Preacher season 2: a step up and a let down (VIDEO)
The Vertigo comic series Preacher by Garth Ennis and the late, great Steve Dillon is very good. It’s dark, funny, and adventurous and can make you weep with very little effort. It’s very much an angry young male writer’s story though. Ennis was only 25 when he began writing the series and his frustration with certain aspects of society, politics and people really propels the ideas at play.
Sure, there are a few cringey, naive or downright ignorant assertions by the comic, but it all creates a unique vision regardless. This combined with the almost freeform planning of the larger story made the comic fast moving, anarchic, directionless and unpredictable, in all the best ways with very few missteps. This approach fits the plot perfectly: A Bonnie-and-Clyde styled road trip, with run-ins with meta-physical forces and powerful cults.
But for some reason the TV series isn’t a road trip. It’s a well known grievance that the first season of the TV show stays in Jesse Custer’s home town Annville until the end of the finale. Something the comic chose to do for only a handful of pages in its first issue. The second season seems to have attempted to correct this by having an explosive first few episodes set on the road before settling into New Orleans which serves as a more interesting semi-permanent locale.
Generally speaking Preacher has picked itself up in its second season, so why does that not always feel like the case? Mostly because the show is anarchic, directionless and unpredictable, but in all the wrong ways without being fast moving at all.
Large portions of season 2 were taken up by Eugene’s time spent in hell. It slowed everything down too much whilst having repeating scenes as a motif. It also didn’t help that the plotline ended with Eugene escaping hell with the aid of Hitler. The show then hints at redemption for Hitler, FOR HITLER. Sure, he runs off from Eugene once they’re on Earth, but the way it is executed makes it seem like a sudden change of heart rather than his evil plan all along. It’s too ambiguous for dealing with FUCKING HITLER.
Meanwhile on Earth things just got depressing. Cassidy had his plotline with his dying son. It was obvious he was going to turn him into a vampire. It was obvious his son would become an evil vampire that Cassidy would have to kill. When this finally happened in the finale they decided to avoid all in-scene build up to the kill and oddly made Cassidy’s choice feel like it had no build up despite all the time dedicated to setting the moment up previously in other episodes.
Elsewhere Jesse and Tulip drifted apart. Tulip was uncharacteristically terrified of the Saint of Killers and seemed to get a slightly insulting plot about her trauma. Jesse became the weird psycho Jesse from season 1, the one that goes power mad. Can we move past this idea please? Why can’t he just be an anti-hero who sometimes fucks up really bad? Why is he actually borderline evil and uncaring about others? Following the first 12 issues of the comic we saw a constant happy relationship between Jesse and Tulip. It was lovely to see. They had their problems, but they worked them out. It was fun to read about two characters head-over-heels in love going on nutty adventures.
That’s actually what made things feel dangerous when shit got real. Their relationship in the show seems to only have pockets of happiness and only a few times in those early episodes of season 2.
Don’t get me wrong. The action and quirky moments in this show still soar. The casting in main, recurring and guest stars is constantly amazing. I loved everything about the Grail this season when they weren’t too entwined with Jesse. They even made that scene with Starr less questionable in the show than it was in the comic.
I love the soundtrack and the opening titles always hit hard. This show just needs to find the fun and the love more often. There are bleak parts of the comic run and whenever I reread the whole thing I dread those moments. Not because they’re depressing, but because of the heartache that comes with them. When I think of the show adapting these moments I worry that it’ll just feel like more of the same.
And when you portray Hitler, don’t make his post-redemption betrayal seem so ambiguous. You should have made that betrayal seem like the plan the entire time and made it a betrayal more severe than a running away. Jesus fucking Christ, it’s HITLER.