never happened before in all of creation and the reason why is the offspring produced from the union is so power is scares God our of Heaven. The host of angels try to contain the baby but it’s too powerful and breaks free heading to Earth to find a host. The angels can’t let this happen so they awaken the only being who can stop is, the Saint of Killers, the patron saint of hitmen and murderers whose bullets hit whatever they’re aimed at and any hit from them is a killing hit. Meanwhile somewhere in Texas local Preacher Jesse Custer gets drunk and meets some of his flock in a bar and decides to go off on them while revealing some of the town’s worse secrets. Because of this everyone in town shows up for the church the following Sunday to see what the Preacher is going to say because. . .’Merica! Just before Jesse starts his sermon the demon/angel baby thing bursts into the church bonds with Jesse with such power and force the entire church blows up killing everyone in it but Jesse. Meanwhile a woman name Tulip approaches a car with three men in it and starts shooting but misses her target and ends up taking one of the guy’s jaw off. She runs off being chased by the other mean and finds an Irishmen parked in a truck, points his gun at him and tells him to drive. He is more amused than afraid and tells her to get in and they speed off. Later on the two see the church explode and go to investigate. Tulip finds her long lost love Jesse laying in the center of the wreckage and begins to try to help up when he awakes. Just at that time the towns police department shows up full force because of the exploding church. They drawer their guns and tell all three to get down when Jesse suddenly tells them to drop their guns and let them go in a weird voice. To everyone’s surprise the police do just that and Jesse, Cassidy and Tulip drive off. Just after they are gone the Saint of Killers shows up. All hell breaks loose for 60 issues.
Intro #1: The Thing
The opening shot reminded me of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and weirdly got a little better as the things moved along. Something is moving rapidly through space and heading towards Earth and it’s trying to possess preacher. But it’s attempts so far end in explosive failure. After each failure two guy show up dressed for what ever area they are investigating. Only they dress in the most stereotypical outfits you can imagine and never say a word.
Intro #2: Jesse Custer
We meet Jesse Custer heading to church, being set upon for advice by his flock and giving one of the worse sermons known to Christianity outside of Sunday televangelists. One man keeps asking advice about his mother who calls him all night just to criticize his life. But a boy come up to him after the service and asks him to stop his father from beating his mother. Jesse attempts to get local Sheriff Root involved by Sheriffs roots gave his last two fucks about people just after he was born so that goes no where. We also get to meet Sheriff Root’s son, whose face is something of a mess. Jesse goes to the wife to see if he can get her to press charges and gets a lesson on how insane humanity can be. It was hinted that the preacher has a past life as some kind of badass and we get a glimpse of it when the boy’s father comes into the local bar to teach Jesse a lesson about talking to his wife. It doesn’t end well for the boy’s father.
Intro #3: Cassidy
Break to a private jet where an Irish bartender is simply the life of the party. Turns out he’s a vampire and everyone on the plane are some kind of vampire hunters. Fortunately for Cassidy he catches wind of what they are before they can attack and attacks first. What comes next is the second most creative fight scenes in TV history. (Sorry Cassidy, Tulip wins that prize.) After beating the crap out of these vampire hunters, Cassidy snag a bit of blood from the tap (you seriously have to see that scene alone) and jumps out the plane without a parachute. He has to stay where he lands because the fall broke him up and the crater he made is keeping him out of direct sunlight. Lucky for him some food comes along and he able to pull himself together to reach the bar where Jesse has his fight and help out. A friendship is born.
Intro #4: Tulip
In a perfectly fitting case of “last but not least” we meet Tulip. Okay we met her a little bit before as Jesse has a kinda-sorta encounter with her during his introduction, but this part flashes back “a little while before” where she’s just shot a guy in the passenger seat of a car and a guying in back is trying to go Columbian Necktie on her and she has to fight him while the car is still moving. Even though he bigger and obviously stronger, she fast, knows how to find and gives him some Mike Tyson/Evander Hollifield love to back him off. After a creative use of an ear of corn, Tulip realizes that the man’s friends are not far behind and next some the most insane example of “arts and crafts” ever. Handmade bazookas, guns fights and twisted female inspiration later we flash forward to the present where we find out that Jesse and Tulip have a prior relationship that seems to have involved bazookas, guns fights and high body counts. They do not say if the two were lovers, but people will imply it, but so far everyone’s doing the “just friends” thing.
The first thing I loved about this pilot was Tulip. Okay I’m a guy and think Ruth Negga is hot as hell, but more importantly the biggest differences is in how the characters are portrayed in both comic and book. In the comic they make a big deal about her growing up being taught how to shoot, and being a woman with much attitude who goes for what she wants. Turns out that she was down on her luck and decided to turn to the seedy life of being a hitman. When we meet her she’s on her first job and completely botches it. Throughout the book she has a few moments but like too many female characters in books the writer turned her into more of a victim/damsel then a badass. But she did have her moments. This pilot was a far better introduction tot he character. She obviously independent, obviously capable, great with kids (well, kinda-sorta), and is given an equally big introduction the makes her as equal a badass as Jessee and Cassidy. Don’t get me wrong, Tulip was an excellent character in the comics, but her character is done better on the show.
Another change was how the trio came together. In the comic it was more weird coincidence. Tulip just happened to be in the same part of Texas as Cassidy and both happened to be only a few miles from Jesse. In the show the town of Annville was close to where Cassidy landed, most of the characters from the comic pretty much live together and Jesse and Cassidy meet each other in more of a random right-place-at-the-right-time way instead of by amazing coincidence. There is a main theme or quest in the book, but I see they are going to start off in Annville and give us plot and story from there. If it goes another season, and from the look of things that’s going to happen, the books main theme will probably take over from there. Unless Annville becomes a fan favorite.
There was one pilot that blew me away the first time I saw it, and that was the pilot to a show called Banshee. It was bug nuts. In the space of an hour we got gun fights in the middle of a New York City street the ended with a tour bus doing the bolder things from Raiders of the Lost Ark, a robbery gone every which way but right, Amish gangsters and Job. It was hands down my favorite pilot of any series until this show. This show had exactly the same amount of “did that shit just happen” moments, especially in the end. They are making some changes to how the comics went and as I repeatedly said before this is a good thing. I can guess a lot of the stuff the show only hinted at and if they do go where I think they’re going, you’re in for a treat. This pilot was a totally 5/5 and it looks like AMC has knocked it out the park again.