PREACHER SEASON ONE TV Review
I’ll say this up front: I’ll be back for Preacher Season Two.
I’m getting that out of the way, because what is about to follow is largely negative. But before we get to that, as I said, the show has done enough to bring me back for Season Two. But for anyone who has not yet seen Season One, I can’t in all good conscience recommend it.
The show follows Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), a man who can’t decide if he’s a bad guy playing nice, or a deep down decent guy who occasionally enjoys being bad. The truth is Jesse, like most of us, is somewhere in between.
Jesse is the Preacher of Anneville, Texas. A small town populated by weirdos, deviants, a meat obsessed sociopath, a young man with a face like a literal ass, and one Irish Vampire. It is, in short, full of people who need to be saved. And Jesse wants to be the man to do it. If he saves them, he saves himself.
He believes he gets his chance when some strange force either from outer space or Heaven itself crashes into him and gives him “The Word of God”. Basically, when Jesse tells someone to do something, they do it.
He decides to use this power for good. To bring people into the light of God. Whether they like it or not.
Whilst he is doing this, his criminal ex-girlfriend Tullip (Ruth Negga) turns up looking for him, he befriends a pill popping, whisky swilling Irish Vampire (Joseph Gilgun) who likes to hang out because…. friendship? Some Angels turn up looking to take back Genesis (the creature inside of Jesse). Jesse occasionally hangs out with a boy with an arse for a face. And there is also a lot of cutaways to a cowboy for reasons that are explained later. There are a boat load of other characters but none of them matter one iota.
If that all sounds like a mess, that is because it is. It’s also surprisingly boring. A lot of crazy stuff happens, but most of it is without weight and does little to push the story forward. This show treads water like nothing I have ever seen. It keeps promising to go somewhere but then never does.
In fact, the final episode really hammers home that this entire season is a waste of time and all you will need to see before watching Season Two is the opening twenty minutes of the pilot, and the last fifteen of the last episode.
Now watch yourself, because i’m about to break out the SPOILERS…. Ready? You’ve been warned.
That ending can only be read as a f%&k you to the audience, right? All of those characters we spent time with over the course of the ten episodes, the ones that I said didn’t matter a bit, they are gone, blown to smithereens, never to return. And one of the show’s creators has confirmed that yes they are dead and yes they aren’t coming back. So why did we spend so much time with them? They were barely defined. We were introduced to the broad strokes of who they were as people, but that is all we ever got. They in no way contribute to the larger plot. Did their stories at least make sense thematically then? Not really. I guess they could if you are really looking hard, and squinting like a mad man. But really, they are just padding.
The whole first season is a narrative dead end. All you need to know is Jesse gets his powers and nine episodes later he finds out God is missing and decides to go looking for him, leaving the town of Annville behind.
It is so frustrating because it has moments where you see that this show could be something. That initial concept has a tonne of meat on its bones. Three offbeat, less than upstanding citizens who have all known their fair share of suffering set out on a road trip across America to find God. If he asks for their help they will give it to him, if he doesn’t they’ll kick his ass. That’s great! I’ll watch that show. And it looks like that is what season two is. So why did they spend so much time trying to hold off on that? I have no idea.
So it treads water, it barely develops its supporting cast, and then it ends with an affirmation that it was all a waste of time. So why am I coming back for season two? Well, as I said, I really do dig that premise, even if this season squandered it. The video chat with “God” that sums up everything this show is (or at least, will be) about, that is what I want from this show. It is big, colourful, funny, silly but not dumb, and laser focused on what this show is saying. It shows Jesse in a different light. That is the first moment that he doesn’t come across as a hypocritical self righteous asshole. As he was storming out of the church I thought to myself “Finally, a character worth following”.
The other two of the central three characters are just as interesting, if not more so. And, accents aside (although I famously have a terrible ear for accents so maybe I should keep quiet on that), the performances are strong. Negga is doing the most with the least, crafting a strong, fierce character out of scenes that mostly revolve around her pining for Jesse. Gilgun will be the fan favourite, drinking as much whisky as blood, and dropping pop culture references left and right. And they are loyal to each other. We bond to them as they bond to each other.
Preacher is funny, off the wall, bold and brash, and heavily stylised. I like all of these things. Which is why I’ll be back for Season Two. But I also like all of those things to coalesce in a way that serves a purpose, and develops characters, and propels the narrative. And none of that happens in Season One. It is a frustrating, meandering, occasionally inspired but mostly weightless mess. There is nothing else like it on TV. And maybe that is a good thing. Now, please change my mind Season Two. Please.