Well… that was… absolutely out of its every loving mind. It’s also brutal, violent and pulls not one tiny punch ever. Every violent encounter of which there are more than a few does not even try to And it actually packs a whole lot in in a very very small space.
Take the introduction of Jesse. In the first few minutes we see him we see he is scarred, hard drinking, hungover and tormented with both daddy issues (and a dead dad) and a very dark, violent past. We get all of that in about 5 minutes. Full backstory all covered
He also runs a little church in Texas which is deathly boring and has a very very unengaged congregation. And those who are engaged are very very very petty. Or very sad – like the boy with the abusive father who hurts his mother – which kind of acknowledges that everyone thinks Preacher Jesse can bring some nasty violence if he needs to while also showing how afraid he is to do so.
We also get a nice summation of the town he’s in. And it’s not pleasant. In addition to the wife beater, we have the sheriff who doesn’t give a shit (and doesn’t bat an eye over Jesse sat in a car about to drive off drinking a bottle of whiskey) and full blown brawl because people replaced their offensive Native American mascot with one that wasn’t terrible.
Jesse sums it up with “wife beating squirrel murdering redneck vote”. As well as the fact he’d pray if he thought there was anyone to listen. Well, that’s grim. (And yes, I laughed at the church sign. I’m a bad person).
Jesse does care, though, even without the violence: trying to help the abused wife. Except it turns out to be a BDSM relationship. Well, Preacher, you almost approached an actual issue with complexity and either made it EVEN MORE complex or turned it into a one off joke…
Badly disfigured man has to drink through a straw, sheriff’s son, kept kind of isolated away from everyone. Looking for own redemption which apparently dances all on Jesse’s issues and fear he isn’t forgiven.
Jesse does snap when said possible wife beater and his gang of confederate civil war re-enactors (because this show seems to specialise in bizarre visuals) threatens to beat a child. Jesse not only puts them all down with minimal effort and a small smile on his face, but then deliberately breaks the arm of the helpless man. A nasty compound fracture at that. Oooouch. It does get him arrested.
Introduce second character – Tulip O’Hare and my gods I LOVE HER. Chased through a corn field brutally fighting and killing 2 men (and it is brutal, I say again, no fight scene in this show pulls punches) before teaching kids how to make a bazooka out of cans and moonshine. After which she brings down a helicopter and a small army. Because she is already vying for the title of Most Awesome. Her opinion on love is also slightly terrifying since she’s apparently going to hunt down a lover who left her and eat him alive
That lover may be Jesse. Though she’s a bit kinder than implied even as he refuses her job offer. Lots of history there.
And another character – Cassidy. An Irishman on a private jet with lots of drugs and booze who finds a Bible stashed in the bathroom. With lots of writing in it – beyond the text. This is apparently a sign that all his fellow passengers want to kill him. Which they try to do – and he murders them all. Including ripping out one’s throat with his teeth and then stabbing another with a champagne bottle and drinking the blood. One of them seems to try holy water to kill him which doesn’t work – but I’m betting on demon or vampire. Probably the latter since he burns in sunlight
He then jumps out of the plane… and survives. After eating a cow. Which is another really really bizarre visual. He falls in with Jesse briefly in gaol where they’re arrested after the bar brawl and arm breaking to exchange philosophy on faith and hope.
Whether this conversation or the fight or the general failure of his church (and what a terrible preacher he is), Jesse tells his assistant Emily he’s quitting (to her distress) and goes to pray, one last time, for forgiveness.
While we’re introduced to these characters something else is happening – random religious leaders around the world (Christianity in Africa, Satanists in Russia, Tom Cruise and scientology in the US. Yes, bizarre visuals again) are exploding. There are two ominous men looking for this splodey force.
This apparent invisible splodey force catches up with Jesse and he doesn’t explode –but he does apparently gain the ability to compel people. And a renewed drive to dedicate himself to his church with an actual inspiring speech.
Oh and that compulsions sounds nice except his parishioner interpreted “open your heart” literally.
With a knife. Oopsie.
I feel almost ashamed to admit it but… oh dear gods I kind of loved it. Y’know there are some things you love and you kind of suspect you may be a terrible person for loving it? Yeah this is going to be one of those. I think the interactions between Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy may be awesome (and violent and horrendous and hilarious) and.. I'm not even going to try and justify myself. I kind of love it.