In our Preacher debut recap and review, Jesse Custer is a disenchanted holy man who has his faith restored after a run in with an ancient and powerful force of nature….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
The 66-issue run of Preacher from 1995 to 2000 from creators Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon has to be one of the most popular comic book series of all time with a ravenous fan base who defend the material like it’s testament.
So it’s no wonder that almost every attempt to adapt the material to either a feature length film or a television series has failed miserably over the last 15 years.
It’s not an easy story to tell on screen — a disenchanted Texas preacher is possessed with a supernatural spirit that is one part angel and one part devil and he’s on a mission to find God alongside his vampire buddy Cassidy and his ex-girlfriend Tulip. The concept alone sound equal parts fascinating and ludicrous and when you add on a loyal group of followers who would likely shoot down any adaptation that tinkers with that formula, Preacher became a tough sell over the years.
That’s where super friends Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg enter the picture.
They were not only interested in making Preacher into a full-length television series, but they were also lifelong fans of the books. In other words, these two guys where just some writers or producers assigned to adapt Preacher for television — they were the ones pitching the idea in the first place.
So after viewing the pilot episode it’s safe to say that Preacher fell into the right hands.
Are there liberties taken from the origin story in the comic books? Absolutely.
Does it take away from the enjoyment and the overall satisfaction after watching the first episode? Absolutely not.
Preacher is every bit as violent, bloody, biting and cutting edge as the comic book that came before it and while we only have one episode to judge it on thus far, it looks like this will be a series that we will still be talking about at the end of 2016 as one of the best new shows of the year.
With that said, let’s recap the first episode of Preacher ….
A shot rings out from space and a free flowing form comes screaming through the cosmos on a direct course towards Earth. The sound coming from the object isn’t that of a comet or an asteroid hurdling towards the ground, but instead a baby’s voice crying out into the night.
When the object finally enters Earth’s atmosphere, it crashes directly into a church in the middle of Africa where it possesses the preacher who was just testifying before his congregation. When he stands the man declares that he is the one, he is the prophet.
A second later he explodes and his bloody bits go all over the people sitting the pews listening to his sermon. As they go screaming out the door, covered in their preacher’s blood, the form that attempted to invade his body goes flying back out into the world looking for a new host to conjoin with.
Cut to Annville, Texas and a small church in the middle of nowhere.
This is where we meet Reverend Jesse Custer for the first time. A quick look at him tells a wide variety of stories, but none of them should end with him buttoning up a collar and standing before a congregation teaching them about the bible.
Still that’s exactly what Jesse does — or attempts to do after forgetting one of the pages of his sermon before faltering and stuttering over his words to a captive and yet inattentive audience.
Everything about Jesse reads “I don’t give a shit” and that perception seems to be fairly true throughout all of his interactions with the townspeople including one guy who continuously rants to him about a mother that can’t stop criticizing him to a sheriff, who is more concerned about a school mascot being changed to be more politically correct than a domestic violence abuser who is beating his wife on a regular basis.
Jesse does his best to intervene, even talking to the wife of said domestic abuser at one point to try and convince her to go for help, but it appears everybody in this run down, dried up town is just as disenchanted as he is. He does seem to share a small connection with the sheriff’s son Eugene, who we will better know as “Arseface” throughout the series.
What we do know about Jesse is that he returned to this small Texas town to take over the church for his father, who was killed right in front of him at some point in the past. Jesse continuously has flashbacks to that moment where his father made him promise just before a gun was cocked and a second later he was dead.
Jesse’s return to Annville didn’t seem to invigorate anybody, much less the half-soused preacher who prefers whisky for breakfast over the bible.
The first time we meet Cassidy is 30,000 feet in the sky as he’s flying in a posh, private jet accompanying a group of well-paid businessmen who can afford a lot of booze and a lot of cocaine and this brash Irishman is enjoying both.
Some hard partying accompanied by some hilarious stories results in Cassidy needed to use the bathroom, but when he gets inside and finishes his business, he finds a bible tucked away underneath one of the compartments next to the toilet. Inside the bible are scribbles, drawings and language that paints one big unhappy picture that’s about to unfold on this flying tincan.
When Cassidy goes back out into the main cabin, he immediately launches into an assault against the passengers, who are all suddenly quite sober and packing some seriously medieval weaponry. None of their swords, axes or even holy water work against this man because Cassidy plows through each and every one of them as if they were barely even there before he finally reveals his true nature.
