One of the major Preacher characters we didn’t see in episode one was, of course the legendary Saint of Killers. Episode 2 (titled See) begins with a flashback sequence set in 1881, in which a mysterious gunslinger is seen wandering around on horseback, encountering a few people and then the horrific aftermath of a massacre of Native Americans. Presumably, this is the Saint himself, and while it’s a visually arresting sequence, stylistically different from what we’ve seen of the present-day material, it’s not enough to give us much of an impression of the character at all.
While the Saint is fairly obviously based on Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven character, they’ve cast Scottish actor Graham McTavish (Creed, The Hobbit), who’s presumably not going to be trying an Eastwood impersonation. He doesn’t appear again in the episode though, so it’s still up in the air quite how this memorable character is going to be interpreted and incorporated. If I had to guess, I’d imagine we’re in store for a few more flashbacks leading to the story of how he became the Saint before he enters the modern day storyline.
(Some mild potential spoilers, I’m trying to not be too specific but also writing as someone who knows the comics well)
The rest of the episode returns us to Annville, Texas, where we left off last time. Dominic Cooper’s Jesse is still struggling with the townsfolk, in particular a school bus driver who confesses his desires towards a schoolgirl. It’s not entirely clear if Jesse has any comprehension of his powers yet, but as the episode progresses he seems to be gaining more understanding of them.
The episode also seeks to build on Jesse’s relationships with both Tulip and Cassidy, though really is just reinforcing what we saw last time. Tulip, played by the charismatic Ruth Negga, continues her amusing attempts to goad Jesse back into her line of work. Her touches of humour work well, and we learn a bit more about their prior relationship in the latter half of the episode, but there’s no real development, they’re left in the exact same situation they were beforehand.
Meanwhile Cassidy and Jesse’s friendship is blossoming, and they really look to have a strong dynamic together. They have a good-natured if argumentative conversation in which Cassidy appears comfortable admitting his vampire status to Jesse, though it’s unclear whether or not Jesse remotely believes him. As before, Joseph Gilgun is a blast in the role, and he gets another inventive fight sequence that deftly mixes black comedy and gore to great effect, with a bit of an Evil Dead II homage.
There’s another prominent comics character that makes an appearance in this episode however – Odin Quinncannon. He doesn’t appear until way, way later on in the comics and his brief scene here doesn’t touch on his vile nature there. He’s played by Jackie Earle Haley who may make him more of an intimidating figure than he is in the comics, but like The Saint, we’ve got to wait and see. He’s certainly shown to be wealthy and dangerously influential here.
Having Odin show up suggests that showrunner Sam Catlin may be adapting more elements of the Salvation arc of the series. I’m interested to see how that could work (in my head I don’t really see how) as this is still all taking place before the main story kicks in. Are they turning Salvation into a prequel? Is this whole season going to be a prequel? There’s still no mention of what becomes Jesse’s primary mission.
Then there’s the case of the two mysterious figures who showed up in Annville at the end of episode one. They play a prominent part in this episode, but it’s still completely unclear who they are and what they’re doing. I recognised their character names from the comics when I saw them on Wikipedia but otherwise I’d have no idea (I don’t recall their names being spoken). There’s also a character called Clive in this episode who’s significance it yet to be determined.
I’m slightly worried that some of this episode this might be too oblique and confusing to new audiences. The appearances of characters who haven’t done much yet are sure to work better on comics readers who are already in the know but considering how much this is altered from the source material, they must surely be appealing to non-comics readers too. It looks like they’re playing the long game here, slowly building up characters without advancing the story greatly. It’s risky, but I hope it pays off. As it is this is another stylishly directed (again by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg) and highly entertaining episode, if less attention-grabbing than the first, but I hope the season’s not headed towards an ‘all build-up, no pay-off’ situation.