‘Preacher’ Season 2: Looking for God in All the Wrong Places

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With the debut of the second season of “Preacher,” the show finally moved into the domain of the comics, with wonderfully over-the-top results. Not that the first season didn’t contain elements of the comics obviously, but in a way, it was more of a place-setter for what was to come.

That’s not a complaint, BTW- I actually loved the first season, and it was great seeing these characters come to life in such a vivid way that was inspired by, but not necessarily beholden to the comics. I also think it was a smart move, as it allowed one to get to know the characters to a certain degree before setting them on the road trip that forms the bulk of the comics, as I remember it.

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It’s admittedly been a while since I read the comics, but I did love them at the time of their release, and have most, if not all of the assembled collections stashed away in storage somewhere. (God only knows what became of the original comics.) I had hoped to fish them out and re-read them before this season, but, you know, life gets in the way of our best laid plans sometimes. Maybe I’ll get it done before next season- we’ll see.

Until such time, I actually like sort of re-discovering what I loved about the series in the first place: the quirky characters, the demented violence and wacked-out scenarios and so on. I think it works as an advantage not completely knowing what’s coming next, except in vague terms. It’s like coming out of a waking dream- you might remember some things vividly, but others… not so much.

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Lord knows, “Preacher” is oftentimes like a fever dream, what with all the insane carnage and bizarre situations. I mean, lest we forget, this is a comic/show about a group of people literally in search of God- and I don’t mean that metaphorically. I mean they are looking for God himself, who is roaming the Earth, after having left Heaven for undisclosed reasons- on the show, at least.

The second season picks up right where the first left off, with Preacher Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper, a long way from “Mamma Mia”), his on-again, off-again girlfriend Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga, a long way from her Oscar-nominated turn in “Loving”) and the vampire Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun, “The Last Witch Hunter”) hitting the road, just before the town of Annville goes up in flames as a result of a methane explosion.

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No sooner are they hitting the highway, reveling in the wonderful 80’s cheese that is “Come On Eileen,” than Tulip’s fast driving gets the attention of the local police and a car chase ensues. All would have possibly been well, but the car runs out of gas, bringing the thrilling chase to a premature end. However, Preacher has Genesis on his side- a mysterious being of shady origins that allows Jesse to command people to do things and forces them to comply.

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As such, he simply compels the cops to do goofy things like hold hands, sing “Yellow Rose of Texas” and, in one case, mace his own balls. Unfortunately for all concerned, the cowboy set upon the Preacher by Fiore (Tom Brooke, “Pirate Radio”) intervenes, and a virtual bloodbath ensues. By the end of it, all but the core three are deader than a doornail, and they just barely make it out of there alive.

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After a quick stop for gas- Tulip had to siphon gas from one of the cops using one of their intestines (!) to get out of there in the first place- the three head to a friend of Jesse’s father, Mike (Glenn Morshower, “Supergirl”), a fellow preacher and religious scholar, with some decidedly unorthodox ways of “saving” people. (Loved that he was “saving” Ashleigh (Abbie Gayle) from… the internet.)

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Mike says that he came across a woman he helped kick drugs who claimed to have seen God- at a strip club. It seems a bit dubious, but Jesse and Co. head to check it out, anyway. As they make their way to “She She’s,” the mysterious cowboy takes out the gas station clerk and threatens Mike to try and track Jesse down. For their troubles, the gas station owner has his cat eaten by Cassidy and his tongue ripped out by the cowboy, and Mike kills himself rather than talk. Good times!

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We discover that the cowboy is, in fact, the so-called “Saint of Killers,” sort of the Patron Saint of killing people. As we discovered in the first season, he lost his family when he made the mistake of going back into town to intervene in a local matter, which got him beaten up and his horse killed, forcing him to walk back to his home, where his sick daughter and wife were waiting on the medicine he was sent into town to get.

When he arrived, his daughter and wife were already dead. Hating himself for getting involved in the town’s business instead of minding his own, he decides to take matters into his own hands and get revenge by arming himself to the teeth and going back to the town to kill everyone in sight, which he does. Over and over again.

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It seems that the cowboy has been re-living the events that cost him his family over and over, in a constant loop that is only interrupted when the renegade angels Fiore and his partner DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef) intervene and task him with killing the Preacher, as the angels believe that no man should possess the power of Genesis. Though the cowboy almost immediately kills DeBlanc, he does agree to do it, for reasons we will soon discover.

At the strip club, Jesse and Tulip interview owner Tammy (Jeanette O’Connor), the one who claimed to have seen God. She isn’t entirely forthcoming, but then Cassidy gets into trouble fooling around with a stripper and a fight ensues in the next room, resulting in a security guard accidentally shooting into the wall, which ends up killing Tammy. Before she dies, she confesses that God came there not for the strippers- but the jazz band playing there!

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Back at their hotel, Jesse and Tulip finally hook up, rekindling their relationship, though Tulip oddly has Jesse break down the bathroom door to get to her- guess they’re going to lose that room deposit! Afterwards, Jesse goes outside for a smoke and is confronted by the Saint. He tries to use Genesis to make him stop- but it doesn’t work on the Saint.

Fortunately for Jesse, a truck happens to cross the road just as the Saint fires his gun at the preacher, and the bullet kills the driver, who crashes the truck right into the Saint, pinning him into a telephone pole. Naturally, this doesn’t kill him, and only pisses him off. As it so happens, there’s an assembly of gun aficionados in town for a convention or whatever, who come out, fully armed, and start firing upon the Saint, with one even setting off what looked to be a missile launcher at him!

