“The Coffin” has everything: the return of the Messiah, tips on fighting in bathrooms, aspiring vampires, and a certain guardian angel/imaginary friend.
Preacher Feature is a weekly look into the AMC show Preacher based on the comic book of the same name by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. In this column, Josh Versalle gives a breakdown of the events from the show, including how they relate to the comics, and speculates as to what’s going on and what might be coming up. That means we’re headed into SPOILER territory, pardner, so if you haven’t got the grit for it, turn back now.
Need to catch up on last week’s action? Look no further.
“You up for a fistfight?”
When Jody and TC find out that Cassidy has escaped the Tombs again, they aren’t too happy about it, and they start a fight with Jesse and Tulip. Not strictly a fistfight, the combatants in this brawl (which is set to Warren Zevon’s Werewolves of London) utilize everything from a .45 to an improvised toilet paper/hair dryer torch, but the most powerful weapon of all turns out to be the voodoo handkerchief Gran’ma has soaked with Jesse’s blood. Faced with the power it holds over Jesse, Tulip is forced to stand down and, as punishment, Jesse is sent to the coffin and Tulip is chained up in the attic.
Gran’ma, despite being Humperdoo-only-knows how old, still has the appetites of a much younger woman (I guess feeding on souls keeps your libido young, too). So, she and TC do a little Civil War role-playing. When TC can’t remember his lines, Gran’ma flies into a rage and says she’s going to eat Tulip’s soul.
“How ’bout a patrol, Marshall Custer?”
While underwater, Jesse starts hallucinating. In this hallucination, he’s an old-timey marshal, fighting outlaws with a man who looks and sounds an awful lot like the star of such classic westerns as True Grit and The Searchers (more about this below). This cowboy inspires Jesse to escape from the coffin in order to rescue Tulip, and Jesse sends a cigarette up though the exhaust tube to blow up the pump and blow the lid off the coffin.
Of course, we all know Tulip isn’t the type to need rescuing, and by the time Jesse gets back to the house, she’s already outsmarted Jody and TC and choked out Gran’ma. The trouble is, when Gran’ma brought Tulip back from the dead, she bound Tulip’s life to her own, so if Gran’ma dies, Tulip goes with her. Jesse, Jody, and TC manage to revive them both, but now he’s farther than ever away from escaping Angelville.
“Call for you from Masada”
Things aren’t going so well for Herr Starr and the Grail, either. Other than an impressive tap dance routine, Humperdoo (the inbred descendant of Jesus Christ) doesn’t have a lot of skills. Starr recognizes this and that’s the whole reason he recruited Jesse to be his Messiah. But Starr’s boss, the All-Father of the Grail (Jonny Coyne), is a man whose faith is matched only by his appetite. The All-Father believes, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Humperdoo is exactly the man to lead the world after the Grail initiates the apocalypse. Luckily for Starr, the resourceful Featherstone has a plan…
“So, how long have you been a vampire?”
Dating isn’t easy for anyone, let alone a vampire who had to leave the woman he loves and his only friend, so Cassidy turns to the internet. It turns out, there’s a dating site for everyone, even vampires. His date turns sour, though, when the “vampire” (played by Lucy Faust) he meets tries to put in a set of novelty fangs. Upon seeing him reveal his real fangs, she runs away in terror. Downcast, Cassidy proceeds to get pissed. Even his stout constitution is no match for the combined intoxicating powers of whiskey and elephant tranquilizers and he passes out, making it easy for the Grail to abduct him. Featherstone’s plan isto use him as bait to lure Jesse back to them. While they are filming the hostage video, Cassidy’s “vampire” date and her gang break in and rescue (or double-abduct) Cassidy.
From Panels to Screen:
This episode is packed with connections to the comics. Let’s start with the titular coffin. Foreshadowed in season two, the L’angelle’s preferred method of punishment for little Jesse was locking the poor kid in a coffin and then dropping it underwater for days at a time. With no food, no light, and very little air, how was Jesse to survive this sadistic punishment? With the help of his imaginary friend, who took the form of John Wayne.
As seen on the cover of Preacher #11, by Glenn Fabry (above) – Jesse, who as a boy in the comics was raised on movie Westerns, took solace in the company of a sort of guardian angel who appeared to him in the image of the Duke. This “John Wayne” figure was a prominent character in the comics, but until this episode wasn’t been seen in the show, although John Wayne’s movies have been examined, in the season two episode “Dallas”. The lighter Jesse uses to escape the coffin, with “Fuck Communism” stamped on the side, is a memento of his father, who was given the lighter by none other than John Wayne on a USO tour while Jesse’s dad was a marine in Vietnam.
The group of vampire wannabes that abduct/rescue Cassidy, Les Enfants Du Sang, are also featured in the “Dixie Fried” story arc of the books (Preacher 27-33, Cassidy: Blood & Whiskey). Their arrival was also foreshadowed on Denis’s computer in the season two finale, “The End of the Road”.
All-Father D’Aronique, the grossly overweight and “lethally clever” head of the Grail, makes his debut in this episode and Starr mentions a “merciless torturer”, which seems to be a reference to Frankie Toscani, aka Frankie the Eunuch.