When Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon created “Preacher” in 1994 it was one of the most shocking, brutal, funny, and poignant comic books on the market.
Last year AMC had the sage wisdom to green light a series based on the book, spearheaded by Sam Catlin, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg.
Just like the book, the show is shocking, brutal, funny, and poignant– and season 2 is about to premiere on June 25th. To get all geared up for our season two road trip with Jesse Custer and the gang, let’s look back at some of the wildest moments from show that earns its TV-MA rating every week.
1) In the beginning…
The series kicks off in shocking fashion as the sound of a new parent’s nightmare streaks across the galaxy and rudely interrupts a preacher mid-sermon by blasting through his door and into his chest.
For a moment the preacher is able to control his congregation with what we learn is an otherworldly entity called Genesis. But like a Phil Collins backbeat Genesis cannot be contained and the preacher explodes into liquid funfetti.
Welcome to the show!
2) Snakes on a Plane
“Genesis” introduces the co-stars of the show with the kind of over-the-top panache the series makes its wheelhouse.
Our first meeting with Cassidy, played by Joe Gilgun, is a bloody one and it’s our first major fight of the series. Thirty thousand feet in the air the Irishman and several unnamed businessmen party hard on their way to Tijuana where they plan to…party hard.
Cassidy discovers their intention to kill him and, like any good partier, decides to beat them to the punch. And kick. And stab. And flamethrow. And finally, bite, when we learn that this one-man wrecking crew is also a vampire.
After disposing of the last of his victims and grabbing one more bloody pint for the road, Cassidy grabs an umbrella and Mary Poppins out of what is now a flying tomb.
3) You Probably Think This Song Is About You
Not to be outdone in the holy trinity of “Preacher” Tulip O'Hare enters our lives in a shocking high speed gun fight through a Kansas cornfield during “Genesis.” As Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” blares over the car radio Tulip fends off two men in the car while the car careens through rows of maize.
The tight-quarters action is brutal as one guy gets his brains blown through the rear windshield and another meets their end when Tulip shoves a stalk of corn down his throat.
She then turns, chipper as can be, to the kids who watched her finish off the last of the men, and asks them to help her make some more weapons.
The kids help and then hide at her behest as more goons come for her. We don’t see the action here but when the kids reemerge they are greeted by a smiling Tulip, played with anarchaic glee by Ruth Negga, a flaming helicopter, and scads of carnage.
4) Bunny In A Bear Trap
Up to this point in “Genesis” our Preacher Jesse Custer - hey like the name of the show! - is a quiet, frustrated presence in Annville. Whatever roils below the surface is hinted at until a showdown between Custer and town bully Donnie Schneck that leads to an all-out barroom brawl that shows what happens when a Preacher, a vampire, and a Civil War re-enacter all walk in to a bar (the answer is violence).
After promising to make Schneck make a noise like a bunny caught in a bear trap, Custer has Schneck dead to rights in a wrist lock as Sheriff Root arrives and asks Custer to let him go. Instead of turning the other cheek our Preacher methodically snaps Donny’s arm so badly the bone is exposed, not an ounce of remorse on Dominic Cooper’s face.
That, folks, is the hero of the show.
5) Open Your Heart
Jesse first comes into possession of Genesis in “Genesis” before he’s aware. Our first glimpse of its power comes when Ted Reyerson takes Jesse’s command to “be brave, tell her the truth open [his] heart” to his mother.
He gets on a plane, flies to see her….
opens his heart to her..
and then grabs a chef’s knife and LITERALLY opens his heart to her.
6) I’m Like A Chainsaw
Fiore and DeBlanc, the two mystery men tracking Genesis, confront Jesse in “See.” They knock him out in the church and, as they prepare to remove the entity from Custer, are interrupted by Cassidy, now on a path to do good with his life. His first order of business? Save Jesse from Fiore and DeBlanc, whose preferred removal method involves a chainsaw.
