The story contains mild spoilers.

The Preacher panel held today on the final day of the ATX Television Festival was light on new revelations. There were no outright spoilers about upcoming episodes and no word on a second season for the AMC series. But the discussion, featuring Writer/Co-Creator/EP Sam Catlin along with cast members Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, and Anatol Yusef gave some hints as to what to expect as the series continues, and elaborated on the relationship between the show and AMC that among other things made possible a hilarious joke about Tom Cruise.

As noted in Deadline’s coverage of the SXSW Preacher screening back in March, the television series is somewhat muted in scope compared to the DC/Vertigo comic created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon on which the show is based. But it doesn’t veer away from the excess and insanity for which the comic is celebrated, and that’s not going to change, as AMC has been letting them go wild, according to Catlin. “I’m more than surprised, I’m shocked,” he said about the show’s relationship with AMC. “There’s been incredibly little interference from them. We were all apprehensive from the beginning, if they were going to make it. We discovered that they really wanted to do Garth’s comic book with all the blasphemy, the audacity, the violence, the perversity and just the craziness of it… they’ve been great.”

That support from AMC paid off in the pilot episode, which contained a-now infamous joke about Tom Cruise in a sequence involving the mysterious deaths of religious leaders from around the world. (You can guess context.) “Since the Tom Cruise thing… they were like anyone, anyone? Say no,” Catlin said. “I think it was such an obvious non starter. He’s famously litigious. I think this was obviously not going to happen. I think everyone else thought everyone else was going to say no to us. By the time we tested and people thought it was funny, they were screwed.”

That means the show will be able to get into the dense mythology that takes a jaundiced, furiously satirical view of American culture. Yusef was particularly bullish about that prospect. “I Feel like most things are made because there’s a space for it. It does feel like the world is a bit outside down at the moment, certainly this country seems to be at the epicenter in terms of what’s happening politically, environmentally, with race and gender,” he said. “What I love about Preacher is that at the heart of the graphic novel, I think, and the TV show, is that there might be something systemic that’s wrong, that transcends issues that are specific to regions, that affect all of us everywhere… This idea that something’s gotten loose is really attractive and worth of a discussion. The world has opened up in a way. Preacher is having a discussion.”

Meanwhile, of biggest interest to fans of the show who’ve also read the comics, the panelists all but confirmed that the 19th century cowboy played by Graham McTavish, first seen in episode 2, is indeed a pivotal character known as the Saint of Killers. (We won’t reveal here why that’s important, however.) “That’s probably who you think it is,” said Catlin. “It’s a good opportunity for us to just tell stories at a time, just to show how crazy and how anything is possible in this world. It’s going to seem like a parallel story for now, but by the end of the season we’ll reveal why that 19th century cowboy has everything in the world to do with our preacher.”