As American Gods bows out after an enormously successful first season (of a planned three), it’s place on the weekly roster is taken by the return of Preacher, back for a second season, this time of thirteen episodes. How many seasons this would run to if given its head is not yet known: the graphic novel series ran to nine volumes and season 1 barely got us through issue 1, so we’ve a potentially long way to go yet.
And, if the opening episode is anything to go to, we’re going to take a bloody long time to do so.
The word bloody is, on this occasion, not merely operating as a somewhat crude intensifier but also as a pure adjective. Our trio of travelers, the Reverend Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga) and Cassidy, the 119 year old Irish vampire (Joe Galgin) are on the road, speeding away from the now defunct Anneville, in Search of God.
Speeding is the operative word, as in 97 miles per hour, with not enough gas to outrun three sheriff’s cars. Our threesome are getting harrassed (and Cassidy toasted every time he leaves the shelter of Tulip’s umbrella) so Custer starts to piss around with the Sheriff and the deputies by using Genesis, the irresistible voice of power.
Until, from a very long way away, the Saint of Killers starts blowing chunks out of the lawboys, and I mean chunks.
It’s gory, it’s grisly, it’s funny and it’s frantic. But just like season 1, which was fine for its first half and then lost all momentum over the back five, as if it didn’t have enough story for ten episodes, maybe eight, or even seven-and-a-half, the pace fell off a cliff, until by the end, episode 1 was barely moving.
We got a visit to a Convenience Store whose owner was ordered to forget our trio were there so that when the Saint catches up and asks for the Preacher, his honest but lying denial that Jesse’s been there gets his tongue torn out of his mouth.
We got a star turn from guest star Glenn Morshower (who I’ve never seen be less than excellent) as fellow Preacher Mike, bible scholar, addiction-counsellor extraordinaire and a man prepared to stab himself in the heart to prevent the Saint of Killers getting Jesse’s whereabouts out of him.
We get a visit to a strip club that God’s been attending recently, not for the girls but because he’s into the jazz, where Cassidy gets their lead accidentally killed.
And we wind up at a motel where Jesse and Tulip finally shag each other’s brains out with Miss Negga taking her bra off, which is just so fucking staid and network TV that it set me off wondering for the millionth time why the Americans are so comfortable with violence and hinky about sex?
And the cliffhanger is the Saint moseying on down that road in his unhurried gait, and Jesse discovering that his magic weapon, his superpower, the unignorable voice just plain don’t work on a Saint who’s lifting his gun and pointing it…
I so want to like Preacher and it has so much going for it, so why does it have to be so slow and bloody empty so much of the time? Thirteen episodes, and on this evidence we’re going to be lucky to get enough story to fill out nine.
Please be faster next week. Please be better.