Sam Catlin, executive producer and showrunner of AMC’s Preacher, discusses that season-ending cliff-hanger, how Jesse’s past might be able to save his future, and Cassidy revealing his dark side.
Q: Did you have this ending in mind from the beginning of the season?
A: We wanted it to really show that Angelville was, for Jesse, a house of horrors. We wanted to really dramatize that it’s the last place he would ever want to go and he would only go there as a last resort. It’s the only place outside of Hell itself that scares him. Tulip is shot and killed under different circumstances in the comic book, so we knew we wanted some version of that. To have her in danger and bring it out into the open shows the fraternal rivalry and the resentment between Jesse and Cassidy over Jesse’s indirect responsibility for her death. It felt like a great leaping off point. If Season 2 asked, “Can this group of friends stick together and be on this quest?” then the answer is, “No. They can’t.” [Laughs] What’s going to happen now that all that rage and bitterness is out in the open? The band’s breaking up in a really dangerous way.
Q: Jesse obviously believes he can bring Tulip back to life at Angelville, but how worried is he for her?
A: I think it’s probably safe to say that Jesse’s never seen Grandma bring a person back to life. What happens to somebody if they are resurrected? How are they changed? What sort of debt might Jesse owe if that were to actually happen? I think he knows full well that everything comes with a cost as with Grandma bringing the chicken back to life. I think we can only imagine what cost she’ll exact for bringing the love of his life back to life, if she’s able to.
Q: The rift between Jesse and Cassidy has been growing all season, but is there any way their friendship survives this?
A: I think we can hate the people we love. I think this will be a serious test of their love for each other because there have been some serious issues lurking underneath for the both of them, almost from the beginning. Jesse is a very conservative son of a preacher. I think his father was like an idolized Ronald Reagan. In some way, Jesse’s a real conservative and Cassidy represents chaos in a lot of ways. I think there’s a part of Jesse that is repulsed by that.
Q: Speaking of ending relationships, does Cassidy feel any remorse for killing Denis?
A: It remains to be seen if he has any remorse and what the effect of killing your own child will have on him, but I think one of his superpowers is he’s a great judge of character and has a good intuition about people. I think, all along, he wasn’t listening to his own intuition about his son. His son wasn’t necessarily cut out for the life of a vampire. I think Cassidy was really worried about the parts of his own nature that Denis was provoking and speaking to and his own carnal appetite that Cassidy has made a lot of effort over the years to curb with mixed success. In a way, Denis was your buddy from rehab that was using again and you either pick up yourself or get rid of him. Joe [Gilgun] obviously has such a great charisma and likability as a performer, much in the same way that Cassidy has, so I think people can get fooled into thinking of Cassidy as nothing more than a rascal, but he does say he’s a many-sided person. He has a truly dark side – and not in the way that audiences will think is sexy or cute or funny.
Q: By the end of the season, Genesis isn’t working properly. How concerned should Jesse be about that? How does that affect Herr Starr‘s plans for Jesse and the Grail?
A: Jesse is worried. It’s been something he hadn’t really paid attention to at first, but by the end of the season, he knows it’s not working. He doesn’t know why. Starr is probably a step behind in terms of figuring out that Jesse’s power is blocked right now. He needs Jesse for his power. He doesn’t just need a handsome minister. He needs that power.
Q: Eugene is out of Hell, but he brought Hitler with him! Does Eugene realize he’s made a mistake once Hitler runs away? What do you think Eugene’s experience in Hell has taught him?
A: He realizes the responsibility that he bears by letting Hitler loose in the world. But I think in the end, that’s Eugene’s story for the season: If a man seems truly repentant, who am I to condemn him? I think in Season 1, he was burdened with guilt and that he was beyond salvation. Even though Jesse had no right to send him to Hell, there’s a part of him that felt it was where he’d end up anyway. I think he learns over the course of the season that he doesn’t belong there, which may seem evident to us, but Eugene has such a deep sense of moral responsibility that he’d become polluted by his own guilt.
Q: The Saint of Killers is now back in Hell, but revenge against Jesse is his new motivation. Should we interpret his wanting to have a “word with Satan” as some new plan?
A: He definitely has a new plan, and I’m sure Jesse is a part of it. I think his time with Jesse opened his eyes to the wider world and a wider sense of justice or injustice. I imagine Hell won’t be able to hold him.
Q: We met Humperdoo this season. While there are some parts of the comic you probably can’t put on TV, have you been surprised by how much of it you have been able to feature?
A: That’s what’s exciting about television. There’s such a wider landscape for what’s possible. The idea of doing Garth Ennis’s Preacher as a television show certainly wouldn’t have been possible five years ago. The audience for television is so sophisticated and open. If the story is compelling, people will follow.
Q: What was the craziest/most challenging scene to pull off this season? Do you have a moment from the season you’re particularly proud of?
A: It’s amazing what the production team has been able to pull off with the amount of time we have and in terms of stunts, settings and the different time periods. All the credit in the world goes to our directors and Michael Slovis and our line producer Mark McNair. It’s been incredible what they’ve been able to accomplish. It’s a very hard show to produce. It’s hard on everyone, but it’s very gratifying. There are a lot of moments, but just the fact that we were able to get not one but two armored cars, were able to let the Saint loose on the world, we were able to introduce this wider world of the Grail and all the different locations. That’s the big challenge of the show – capturing that epic quality. I’m totally impressed by how much our production team has been able to accomplish.
Read a Q&A with Malcolm Barrett, who plays F.J. Hoover.
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