Preacher Book Club: 10 Things to Know About the Pilot Episode
Welcome brothers and sisters to our new weekly feature, the Preacher Book Club! Every week we’ll talk about the latest episode of AMC‘s Preacher, dissecting the changes made from the Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon comic book series and attempting to predict about what will be coming next.
That in mind, we’re going to issue a potential spoiler warning for the comic books themselves, though we will be steering clear of some specific plotlines as people read through the comics the first time and avoiding anything about future episodes of the series beyond pure guesswork. The good news is that the series has been adapted in such a way that you won’t actually have to have read the comics to understand it, but those of us that have might notice some things others may not. So open your books to the first chapter and follow along.
In the Beginning
The episode begins in outer space, with an almost 1950s educational video vibe where an unseen force wails through the cosmos, until it arrives on Earth. The being bounces around the globe, looking for the best host (ranging from an African preacher to a Russian Satanist and even Tom Cruise) before ultimately finding Jesse.
So what was that thing anyway? In the comics, this is Genesis, the unholy offspring of an angel and demon. Why did it pick Jesse? As we see in Jesse’s highs (his admiration for his congregation) and his lows (beating the snot out of Donnie Schenck), he’s the perfect combination of good and evil, like the parentage of Genesis.
What’s Genesis capable of? Essentially, anything, but once it finds itself in Jesse, he is powered with what he calls (in the comics) “The Word of God,” wherein he can tell anything to someone and they will obey him… as we saw with Ted at the end of the episode.
The Time of the Preacher
As we first meet Jesse in the series, Willy Nelson’s “The Time of the Preacher” plays as he goes about his morning routine. This might seem like a simply funny musical choice, but was in fact deliberate. The first issue of “Preacher” carried the title “The Time of the Preacher” and featured a drunken Jesse stumbling around town and singing the song to himself.
The Man on the bottle
As Jesse wakes up and puts on his collar, fans of the comic will notice a familiar silhouette on the bottle of Ratwater in his room. The man seen on the bottle is a character called The Saint of Killers, a ruthless murderer in life who became an enforcer of sorts for Heaven. The name of the drink itself is a futher allusion to the character, as Ratwater, Texas is a place of significance to his origin.
Our introduction to Cassidy is as great a first scene as a comic book character has had in ages. The major change here from the comics is this sect of vampire hunters that have lured him onto this airplane. None of this is mentioned in the source material, but it brings a really interesting plotline into the series that the comics never had. Maybe they’re part of The Grail? More on them later.
Tulip and Her Map
Tulip’s introduction to the series is just as badass as Cassidy’s, and elevates her character to pegs far above her comic book counterpart. It’s not that she’s less capable in the comics, but Tulip is perhaps a little more capable with chaos in the television series.
The big changes here are two-fold: 1. Tulip and Jesse’s previous relationship was strictly romance in the comics, whereas in the series it appears they were not only a couple, but thieves of some kind.
2. Tulip’s map. The explosive action scene that Tulip debuts in is all over the possession of a map, which we see very briefly at the end of the episode. Written on that map are the words “Grail Industries.” Now,in the context of the “Preacher” comics, The Grail is a secret organization that is meant to preserve the blood lineage of Jesus (whose death was faked, allowing him to live on and father several children). They plan on using their descendant of Jesus to eventually take over the world.
Now, how will they function in the series? And what does Tulip want to steal from them? I doubt it’s the descendant of Jesus they have, so perhaps it’s just about getting rich.
When Jesse goes to visit Betsy Schenck at work, we find her in the office at Quincanon Meat & Power. This is a plant for a character we’ll meet in the future, Odin Quincannon. A weasely little man, Odin is a powerful foe in the comics against Jesse, but his might comes in the form of influence and muscle because the man himself is scrawny. Odin didn’t make his debut in the series until much later, where he was a citizen of Salvation, Texas and not Annville, so this change is surprising.
His real name might be Eugene, but to book readers this is the sweet and lovable but hideous character, Arseface. So why does his face look like that? (Again, spoilers for the comics!) In the series, remember this came out in the mid-’90s, Eugene was a big fan of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, and decided to one day emulate the famous rock star’s own suicide, but he missed. As a result, Eugene’s face is permanently disfigured. One interesting piece of trivia, an early draft of the script for the pilot called for Nirvana’s “Rape Me” to be playing when Jesse goes to visit Eugene, though it was cut for something else for the final version.
Those brief black and white flashbacks are Jesse’s daddy, John Custer. As these flashbacks tell us, Jesse saw his father die when he was just a boy. The real stinger of course for fans of the series is when John recites what would go on to be Jesse’s credo throughout the series, “You’ve got to be one of the good guys, because there’s just way too many of the bad.”
John’s killer is alluded to in the briefest way in the series as his forearm appears on screen for a few frames, and that forearm has the same tattoo that Jesse has etched on his back as seen in the beginning of the episode.
Played by Brian Huskey, a frequent collaborator of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s, Ted (whose name is a clear homage to Groundhog Day) is not from the comic books but an all-new character, whose purpose is to demonstrate to us how much power Jesse now has. You might recognize Brian Huskey from Rogen and Goldberg’s This is the End, where he met a similarly grizzly fate and had his head chopped off by a demon.
Those last two guys…
Throughout the episode, we see two guys going to every place where Genesis previously went, and made someone explode, without a clue to who they are. We know they’re looking for Genesis, but who are they? And why?
The pair are credited as “Deblanc and Fiore” in the credits, and in the comics the two of them are angels who are trying to retrieve Genesis and put it back. Their appearance is the biggest change from their comic book counterparts, as the two wear appropriate outfits for whatever climate they find themselves in, whereas they stick to the simple attire of the Adephi (the lesser angels).
You can watch previews for the next episode using the players below!