Season 1, Episode 0
Jesse struggles to escape a past of crime and violence. A renegade angel-demon spawn comes to Earth looking for a host. And an Irish vampire named Cassidy lands in Texas.
Preacher is currently not in season.
A “comet” soars through the solar system and hurtles toward Earth.
In Nairobi, the “comet” strikes a preacher down as he delivers a sermon to his congregation. The preacher arises and proclaims himself “the prophet,” but then he suddenly explodes. Blood splatters all over the congregants, who flee the church as the “comet” zooms away.
In Annville, Texas, the local preacher Jesse Custer lies in bed hungover. In a brief flashback, a young Jesse sees his preacher father forced to his knees. Back in the present, Jesse gets dressed and leaves for church.
Jesse walks to All Saints Congregational and fixes the letters of the church sign that someone had previously rearranged to read, “Open your ass and holes to Jesus.”
Jesse delivers an uninspired sermon to a bored and distracted congregation. Emily Woodrow, Jesse’s assistant, mercifully concludes the service with organ music before Jesse’s able to finish his final words.
At the Sunday barbecue outside the church, a young boy named Chris tells Jesse that his father, Donnie, abuses his mother. He asks Jesse to hurt his father. “People say before you came back here, before you were a preacher, you did things,” Chris says. Jesse warns Chris that violence just leads to more violence.
At Annville City Hall, Mayor Miles Person tries to suppress a riot over the politically correct replacement of the town mascot, Chief Red Savage. Nearby, Sheriff Hugo Root asks Jesse to check in on his son Eugene. Jesse tells Sheriff Root that Donnie is beating his wife, Betsy, but Sheriff Root refuses to investigate unless Betsy files a formal complaint.
In a corporate jet, a group of hedge funders drink and snort cocaine with an Irishman named Cassidy, who tells tales of his last trip to Tiajuana. While in the bathroom, Cassidy finds a bible covered with scribbled phrases. He smiles knowingly.
Back in the main cabin, Cassidy notes that the plane is not flying toward Tijuana. He then single-handedly fights and kills the “hedge funders” and pilots, who all turn out to be assassins. One of the pilot dumps holy water on Cassidy, who reveals his true nature as a vampire by drinking the pilot’s blood and jumping out of the soon-to-crash plane with a to-go bottle of blood and umbrella in hand.
At a diner, a church attendee by the name of Ted gripes about his mother to Jesse. Emily, who works at the diner when not acting as Jesse’s assistant, eats with Jesse and her two kids. She suggests Jesse check on her co-worker, Walter, who called in sick. She’s worrying out loud about the church finances and the threat of competition from a nearby megachurch when Miles awkwardly interrupts to flirt with Emily. She sends him away, but not quick enough, as Jesse suggests Emily, now a widow, get back on the dating market. With secret longing, Emily tells Jesse she is available.
Back in Nairobi, a jeep pulls up to the church. Two mysterious men step out of the jeep and enter the church.
Jesse stops by Walter’s house and finds Walter passed out drunk. He hears a woman singing in the shower and immediately leaves.
In Kansas, not too long ago, a woman named Tulip O’Hare races down the road in her Chevelle while fighting a gangster. Their fight continues in the back seat as the car snakes its way through a corn field. After biting the gangster’s ear off, Tulip careens to a stop, kills the gangster and grabs a map from his jacket. A young boy and girl watch from their yard. Tulip receives a text alerting her that more people are coming for her.
Under the illusion of arts and crafts, Tulip enlists the boy and girl to help make a bazooka out of metal cans and G.I. Joe action figures.
Tulip hides the kids in a cellar. They hear mayhem and destruction above ground, then silence. They emerge to find a Blackhawk crashed in their yard, G.I. Joe’s impaled in the dead pilot’s head.
In the same flashback from earlier, a young Jesse sees his father brought to his knees and shot in the head. Back to present day, Jesse sits in his truck outside Quincannon Meat & Power.
Cassidy, whose guts lie around him in a crater in a nearby cornfield, lures a cow in and devours it.
At Quincannon, Jesse visits Betsy and asks if Donnie hurts her. She admits that he beats her, but when Jesse asks her to report Donnie, she insists that she enjoys the abuse as part of their kinky sex life.
Meanwhile in Russia, police investigate a church that has been struck by the “comet.” A witness tells police that the Magister exploded in the middle of mass. The two mysterious men who were investigating in Africa enter the church and shut the doors.
