Blast from the past: Ruth Negga as Tulip OHare, the ex-girlfriend of Jesse Custer, played by Dominic Cooper. Photograph: Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Telev/AMC
Jesse is trying to follow in his fathers footsteps, as characters on prestige television shows must.Its true that the flashbacks to Jesses father being murdered in front of him serve a narrative function (we dont see whos pulling the trigger, but if the comics are any indication Jesses family situation is about to get a lot more complicated). But theyre also so boring and portentous that Im having trouble writing this sentence, and by far the worst part of the pilot. Self-seriousness is not a good look on this show.
The series version of Annville is, at least in part, the nuts and bolts version of what you would expect from a small town in Texas (this isnt
Friday Night Lights, my dudes), but Rogen and Goldberg do a decent job fleshing it out all the same. Among the many locals the pilot gives us are the surly, morally panicked sheriff, his son, the extremely chill and fun and relentlessly positive Arseface sorry, Eugene and Donnie, the local thug who might be beating his wife, but also might be in a marriage with some weird kinks.
Donnies son, unaware of the intricacies of consent and the thin boundary between pain and pleasure, asks Jesse to beat up his dad. This kicks off what will probably be a big part of the series ongoing plot: Jesse breaks Donnies arm, giving in to his violent instincts from a past life with Tulip (who has tried to get him to go back out on jobs that almost certainly involve guns), and getting himself sent to jail with Cassidy in the process.
Then we get to the curious case of Ted Reyerson, a congregant who keeps talking about his overbearing mother as if straight from the pages of a Woody Allen script. It would be easy to assume hes just supposed to comic relief. Instead, Jesse accidentally uses the power of the space entity real name Genesis (which, by the way, has entered his person in the middle of the night during a crisis of faith-type-situation) to tell him to open his heart to his mother. Ted does so, literally cutting his body open and depositing his heart in the middle of a confession. Its grim, sick, and above all, amusing as hell. Praise the Lord.
Notes from the nave
It doesnt matter that all he has to do is talk. Photograph: Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Telev/AMC
It helps that the script was written by the series secret weapon, Sam Catlin. Catlin, for non-TV nerds, is a veteran of another AMC show that combined western instincts with dark comedy: Breaking Bad.
I just Abe Lincoln-ed that squirrel! Great introduction to Donnie
The airline Cassidy is on is called Babylonian, because of course it is.
Rogen and Goldberg pack frames full of visual gags that function the way isolated panels do in comics, like the wording on the church sign.
Obligatory Johnny Cash song
Scripture of the week
The African preacher quotes Revelation 19:11-13 just before things go pop:
11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
Johnny Cash was keen on the first section (its quoted at the start of The Man Comes Around), while the rest acts as a precursor to the episodes bloody action.
Most ridiculous death
Its a tie between Cassidys makeshift blood tap and Tulips bazooka, if only because we (smartly) dont actually see Tulip use the weapon. Also, the blood tap is a genuinely original vampire kill idea, which I thought was a myth like Bigfoot or successful sitcoms starring a post-Friends Matthew Perry. Honorable mention for Tulips use of an ear of corn as a spear.
Cassidy kill count
Five humans and one cow.