Combining the dry dustiness of Breaking Bad, the dark humour of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the unpredictable violence and bleakness of Game of Thrones, Preacher continues to establish itself as one of the more unique voices in television. Following the journey of Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), a small-town preacher possessed with the spirit of an angel/demon hybrid name Genesis, the show frequently breaks new ground as it explores the border between edgy storytelling and spiritual conversation.
Season 2 picks up almost immediately after the events of last year’s season finale, as Jesse, girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga) and Irish vampire Cassidy (Joe Gilgun) have set out on their spiritual quest to find God, who is missing from Heaven. Unaware of the destruction of their hometown of Annville, the trio venture out into the Texas wilderness, fuelled by their anger towards the Almighty but without any actual direction. To make matters worse, Jesse is also being pursued relentlessly by the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish), a Hell-bound assassin hired kill him in order to reclaim Genesis.
With its dark tone and violent imagery, Preacher likely isn’t for everyone and season two certainly ups the ante. (In the premiere alone, we are witness to multiple deaths and the most creative use of an intestine ever.) However, the script and storytelling are so bold and rich that it continues to be one of the most theologically challenging shows in recent years (or, potentially, ever). Painted as an anti-heroic preacher, Jesse’s quest for God is more out of vengeance than reverence. He, and his partners-in-crime, are broken and lost, cursed to roam the earth looking for answers. Their home town has been completely wiped out, presumably devoid of survivors. For them, there is no true place of safety and rest anymore. In Preacher, theirs is the very definition of a desolate life.
But it’s in the midst of this anguish that the film reveals a genuine spiritual interest. For example, when it’s revealed in last season’s finale that God is absent, the people completely give themselves over to their deepest and darkest impulses. In a moment of sheer acquiescence, the people of Annville are so lost that they literally explode. Yet, this fall to despair ultimately demonstrates a desire… no, a need… for God to rule. Though the brokenness stems from a feeling of abandonment, it subsequently also shows that there is a reason that belief matters.
At the heart of this show is an angst and recklessness that echoes the current state of our global culture. While some would argue that the purpose of religious interests is merely to impose rules and ‘keep people in line’, Preacher suggests that the need for God stems from a need for hope. Like the people in Annville, our world has a desperate desire to believe that there is someone who has answers for the mess below. Where is God in a world of hatred and evil? Is it true that the only God that matters is the ‘god of meat’, as Quinncannon (Jackie Earle Haley) insists? While these questions aren’t new to our world (or the media), what is drastically different is the tone and approach. Unlike other spiritually themed shows, Preacher doesn’t merely tiptoe into questions like this… it runs full speed into them!
It’s this combination of spiritual boldness, dark humor and character that makes Preacher so interesting. Like the smallest of plants taking root in the desert, Jesse’s quest still reveals a glimmer of life and hope in the midst of the dryness of the Texas desert.
Preacher returns on Sunday, June 25th on AMC and resumes on Monday nights beginning the 26th.