As the first season of AMC’s Preacher ended, it seemed that the show’s trinity—Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy—were leaving a prologue and driving straight into the road-trip world of the Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon source material comic book. Season One managed to work in many important events from the comic, but it did so in a static small-town Texas setting, whereas the comic was about going places and discovering America. Not unlike, in many ways, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, which I pointed out in my review of that novel.
It turns out that the road trip spanned only a few episodes, and that the bulk of the second season was set in New Orleans. Jesse Custer is still looking for God, who has gone AWOL from heaven, and since he discovered that God was a big fan of jazz, New Orleans seemed to be the logical destination. The Saint of Killers is still after the trio, like some infernal Terminator, and he eventually catches up to them this season.
Characters from the Ennis/Dillon work begin to show up. The Grail organization becomes a thing, along with Featherstone and Hoover, and, of course, Herr Starr. Humperdoo the Messiah appears on-screen. In flashbacks, we begin to get more of Jesse’s own backstory and his childhood trauma, which I’m sure will become an important part of the third season. Along the way, we find out more about Tulip O’Hare and the Irish vampire Cassidy, too. Tulip had a husband in New Orleans that Jesse didn’t know about, which prevented them from getting legally married early in the season. Cassidy has a son who lives in New Orleans, who, as a non-vampire, seems much older than Cassidy. The son, Denis, speaks only French and is dying. He wants Cassidy to turn him. I won’t spoil what happens from here, but let’s just say that everything is resolved one way or the other by the last episode. Jesse’s search for God in New Orleans turns up all kinds a twisted characters and events. Does he find God? Maybe. Just maybe…
While I’m shying away from true spoilers in this review, I will tell you that one of our central trio dies during the finale episode. I hardly think that death means the end of a story in the Preacher universe.
Like the Vertigo comic itself, this series is about Jesse Custer, Tulip O’Hare and Cassidy, together, and when these characters are on-screen together that’s when the show is at its best. The supporting characters, as colorful as they are, exist only to propel the story of the Big Three. We’re seeing hints of the tragic love triangle from the comic book. Cassidy and Tulip did sleep together once, and Jesse doesn’t know anything about it yet. The fuse has been lit on that particular bomb. I imagine it will explode around the time we get to meet Jesse’s family in person. Probably next season, or maybe the one after that, if I’m being optimistic.
A B-plot that spans the entire season is about Eugene Root—known as Arseface in the comics—and his time in Hell. He is befriended by none other than Adolf Hitler, who soon learns that Eugene doesn’t belong in Hell (he was rashly sent there by Jesse’s use of The Word) and offers to help him escape. I enjoyed getting more of Eugene’s story as well. He will continue to play a big role in the overarching story, I’m certain. Possibly Hitler will as well.
The television series is not a faithful adaptation of the source material, although the events of the show weave in and around many of the events of the book. It is, however, faithful to the spirit of the comic. I am a fan of both the graphic novel and the AMC series, but I recognize that they are two different storytelling media, each with its own advantages and constraints. The telvision show is stylish and fast-moving, and the writing is solid. I continue to be happy with the surprises it reveals to me, as I am happy with all the familiar things I first discovered through Ennis and Dillon. I know how the graphic novel ended. I can’t be certain I know exactly where the show is headed, though. And, that’s okay. In fact, it’s great.
This is not the show for you if you’re too sensitive to religious matters being treated satirically or lightly. This is urban fantasy about one man’s search for a missing Christian God, with a capital G. Some may rightly consider the treatment of the subject irreverant and perhaps sacreligious. Irreverant and sacreligious doesn’t bother me much if it serves the story, which it does here. You may feel differently, and that’s okay, too. My wife would probably not enjoy this one, even though I’m certain she’d appreciate the humor.
I loved this season of Preacher, and I look forward to more. I’ll be watching. God willing.