Exploring “The Possibilities” of Watching PREACHER For What It Is
When Preacher‘s pilot first aired, I’m sure my relief at it not being completely god-awful played a part in how much I loved it. It was excellent, certainly, but my hesitance and low expectations made it easy for me to be an instant fan. Now that we’re three episodes in and that newly in-love haze has begun to fade, I feel like I can finally be a little bit more critical and see the show for what it is – not just for what it isn’t.
Episode 3 (“The Possibilities”) opens with the lovely Tulip discussing some deep, dark, unfinished business with someone named Dani who seems to have a connection to “Grail Industries” (HOLY CRAP, BOOK FANS!). Before completely altering Jesse and Tulip’s backstory, the show takes us (and Dani takes Tulip’s delivery) to some kind of snuff film movie theatre where a bald man in a white suit is waiting. At this point, I made the same sound I made last week when a certain cowboy made his first appearance. This tall, lanky, white-suited gentleman is easily one of my favourite characters in the original series (though I feel rather creepy admitting that so openly) and I’m thrilled to see him on screen. I’ll be crossing my fingers that we get to see much more of him very soon.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m trying to recap the show weekly but spoil it for anyone not watching. This is more to open discussion between people who are watching, whether you’re an old fan or a new one of one or both versions of Preacher. My beef (though I don’t even want to call it a beef necessarily) with this week’s episode is how Tulip’s being portrayed. Well, Tulip and Jesse actually.
Sure, in the books they’re wild things with criminal pasts, but they’re morally sound to a point. They have clear lines and don’t ever seem to be blatantly malicious. Since Tulip’s little abduction prank on Jesse last week, I’ve felt her character is a little off. After last night’s episode, I feel like she’s way, way off. I am finding TV Tulip to be manipulative and, well, kind of annoying. And a little bit mean. I don’t want to say this version is ruining the character for me, but I’m worried it may. Then again, maybe I read her differently in the books than the creators of the show did, and maybe she was rougher and tougher in the graphic novels than I realized. But I always found her sweet underneath it all. It’s that sweetness I’m not sensing in the TV series so far, and I miss it. I miss the Tulip I’ve known all these years.
I’m on the fence about Jesse’s character after last night’s episode as well. Again, in the books, he’s true. He’s aligned with something in himself and he doesn’t stray far from that. He evolves – he has to – but he still remains Jesse. His heart is always in the same place. In the show, he seems a little too power-hungry, bordering a little too close to being a bully in ways. Again, maybe I read him differently in the books than some, but I feel the portrayal is not as loyal as it not only could be, but should be. To me, the storyline is much more fair game than the characters – and as Garth Ennis said in a live Facebook interview “the spirit of Preacher” – are.
Oh, and as a complete side note, these guys are hilarious.
I re-watched the episode again this morning and tried to watch it with brand new eyes, no context, as someone who’d never even heard of Jesse Custer until this wacky AMC series began. From that perspective, I feel that I’m able to appreciate the characters as they are a little more and enjoy the show just as much overall, but that I’m left with a lot of questions. After discussing the series with longtime fans of the books and new fans of the show, I think most folks in both categories are feeling the same way. Hoping the creators are able to bridge that gap and find a relatively happy (“happy” in Preacher terms) medium for all of us. I’m still as cautiously optimistic as I’ve been since the series was announced, but maybe a little more cautiously so after this week’s episode.
All in all, The Possibilities was an excellent episode of television, full of funny, creepy and “wtf” moments. For three episodes straight, Preacher has delivered brilliant (almost Tarantino-esque) dialogue, stunning imagery (almost any still of this show could be hung on the wall as art), and has left viewers (well, me for sure) wanting more. I’ll keep watching of course, but I do have some reservations at this point, which is disappointing after such a strong start. Here’s hoping the show is headed in a direction that I can’t quite see yet, and that I’m only feeling this way because of my love for and loyalty to the original series. Fingers crossed for next week’s episode “Monster Swamp” – check out the preview below.