The three tangle over Jesse’s unconscious body in a funny, bloody showdown that definitely involves blood, biting, and at least one detached arm.
7) A Sexy Lil’ Beatdown
In the opening of “Monster Swamp” we are treated to just how much sway Quincannon M&P has over Annville when Lacie from Mosie’s brothel accidentally dies while playing sexy paintball with the men from the factory.
When Tulip confronts Clive, the man responsible for Lacy’s death, he is remorseless and even gets a free go-round from Mosie.
Tulip seethes in the parlor until she can’t take it any longer, heads upstairs, and decides to beat the shit out Clive.
She bursts in the door and goes Walter Sobchak on him mid-thrust, the attack carrying him through the window and onto the roof. Tulip revels in the moment, only to turn around to see a shocked Clive standing in the doorway with one of the other girls.
Confused, Tulip looks down to see the real victim of her rage - Cassidy, glass stuck in his neck, bleeding out on the roof.
8) They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
Ah come on, I just replaced the brain in this horse!
9) “We grow or we die.”
Jesse uses Genesis to convince Odin Quincannon to walk a more noble path which we see unfold over the course of “South Will Rise Again.”
It looks like the meat master has turned a corner and possibly learned some compassion until the close of the episode. After discussing a possible merger with representatives from Green Acre, Quincannon casually produces a heavy-duty shotgun and blows them all away.
As Mayor Miles Person stands in shock at the carnage, Quincannon explains his new point of view:
“We grow or we die, Miles. We grow or we die.”
10) Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes
The opening scenes of “Sundowner” capture the tone of Preacher more than any other sequence.
After Fiore and DeBlanc explain the origin of the power inside Jesse, the trio is attacked by the world’s most dangerous soccer mom. Fiore and DeBlanc kill her but before they can retreat she reappears at the door of the diner, no worse for the wear, appetite for destruction still in place.
Jesse and the boys retreat to Fiore and DeBlanc the Sundown Hotel, where we learn the woman was a Seraphim, sent to finish the job they have been unable to complete.
On cue, she arrives at the motel and the four of them wreak breathtaking carnage on one another, the immortals killing each other again and again, respawning over and over, bodies piling on bodies piling on bodies.
The action action is only paused for a moment by–
Oh right, this all happened before the credits.
What a way to kick off an episode.
11) Everyone Hates Eugene
No one else on the show has quite as…distinct a look as Eugene Root, played by Ian Coletti. Given the moniker “Arseface” by Cassidy in the comics, the teenager is the most upbeat person in the show even though he has a face that looks like a butthole, leftover from an attempted suicide.
The mystery behind that attempt and the town’s hatred of the boy unwinds over the course of the season, mostly in cruel attacks on Eugene.
From calling him “it” to encouraging him to finish the job to just swinging on him, Eugene feels their full fury. Jesse is the only person to listen to the boy until even he, pent up with his own frustrations, has had enough. During an argument in “Sundowner” Custer yells “Go to hell, Eugene” in the vibratto that we know cannot be denied.
Realizing what he’s done, Jesse turns…
To find emptiness where the boy once stood.
12) “…‘Cause there’s way too many of the bad.”
Through the first half of the season we are drip-fed flashes of Jesse’s childhood and how his father died but it’s not until “He Gone” that we get the full flashback.
After John Custer sends a young Tulip off to be a ward of Texas a betrayed young Jesse Custer prays for God to come and kill his father.
Sure enough, that night armed men break in to the church, drag John and Jesse outside, and put a gun to John’s head. Jesse confesses his prayer to his father who has more important words for him.
“Jesse, much bigger things are coming for you, much bigger things than this here. So you gotta be one of the good guys, because there’s way too many of the bad.”
The mystery men then shoot John in the head right in front of Jesse.
13) Pulling Your Ass Outta Your Head
“El Valero” opens with Jesse, much like his namesake, making a last stand against Odin Quincannon’s takeover of the church. Frustrated by his own ego and desperate to make right what he did to Eugene, he tears up the floor, demanding the boy “Come back” in his Genesis voice.
