What Preacher Gets Wrong About The Saint Of Killers


Spoilers for Preacher season 2 episode 6 below

With over half of Season 2 down, this week’s episode of Preacher, titled “Sokosha,” not only supplied a firm (and violent) reminder of who exactly the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) is. The episode in question brought a possible end to the big bad’s story once and for all.

The majority of the characters in Season 1 were killed off in the finale when the city of Annville was destroyed–except for the Saint of Killers. Viewers were teased with the pending battle between Jesse (Dominic Cooper) and the Saint in Season 1’s final moments. And following through on that promise, the Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg-produced program began Season 2 with the Saint of Killers hot on Jesse Custer’s trail.

While Season 2 has felt more true to the comics storyline than Season 1 did, it’s pretty clear that the show hasn’t fully done the Saint of Killers justice. The books found the Cowboy continually having unsuccessful face-offs with Jesse, only to be blocked by the power of the preacher’s word–Genesis. But the series changed that. On the screen, Jesse’s power–the word of God himself–has no effect on the Saint.

God’s left heaven. (Who knew the heavenly father was such a deadbeat?) This is the crux of both Jesse and the Saint of Killers’ dilemma. While Jesse is out to track down God to make him answer for his misdeeds, the Cowboy comes to the realization in “Sokosha” that his angelic deal to kill the preacher and be reunited with his family is pretty much null and void. If God and the angels are gone, how will the Saint get into heaven?

What we finally got in Monday’s episode was a full-blown confrontation between Jesse, Tulip (Ruth Negga), Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), and the Saint. But the way it all went down was completely wrong. While the Saint of Killers definitely walked the walk and talked the talk, there was something empty about this final confrontation. The Saint was never shown as a hero in the comics, but towards the story’s end, he was revealed as a character with empathy and a real end-goal. He was a character who, once he made a deal with Jesse, went out on his own terms–and pointed in the right direction on the series’ often broken moral compass.

But since the beginning of Season 2, the Saint has been nothing but a bloodthirsty beast out to wreak havoc wherever he goes. Whether it’s ripping a man’s tongue from his mouth or massacring a small roadside hotel, it’s felt as if this iteration of the Saint was more a horror movie villain than a deeply flawed man–but still a man.

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Look, he’s the Angel of Death, and his immediate urge is simply to kill. But deep down, he has more specific motivations. Does that make sense? Once you take the character’s empathy away–that library montage may have given a nice nod to the late Steve Dillon’s artwork, but didn’t help much to connect with the character–all you have left is a horror movie monster.It felt for a second that the episode would end with Jesse and the Saint coming to an accord, making way for Herr Starr (Pip Torrens) to fully enter the picture. But as we watched Jesse get the upper hand on the Cowboy, things took a brutal and darker turn. Could the real villain of Preacher Season 2 be the preacher himself?

It’s possible the Saint of Killers will return in future episodes to bring justice to Jesse Custer. But the way the episode ended, with the Cowboy locked away in an armored truck, sinking into the marshy waters of New Orleans, this could also be his final bow. And it’s a shame if it is. Throughout his appearance in both seasons of Preacher, audiences barely got a taste of the Saint of Killers’ real potential.

“Sokosha” felt like the Saint’s swan song. The creative team of Sam Catlin, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg may have gotten the character’s look and backstory right–Graham McTavish does a great job bringing the foreboding cowboy to life–but there was a lack of any real humanity to the Saint. And maybe that was deliberate. After all, audiences finally got a hint at Jesse’s own familial backstory in the episode, and if this plot point is as gruesome in the show as it was in the comics, our hero preacher is about to go down a dark and sinister road.

Preacher airs Mondays on AMC.

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