Previously on Preacher, “The Possibilities”
Preacher – S1E4 – Monster Swamp | Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, Joseph Gilgun, W. Earl Brown, Lucy Griffiths, Ian Colletti, Anatol Yusef, Tom Brooke | Writer: Sara Goodman | Director: Craig Zisk
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Before anything, this has to be stated: Preacher is officially not Preacher anymore. This show has effectively become the weird alternate universe version of a story many of its viewers feel like we know, yet this fable and the players most especially are pale imitators of a resoundedly unique and distressing epic. “Monster Swamp” isn’t a bad episode by any means, but the direction that showrunner Sam Catlin has guided the series so far all but assures us fans of the Vertigo comic that none of the small details or pivotal moments we expect to happen will happen. Rather than being called an adaptation, Preacher should be strongly classified as a re-imagining, radicalized to the Nth degree.
It’s an odd feeling to write the least. And you sure as hell wouldn’t find a plethora of eclectic characters like this in a small West Texas town. To put it into perspective, imagine reading all of Harry Potter then watching the first film and it takes place entirely in that nook underneath the stairs. Can you visualize the Starks, Lannisters, Tyrells and Boltons living in Winterfell in Game of Thrones? No! That would be absolute madness! The choices to soften Preacher’s most ruthless characters is one thing. The decision to merge Annville with the other lawless towns Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy would encounter during their cross-country adventures is another. The complete alteration of the lead’s backstories and relations, however, remains the most perplexing compromise.
Preacher is what it is. Nevertheless, the story lines in Annville have begun to meander as Custer, O’Hare and Cassidy are wielded by the writing staff to bolster the narratives of supporting characters that haven’t exactly dazzled thus far.
Most of “Monster Swamp” centered on the enduring relationships Jesse has with older men, namely his late father and Odin Quincannon (of all people). Custer’s desire to bring righteousness back to the lives of Annville’s residents is paramount to his own spiritual makeover, almost desperately so. Thanks to a series of flashbacks, Jesse is reminded of his father’s lessons. The most important memory being that no one is above the Lord’s reproach, especially his servants. To set an example, one must live the example. With help from Emily (Lucy Griffiths), Custer is optimistic – thanks to the spirit that resides in him – yet continues to take a pragmatic approach with the lure of a church raffle.
As for Cassidy and his new best pals Fiore and DeBlanc, he finally filled Jesse in on their mission to remove the entity inside Custer. Rather than completely rat out his friend, Cassidy seems to be playing along if only to get a score or two on the angels’ dime. So far the one thing that remains authentic to the source material is Joseph Gilgun’s portrayal of the shifty bloodsucker. He may have genuine concerns for Jesse’s safety but when his life is on the line there is no doubt Cassidy will be the first one out of town. His selfishness was on full display on “Monster Swamp”, only to be interrupted by a highly agitated Tulip (Ruth Negga). The poor strung-out lad got a piece of window pane in the neck for his trouble and from the moment Tulip raced him to the emergency room, Cassidy was in love. Regrettably, his smothering affection always results in the pain of others. Whether the show will follow that particular story line from the comic or skip it outright remains to be seen.
Ultimately, Odin visited Jesse’s church after a wager the two made while painting toy soldiers at QM&P (seriously). An ardent atheist, Quincannon’s upbringing left little to be hopeful about life. As he mentioned, his granddaddy and daddy lived for the meat industry and any competition was “taken out” without provocation or hesitation. This familial enmity was passed down to Odin, as evidenced by his detestable treatment of “friends” and employees. Quincannon leads a insular life, unimpressed with what the world has to offer and unconcerned about the feelings of his subordinates. Admittedly, it’s an interesting take on the repugnant fiend that was introduced in the middle of Preacher’s run. Jackie Earle Haley has been one of the few bright spots in this dimming drama. Still, anytime he’s on screen one must wonder how ridiculous and insane his take on the Odin Quincannon of the comics would have been in this summer series.
We’ll likely never know as Custer successfully converted Odin to serve God, whatever that entails. His liberal use of The Voice of Command hasn’t gone unnoticed. Fiore and DeBlanc are still non-factors because of their unsanctioned visit to earth. In the meantime, Custer hasn’t seen the last of Donnie Schenck, who is ready to spread the oddest rumors about preacher in “South Will Rise Again” next Sunday at 9/8c on AMC!
Preacher S1E4 = 7/10