The dirt below the floorboards lies silent until suddenly…
Eugene, compelled by Jesse’s demand, digs his way out of hell.
Jesse is flabberghasted.
14) I’m A Cowboy, Baby
A series of random flashbacks across the season told us the tale of a cowboy on a mission to save a sick girl. To do so he had to travel to Ratwater, Texas, where Annville stands today.
He is disgusted by the corruption and callous disregard for human life in the town until an attempt to warn a family away from entering Ratwater leads to the loss of his horse (STILL UNNECESSARY) and delaying his journey by days. When he returns the girl and her caretaker are long dead, crows feasting on their bodies. Furious, the cowboy returns to town to exact bloody revenge on everyone he sees, slaughtering everyone with righteous fury.
This drips out until “Finish The Song.” In one of the coolest sequences of the series we relive the brutal story over and over, faster and faster, unable to escape it.
Eventually we learn where exactly this is happening, and why.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to…
15) Do Not Enter
Cassidy spends the back half of season one recovering from horrible sunburn - he’s a vampire, remember - in Tulip’s care. This mostly involves eating small creatures to build himself back up to full power, but it’s slow. His injuries are bad enough that the small nourishment he gets from guinea pigs isn’t sustaining him.
When Tulip leaves town in “Finish The Song” she also leaves Cassidy under the care of Emily, the mousy mother whose unrequited pining for Jesse Custer has underpinned her own milquetoast relationship with Mayor Miles Person.
As she understands Cassidy’s true nature she sees an out for that relationship and in one of the series’ most brutal betrayals, lures the kind Person to the house and locks him in Cassidy’s bedroom. Emily stands on the other side of the door as Cassidy, ravenous, feeds on the mayor, his screams for help also going unrequited.
It’s shocking turn is made even more brutal as we only hear the screams as the camera holds on Emily, never moving.
16) Watch The Throne
Jesse’s last ditch effort to thwart Quincannon’s hold over Annville comes when he declares that he will literally bring God to town, which he plans to do using the hotline phone he steals from Fiore and DeBlanc. In “Call And Response” the season finale, the entire town shows up to see the preacher make good on this promise.
After what seems a failed attempt the video line lights up and God, looking like a character in a Mel Brooks film, appears before them, answering their questions.
It looks like Jesse has done his job until his curiosity gets the best of him and he presses further, revealing that this is not God at all.
In fact, no one in Heaven knows where God is.
The feed cuts out and leaves the congregation in the dark. Jesse, frustrated that what he felt was his life’s mission was a ruse, walks away with Tulip and Cassidy as the parish begins to riot.
17) Falling Annville
The setting of a show is just as important as the characters. “Friends” would have been a very different show if it were set in Los Angeles (in fact it would be called “Joey”). So it takes balls to walk away from a structure you’ve spent an entire season building but that’s just what happens at the end of “Call And Response.”
After the call we get a montage of Annville slowly falling apart: Donny can’t have sex with his wife any more, schoolgirls kill Linus the pedopheliac bus driver that Jesse made forget earlier in the season, and Odin Quincannon cradles a meat baby he made of his daughter, dressed in the snowsuit she was wearing when she died.
The chain of events leads to the methane release station we’d seen a few times in the series. The town is built on a giant pocket of gas released by all the cows Quincannon Meat and Power slaughters. The man overseeing the release, overcome by death after finally having the freaky sex he’d always wanted, lies motionless as the gas builds. With a simple flap of a pipe near a lit cigarette, Annville explodes in an explosion so powerful the news says there are absolutely no survivors.
“Preacher” spends the first season building up an entire town only to smite it with but a wave of the hand.
titleWith a first season this wild it’s no wonder we are waiting like it’s Rapture Season for the next one to premiere in June.
Until then, be one of the good guys, y'all.
Watch Preacher Season 2 Premiere here now. Don’t miss new episodes, Mondays at 9/8c on AMC.