It’s been a long year since Preacher held Sunday service on AMC, but the Season 2 premiere “On the Road” begins just after where the Season 1 finale left off. As Jesse (Dominic Cooper), Tulip (Ruth Negga), and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) finally embark on their journey across America to find God, the ruthless Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) isn’t far behind, and “On the Road” ends with the Saint of Killers getting too close for comfort.
What a difference a year makes. Now that the core trio is finally out of the small town of Annville (and whose epic and mysterious implosion will be a constant source of background noise for the rest of the season), Preacher sheds itself of that static, going-nowhere feeling that plagued the show during its freshman year. Things are on the move, so to speak, and even if these characters still wind up in seedy motels in hot southwestern deserts, Preacher finally feels like it’s got an endgame it wishes to accomplish.
Also new to Season 2 is how Preacher, both visually and conceptually, is starting to resemble the groundbreaking graphic novel its based on more and more (the premiere also pays tribute to the late Steve Dillon in the credits). The resemblance doesn’t happen in the big scenes that slavishly recreate pages panel for panel, but the little moments where these characters simply look and act like they should.
The first ten minutes of “On the Road,” which begins with Cassidy spewing a conspiracy about Big Foreskin from the backseat of Ruth’s 1970 Chevelle and ends with the Saint of Killers firing bullets that explode like cannonballs, is Preacher at its peak. Cooper, Negga, and Gilgun look like Steve Dillon drew them himself, while directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen imbue the show with their comedic sensibilities and film nerd homages to classic B-movies. There’s no way Cassidy’s rant isn’t Mr. Pink’s speech about tipping in Reservoir Dogs, and it’s mega obvious what aesthetic the show tries to achieve with an out-of-nowhere vintage celluloid texture during Tulip’s car chase.
Although eager to evolve from its divisive first season, Preacher is still playing with its world conservatively. It’s not ready to go full throttle on its premise just yet, but nutty shit is going to happen. There’s a strong omen for what’s to come in regards to Jesse’s dark family history with the L’Angells (easily one of the most disturbing arcs in the whole comic), but Preacher ain’t there just yet. It’s now hit the highway and they’ll need to stop for gas.