Sam Catlin, executive producer of Preacher who wrote and directed the Season 1 finale, talks about the Jesse-Tulip-Cassidy triangle, what the Saint of Killers represents to the story, and sets the stage for Season 2.
Q: You totally destroyed Annville! Did you know from the outset that was how this season would end?
A: We knew pretty early on that that’s what we were going to do. We figured that the season would end kind of where the comics begin, in terms of Jesse hitting the road, having lost his congregation and having found out that God is missing or on the run. There’s a lot of stuff we figured out along the way, but that’s where we knew we were headed all along.
Q: Are we to believe the news report that says there are likely no survivors? Does that basically give you a blank slate for the start of Season 2?
A: I think you can believe it. [Laughs] Early on, we recorded a version of the news report which was along the lines of “Details are coming in… but one thing we know for sure is that everyone is dead.” We found that a little glib in light of everything that proceeded it, but the spirit behind it is we really wanted people to understand that anybody and everybody that was left behind in Annville is gone. It was very hard because our crew has certainly grown attached to so many of these actors and these characters. At certain points along the way, we were just like, “Does that person really have to go?” We had to bite the bullet. Even though we were so incredibly lucky to get the actors that we got, it really felt like Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy needed to be free and clear to begin the next phase of their journey.
Q: How did you and the writers conceive of the big Q&A with “God”?
A: It’s definitely crazy, but that’s really Preacher. Preacher shows angels, God and the Devil very early on, and it felt like our world had been very contained in a lot of ways throughout the season. There are certainly intonations of the supernatural with Genesis, Deblanc and Fiore, and vampires. But by the end of the season, we wanted to get a sense of the stakes and the scale of this world – of Garth [Ennis]’s world. We’d be remiss not to show a version of Heaven. It felt like a good solution to show that there is a Heaven, there are angels and there is an organization up there, but the big boss man himself is in the wind.
Q: How does that impact Jesse, who has been searching for his purpose all season long?
A: I think it simplifies things for Jesse. There have been mentions all along the season that God has been silent. I think Jesse and Eugene have interpreted that as God being mad at them and not talking to them. There’s a vindication for Jesse in finding out God isn’t ignoring him; God is gone. This is a problem that plays much more into his wheelhouse, which is a search and rescue or a search and destroy mission. Up until now, he’d been trying to follow in his father’s footsteps and he’d been playing in a much more psychological sandbox. Once he finds out that God is missing, I imagine there’s a part of him that’s not just determined, but relieved in a sense. It plays into some of the skillset that Jesse’s more comfortable with. We don’t know what’s going on – if he’s taken off, is on vacation, if he’s turned his back on creation. Whatever it is, he’s going to hold God to account one way or the other.
Q: This episode also revealed that Jesse and Tulip once lost a baby. Is overcoming that the biggest obstacle to them being together?
A: I think it really was the thing that came between them. When Jesse is absolutely going to kill Carlos – which Tulip has been asking him to do ever since it happened – it was the gesture that she needed to bring them back together and be on the same page with their loss so they can move on. They’re definitely back together, and there are obviously other things that will cause friction between them. Her secret with Cassidy is not the least of it.
Q: How central is the Jesse-Tulip-Cassidy triangle going forward?
A: It’s incredibly central. It’s one of the great dynamics of the show. Cassidy’s in love with Tulip, but he’s also Jesse’s best mate. We haven’t seen it yet but we’ve heard from Tulip that Jesse’s a very jealous guy. It’s the bomb underneath the table, for sure. Sooner or later, that secret’s going to get out, and it’s going to cause real problems for all three of them.
Q: The Cowboy has escaped from Hell. How would you describe the role of the Saint of Killers, now that we understand how he’s connected to the main plot of the story?
A: He’s basically a terminator. He’s become a ruthless, unkillable machine over the years through his torments in Hell. He’s the only one that DeBlanc and Fiore know can stop Jesse and end the threat that Genesis poses to the universe, to Heaven and to Hell. He’s sort of the hail mary doomsday device that DeBlanc and Fiore have unleashed on Jesse and the world to solve this Genesis problem. At the end of the season, he’s on Jesse’s trail. You really don’t want the Saint of Killers on your trail. He’s an adversary unlike any that Jesse’s been confronted with.
Q: We saw him shoot DeBlanc, who didn’t come back from Hell with Fiore. Is he gone for good?
A: Well, it doesn’t look good! I’m not sure what I can say about DeBlanc’s future. I would be surprised if we didn’t see him again, but what form that will take remains to be seen. One of the great things about this world and the way Garth’s comics allow us to tell the story in terms of playing with time and dimensions is that just because somebody’s dead doesn’t mean you’re not going to see them anymore. That’s true for all our characters – even the ones that blew up in Annville. You never know whether we’re flashing back in time or we’re seeing someone in Hell or some other place. There’s always a chance that someone can darken our door once again.
Q: Jesse vows not to forget about Eugene. But given what he’s now learned about God, is he less worried about the mortal danger Eugene might be in?
A: I think he’ll always feel a tremendous sense of responsibility for Eugene. Hell is real to Jesse, just like Heaven is. It may be empty of God, but it’s a real place and he knows that. I think it would be safe for him to assume – as we’ve already seen – that Hell is an actual place and not a state of mind. I’m not saying when that will happen, but sooner or later he’s going to have to get Eugene out of Hell.
Q: We heard your voice in some of the radio reports this season. Would you ever do a cameo? Are there any other Sam Easter eggs we can go back and look for?
A: [Laughs] I’m the local radio announcer in the pilot and in the very beginning of the finale. I used to be an actor, but I’m shy about it these days. Actually, Seth [Rogen] and Evan [Goldberg] put me in their movie, The Interview. As long as I’m sitting and I don’t have to handle props, I’ll do it.
Q: Season 1 served as a prequel to the comics in many ways. Now that the core trio is off on the road trip as in the comic, will you follow the source material more closely or will you continue to remix it?
A: We never try to do our own version just so we can be iconoclastic or anything like that. We’re always just trying to do whatever makes best sense for the TV show while still honoring the tone of Garth’s comic. A version where people say, “Oh yeah, that’s just like books three and four and then this happens” just doesn’t really map out that way. There will continue to be more familiar settings and characters that we haven’t introduced yet from the comics. We’re still planning to go to all those places and meet all those people, but sometimes it’ll take its own path.
Q: Season 2 will be 13 episodes. How, if at all, does that impact the storytelling?
A: I think it’ll give us time to really spend more time with our trio. We don’t really have Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy by themselves until the very end of the season, and we’re certainly excited to let our three main characters riff off each other. They’ve been very separate in a lot of ways.
Q: What should fans be thinking about as we wait for what comes next?
A: They’re on the road and I imagine their next stop will be a place that makes Annville look tame in comparison. We’re very excited about bringing in the Saint of Killers into this contemporary world and other freaks and weirdos that we had to hold off on. A lot of those people we can now bring into our world… We’re going to learn more about what Genesis means, not just to Deblanc, Fiore and Jesse, but to a wider group of people. We’ve talked a little bit about Genesis being a Manhattan project – it was never really supposed to see the light of day. I think as the series continues, we’re going to learn more and more about people who have their own ideas about what Genesis is for and what it should be used to do.
Read an interview with Graham McTavish, who plays Saint of Killers.