SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details about tonight’s Preacher Season 1 finale and some details about Season 2.
In , “Call and Response,” tonight’s Preacher season finale on AMC, Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) and his congregation learn that God is missing, and there’s a patsy standing in. But as the town of Annville, Texas, comes to grips with this shocking truth, they’re wiped off the face of the earth because the plant manager wasn’t keeping his eye on the electro methane reactor.
“A sinful, Sodom and Gomorrah-type town, blowing up on its sh*t,” Preacher EP/co-creator Sam Catlin tells Deadline, “it’s all a direct result of the absence of God.”
Nearly every single character we became familiar with during the course of the season is gone, according to Catlin, save for Eugene Root aka Arseface, who we see is still in some sort of hell, working at a nearby diner. Even Jesse’s nemesis Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley), who has dogged the preacher’s church land for decades, is gone. Even sweet church mouse Emily (Lucy Griffiths), Jesse’s casual girlfriend? Also, gone.
“In the end, we had to clear the deck, there’s so many great characters from the comic to come,” says Catlin, who along with EPs Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg intended Preacher’s first season to be a prequel to the Vertigo comic book, with some nods to the print edition’s “Gone to Texas” series.
Like a holy trinity, we’re left with three survivors: Jesse, girlfriend Tulip and vampire bud Cassidy, who are on a crusade to find God, and as Jesse puts it if the Big Guy “wants our help, we’ll help him … but if he doesn’t, we’ll kick his ass.”
“In the first season we really wanted to establish Jesse’s relationship to God and lack thereof,” Catlin saysabout teeing up Season 2. He is disillusioned and losing his congregation from the beginning. We needed to put Jesse’s journey into context, and his mission for next season.”
In regards to the acerbic personalities from the comic-book who are on board for season 2, we already know that the crusty cowboy Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish), straight from hell itself, is hot on Jesse’s trail. Essentially, those two angels from heaven still want Jesse’s Genesis power back.
However, one new personality who will play large in Season 2 is “the figure in white, and fanboys will know who that is,” says Catlin. “They’ve already seen the character briefly.”
The figure in white was introduced briefly during Episode 3, “The Possibilities.” Tulip, during a meeting with Danni (Julie Dretzin), comes across “Grail Industries” on some paperwork. As Danni enters a dark theater, there’s a man clad in a white suit and hat, and according to the comic book, he’s Herr Starr, second in command for the Grail. They’re an Illuminati-type organization that controls the world’s governments and protects the bloodline of Jesus. Apparently, the crucifixion was a cover-up, and Christ instead married a woman named Mary and had children. Also, in a nuclear era, the Grail seeks absolute power. Starr reports to the Allfather of the Grail, who is a power-hungry, prostitute-loving maniac. Allfather seeks to use Jesse for his own ends. Preacher Season 2 gets shaken up like a soda bottle after the trio move into Starr’s domain.
Catlin promises that other zany folks from Preacher‘s dramatis personae also will be in the mix at some point during the run of the series, i.e. the serial killer Reaver Cleaver, and Jesse’s redneck family, including his nasty Cajun grandmother and her bodyguard Jody.
Also on the horizon per Catlin: “We don’t know who killed Jesse’s father, but we’ll know more about who those two men were.”
Like any comic book property, there’s a preciousness among Preacher’s fanboy flock, but that doesn’t get in the way of Catlin and his writers going off book when it comes to heightening and expanding the universe.
In tonight’s episode, some subplots weren’t in the comic book: the character of Carlos, his absconding with the bank cash, and Tulip losing Jesse’s baby. “Carlos was a convenient scapegoat for Tulip and Jesse’s own brokenheartedness and disappointment. Carlos was intentionally set up as a mysterious villain,” explains Catlin.
And as far as Tulip holding Jesse back from the ultimate dastardly deed of killing Carlos, the EP adds: “Tulip wanted to know that Jesse would go so far to do that for her. She’s a passionate and impulsive person, and I think she knows deep down it wasn’t about vengeance. It was about grief and loss of life with Jesse and the baby.”
Whenever a feature/TV adaptation strays from the comic book, like tonight, one way creators placate fans is to do what Zack Snyder did with his adaptation of Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen and mirror key storyboard moments onscreen. Given how visceral Preacher is in its look and tone, it’s easy to assume that was Catlin-Goldberg-Rogen’s m.o. One vibrant sequence was seen in the pilot when Tulip fends off two thugs in a fight-to-the-death inside her 1972 Chevy Chevelle Sedan as it barrels through a cornfield. It’s a scene that rivals some of the best moments in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s oeuvre. However, that big set piece wasn’t in the Preacher canon; it was hatched by Catlin, Rogen, Goldberg, Matrix DP Bill Pope (who shot the pilot) and stunt coordinator John Koyama. Take a look at the scene below.
Says Catlin: “I wish we could pick up the comic book and say, ‘Shoot that and write that in terms of the look and framing and the way it’s lit,’ but we’re riffing off the comic and (co-creator) Steve Dillion; we’re definitely inspired by how he constructs a shot.”
He further adds, “When something finally comes to life, (Preacher co-creator) Garth Ennis himself has said, ‘The comics are the comics, and the TV show has different demands.’”