There was a point somewhere in the beginning of the third episode of Preacher's debut season where I really questioned sticking with the series. It was when Ruth Negga's femme fatale Tulip was meeting a woman in Houston, Tex. to get some information on a guy named Carlos. I wasn't 100 percent clear on who Carlos was, had no idea who this woman Tulip was meeting was, and was ultimately concerned with the pacing of the show, an adaptation I'd been wanting to see ever since I powered through Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's epic Preacher comic book series about 10 years ago.
Coming to that resolution, that point where I was ready to bail, sucked, because ever since I saw a rough cut of the pilot, I championed the show. The aforementioned Negga gave me one of my favorite, most savage moments of television in 2016, Dominic Cooper's Jesse Custer walked a fine line between complete blind faith and utter despair with God and religion, and the way that the different elements from the comic were incorporated into the program surprised and delighted me.
When I finally did pick back up on the show (with a proper binge-watch of episodes four through six), I kicked myself. I had let pacing and enigma fuck up the fun. Today, I'm here to tell you that while the show definitely requires patience—and hardly anyone is talking about it—Preacher is well worth the wait. It might even be one of the best shows of 2016 to binge on.
In the end, the slow burn technique actually works for Preacher's introductory season. Series producer Seth Rogen has previously lamented over how you never actually got to see Jesse Custer preach in the comic series: “We were like, ‘It’s called Preacher, he’s dressed as a preacher the whole time, maybe you should see him being a preacher.’ When the comic starts he’s kind of done with it, basically. So we thought it would be good to show that that part of his life was like as well.” Showrunner Sam Caitlin mirrored Rogen's sentiment, but for a different reason: "Once I started to think about where I could start the entry point was ‘Maybe he hasn’t given up on God from the beginning. Maybe we see him actually as a preacher or trying to be a preacher.’” The show clearly made a choice to show the preacher living up to his namesake. That in turn led to the show giving the inhabitants of the town of Annville, Texas some flesh, so we could understand not only what the situation was when Tulip and Jesse finally link back up, but what Jesse Custer, the preacher, is truly trying to fight for in his town.
The problem? The show isn't just about a preacher in a Texas town. Said preacher's not only been inhabited by the "voice of God," but he's become best friends with Cassidy the drug-addicted Irish vampire, is being pursued by a pair of angels in 10 gallon hats, and is trying to repair his broken relationship with Tulip. All of this while trying to keep his church from being ripped out from under him. Tack onto that the black-and-white Old West storyline that's been told throughout the first nine episodes and you have a lot of balls to juggle within a 10-episode season.
The ratings for Preacher surely agree with my initial reluctance to keep up with the show after episode three; the fourth episode dropped to 1.14 million viewers, its steepest drop during the first season, and while the show did bounce back to the 1.4-1.6 million viewer territory, it never reached the over two million viewer mark that it hit during its first two episodes. Ironically, episode four is really where the show starts to get going. We not only learn Jesse and Tulip's backstory, but there's a sense that the nuggets of information that were doled out during those first three episodes were building for a reason.
We could probably sit here all day trying to understand what went wrong, but the fact of the matter is that you just have to be patient. Whether you're a fan of the comics who might be a little leery on the changes Rogen, Caitlin, and company made to the overall storyline, or if you're just not sure you'd be into a show that runs the gamut of faith, gore, and humor, you're playing yourself if you aren't sticking with Preacher. The set-up for tonight's finale has been sewn perfectly throughout the last nine episodes, and throughout the minor-BDSM, devoured animals, and cursing God, we're reaching a glorious end to an impressive little show that too few people are actually talking about.
When I spoke to Dominic Cooper about the show earlier this year, I came to realize that this first season is, daringly, sort of a prequel to where Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy are at the beginning of the first Preacher comic. That piece of intel alone should have Preacher comic fans who slept on the series ecstatic. It should also be reason #1 for anyone who's been sleeping on the show to consume as much of it as possible. It's key to not only cutting out the frustration that might be set in from the pacing, but once you get past the introductions, and start understanding the meat that the show is being built upon, it'll make the end result much more heavenly.