There’s nothing on television quite like Preacher. Granted, this isn’t necessarily a good thing, but you’re going to see things on this show that you can’t quite see on any other series currently running. AMC’s weirdest story about a trio of outsiders searching for the Lord Almighty enters its third season introducing us to the swampy, mystical world of Angelville, an old southern plantation inhabited by wielders of voodoo and degeneracy. Season 2 ended with Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga), one-time girlfriend of Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), being killed by employees of the Grail, a secret organization that is akin to the Illuminati hoping that Jesse can fill the role of their new messiah. In order to save Tulip, Jesse must further explore his roots by returning to the marsh he grew up in and become acquainted once again with his family in the form of his “Gran’ma” (Betty Buckley), the lecherous T.C. (Colin Cunningham), and hard as a rock Jody (Jeremy Childs). After watching the first three episodes of Preacher Season 3, does the show manage to deliver a message outside of the weird.
Believe it or not, at its heart, Preacher is the story of the American Dream. A dream to settle down, buy some property, marry your sweetheart, and ride off into the sunset. Granted, this is a dream that’s littered with fallen angels, sex detectives, vampires, and Bill Hicks monologues, but it’s a dream all the same. That was the heart of Preacher. The weirdness was really the icing on the cake for a series that had emotional, and most importantly likable, characters. When Cassidy would stumble over and over again, it was heart-wrenching. When Jesse and Tulip were separated for whatever reason, you would be cheering for them to reunite sooner rather than later. In Preacher the television series, the show s the icing for the meat and gives you an experience that, while worth seeing, offers a number of characters that simply don’t make the ride anywhere near as enjoyable as it could be. Our main trio are mostly just unlikable, bouncing from scenario to scenario as something of a platform for witnessing strange happenings like God wearing a dog suit on a motorcycle and souls being snorted like cocaine.
I’m reminded somewhat of ABC’s Lost when I think about Preacher now. Lost had a lot of crazy stuff going on in any given episode. The gang on “the island” would run into a polar bear, a smoke monster, and a mysterious “other” in the span of three episodes. While these were all well and good to move the story along, you also were interested in learning more about the trappings and history of these characters. How did John Locke end up in a wheelchair and subsequently find himself healed? Why was Kate on the run from the police before the crash? What was up with Jack’s tattoos? Okay, kidding on that last one, but regardless, these were likable characters who you wanted to spend time with. You wanted to see how they would react to the weird and wild circumstances that were thrown across their paths. With Preacher, the weirdness is somewhat dampened by the fact that our three protagonists are either a bore or simply aren’t given enough to do on their adventures wherein it seems like everything is just spinning wheels to get from point A to point B.
This isn’t to say that every character we encounter is necessarily a grind. Allow me to reintroduce you all to Herr Starr who is far and away the best part of the series. Pip Torrens manages to give a tour de force performance as one of the heads of the Grail, his deadpan delivery demanding attention from every minute of screen time he receives. Herr Starr and the Grail are almost the sanest members of the cast, albeit attempting to create their own end of the world scenario with an incestual descendant of Jesus named “Humperdoo” (played by All-American Rejects frontman Tyson Ritter).
On the other side of the villain pool, Gran’ma, Jody, and T.C. are serviceable enough. Jody looks fairly close to his comic book origins while the modus operandi of the terrible trio has changed substantially. Rather than being agents of the Lord, the citizens of Angelville deal in voodoo and witchcraft, selling spells and “deals with the devil” rather than forcing Jesse to become a preacher. I think it takes away from the horror of them ultimately, but mileage may vary.
Jesse’s past is really confusing here, and this is coming from someone who knows it inside and out from the funny books. You tend to completely forget about what had happened in Season 1, and how his childhood had been laid to bare there, which I suppose is understandable considering that the first season was presented as entirely disposable series of episodes wherein all of the supporting cast was taken out by a bomb. In the present, the bickering between Cassidy and Jesse as they vie for Tulip’s attention is distracting. In the comics, this was a story that was dealt with using nuance, ultimately serving as a springboard to examining toxic relationships and how easy it is to fall into them. Here, it feels like your typical standard television relationship wherein Jesse feels threatened, Cassidy pushes back, and vice versa. Everyone’s motivations are spread across the map and it makes it pretty confusing to figure out what any of these three actually want at any given time. Preacher is chaotic, and not in a great way.
In summation, if you want to watch some really weird events and characters slapped haphazardly across the screen, feel free to give this new season a watch. Otherwise, I think that you can safely skip Preacher’s third season.
Grade:★★ (2 Herr Stars)