Thoughtful & Abstract: Preacher: “Pilot”

In which Kim and Shawn are introduced to the television world of Preacher.

Kim: Here is the write-up everyone has/I have been waiting for. I’m more than a little bit excited to finally be able to write it. Start bold, Kim. Put your thoughts out there. Don’t hedge. Preacher is the TV show I have been waiting for since Sons of Anarchy ended. I was unable to watch it when it aired as it would have interfered with my daily routine of sleeping for just under seven consecutive hours every single day. So, I watched it on Monday and it still managed to mess up my sleep plans because I wanted to re-watch much of it.

I’m not going to analyze everything that happened in this show. There truly is just too much, and all of it good. I will, however, highlight my favorite things about the pilot and maybe you’ll get a glimpse into why I wound up with only about five hours of sleep and why I’m perfectly OK with that.

Characters – I like interesting characters that show a wide range of behaviors. The characters in this show are all intriguing, even that piece of shit Donnie. I can see several sides to every one of these characters already. Now, I’ve never read a single one of the comics, so keep in mind that I have absolutely zero knowledge about any of these people or events. I’ll admit to being a little bit confused about several things, but the writing here is so good that I can tell I’m going to get all of my answers as we go.

Humor – There were several segments of this show where I laughed out loud. This is important to me in a dark show. It tends to keep things entertaining. More than that though, there is humor in life, everywhere. Adding it to something like this just makes it come alive for me. This ties in directly with the likability of the characters. Tulip’s entire segment had me laughing like a kid and prompted me to declare her “the shit.” The dialogue with the kids about relationships was priceless. Whoever wrote that deserves, at the very least, an all-beef ¼ pound hot dog, stuffed with cheddar and wrapped in bacon. Oh, and a high quality craft beer.

The entire scene with the Sheriff talking to Jesse in the car was completely hysterical to me, for reasons I can’t even begin to explain. However, the absolute funniest moment came as a background shot – “Tom Cruise Explodes.” I’m waiting for that headline to be real one day.

Surprises – I’m actually going to refuse to put any type of spoiler in here. Part of what I enjoy so much about a show with a compelling story is the element of surprise. There were so many things I didn’t see coming. They actually made me stop and yell, “Oh!” These surprises, some of them quite comical, really brought the enjoyment level of this show way up above anything I’ve seen recently.

Ruth Negga – Can we all take a moment and breathe in the beauty of this woman? There is something about her that is so intrinsically compelling. It might be her eyes. It might be the shape of her face. It might be the sound of her voice. I recall hating her Raina character on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but still appreciating her beauty. Tulip is going to be an amazing character and I’m pretty sure we’ll owe that all to Ruth Negga.

Dominic Cooper – Oh. My. God. Hi. He’s only a couple of years younger than I am, so it’s not completely unreasonable for me to have a little crush on him. OK, maybe a big one. He needs to take off his shirt. I read that he and Ruth Negga have a real-life romance, which simply thrills me. I don’t pay much attention to celebrity gossip, but this is, quite possibly, my favorite pairing. They’re both so amazingly attractive, that watching them in Preacher and knowing they’re likely doing all of the naughty things to each other when the cameras aren’t rolling will be the highlight of many days.

In closing, Ruth Negga and Dominic Cooper are going to make this one of the greatest shows going today and I can’t wait to see where this goes. Also, I found out that they are both in the Warcraft movie, which I’m going to get roped into taking my kid to see. Originally, I was planning on a mom-nap for the duration, but knowing I’ll see Tulip and Jesse on the giant screen will make me pay attention. Bring me another episode, please. I’m ready. Preach on!

Shawn: You said you weren’t going to analyze everything but you really did a great job of hitting the points that I was going to expound upon. It’s certainly currently one of the best shows on my DVR. I don’t know if I can put Sons type of pressure on it yet. I’m not even willing to put Fargo accolades on it just yet. That said, I think it’s one of the best starts to a series that I’ve seen in a long time. The characters were easy to remember (I’m two seasons into Fear The Walking Dead and don’t know half the character names yet) and the plot held just enough questions and answers to intrigue me. It’s a comic book show in a way that only reminds you when say a preacher explodes in the opening scene. The combination of ultra reality, noir dialogue, and a mix of the supernatural reminds me of what works when Stephen King is working at the height of his powers. I want what you said to resonate with our readers but I have a couple thoughts to add.

In a pilot, it’s important to set the tone for each character. What expectations do we have of their behavior? How do they interact with the other main characters? What is their motivation? There are a few scenes in this pilot that really stick out (although it was pretty flawlessly edited for a 90-minute episode). I keep coming back to the bar fight. I thought it was a place to really get to know more about Jesse Custer. We had some hints that he was a violent man, but we also saw him as a caring preacher that wanted to avoid conflict.

The scene plays out on many different levels. Jesse goes to the bar to essentially investigate the claim of spousal abuse. This sets him up as even more of a moral judge. He is determining the guilt of a man before punishing him. In this case, my second favorite moment of the show occurs when she indicates that she likes to be hit. The wry smile on her face as she admits to liking more kinky sex also tells us to check our expectations at the door because there is a seedy underbelly to this town. His inquiries then turn against him and into a full out bar fight as he’s punished for his efforts. The fight against Confederate soldiers was a nice visual touch. It adds to the fun of the Texas setting and gives us the good vs. evil scenario. And the Word of God wins – with the help of Cassidy (more on him later). But in the end, I don’t know if I’m clear on Jesse’s ultimate role. He has the ability to kick some serious ass at the drop of a hat but is he here to be a judge of souls or a preacher that implores his congregation to not mess with the sign. I want a few more answers about his character still.

Just a quick take on Cassidy because we don’t get too much of him and he’s my favorite. I get that Tulip is going to be everyone’s favorite. She’s a natural bad ass. Cassidy appears to be an Irish vampire and he might need subtitles more than any other character on TV. I remember watching the Irish episodes of Sons and thinking that those guys weren’t really speaking a language I understood. There were parts of Cassidy’s dialogue that I still can’t explain to you after multiple run-throughs. My favorite scene of the whole episode was the recently fallen from Heaven Cassidy eating a whole cow. Tulip and Jesse need a character like Cassidy to play off. They are more complimentary characters and Cassidy is an instigator. I think we need much more exposition on his character in the very near future. The dude drinks his liquor from the bottle and fire shoots from his hands. Fire and brimstone stuff.

A couple quick takes that I couldn’t form into good paragraphs. Great music choices. The Willie Nelson places them in Texas and it’s a really great song. The Friday Night Lights reference made me chuckle and miss that show at the same time. The Dallas Cowboys analogy in the sermon also spoke to Jesse just half-assing his Sunday lessons. I love religious figures blowing up – from the shock of the initial scene through Tom Cruise. We are setting up a very blasphemous series that is more delicious because it airs on Sunday nights.

We’ve set up the characters. We’ve set up the location. We have three main characters and an interesting set of supporting characters. There’s a town with a seriously kinky underbelly. There’s a conflict between good and evil. So we know all of those things. What I don’t know is if there’s an actual plot going on. I’ve had my introductions and I’m extremely happy. Now let’s see what else you got, Preacher.

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Shawn Bourdo

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