Preacher continues with its offbeat and unpredictable nature, commencing the second episode in 1881. As a lone cowboy treks the terrain in search of medicine for his ailing daughter, he makes a quick stop at a group of fellow travellers. The mute ranger is never revealed and is reserved in conversation. His motives and questionable character are put into more head-scratching disarray as he leaves the campsite the following morning, leaving his fellows travellers hanging from an aged tree. A nearby sign reads “towne of Ratwater,” and we wait for re-visitation in forthcoming time.
Jesse Custer returns to his titular role, baptising his churchgoers in the blistering Texan heat. Tulip, having suggested a potential job to Custer in last week’s debut episode, expresses his disapproval to her once again. Meanwhile, churchgoer Linus, in private confidence, reveals himself as a paedophile and opens up about his relationship with a schoolgirl. Custer, as his newly adopted entity slowly takes a hold onto him, knows Linus’ punishment is near. Clearly uncomfortable with Linus’ confession, Custer’s facial ticks are evident; his newly adopted entity is about to make its move.
Even more new characters are revealed. Actor Jackie Earle Hayley makes his debut, resulting in even more head scratching. His appearance is indeed peculiar. He and his crew destroy a couple’s home and leave before an acquaintance, again another fresh face, makes a violent outburst towards his driver. Head scratching continues.
In this sophomoric episode, the relationship between Cassidy and Custer is further developed. Among aged whiskey and cheap cigarettes, the two argue about Custer’s role as a preacher to his small town, seeing as his violent outbursts suggests anything but a peaceful endeavour. And of course, time is made to debate the value of the Coen Brothers’ classic The Big Lebowski.
Custer, intoxicated and inebriated, is left alone, passed out on the church’s floor. DeBlanc and Flores, the two mysterious characters left at the end of the premiere episode, enter the church and find Custer’s inebriated body. As is the comic’s violent and blood-heavy tendencies, a chainsaw is brought out as the two begin their procedure. Just in time, a drunk and far from sober Cassidy returns. Shot before pouncing back and revealing once again his vampiric side, Cassidy once again shows his violent behaviour, utilising the chainsaw at his disposal for another brutal outburst.
Custer, confronted by Tulip to join her for another job, remains apprehensive and, again, says no. Following a visit from Eugene (Arseface), Custer confronts Linus in his dilapidated home, attacking him as his powers consume him once again. He orders Linus to “forget her,” leaving the man shaken and confused.
Dead, buried and mutilated, Cassidy’s actions are seemingly all for nothing as DeBlanc and Flores, alive, well and fully formed, return in front of Sheriff Root, father of Eugene, posing as officials from the government.
Seeing his newly adopted powers put to good use, Custer visits a grieving mother and her comatose daughter. Under a near demonic voice, he bellows, “Open your eyes.” Cue the classic television cliffhanger.
A slower-paced episode, the series thus far leaves its viewers anticipating Custer’s moves as his powers slowly consume him. As violent and darkly comical as its premiere episode, and the comics themseleves, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg direct their second episode with much delight and visual tenacity, capturing the violent nature that made Preacher the wild read of its time. As we wait for further episodes to clench our palette, one this is clear: Preacher is perhaps one of the most batshit crazy television programs of the year.
THE REEL SCORE: 8/10