‘Preacher’ promises a new genesis for comic book adaptations – Recap and Review

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Recap

- Preacher _ Season 1, Pilot - Photo Credit: Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Image via AMC

The episode opens with the words “Outer Space” superimposed over what looks to be a classic sci-fi scene of some planets. A siren blares suddenly as soon as the words disappear, having the aged sound of a phonograph just as an orb of light screams by the camera. It takes a u-turn around a moon, crashes through a satellite in orbit, and sets a course straight for Earth, more specifically, Africa (which happens to look in the style of how classic films would show a map’s location, with the words overlapping the continent). A man is preaching in a small make-shift chapel, speaking about the battle of good and evil. As he is talking about being delivered by “a white horse whose rider is called Faithful and True.” The orb smashes through the front doors and crashes into the preacher, knocking him on his back. The congregation is in stunned silence, but as the preacher opens his eyes and gets up, they begin to cheer that it’s a miracle. Silencing the crowd with a resounding and other-worldly voice, the preacher stands and begins to tell everyone that he is the chosen one, and that he is the foretold prophet- but not before he explodes in an eruption of blood and viscera that covers the entire crowd of onlookers. Quickly, they run out screaming and shouting, unknowing of what had just occurred in the little church they left behind as the orb flies out of the building, causing the cross on the front of the building to turn upside down. Later, we find a pair of mysterious gentlemen dressed in safari attire investigating the incident.

We make our way to Annville, Texas, as Jesse Custer gets up to get ready for Sunday morning service. The scars show blatantly on his back as he dresses, as he gets his black shirt on with his white collar and grabs his notes to head out the door, leaving a page behind. He goes out to the sign of his church, amidst a desolate backdrop of a drought-stricken Texas, as someone has vandalized his sign to say “Open up your ass and holes to Jesus.” He quickly fixes the sign, not showing any sign of grievance, and heads back up the hill to prepare for his sermon. We soon see him standing at the pulpit, doing his best to deliver a teaching about the foolish bridesmaids, that somehow includes an incident with Tom Landry. The small congregation, barely paying any attention, gazes hazily at the preacher, who is stumbling to finish his teaching, realizing that he is missing notes. Improvising, he ends up just making up the last part of his teaching, taking notice that no one was listening. Before finishing, he tries to get a word in about the person responsible for messing with the sign up front, but before he can say anything bad, the organ player begins to hit a few chords, notifying everyone that the service is over.

Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer - Preacher _ Season 1, Pilot - Photo Credit: Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Image via AMC

Later, everyone is outside the church, having a good time with beer, barbecue, beer, guns, and more beer. The good time is halted, momentarily, as one of the members of the church fires a rifle at a nearby squirrel, celebrating and shouting, “I just Abe Lincoln’d that squirrel! Right to the back of the head!” A boy who had just grabbed a beer, watched for a second, then made his way over to Jesse, who was being berated by a man named Ted, talking about his issues with his mother. Jesse, noticing the boy coming up to him, quickly wraps up the one-sided conversation he was having by leaving the man with some words of wisdom in dealing with his mother: “Why not just open your heart to her.” As the timid Ted walks away, muttering something about types of cheese, Jesse falls into a nearby chair, and thanks the kid for the beer. The kid tells him that he doesn’t like his dad, and that he tends to hurts his mom. Jesse offers that he can talk to them, but the kid tells him he needs more than talking: he wants him to hurt him. The boy tells him that people have talked about the things Jesse did before he came back to the town. Jesse talks some nonsense about how he would go about taking the kid’s dad down and the results of it, but soon snaps out of it, stunning the kid. The kid soon walks away Jesse, upset with the outcome, and leaves him with parting words:”Pray for me, preacher.” Jesse, after the kid walks off, mutters under his breath, “I would if someone were listening.”

A fight breaks out in town later that night over a politically correct mascot change, and Jesse looks on with disdain. He walks to his truck, taking a huge swig from half a bottle, and is about to leave, when the sheriff pops up out of nowhere at the driver side window. Some banter goes on about society and how the world isn’t what it used to be, but Jesse interjects to the sheriff about the possibility that Donny, the father of the kid, might be laying hands on his wife. The sheriff, very official-like, tells him that he’ll look into it if there’s a formal complaint from the victim. The conversation turns sour really quick, as the sheriff doesn’t like the way Jesse responds, and begins to talk about how he wasn’t too keen on welcoming Jesse with open arms when he came back home, but knows that Jesse is being a good boy up at the church, and would like to keep it that way.

Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy - Preacher _ Season 1, Pilot - Photo Credit: Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Image via AMC

We soon find ourselves high above the clouds, in a jet carrying what looks like a few business men being entertained by an Irish bartender named Cassidy. Drugs, alcohol, and putting greens litter the whole plane, as Cassidy goes on about stories he has from Tijuana, and leaves them with a story about a hamster and a hospital visit to go to the bathroom. While looking for some toilet paper and air freshener, he finds a Bible. In it is a lot of odd scribbles between pages, including “wrath is love,” “our reward,” and “yes” a couple dozen times. Cassidy sees all these, and has a look of suspicion, and ends up walking out of the restroom, and makes a comment about how it seems that the plane isn’t heading to Tijuana. Everyone freezes, looking at each other coldly. Tension builds, but not before Cassidy breaks it with stating that he was just joking, causing everyone to start laughing again. Amongst the laughter, however, Cassidy takes the bong that he had in hand and slams it over the head of the guy nearest him, then uses the air freshener from the restroom with a lighter to create a makeshift flamethrower. Fighting ensues, as the men begin to pull out swords, spears, axes and a mace from all corners of the plane, but Cassidy is quick and nimble, dispatching of all of them quickly. With his back turned, one tries to come up behind him, pouring holy water over his head, but that doesn’t phase him in the least, as he quickly turns back, and bites into his neck, killing him. Cassidy surveys the damage and recognizes the plane’s going to go down. He ends up grabbing an empty bottle, fills it with the blood from one of his victims, grabs an umbrella, and jumps out of the plane. We later find him, literally, in pieces, as he’s practically just an upper torso left from the fall. In pain and without any blood left over in the bottle, he sees a hapless cow looking on. He calls the cow over, and quickly pulls it into the whole, devouring it.

Jesse is visiting a friend named Walter from his church, who didn’t show up for his shift at the diner in town. He knocks on the door, but once inside, he finds him fast asleep on the couch, and someone singing in his shower. Jesse makes his way closer to the shower, but after seeing the gun on the dresser, and fully hearing the voice clearly, he dashes to the door, sarcastically thanking Walter for warning him. As he drives away, a woman with nothing but just a towel around her hair walks to the window, humming Carly Simon’s “You’re so Vain.”

We flashback to not too long before, as we find a woman driving a car through a cornfield, fighting with someone who is trying to choke her from the backseat. The battle between them ends with her biting the man’s ear off, stopping the car, and shoving an ear of corn down his throat. As two kids, who were watching nearby, begin to ooh and aww her exploits, she notices the device that the man had is saying that something is on its way in twenty-three minutes. She quickly surveys the area, seeing tin cans, corn moonshine, and some small toys in one of the boys hands, she turns to the kids and asks, “Who likes arts and crafts?” After crafting a homemade bazooka and a lively discussion about love, she has the kids hide in a storm cellar as she takes on what sounds to be a helicopter. After some explosions and gunshots, the kids wander out of the cellar, eyeing the destruction that lay before them. The woman calls the kids over to the side and apologizes for all the “fun”. The little girl asks her what her name is, to which she replies, “Priscilla Jean Henrietta O’Hare, but all my friends call me Tulip.”

Ruth Negga as Tulip O'Hare - Preacher _ Season 1, Pilot - Photo Credit: Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Image via AMC

We later find Jesse arriving at Quincannon Meat and Power, looking very hesitant about going inside. Once in, however, we find him talking to Donnie’s wife, Betsy, as they shoot the breeze talking about the church’s air conditioning. He then squeezes in some questions about how Donnie’s doing, and that if everything were fine between them. He soon discovers that there are some laying on of hands going on in the house, but to his amazement, Betsy actually is aroused by it. Around the world in Russia, we soon find the local police investigating at a church, as a man is screaming in Russian that someone’s brains are all over the place. Once the door closes, however, we find that this a peculiar church, as we see the symbol for the church of Satan created when the doors shut.

As the night draws in, Jesse soon finds Tulip alone in her car. She thanks him for checking in on her uncle, then begins to tell Jesse about a job that she has in the works. Jesse, not paying attention, picks up something and asks, “Is this an ear?”

Tulip, with a smile, takes it from him, throws it out the window, and gets back to the conversation she was trying to have before the ear. He tells her that he’s not interested and that he’s going to stick to preaching. Tulip begins to wonder why he had come back to the town in the first place. She tells him that she’s sorry for what happened and that they are who they are.

Ian Colletti as Arseface - Preacher _ Season 1, Pilot - Photo Credit: Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Image via AMC

Jesse leaves and makes his way to the sheriff’s house to visit Eugene. The sheriff makes a concoction of raw meat, eggs, and Tabasco sauce, and blends it together, handing it to Jesse, telling him, “It’s his dinner.” Jesse takes it upstairs to find Eugene, who we find has a disfiguration that makes his face and surrounding cheeks converge on just a tiny hole over his mouth, making it difficult to speak correctly. Eugene sits down and apologizes to Jesse for not being in church lately, but that his dad thinks he’d be a distraction.