Jesse meets Tulip in her Chevelle. She thanks him for checking in on her uncle Walter, then starts to fill him in on a big job for which she already procured a map. Jesse firmly reminds her that he no longer takes on jobs. Tulip asks Jesse why he’s returned to Annville. He doesn’t have much of an answer. “We are who we are,” she yells as Jesse walks off.
Jesse stops by the Root house. Sheriff Root hands Jesse a meat smoothie to bring to Eugene.
Eugene, whose face is grotesquely disfigured, greets Jesse enthusiastically in his room. He worries that God doesn’t want him at church because of what he did and wonders if some deeds are too evil to be forgiven. Jesse assures Eugene that God forgives him.
Afterward, Jesse drinks at a local bar, where a TV news report announces that Tom Cruise exploded while presiding over a Scientology service. Cassidy joins Jesse at the bar and asks what town he’s in. He heads to the back. Donnie strides into the bar with his friends and punches Jesse for talking to Betsy.
Cassidy speaks to his boss on a pay phone and wonders how the assassins keep finding him. His boss instructs him to lay low.
Donnie threatens to beat Chris for snitching to Jesse. When Donnie ignores Jesse’s order to leave Chris alone, Jesse swiftly takes down Donnie and his friends. Cassidy watches from the back of the room. Sheriff Root tells Jesse to stop. Jesse assures him, “almost done Sheriff,” and concludes the beating by breaking Donnie’s arm.
Jesse sits in a jail cell with Cassidy, who Sheriff Root believed to be Jesse’s accomplice. Jesse bemoans coming back to Annville but says he had to honor a promise. Cassidy denounces promises, faith and hope. Jesse’s released on bail and the two men shake hands before parting ways.
Emily picks up Jesse from jail and drives him to the church, where Jesse informs her that he’s quitting and will make an announcement on Sunday. “You were never really here in the first place so what difference should your leaving make?” she snaps. After he’s gone, she explodes, breaking her children’s iPad in a devastated, heartbroken rage.
Ted calls Jesse to complain about his mother just as Jesse sees a light emanating from the church. He tells Ted he’ll call him back.
Inside the church, Jesse turns on the light switch to find it’s broken. He sits on a pew, where he decides to ask for God’s help one last time. Jesse kneels and says, “God, please forgive me.” Getting no response, he lights up a cigarette. The doors creak open. The pews move. A supernatural shadow — which eventually reveals itself to be the “comet” approaches Jesse then slams him to the ground.
In a now familiar flashback, Jesse’s father is forced to his knees. He tells a young Jesse, “You’ve got to be one of the good guys. Because why?”
“Because there’s way too many of the bad,” young Jesse says.
“You promise me?” his father urges.
“I promise, daddy,” Jesse says before his father is shot in the head.
Jesse wakes up three days later on Sunday morning. Emily sits by the bed and informs him that Cassidy found Jesse passed out at the church and has since moved into the attic.
As Jesse walks to church, Ted harangues him about his mother again. Jesse tells Ted in a stern, otherworldly voice, “Be brave, tell her the truth, open your heart.” Ted rushes off, repeating Jesse’s words like a mantra.
Tulip enters All Saints, where Cassidy, too, is attending Jesse’s sermon. Jesse, who initially set out to quit, instead tells his congregation that he’s let them down but he’s going to make things right. “You deserve a good preacher and that’s what you’re going to get,” he says. “As of right now I’m going to fight, I’m going to do what all good preachers have done since the serpent and man’s fall. Pray for the sinner. Offer peace to the restless. Avenge the innocent.”
As Jesse’s sermon continues in the background, we watch on as bullies steal Eugene’s backpack, Tulip paints her nails over her stolen map and Cassidy lights his arm on fire by exposing it to the sun.
Meanwhile, Ted flies to Florida and drives to his mother’s retirement home, all the while repeating the mantra. He finds his mother at the home and asks her to treat him with kindness. “What are you talking about?” she asks. He unbuttons his shirt and takes out a knife. “Now I have to open my heart to you,” he says. He cuts his chest open, removes his heart and falls dead on the table as his mother screams.
One of the mystery men from Russia and Africa eats a tea bag while waiting in his car. “It’s here,” his partner informs him. They cross the street and stand at the foot of the driveway to All Saints Congregational.