Preacher: Pilot

Posted: 05/30/2016 in Uncategorized

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Well, I still don’t know what to say after viewing this pilot a few days ago. It has stuck with me so that is a powerful merit. It is genuinely interesting, gritty and more than a little disturbing at points. I know nothing of the source material, opting deliberately to eschew foreknowledge in favor of developing a grassroots appreciation of the show standing as its own merit without comparisons.

I guess I can say I will be watching the second segment to see how things develop. Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer has thus far presented a captivating character. His defeatist sorrow, coupled with his relationship with his former associate/lover, Tulip (Ruth Negga) and new associate Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) make for cool drama. The 90 minutes opener had some slow points but the bar scene in which the Preacher instructs a church-goer, Rick, to leave his boy alone and to step away was outstanding. Custer’s effortless propensity for violence and enforcement of a previously given warning was terrific tv. Tulip’s attending to drug dealers and thugs in a manic, yet hilarious fashion was fairly wild, including her interactions with two local children. Cassidy was just damn fun. With an Irish brogue that makes him nigh incomprehensible, a few moments with this gent ably illustrates that there is a lot to him and not merely his vampiric affliction. His plane scene is terrific and his plunge and its after-effects are just damn stomach churning. Cassidy’s aiding Jesse at the bar, and again in another capacity later,  shows there is greater depth to him to be revealed and one finds oneself liking him a quite a bit, which is a good start.

Lucy Griffiths as “Emily Woodrow” brought an earthy, soulful kindness and loneliness in her interactions with Jesse and obvious belief in him. It is kind of cool that Ms. Griffiths gets a second crack at a supernatural show as she was in my opinion unfairly ousted from NBC’s Constantine. Her feeling for Jesse and her moments with her children acting up after they break company shows the depth of which she cares for him. His counsel of “putting herself out there” as she has been widowed for  three years shows how blind he is to her doing so right down to the point of her saying that she is “available”.

One of the stronger moments of the episode features the preacher at a barbecue, drinking a bear and looking absolutely disinterested in the world about him. His opening sermon earlier ably showed his disenchantment with his occupation. A young boy coming to him for counsel regarding his abusive father turns into something more as we learn that Jesse Custer has a past where he “used to do bad things”. The boy essentially wants to get the preacher to hurt his father to make him stop abusing his mother. The preacher’s answer is as troubling as the boy’s request and presents this Texas town as a hotbed of despair.

The local sheriff W. Earl Brown (as Sheriff Hugo Root) captures the indifferent and world weary spirit of a man who has been at it way too long for a town God might have abandoned. His initial dismissal of the preacher’s request to intervene in a case of potential domestic abuse, stated in dead faced speech “I will listen to a formal complaint” paints the man in a negative light. Later moments including an introduction to his son, change that perception somewhat.

The paragon of God’s abandonment on this show is Eugene “Arseface” Root (Ian Colletti), the sheriff’s son. He is also the first to offer that things have “gone quiet and that God is no longer listening.”  Colleti’s performance beneath the prosthetics is powerful. The viewer has the feeling that his “not hearing” God any longer is not merely a grand metaphor. The boy’s appearance will hopefully be explained at length as the continual statement of his “wrong-doing” indicates his state to be his doing.  This point leads to Jesse’s true crisis of fate after his spirit is broken with the acknowledgement that a woman he is trying to help who is a victim of spousal abuse actually enjoys the corporal punishment sexually. At a point of being demoralized, a recurring “force” for lack of a better term makes it way throughout space and our planet attempting to inhabit the body of a holy man. The results of the attempt are spectacularly messy. The Tom Cruise bit was gallows humor funny. The notion of a “God Force” being cast off by the almighty is genuinely unsettling. The moment in the church where Jesse’s prayer is “answered” posits that this force might not be entirely devised of good. A later moment of counsel with an annoying parishioner demonstrates this idea to spectacular effect.

The set up of a force flying throughout the universe and attempting to find a vessel made for a jarring, sci-fi start but seems to prep the field for massive dividends, including the introduction of two “men” who appear to be tracking it. “Preacher” has a slow burn start but had enough going for it to merit a follow up. I cannot say it is outstanding as yet, but it is unquestionably thus far well worth one’s time.

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