“If you want to be there, you should be there, Eugene,” Jesse tells him. Eugene tells him that he thinks that God doesn’t want him there, anyways, because of what he did. Jesse reassures him that of course God wants him there, but Eugene tells him that he’s not sure due to him not being able to hear God anymore in his prayers. “God doesn’t hold grudges,” he tells Eugene. Eugene, delighted to hear that, asks if he promises, about God, to which Jesse, reluctantly, nods yes. Ecstatic, Eugene hugs Jesse, who looks distraught for what he told him.

We soon find Jesse at the local bar, where on the television we hear that Tom Cruise died earlier that day from exploding, like the preacher and priest earlier in the episode. As Jesse drinks a beer at the bar, Cassidy walks in and orders a bottle of booze. Chugging away at the bottle, Jesse notices how much Cassidy downs from the bottle, but doesn’t pay too much mind to it. Cassidy heads over to the payphone by the restroom just as Donnie and his friends make their way back from a battle reenactment. Donnie walks over to Jesse and punches him square in the jaw. Donnie is livid that Jesse went to talk to his wife about what he does at home, but Jesse doesn’t pay much mind to him either, as he’s pretty liquored up. It isn’t until Donnie threatens to beat on his son that Jesse gets up and tells Donnie not to touch him. Jesse tells him that if he does, Donnie will hear a high pitch noise, and it will be coming from Donnie. Jesse then begins to beat on Donnie and Donnie’s friends, seamlessly knocking the tar out of each of them. Cassidy aides in the battle by sliding a chair over to knock over one of them coming up behind. The sheriff comes in to stop the fight, but not before Jesse takes Donnie’s arm, and snaps it, causing the bone to stick out and Donnie to let out a high pitch wail.

Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy - Preacher _ Season 1, Pilot - Photo Credit: Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Image via AMC

Cassidy and Jesse are both tossed into a cell, to where they get chummy and start talking about Jesse. Jesse tells Cassidy about the promise he made to come back to Annville, and how he feels that he’s a lousy preacher. Cassidy assures him that he isn’t the worst and that the world is just that bad that someone like Jesse can still be a beacon of hope. Jesse ponders on that as a guard comes over to tell him that he made bail, thanking Cassidy for his help.

Later, we find Jesse in the backseat of a minivan, talking to Emily, who helps him run the church. He tells her that he’s going to quit being a preacher, and announce it the upcoming Sunday. Jesse feels that he tried to change, but that he guesses he is who he is. Jesse thanks Emily for all that she’s done for the church and leaves the van with her telling him that he needs to do what he feels he needs to do.

As the van pulls away, Jesse notices the doors of the church swinging back and forth, wide open. He tries to switch on the lights to investigate the church but finds the switch isn’t working. Not really worrying too much, he strolls up to the altar and takes a seat in the front pew. “Eugene was right, it’s quiet,” he says out loud. Jesse decides to give it one more shot and tells God that he’s going to give it one more chance, but that he needs an answer. He gets down on his knees, puts his hands together and prays, “God, please forgive me.” Quietly, Jesse listens, but, with tears in his eyes, agrees that nothing’s changed. He gets up, lights a cigarette, and throws his feet up on the pew. Suddenly, the church doors open again, and something translucent begins to make its way up to the front of the church. Jesse stands up, watching whatever this is moving the pews aside as it gets closer to him. It moves right in front of his face, the sound becoming louder and louder, then all of a sudden, with all its force, it lurches right into Jesse, knocking him far back, and out cold.

Image via AMC

Unconscious, we see the promise that Jesse made, as we glimpse Jesse’s father on his knees, telling him that Jesse needs to be a good boy, because there are too many of the bad ones. And with that, Jesse’s father is shot in the head, jolting Jesse awake. He finds himself in his bed somehow, with Emily at the foot of his bed. She tells him that “we” weren’t really worried about him since his fever went down. “We?” he asks. In the distance, Jesse hears Cassidy fighting with someone, cursing in his Irish tongue. Emily tells him that he came around to see if he was okay and that she found Jesse passed out in the church. To his surprise, Jesse realizes that he’s been unconscious for three whole days and that today was Sunday. He immediately gets up to get dressed, and Emily begins to get things ready for the service.

Walking up to the church, Jesse is met by Ted, who is still complaining about his mother. Throughout the entire episode, Ted has complained about his mother non-stop and has even phoned Jesse, voicing every issue he has with her. This time, Jesse turns to cut off Ted and looks him square in the eye. Something is definitely different this time, as everything seems to go out of focus except for Jesse and his voice. Jesse’s words seem to have sunk deep into Ted’s brain, as Ted begins to repeat the words, “Be brave, tell her the truth, and open my heart” over and over. Jesse, sensing something was off when he told him those, he turns his head to check for something, and Ted is off like a rocket to his car before Jesse even notices. Once inside, Jesse makes it to the pulpit, telling everyone that he doesn’t have a sermon today. He tells him that he does have an announcement, however. He begins to apologize for not being a good enough preacher, but something in him changed; he tells them that he’s not going to quit on them. “As of today, I’m going to fight,” he tells the congregation. He’s going to be what they’ve needed from him all this time: to start giving a damn, and fight for them.

