A Road Trip To Find God. Stoned Angels. An Inbred Messiah. A Secret Society Pledged to Defend Jesus’s Descendants. What Will Preacher’s Third Season Have In Store?
I have a confession to make.
I’ve been hooked on Preacher ever since it premiered on AMC last year. It’s a car-accident-in-passing kind of obsession. You know, the kind where you know you should look away but the lizard portion of your brain is just too fascinated to comply. While I never read the Vertigo comic book series by legendary no-holds-barred writer Garth Ennis and the late great artist Steve Dillon, the combination of absurd characters (infused with some genuine pathos) and it’s mind bending spin on Christian mythology kept me tuning in every week.
And watching the the second season come to a close last night, I kept asking myself one question over and over.
How have they gotten away with it?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Like I said, I’ve become a bit of a reluctant fan of Jesse, Cassidy and Tulip’s absurd adventures. Jesse Custer was a career criminal who returned to Anvil (the small Texan town of his boyhood) in an attempt to get his life back on track and atone for his crime-ridden past. But it turns out he really isn’t interested in being Anvil’s Preacher, the post his father held until he was murdered. But everything changes when he becomes he host of Genesis, an angel-demon hybrid that makes anyone he uses it on compelled to do what he says.
Jesse soon discovers that God has abandoned Heaven, leaving an impossible void at the top of the cosmic food chain. Fate throws Jesse in with Tulip (his hard hitting former partner in crime and his life-long love) and Cassidy (a hyper-active junkie Vampire). The trio embark on a road trip to find God.
Just to give you an idea of how far around the crazy bend Preacher’s second season went, the first season included all manner of shocking shenanigans and concluded with the entire town of Anvil being laid waste after its methane power plant went into meltdown (the not-so-good citizens of Anvil also learned of God’s absence, leaving many of them in a spiritual, suicidal malaise).
But an entire town disappearing in a manure fuelled inferno would be one of the least crazy things to happen this year. Preacher’s second season cranked the absurd up about eleven notches.
We got to see Eugene cope with being in and escape from Hell (where Jesse unwittingly sent him with Genesis). If that doesn’t raise an eyebrow or two, the fact that Adolph Hitler helped Eugene escape might. Hitler was even portrayed as a sympathetic character for about fourteen seconds before it was revealed he was playing Eugene so he could escape (I’m not sure which will be more interesting; what kind of evil Hitler will get up to or how Preacher’s producers will navigate that story line when events like Charlottesville dominate real world headlines).
Cassidy got an fallen angel more stoned than Mount Rushmore so he could pump him for information and turned his ailing, geriatric son into a vampire (before you ask, it didn’t end well for either the angel the boy). The trio even unknowingly stumbled across God, who was disguised as a giant dalmation in a New Orleans sex show.
And then there was Herr Starr, the head of the secret society known as the Grail. Charged with protecting the eventual ascension of the Messiah, the Grail is sworn to remove anything that may pose an obstacle to or compete with the Son of God when it comes time for the Second Coming. The first time we see the Grail work is when Starr poisons the water supply of a Vietnamese village that is worshiping a floating pig (every man, woman and child dies as a result). Starr was somehow both solemnly serious and deliciously ridiculous all at the same time, and he was arguably sodomized twice this season.
And speaking of the Messiah . . .
Even Jesus saw some screen time this season. The original Son of God was shown as a carefree soul who loses his virginity to a married woman the night before he’s arrested (and subsequently crucified). That woman then bares him a son, who his disciples raise in secret after they brutally murder the mother. This was how the Grail was born, and they’ve protected every generation of Christ’s descendants right down to the current one. But after a hundred generations of inbreeding, the current Messiah is more than a few trees short of an entire forest and is referred to as Humperdoo. That particular story got the attention of One Million Moms, who began a petition against both AMC and the show’s sponsors.
But other than the angry soccer moms ( who also protested a Geicco’s ad as a symbol of beastality), there hans’t been a peep from anyone else. Even the executive producers (including Seth Rogen, whose resume of controversy includes The Interview and Sausage Party) were stoked with what they could get away with this season, though they revealed that they used season one to see how far they could push the envelope. When they encountered little to no censor resistance, they put the pedal to the metal for season two.
While this might not be surprising from the prime time network that made it’s bones with shows like the Walking Dead, there were times Preacher got away with stuff I haven’t seen on Netflix shows or direct to DVD B movies. That’s saying something.
Kind of makes you curious how much further they’ll have to push the envelope in Season 3 to top what they pulled off this year.