Preacher: Season 3
It is an indisputable fact that currently, the most fertile and lucrative source for movies and television are comic books. Those magazines we used to spend our allowances on are now a multibillion-dollar industry responsible for many of the greatest successes in entertainment. While much of the initial attention focused on the most popular characters like Batman, Iron Man and Superman, the immense need for new fresh stories has compelled the studios to delve into some of the esoteric characters. Combined with the looser restriction on content resulting from the proliferation of non-broadcast methods of distribution and the audiences can now enjoy the darker, more mature subject matter. One character that has made a significant impact on the genre comes from a title published by the published by DC Comics' Vertigo imprint, ‘Preacher.’ The protagonist here is diametrically opposite to the stalwart bastions of truth, justice, and honor our childhood comic exalted. The main character in this story smokes, curses, drinks and fornicates, frequently to excess. This man wears a cleric collar yet is disheveled having a bible in one hand and a gun in the other. Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), is the eponymous preacher and he is the epitome of the modern antihero, achieving popularity through its three-season run on AMC. Originally the American basic cable’s, Movie Channel or AMC built a well-deserved reputation for hosting some of the greatest series television with iconic shows. This included programs as ‘Mad Men’, ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Walking Dead’, the network made substantial progress in redefining television often by blurring the distinction between genres constructing novel approaches to quality, mature entertainment, typical for content derived from graphic novels, ‘Preacher’ challenges the preconceptions traditionally established for the hour-long drama. The formula, as it seems, is resulting from a brilliantly unique blend of action, thriller, and horror with the synergy enhanced through the nuanced infusion of satire and self-aware pop culture references.
All too frequently a series of this superior quality and unorthodox craftsmanship is misunderstood relegating it to the dreaded ‘Brilliant but Cancelled’ list. Fortunately, the executives at AMC have ample experience with the fact that complicated stories require time for world building. That greatness builds, grown organically and not hatched fully formed. A couple of seasons were required to fully build the principle characters and infuse the situations with a robust mythos to bind characters and circumstances seamlessly together. Before attempting to delineate a synopsis of the dominant plot points, it is prudent to note that this is not a series for everybody, arguably it could be stated it is nor for most people. The days when networks strove to please the largest audience are over, supplanted by the era of niche programming. ‘Preacher’ is an example of replacing the generalized pablum created with the sole intention of generating the largest possible following with entertainment showcasing excellence over generality. A purposeful aspect of this series is to offend the viewer. Not for the sake of challenging the validity of beliefs but rather to liberate the audience to explore alternative concepts in understanding. As is obvious from the title, religion is a fundamental premise driving the action. Jesse is ostensibly a preacher for a small congregation in rural Texas. For much of his life, Jesse has been a grifter, a con man, and low-end career criminal. The first two seasons followed Jesses as the transaction from a person concerned only with his personal needs to a part of a dysfunctional community. Through a strange twist of fate and convergence of circumstances, Jesse becomes the host of a supernatural power derived by being of supernatural origins, Genesis.
Whenever Jessie speaks forcefully, anyone hearing his voice must obey, precisely and without hesitation. An unintentional consequence of this power provides one of the most surreal storylines of the season. Jesses, annoyed and overwrought, shouts at a young man, Eugene (Ian Colletti), to go to hell. Instantly, he finds himself literally in Hell, despite not deserving the fate or being dead, Eugene is a very unusual recurring character. Due to a failed suicide attempt with a shotgun in the mouth, much of his jaw is gone leaving his lips in a permeant pucker resembling a sphincter conferring upon him the lamentable nickname, Arseface. He goes on to h=share a very strange adventure with Adolf Hitler (Noah Taylor).
The world is thrown into turmoil when God mysteriously vanishes. Even the angels that were hunting Genesis are clueless as to the whereabouts of the Almighty, leaving Jesse determined to locate him. With only a few nearer and ambiguous clue he sets off with his girlfriend, Tulip O'Hare (Ruth Negga), a childhood friend, girlfriend, and conman extraordinaire, and best friend, the 119-year-old Irish vampire, Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun). The interrelationship between these three characters drives the emotional arc of the season. Jesse and Tulip have been a couple since before puberty, albeit mitigated by drifting in and out of each other’s lives. Following an age-old literary device, the three are continuingly pulled apart and drifted back together. This allowed the writers to explore each character individually, deeply diving into their origins and motivational forces that shaped their current personas. ‘Preacher’ is an example of the change in focus that the expanded venues and insulation from the restrictive FCC oversight have accomplished. Graphic novels are a form of serialized entertainment which permitted the narrator to examine characters, their backstories, and circumstances in illuminating depth. Broadcast television necessitated superficiality, in general, while the film had time constraints firmly imposed. Series such as this can dedicate entire episodes to an individual character’s story arc even if it requires a temporary departure from the primary narrative. This season excelled in the use of this device providing crucial biographies of Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy. In each case, the audience was given intimate details as to the crucial circumstances that formed their personalities, emotional composition, and psychological foundation. Surviving their respective abuses tempered them into the resourceful and resilient adults able to form a dysfunctional yet loyal family unit.
The principal characters are precisely crafted as fully formed, human personalities. Still, in a story with such prevalent supernatural components, the construction of the adversaries is more critical than ever. In this series, they then to be human, albeit with access to the supernatural. A plethora and villains are opposing the three protagonists far too many for inclusion here. Besides, the greatest source of entertainment in this season is experiencing each villain in turn and watching how they contribute to the whole. Of all the bizarre and colorful members of this season’s rouge gallery, the standout is arguably Herr Star (Pip Torrens). He is a formidable adversary, physically imposing with a scar down his face, damaged eye, and penchant for white suits and hats. It has no regard for pain, except as a tool. The Grail is an ancient secret order charged with protecting the bloodline of Jesus Christ. Herr Star commanded the Samson unit, responsible for black operations and ‘wet work.’ His allegiance is to his survival and will betray or kill anyone in the way f that objective. As mentioned, this season possesses a robust cadre of characters expertly crafted and brought to life by an incredibly talented cast. The fourth season has been approved, and all true fans are anxiously waiting for it to start.