Preacher: Season 2
Without a doubt, one of the richest sources of ideas for movies and television series is currently graphic novels. The successor to the comic books of our youth, the most significant difference is the price. The 10¢comic book has given way to graphic novels that can readily command prices more than $15. This sizeable increase is not merely a result of inflation. The production quality is significantly high, and the target demographic is no longer primarily pre-teen kids. Graphic novels present stories for a more mature audience including themes and images of violence and sexuality. The basic cable network is no stranger when it comes to adapting mature content from this source. Their flagship drama, ‘The Walking Dead,' has become the de facto standard for bringing the pages of a graphic novel to life on television. Building on this tradition Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen adapted the popular graphic novel from Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, resulting in the unusual yet highly entertaining juxtaposition of blasphemy, the supernatural and surrealism set in a neo-noir crime thriller. This is an instance where a list of parts would appear to mismatch yet generate a powerful, synergistic intensity hopelessly. The incredible talent guiding both the source material and adaptation makes it possible to place vampires, angles, and mobsters in the same story for a story that will captivate you from the first scene onward. The first season did an excellent job of introducing the characters and establishing the situational ground rules that provided internal consistency. Naturally, this created the perennial sophomore year dilemma. The showrunner must retain the basic elements that lead to the initial success while infusing the second season with enough variation to keep the proceedings fresh.
Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), is the preach at the All Saints Congregational church in Annville, Texas. The only indication of his vocation is the cleric’s collar on his black shit adorned with silver tips on the shirt’s collar. Jesse is unshaven, usually smoking and cursing and frequently hungover. He inherited the church from his father, and despite is, disreputable appearance truly cares about the physical and spiritual well-being of his congregation. Last season Jesse was infused with a powerful supernatural force, the half-demon, half-angelic creature named Genesis. (. This force imbued Jesse with an incredible ability. He can infuse his voice with an inescapable coercive force. Any command Jesse speaks must be obeyed immediately and, frequently with unexpected results. The most extreme example of this occurred when Jesse was annoyed with a tragically disfigured young man, Eugene Root (Ian Colletti), and told him to "go to hell." That is exactly where he went. Although Jesse had a checked past, he resisted using Genesis for personal gain. The most significant use the power was when he attempted to change the richest man in town, Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley), from leveling the church. The second season issues where effectively handled when a large methane deposit under the town ignited kicking everyone, besides Jesse, the only two survives was his girlfriend since childhood, Tulip O'Hare (Ruth Negga) and a century-old Irish vampire, Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun). Both actors were previously in one of the best British superpower oriented science fictions show, ‘Misfits.' The bulk of the second season presented a road trip story following the travails of Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy.
Genesis was such a powerful entity that a pair of angels, Fiore (Tom Brooke) and DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef) served as its custodians. They usually manifested a human form typically wearing Stetson hats. When the angels died, they would reappear near their corpse in a new, identical body. Needing help in tracking down Genesis they summon The Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish). He looks like a grizzled old cowboy is an unstoppable agent of death mercilessly killing anyone in his way. He is drawn to Jesse when he uses Genesis and is immune to its effects. While all the this is happening on earth, on heaven God has disappeared, Jesse discovers this after stealing a box containing a direct line to heaven. Jesses undertake a column mission to find God and convince him to return. The only clue he has is a tumor that God enjoys jazz. Their first stop is Las Vegas where they encounter Fiore, no in trouble for his partner’s death, losing the phone to heaven and not recovering Genesis. He is working a stage show where he explodes his ability to regenerate a new body after death. His partner in the act kills Fiore is a gruesome fashion amazing the audience with his reappearance. They find out that the Saint of Killers is aware of when Jesses use the voice and can hone I on his location. While in Las Vegas Jesse and Tulip impulsively decide to get married at one of those cheesy chapels. Some very nasty thugs are after Tulip, but she manages to kill one. This event prompts them to travel to the source of her issues. Conveniently, the destination is New Orleans, one of the best places on earth for jazz.
This season efficiently takes advantage of the road trip format. The characters can be placed in numerous strange circumstances while encountering extremely unusual characters. The secondary advantage of this means to relate a story is the amount of time the group remains in any location just long enough to satisfy the purpose of the storyline. An example of this is found very early in the season while Jesse is walking around the city searching for God. One of the tips he receives takes him to a seedy bar where he is led into a small room. There is a person purported to be God dressed in a dog costume engaged in a sexual act with some woman. Back when Jesse tried to contact God in heaven using the angelic device God’ appeared with a very bizarre message for him faithful in attendance. It turns out that this was an elaborate hoax to conceal the truth that God has left. Cassidy recognizes the actor portraying God in a local commercial and can track him down through his agent.
The surrealism is not confined to the main characters searching the earth for God. Some of the most unreal and interesting, threads in the overall story occur when the focus shifts to Eugene and his experiences in hell. Hell consists of hallways full of doors, behind each door is a room with a type of projector mounted in the ceiling. The occupant of the room is forced to relive the worse moment of their lives continually. Typically, this is a point in their lives where a choice decided with extremely bad consequences. For Eugene, it was the day that he visited his girlfriend in her bedroom. Their relationship was not approved of by the parents, so they felt the only recourse was a murder/suicide pact. The weapon of convenience was a shotgun but before the pact could be fulfilled the girl hesitated. In confusion, the shotgun discharges cause irreparable brain damage to the girl and destroying Eugene’s face leaving him with a puckered face necessitating food be consumed through a straw. The wrinkled, puckered appearance was the origin of his nickname, Arseface. Eugene becomes locked out of his room. When a signal to clear the hallway is given, Eugene is offered shelter in his neighbor’s room. That neighbor was none other than Adolf Hitler (Noah Taylor). His specific hell was reliving the moment his dreams of attending art school was crushed, his rejection from art school was the decision of the director, a Jew.
The series was deliciously strange during the first season, but now that the audience has been inculcated as to the of the characters and the circumstances, the writers were free to allow their imagination to explore the dark recesses of their minds. The themes probe deeply into the existential offering darkness to the series that is amazingly compelling, captivating the audience demanding your full attention. In the same fashion as an expertly drawn and written graphic novel practically present fails to contribute to the depth, intensity and artistic craftsmanship of the narrative. This show could not be fully appreciated or understood under the old broadcast paradigm. That restriction of a single viewing is insufficient to experience the full measure of the narrative and character development. A series such as this demands repeated viewings to catch the details and subtle nuances infused in every frame. AMC has once again redefined the television experience with deeply involved, mature content that is riveting entertainment.