TV decompression in full effect, don’t expect to be leaving Annville, Texas any time soon. Previously on Preacher, we saw disheartened small-town man o’ the cloth Jesse Custer come to the realisation that his place is with his flock, sermonising and sympathising. See hunkers on down on the nitty gritty of that, as Jesse advises a would-be paedophile and visits a young coma victim. And finally, the penny begins to drop that the Word of God might be in him. Begins to. Telly decompression, remember
Elsewhere, yer man Cassidy is still shacked up in the Church, acting as its handyman and drinking all of the communion wine, while Tulip remains insistent that Jesse join her in a good old fashioned ‘job’ (read: probably a hit). Being stuck in Annville means a bit more of everyone else too, from Sheriff and Eugene ‘Arseface’ Root, through to bunny in a trap bully Donnie and the introduction of one Odin Quincannon…
The Pilot’s Quincannon tease pays off in a big way with our first glimpse of Odin himself, chillingly played by Jackie Earle Haley. It’s a surprisingly early introduction for the meat mogul (who didn’t appear in the books until its seventh trade, Salvation) but bodes well for the streamlining of the material and repositioning of certain characters and storylines therein. Nobody wants to be stuck with Salvation again, just as the story’s getting good. Old Odin doesn’t do or say much yet, but he’s so far an imposing presence as what will likely be Preacher’s first major villain.
Although, if the tease of a certain long-haired, big hat and duster wearing cowboy in the pre-credits sequence is anything to go by, he’ll be far from the only one. Fans of the comics will know instantly what this means instantly for Jesse and his world, but one can’t help but wonder what everyone else will make of it. For all their deviancy from the source material, there’s no denying that the creators and showrunners have a big passion for Preacher, but are they in danger of forgetting about the layperson? So far, the whole Word of God thing hasn’t been particularly well depicted, nor the casual unnamed dropping of characters like Quincannon or the pre-credits Saint. Followers of the books should have a good idea of exactly what’s going on, but others may find themselves wondering just where all this is headed.
Preacher is a book of intense, immense momentum and unfortunately, See feels lumpy and without purpose. These angry, rebellious characters simply weren’t made to stay still, and the decision to confine them all to Annville may only serve to highlight flaws in the adaptation. Flaws like Tulip already floundering with little to do, shades of Rick Grimes in Cooper’s accent, and the fact that Arseface really doesn’t need subtitles.
That’s a pretty big dive off a cliff following Preacher’s barnstorming first episode, then. But there’s plenty to like in there too. Cassidy’s encounter with mystery men DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef) and Fiore (Tom Brooke) is pure horror movie action of the Evil Dead vein, with lashings of gore, a chainsaw, and some great slapstick violence. Gilgun’s Cass gets the episode’s best lines and laughs, slurping blood from off’ve the floor and dismissing The Big Lebowski as shite.
Throughout Preacher’s best moments, Jesse remains unconscious, still blissfully unaware of Cass’s vampirism (decompression!) or the chaos unfolding around him. He gets his own time in the sun though, later torturing a conflicted paedophile in a bathtub full of scalding hot water and now starting to experiment with the Word of God. Cooper’s bombshell shock sells the moment of penny-dropping, but it would have been nice to have the flaring red eyes of the comics too. Sad to say, this version of Jesse as a brutalist vigilante so early in his preaching career isn’t one we’re entirely sold on. 100% the Jesse of the comics? Maybe drop that to about a 75% for See.
After an exceptional pilot, this mixed bag of a second episode comes as something as a disappointment. Thankfully, the things it does do well, it does well enough to ensure that we’ll all be coming back next week. Mainly for Cassidy, granted, but he was often the best thing about the books too. Still very early days for the show, it’s too soon to call whether this laid back approach will work. Thankfully, what with the very big things being teased here, there’s a sense that all hell is, indeed, a’coming. Eventually.