At long last, Preacher returns to AMC on June 25 (this Sunday!) at 10 p.m.
The first half of a special two-part (and two-day) premiere that will continue into its regular timeslot on Monday at 9 p.m., Season 2 promises to get down to brass tacks and bring the show more in line with the story of the comic. That means road tripping, God searching and Saint of Killers fighting.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Before you jump into Season 2, you may need a bit of a refresher on Season 1. After all, the first season was packed with drama, a bit of poignant action and some revelations -- but not exactly the biblical kind (not exactly). With angels, forces of vengeance from Hell itself, the Voice of God, an addict vampire, a deadly revenge-obsessed woman in love and a kid with an Arse for a face, we have a lot to cover. Let's begin, as we take a look at Season 1 of Preacher ...
Based on the comic series Preacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, AMC's show takes some liberties but keeps the core characters very much the same.
The titular Preacher is Jesse Custer, played by Dominic Cooper. Jesse spent years on the road with his best girl Tulip, beating people down, thieving and generally causing mayhem. In an attempt to save his mortal soul and do right by his daddy, he returns home to Texas to pick up his father's old Church as its new preacher.
Tulip is basically a force of nature. A smile as deadly as her quick fists and way with words as fast as her way with guns, Ruth Negga's character is Jesse's one and true, even if he's trying to ignore that. She's grown up with Jesse, outlawed with Jesse, and she's come back to find him and get him back out of town and back on the job with her.
Cassidy is a centuries-old vampire with a drug and drinking problem. He generally doesn't kill for fun/sport and tries to subsist mostly on animal blood, but if someone -- say, a group of vampire hunters -- comes after him, oh the murder he can make.
That's your core group. In Season 1, we also have plenty of adventures with Arseface, the Sherrif's son who put his crush in a coma and blew out his own jaw with a couple of blasts from a shotgun (hence the look); Emily, the earnest girl who wants the Church (and its Preacher) to do better (and is a little in love with Jesse); Donnie the redneck sidekick to Mr. Quincannon, the owner of most of the town; a pair of angels named Fiore and DeBlanc; and a man known only as The Cowboy. But we'll get to more of all of them later.
Genesis (no, not the band)
The "elevator pitch" of Preacher is "What if a morally-grey preacher suddenly had the Voice of God?" That Voice of God power comes from a being called Genesis, the child of an angel and a demon (something that's a big no-no in this world's mythos). Across the first episode, Genesis searched for a human host, going into preachers/ministers of various faiths all around the globe. They'd feel its power, begin to worship, then explode, literally, all over their parishioners (most notably, Tom Cruise is named as one of these failed hosts in a Church of Scientology meeting).
Just why does Genesis work in Jesse Custer? Well, we don't know for sure, but it probably has something to do with that grey morality. The fact that Jesse has done bad things - -terrible things, letting the "demon" inside take control, but also has a strong desire to do good, and to help other people do good, listening to the "angel" on his shoulder, sure seems to make him a great fit.
What exactly does Genesis do? It allows Jesse to speak with the Voice of God, meaning when he wants to, he can make anyone do anything he says. That means hopping on one foot, putting a gun in your mouth, making a faithless man like Odin Quincannon declare his devotion to God, or just about anything else you can think of, but it also comes with a literal sense you might not expect. If he tells you to "open your heart," you might wind up carving your own heart out of your chest. It happened, and it was brutal.
The town of Annville
Jesse's life in the town of Annville, Texas sees him trying to make the Church more relevant with the help of Emily, his Church director and organist. Going up against the Preacher are Odin Quincannon, the business man who controls (and owns, and employs) most of the town and only worships the god of meat, and Donnie, who is pretty much just a stereotypical southern hick.
Basically no one in the town is purely or even essentially good. Arseface may be the closest, and he shot both himself and the girl he was obsessed with. Emily is good and truly believes in the church, but while she's clearly in love with Jesse, she's sleeping with the Mayor, who's obsessed with her (oh yeah, and she feeds him to Cass after a bad injury, soooooo ...). Quincannon is flat-out evil.
As Jesse wrestles with getting the town together in the church and making them better people, he uses Genesis a bit to make it happen, something that won't exactly rub people the right way. In the end, he accidentally used Genesis in an emotional moment to send Arseface to Hell (capital H, as in fire, brimstone, eternal damnation). After a failed attempt at calling God (we'll get to that), he leaves the town with Tulip and Cass, and a freak accident results in literally the entire town being wiped off the map. So, um, don't expect the town or its residents in Season 2. Except for Arseface, either as Jesse's conscience/hallucination, or somehow getting out of Hell. The kid deserves a break!
The Angels, Fiore and DeBlanc, were the keepers of Genesis and let it get free. They tried to keep this a secret from the rest of Heaven and recapture it themselves, but even when they managed to get it out of Jesse the bond was already too strong -- Genesis broke free and popped right on back into the preacher. Distraught at their failed mission and fearing the wrath of their fellow angelic host, Fiore and DeBlanc head on down to Hell to recruit someone to take out the Preacher (and possibly Genesis with him) once and for all.
Throughout the first season, we saw a man called only The Cowboy as he went through a pretty awful couple of days. Seeking medicine for his wife and daughter in the town of Ratwater, he was delayed and they both died. Enraged, The Cowboy went back to the town and killed every last person there -- man, woman and child, all while a song kept being sung.
We learn later that this isn't just any old couple of days -- it's The Cowboy's personal Hell. Yes, he's locked in a time loop in Hell, damned to repeat the worst moments of his life for eternity. That is, until DeBlanc and Fiore come to recruit him. You see, this isn't just a Cowboy; this is a villain from the Preacher comic, and one of the greatest villains of all time, called the Saint of Killers. Season 2 sees the Saint of Killers now out of Hell and with a mad-on for the Preacher, tasked with taking him out and wielding a pair of magical six-shooters to do the deed.
In a final attempt to get Annville on board, Jesse steals an Angel phone from the Angels and uses it to call Heaven in front of his assembled parish. They have success, and start talking to "God," asking Him questions ... until they realize it's not actually God but an imposter. With Genesis, Jesse gets the angel impersonator to tell him the truth: God is missing, somewhere on Earth, and no one in Heaven knows where or why he's gone.
What to expect in Season 2
And that brings us to Season 2! Now, Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy are on the road looking for God, the Saint of Killers is after them, and they've only just begun to see what kind of mischief, violence and pure evil will cross their paths. Most of Season 1 was like an extremely stretched-out first issue of the series. There was a lot of backstory in the season that wasn't revealed at all, or at least until much later, in the comics, and some brand-new story elements that didn't ever appear on the printed page.
Season 2, however, promises to pick up the story of the comic, becoming more of a direct adaptation than so much of a reimagining. They got the first part down, and with the source material to pull from, the Saint of Killers loose and Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy finally together, it looks like Season 2 of Preacher will be a grand old time.