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This does little to stop him and yet another massacre begins, with any and all denizens of the hotel getting themselves killed trying to stop the Saint. In the meantime, Jesse and the others flee for their lives. Cassidy has an idea where to go next: Mumbai, an Indian-run casino in the nearby area, where it would appear that Fiore is working as a magician.

It seems that Fiore accidentally showed a lounge singer (Vik Sahay, “Chuck”) his ability to literally come back from the dead when killed and the two started an act together, in which the singer kills Fiore in all sorts of ways, and he simply regenerates back to life before an astonished crowd of people. Going now by Ganesh, Cassidy catches a commercial for Fiore’s act and says they should go to him for help, his being an angel and all.

We discover that Fiore has been suicidal since the loss of his partner, but wasn’t able to kill himself, for obvious reasons. Fiore admits to hiring the Saint to kill the preacher, saying that no man should have the power of Genesis. He also confirms that God is indeed missing, but refuses to call off the Saint, and lets Jesse know that every time he uses the power of Genesis, it draws the Saint to him like a beacon.

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Cassidy says he has a plan to win over Fiore to their side, and only needs 2 hours and 45 minutes to execute it. Turns out that plan just amounts to getting Fiore blissed out on drugs and possibly sleeping with him. Whatever the case, it works, and Fiore agrees to call off the Saint. Or does he?

In the meantime, Jesse proposes marriage to Tulip, who after a fashion, accepts, though she doesn’t really believe in it. However, before that can happen, an old acquaintance, Gary (Michael Beasley, “Bloodline”) spots her and tracks Tulip down to her room, confronting her. It seems Tulip used to work for a guy named Victor and he isn’t too happy about the way she left things. Gary demands that Tulip call him, and she refuses and a fight ensues.

Ultimately, Tulip wins that fight, beating Gary down with the place-holder for her impending wedding. Enter Cassidy, who she has clean up and cover up the crime while she goes down to her wedding. Needless to say, under the circumstances, she isn’t feeling it, so she ends up calling it off.

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Even more unfortunate for Jesse, just as Fiore was about to call off the Saint, he has second thoughts after talking to Jesse and realizes that he can’t be trusted with Genesis. Thinking all is well, as a reward for calling the Saint off of him, Jesse uses Genesis to tell Fiore to “find peace.” When the Saint arrives, Fiore does just that, by having the cowboy kill him- for real, this time- in front of a live audience, who then proceed to boo him for not coming back!

Before Fiore dies, he tells the Saint what Jesse told him before he left- Jesse was headed to New Orleans. The reason being, that’s where God likely went, as where better to go if one loved jazz, than to the birthplace of the genre? This doesn’t sit well with Tulip, which is likely because that’s where Victor is. We also discover the deal Fiore made with the Saint- if he kills the preacher, he’ll get to see his family again- alive, one assumes.

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That’s where we end things, and that’s as good a place as any. Over the course of these two episodes, we get all we need to know about the main through-line of the season, and the various threads of plot that will be followed over the course of the season. We know who the cowboy is and why he’s doing what he’s doing. We know that Tulip’s past is swiftly catching up with her.

We also know that Jesse is playing things a bit fast and loose with Genesis, and it may cost him. And we know that Cassidy is still feeling guilty about having slept with Tulip last season, before he knew that she and Jesse were a former item, and that it’s likely to come out sooner than later, and when it does… it probably won’t end well.

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Beyond that, if you watched the after-show, “Talking Preacher,” you know that Eugene, aka “Arseface” (Ian Colletti), will be returning to the show soon, having been cast out of Earth to Hell by Jesse, albeit somewhat unintentionally. Also cropping up soon will be Herr Starr (Pip Torrens, “The Crown”), leader of the Grail, a secret organization; Lara Featherstone (Julie Ann Emery, “Better Call Saul”), their top operative; and Noah Taylor (“Game of Thrones”) as none other than Adolf Hitler!

I do recall all of these characters being straight from the comics, so that will be cool to see. There are also a few other things I remember that I hope to see this season that I won’t spoil here, but if they do them- and there’s no reason to think they won’t- it should be something to see! As it stands, these first two episodes were a lot of fun, and really pushed the boundaries as to what one can show on TV, even on cable.

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According to “Talking Preacher,” AMC encouraged the show to go even further this season, in terms of violence and what have you, and they certainly seemed to have risen to that occasion, between that insane shoot-out at the beginning of episode one, to the tongue-rip later on, and the out-there antics of Fiore and Cassidy in the hotel room, not to mention Fiore’s multiple attempts at killing himself, both in and outside of his act. Honestly, can we be far from full-blown nudity at this point? They certainly came pretty close here.

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I’m definitely looking forward to what the show has in store for us this season, and though I will miss some of the characters from the first season, it’s nice to be headed more firmly into comics territory. I also like that the show was indeed shot in New Orleans this season, which is one of my favorite places in the world. You can’t buy local color like that, and it should make for an excellent backdrop for the rest of the season. (Actually, according to “Talking Preacher,” the strip club scene was shot there as well.)

What did you think of the first two episodes of “Preacher”? Are you happy with the direction the show is headed in? If you’re a comics reader, are you excited to see what’s (likely) coming? What did you think about all the violence? Was too much- or not enough? Are you encouraged that a show like this is on the likes of AMC? What other comics-based shows would you like to see an adaption of? (I’d love to see “Danger Girl” or “Y-The Last Man.”)

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Sound off down below in the comments section, and thanks for reading!