- Preacher _ Season 1, Pilot - Photo Credit: Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Image via AMC

We later come to Ted as he’s on a plane, still repeating the words that Jesse told him. From the car rental place to getting to the retirement home where his mother is staying, he continues to repeat the words, “Be brave, tell her the truth, and open your heart.” Finally making it where his mother is, he sits down in the seat across from her, and begins to talk to her. He tells her that he doesn’t appreciate being called at all hours of the night to be criticized. He tells her that he’s not perfect and that he knows that at he has been a disappointment at times to her, but if she would show him some kindness and consideration that it would make him so happy. To her shock and awe, Ted’s mother doesn’t understand what he’s talking about. Ted begins to unbutton his shirt, calmly, and tells her that now he has to open his heart to her, as he pulls out the knife he’s been brandishing. In a flash, he drives the knife deep into his chest, as blood spurts all over his mother. Her screams don’t seem to dissuade him at all, as he digs deeper, until suddenly, Ted pulls out his own heart! In complete horror, Ted’s mother begins to wail and scream! Jumping back to Jesse at the pulpit, he ends his announcement with telling everyone that this is the reason he’s here for them: to save them all.

We see a man gingerly drinking a hot tea, as he opens the lid to pull out the tea bag. Instead of throwing away the tea bag, however, the man puts it to his mouth, and eats it, just as another man walks up to the window, and tells him that “it” is here. He steps out of the car, and both of them walk over to the other side of the street, where we find that “here” is at the beginning of the driveway to Jesse’s church.

Review

Tonight’s season premiere Preacher was incredible! Preacher, which is an adaptation to the comics produced by Vertigo, an imprint of the American comic book publisher DC Comics. Preacher tells the story of Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), a conflicted preacher in the small Texas town of Annville. Custer is inhabited by a mysterious entity that allows him to develop a highly unconventional power. Jesse soon embarks on a journey to, literally, find God, joined by his ex-girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga) and his vagabond name Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun). The series plot doesn’t stray too far from the comic origins, and, much like AMC’s other comic book adaptation, The Walking Dead, Preacher gives life to the images we once dreamed about as kids. Although similar in general terms, however, the series does hold a few unique differences that, in my opinion, give it a fighting chance.

The show’s main cast is incredible, seeing the interactions between Cooper and Gilgun, and Cooper and Negga. Cooper, who has spent a good amount of time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Howard Stark, shows us how large his spectrum varies, as going from a New Yorker business tycoon to a country backwoods preacher seems to be as easy as turning on a switch. Cooper’s portrayal of Custer, though different in certain mannerisms, does give a bit more likability to the character. The comic version does come off a bit brasher, and in a character that is being re-introduced to the world, I think Cooper nails this portrayal of him perfectly. Gilgun has been in films like 2012’s Lockout, 2009’s Harry Brown, and the 2009-hit British TV series, Misfits. His prowess as an actor is truly remarkable, as his ability to play unique roles, from creating likable to unlikeable characters, seem elementary to him. In the shoes of Cassidy, Gilgun makes quick work to establish his characters unique qualities but creates a welcoming performance that we can’t help but love. Negga, I’m all too familiar with, as she also shared the M.C.U. with Cooper, portraying Raina in the second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as a few episodes of Misfits with Gilgun. Negga has shown, time and time again, through her films and appearances on TV, that she is definitely up to the challenge for any role that comes her way.

Overall, I thought the show was well done and well adapted. The plotline did move well for me, as we saw the distinct transition from being someone without hope in Custer, to someone who can now bring hope. His journey was well paced, and each scene gave great credence to the larger story at hand. One could argue that the show may not be as on course as it should be with the original story, but uniquely, many people said the same thing about TWD. Over time, many people, however, began to see how even though the show shared fewer and fewer similarities to the original storyline as each season rolled by, it was still a great show. Nevertheless, the ship is sailing for many fans of the zombie series, and it seems that this last season finale may have been the final nail in the coffin for the remaining devotees. Has the hope of all comic book adaptations gone completely into Marvel’s hands? I’m hoping that as the season progresses, Preacher can shine brightly among a saturated sea of Disney and finally give fans what they’ve been wanting all along: a new genesis for comic book adaptations.

What did you think of tonight’s season premiere? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

Preacher airs Sunday on AMC at 10 p.m. PT/ET.

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Eddie Villanueva Jr.
Eddie Villanueva Jr. 309 posts

A movie connoisseur of only the finest films, and an Encyclopod of geek and nerd knowledge. And if you know what an Encyclopod is, you're cool too!