Review: Preacher (Season 1, Episode 1)

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With the new wave of TV and film moving toward the more risqué and downright mad, Preacher feels right at home as an adaption seemingly without limits.

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Preacher is the latest addition to the long list of superb Amazon Original Series to bless our screens. Religion, sex and profanity doesn’t sound like the most harmonious concoction, yet this bloody cocktail, based on the cult comic book series, has certainly made an impact on audiences.

Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) is a disillusioned yet repenting priest living in a deadbeat town in Texas; a microcosm of humanity’s sin and hopelessness. A malfunctioning air conditioning unit in his church ensures a hellish and fiery climate, that only perpetuates the suffocating conditions of the claustrophobic town, and mindset in which Jesse is trapped.

Racked with guilt and a more than shady past, the priest must juggle irritating flock members, godless followers, and helpless victims, while he teeters forever on the edge of losing sight of God altogether. Enter Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga), Jesse’s destructive former flame – that is undeniably still burning. Her eventful arrival back in town sees Jesse running for the hills.

We also meet Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), the drug fuelled vampire who lands in town just in time to witness Jesse’s rage spill over into bar brawl, giving them time in jail to kindle their own budding friendship. Meanwhile, a supernatural force that has flown to earth from space jumps into the bodies of false prophets, unbeknownst to Jesse, who is blinded by his own world of guilt and sin. That is, until he and the force collide, and he is reborn with the strange ability to command people to do whatever he says. Two ominous men who have been tracking the force then arrive on Jesse’s doorstep. Yep, it’s as crazy as it sounds.

The small town feel, the arrival of strangers, and a slightly askew universe where everything and everyone is not quite as they seem, recalls the 2014 TV series Fargo, starring Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton. You are equally fascinated and disgusted by the events you are witnessing and the characters you are encountering, as you embrace their weirdness, as well as your own.

The pilot is more overflowing with interesting characters, great editing and questions of religion and morality than the mind can comfortably comprehend. Its cinematic feel is, in part, thanks to the presence of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg respectively as producers/directors working on the project. It’s a whirlwind, one huge distraction from whatever the hell you were previously doing with your day.

Encountering both Tulip and Cassidy in full comic book mode, their confrontational and aggressive personas are set to wreak havoc with Jesse’s conscience and his susceptible alter ego. A hint of sombreness takes hold in their respective fight scenes, for Tulip who seems lost and drifting, like the maze in which she creates as her fight scene propels her forward in a car; for Cassidy, flying above the world, absolutely liberated and guilt free; and finally Jesse, so full of rage and anger that he must drink to forget, seeking both solace and violence at the end of a bottle.

From the nod made to the comics in the opening sequence that blends the animated and the live action as we track the force flying through cartoon-like space heading for Earth, to a cocaine and alcohol infused party on an aeroplane with exploding holy men, the pilot was indeed testing the limits of its parameters. The result is that, in this show, truly anything goes.

It has been dubbed as potentially the best comic book adaption to date, and to no surprise. It is in equal measure slick and sick, with the twisted demise of the annoying flock member Ted seeing an end to the cyclical nature of the first episode in all it’s beautiful and bloody glory. The words ‘be brave, tell her the truth, open your heart’ have never been interpreted so literally, as Jesse urges Ted to confront his nagging mother. This turn of events very much reflects the show itself: one minute mundane and normal, the next completely bonkers and sickening. Preacher is going to be one of those shows you compulsively watch, despite what your conscience tells you to the contrary.

The AMC series Preacher will continue on Amazon Prime on 6th June, and the first episode is available now.

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