Sunday’s (June 19) episode of “Preacher,” titled “Monster Swamp,” started off feeling more like the movie “The Most Dangerous Game” than the quirky comic book series AMC has been airing over the past few weeks. And while this story began as a spooky chase between a bunch of would-be killers and possible final girl or two, the plot twisted to present us with a very odd version of a paintball game. At least, that’s what we think that was.
To let off some steam, employees of Quincannon Meat & Power went hunting scantily clad women with paintball guns in the middle of the night. What could’ve made matters even more interesting was the death of one unlucky gal as she fell into a sink hole and died. We didn’t expect things to go that route, and while it felt like this death would steer the direction of the episode’s story in a fun direction, what we got in exchange was a peek into Jesse Custer’s (Dominic Cooper) depressing childhood and a closer look at the TV version of Mr. Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley).
To say that Sam Catlin and the team have changed up the “Preacher” story would be an understatement. They’ve never shied away from admitting it. But with television, it’s a good rule of thumb to not draw out backstory and setup for multiple episodes without any payoff. And, aside from some gruesome Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) goodness, we really haven’t gotten any payoff.
“It felt like it was so big, so soon that I was worried it’d be too much, that it’d overwhelm,” Executive Producer Sam Catlin previously told Zap2it at an L.A. press event. “I think we talked about it, so we wanted to ground it in a place that’s familiar — especially in the first season. Then slowly ratchet up, sort of bring the audience up to speed, on what can happen in ‘Preacher.”
Sure, there’s this vampire/preacher buddy relationship — and a possible romance brewing between Cassidy and Tulip (Ruth Negga) — and there are angels hiding out in a hotel room with a coffee can, but there can only be so many random character introductions before audiences get confused and give up. We’re almost halfway through this first season. When does this story stop being the prequel and start following the events from the comics more closely? Or, will that even happen?
All gripes aside, it is nice to see Jackie Earle Haley back doing what he does best. His roles in “Little Children” and “The Watchmen” established him as a major talent in bringing creepy, quirky characters to life. His performance as Odin Quincannon has, so far, been a subdued one and we’re not sure if we’ll ever get to see his sexual meat fetish in all it’s bloody glory … but still, the casting here feels spot on. And with those “Special Guest Appearance” credits in the show’s opening sequence, we’re not even sure Quincannon will be a big force to be reckoned with this season — Haley is shooting “The Dark Tower” so, we can give him a break.
Still, when does the show really begin to deliver the goods? Will audiences stick with it long enough once it does? Fans point to the success of shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” but, while it took a little time for the first to catch on, “GoT” threw viewers into the deep end right out the gate. Those not familiar with the books were left frantically treading water, trying to catch up on who was who and what was actually going on.
There are die hard fans of the comics that have already given up on AMC’s “Preacher.” Here’s hoping the story has captured the interest of enough fans outside of the Garth Ennis fan club to stay afloat. By all accounts, things are going to get bonkers. At this point, it’s all just a matter of when.
“Preacher” airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.