Preacher: Season 3 Premiere “Angelville” — a review


A selective memory is both a curse and a blessing.

It’s a curse because, well, I don’t remember everything the way I want to at times. Like, I’ll be able to name most of the movies I’ve seen a well-known actor in, but I won’t be able to come up with his name easily. Or, sometimes, I’ll remember something that happened perfectly, but get the location it happened in, and the people involved, all wrong. Maybe you can relate.

It’s a blessing at times because when something adapted from revered source material deviates from said source material, it doesn’t always bother me. You know, because I can’t faithfully recall the source material myself.

I read the Preacher series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon years ago. At least three years ago, prior to the AMC series. I had been aware of it for many years before that, and had planned to read it “someday.” Finding out that the property was being developed for television encouraged me to buy the trade paperbacks and read them beforehand.

Long story cut shorter: I loved the series and was pretty sure there was no way in or out of Hell that anyone would be able to adapt it for any screen, large or small.

Of all people, Seth Rogen, and his friends, proved me wrong. Don’t go into a nerd rage and tell me that the AMC series hasn’t been faithful to the comic book. I know that it’s different. I know that events are being presented out of order, that some things have been altered or even added. I know that it’s not the same as the comic.

And that’s okay.

It’s a different medium. While it’s true that I don’t remember everything from the comic book series, as I mentioned before, I do remember a lot. And, I do recognize when the series takes certain liberties with the source material. This will be heresy to some of you: I think it has improved upon the original in many ways.

I’m a character guy. I think the main characters from the series have been faithfully rendered, for the most part. The Big Three will always be Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy, of course. The actors have brought them to three-dimensional life for me. Are there differences? Sure. Ruth Negga will never be a Caucasian blonde, for starters, but that doesn’t affect the character or the story for me. I would have thought Jesse Custer would have been taller than Dominic Cooper as well, and that Cassidy would have been more prone to bursting into flame, even in indirect sunlight. But, these are little details that don’t really matter when characters I love are inhabiting a story that still has the power to surprise me at times.

That’s the other benefit of a selective memory added to a less-than-faithful adaptation. I don’t always know what’s going to happen next. That’s the key to keeping my attention.

So far, through two seasons and one episode now, Preacher has kept my attention.

Angelville” presents another setting that is both familiar and new to me. When Jesse’s grandmother, Jody and T.C. were introduced, I recognized the characters right away, and I knew that Jesse wasn’t glad to be home. The situation seemed different, though. In the comic, I don’t believe that Jesse was bringing a dead Tulip home to be brought back to life. Similar events happened, as I recall, but not this way. I kind of like the way the series has arranged things, making Jesse’s return to his family be wholly his idea and putting him in his grandmother’s debt.

Tulip’s adventures in Purgatory feel new to me as well. Maybe something like that happened in the book, but I don’t think so. We get to learn a little more about Tulip’s troubled childhood through showing rather than telling, and this is good stuff. I doubt it would be a spoiler to tell you that Tulip is brought back to life.

There’s no Herr Starr or the Grail, or Arseface and Hitler, in the premiere episode, and there’s no room for them. Marie L’Angelle (Jesse’s grandmother), Jody and T.C. seem less cartoonishly evil than I remember them being in the comic book, but they do seem more realistically evil. Well, as realistic as you can get in a show that includes angels, black magic, and undead cowboys. The flashbacks to Jesse’s childhood and to his mother add layers of menace and foreboding to the present-day story. There’s no doubt that Jesse’s bargain with Marie is a diabolical one. We’ll see how it plays out.

Last season’s premiere, “On the Road,” set the tone of the season, which was a bit more comedic and a celebration of the friendship between our three main characters. If “Angelville” is setting the tone for this season, it will be darker and more unsettling. Right off the bat we’re dealing with a dead Tulip, even if she comes back, and we witness an ever-growing rift between Jesse and Cassidy, both of whom are in love with Tulip. Cassidy makes the regrettable admission that he and Tulip slept together, which will not help things between the old friends. With Jesse’s Genesis powers gone for the moment, and the seemingly hopeless situation with Jesse’s family at Angelville, things are not looking up. I don’t know if these bad vibes will last the entire 10-episode season, but we’re certainly starting off in a low place. I can’t see how the reappearance of Herr Starr and his minions, or Hitler freshly escaped from Hell, will lighten the mood any.

I enjoyed this episode and my interest in the series hasn’t waned. Give ’em Hell, Jesse.

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