Cassidy is a vampire.
After drinking one unfortunate soul, he fills up a water bottle with another passenger’s blood like he was pouring from a faucet and then jumps out of the plane as if the ground below will cause him no problems once he goes splat.
In fact, once Cassidy lands on the ground he’s nothing more than a talking head and a lot of blood and guts until he lures a cow to his reach before pulling the animal inside and feeding on its blood. The next time we find Cassidy, he’s in a bar pulling up a stool next to Jesse and quenching his thirst with some hard liquor.
Next we meet Tulip — Jesse’s hard-charging, law breaking ex-girlfriend.
She makes her way back to Annville after a caper gone wrong in Kansas where she’s trying to escape with some kind of map. Along the way, Tulip has to kill two men, who are attempting to do the same thing to her while she’s driving along a cornfield in the middle of nowhere.
Then, Tulip has to get a couple of children to help her build a makeshift bazooka, which she uses to then shoot down a helicopter that was dispatched to find her. Clearly whatever Tulip has done it isn’t good and whoever is looking for her has some serious funding behind them.
Either way, Tulip escapes and makes her way back to Texas, where she reconnects with old partner Jesse Custer while trying to convince him that no matter how many white collars he straps around his neck or bibles he thumps, deep down he’s still a criminal just like her.
The Beast In Me
Back to that bar where Jesse is having a drink next to Cassidy…
The two of them exchange pleasantries but then Cassidy is forced to make a call to some kind of handler, who he explains his situation to while Jesse is forced to face off with the husband of the wife he tried to safe after finding out she was being beaten on a regular basis.
The asshole husband wastes no time punching the preacher and then warning him to keep his opinions to himself. He’s so mad that he even threatens to dish out another beating to the no good rat, who told the preacher about his violent tendencies in the first place. In other words, he’s threatening to beat up his own son for asking the preacher for help at the start of the episode.
So finally, Jesse decides to fire back and he proceeds to kick the living shit out of all the men in the bar with this wife-beating asshole. In the end even Cassidy pitches in a helping hand just to make sure Jesse doesn’t get blind sided by one of the rednecks gunning for him.
When the sheriff finally shows his face he warns the preacher to just let this go but Jesse takes a split second to think about it and then snaps the wife beater’s arm in two and as the bone pokes through the skin, he whimpers, cowers and cries over the injury this backwoods preacher just gave him.
In jail that night, Jesse and Cassidy share a few more words before a woman named Emily finally bails the preacher out of jail. She’s just about the only woman in town who seems to believe in Jesse, but he tells her just before leaving her vehicle that he’s had enough. He’s going to tell the congregation that he can’t preach to them anymore and he’s going to leave Annville all together.
When Jesse returns to the church, the lights are out and the doors are open.
Jesse investigates for a moment before personally telling God that he’s going to pray to him one last time before finally giving up. Jesse says his prayer but nothing happens — until a split second later when the spirit that crashed through Africa and even exploded Tom Cruise into a million pieces finally makes a play for this small town preacher in the middle of bum fuck Texas.
When Jesse wakes up, it’s been nearly a week.
Emily is there by his side and asks if he feels well enough to address the congregation because it’s time for him to tell them all that he’s leaving. When Jesse gets to the church he runs into that same man who continuously complained to him about his mother. Jesse stops him and says to go to her, be truthful and open up your heart to her.
The man doesn’t say another word except repeating the ones Jesse just said to him over and over again. The man ends up in Florida to visit his mother and after explaining all the ways she embarrasses him with her constant nagging, he then decides to show her his open heart — so he jams a knife into his chest and literally rips his heart out and lays it on the table before falling dead.
Inside the church, Jesse is really starting to feel alive after his week of rest from whatever knocked him out cold. He starts preaching, but rather than tell his congregation that he’s leaving, Jesse Custer is sticking it out this time.
He’s going to stay in Annviille and teach these people a thing or two about Jesus and the Holy Bible. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Jesse is now sharing body space with the living embodiment of good and evil, angel and demon, heaven and hell all sitting just waiting for his every command.
Outside the church, two strange men arrive — the same two men who have been showing up at all the sites where the spirit has invaded and then destroyed its host. This time around, the host is very much alive and he’s got something awfully frightening living inside of him.
Preacher will air every Sunday night at 10pm ET on AMC!