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5 Ways PREACHER Season 2 Gets Bigger, Badder, and Bloodier

What happens when you embark upon a road trip to find God? A little bit of jazz, a lot of bloodshed, and a veritable smorgasbord of crazy you never thought would ever be portrayed on screen. Such is the place AMC’s Preacher finds itself in its second season. While critical acclaim secured the series’ place in the pantheon of crazy-good new TV, it was the expansion and the execution of writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon’s original story that made it one of the most anticipated sophomore returns this year. And in season two it only gets better—at least based on the first few episodes and our time spent on the New Orleans set earlier this year.

Moving Preacher‘s set to New Orleans from New Mexico for its second season imbued the series with a more southernly gothic feel, the perfect juxtaposition for a story about a man trying to confront a runaway God. Particularly one populated by a preacher with a voice that controls minds thanks to the angel/demon hybrid living in his chest (Jesse Custer), his best friend who just so happens to be an Irish vampire (Cassidy), and the badass girlfriend of said preacher (Tulip) with whom they’re both in love. So what should expect from this season’s expanded, 13-episode run, outside of a lot of blood and sacrilege?

So, so much. Let’s break it down for all you believers.

It Gets Into the Comic Book Material in a Big Way

As Kelly Kanayama mentioned in her review of season two, Preacher dives headfirst into the source material in its second season, an assertion evidenced by the litany of characters we saw, ripped from the pages, walking around on set. We can’t spoil who all of them were or in what context we saw them, but there is certainly an expansion of how certain stories from the books intertwine with our main trio and move the story forward.

“The new characters are fucking badass,” explained Joe Gilgun, who plays Cassidy. “For anyone whose read the comic, they’ll know who we’re talking about, and the people that have been picked to play those roles are fuckin’ mustard.” (Whatever that means, though it’s apparently a compliment.)

Graham McTavish as The Saint of Killers - Preacher _ Season 2, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Skip Bolen/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

There is one character, however, that we can talk about: the Saint of Killers. Though introduced as nothing more than a curiously angry cowboy in season one flashbacks, this season Graham McTavish’s (Outlander) role makes huge strides in his mission to kill Genesis and Jesse Custer, and it sets up a mighty battle between two fairly unstoppable men.

According to Jesse Custer himself, Dominic Cooper, season two “takes things to extremes, as the comics do. It’s completely complicated, and ludicrous at times, but I think this underlines the absurdity of it all.”

Trouble is Brewing for Tulip and Jesse

Though at odds for most of season one, the complicated dynamic—and love!—between Tulip and Jesse is expanded in big ways this season, though mainly through conflict. “[Jesse’s] a man with a mission,” actress Ruth Negga explained. “He has a very strong concrete idea of what he wants, which is he wants to find out where God is and see that through. For Tulip, that’s difficult because I think she feels that she’s become second fiddle to that desire and need.”

For Tulip, that meant coming to terms with the fact that Jesse has ultimately changed. “She really wants to rewind back to how they used to be pre-Dallas, but that’s not the case and it can’t ever really be the case when something like that happens to relationship,” Negga continued. “It evolves into something different, and I think she’s very resistant to that.”

Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, Ruth Negga as Tulip O'Hare - Preacher _ Season 2, Gallery - Photo Credit: Marco Grob/AMC

It also means the trio may have to come to terms with the fact that there are secrets between them (namely the fact that Tulip and Cassidy had sex that one time), which is sure to make things complicated. As Negga put it, “I remain vigilant to that idea that they orbit him. They’re essentially orphans—they don’t really have any other purpose in life [besides following Jesse].”

Tulip Gets More Time to Shine

In season one, the show did excellent work in adding some much-needed characterization to one of the few women in the story. Negga’s work as Tulip will be kicked into high-gear in season two, and the actress hints that it may turn divisive for the couple in the end. “She wants to go back on her own, just have fun like the old days,” said Negga. “She’s having to come to terms with Jesse—AND Jesse is a very different person in many respects.”

“I think that really annoys her, the idea that the thing that makes her happiest—or that did make her happiest—is him,” Negga explained. “I think she finds that very hard because she doesn’t have any goals as solidified as that. I think that’s very hard for her to come to terms with. I think we explore how that makes her question herself. ”

Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, Ruth Negga as Tulip O'Hare; group - Preacher _ Season 2, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Skip Bolen/AMC

Negga went on to add that even though her relationship with Jesse is major, Tulip’s past is also being expanded, saying that the series’ start “insinuates that she’s on the lam from quite a few different organizations. This [trip] is her refuge, but I think we toy with the frustration that she feels about having to do whatever he says. That’s not an unconscious by-product, I think that is something deliberate.”

But for all Tulip’s strength—and trust, she is strong as hell in many ways—that doesn’t mean she’s without vulnerability, which we see in major ways once the Saint of Killers comes on the scene. “A lot of people respond to this very strong female presence and character, [but] we’ve talked about that that’s not someone without vulnerability,” Negga told us. “That’s not someone without flaws that haunt them, and Tulip is an incredibly haunted being.”

Ruth Negga as Tulip O'Hare - Preacher _ Season 2, Gallery - Photo Credit: Marco Grob/AMC

“I think Tulip very much resists that about herself and she wants to bury a lot of that, get on with the fun, and relish and adventure,” Negga continued. “But I think there’s only so much distance you can run when you approach life like that. I think in some ways she’s run out of a bit of road in this season in terms of facing her fears and dealing with chinks in her armor. Her way of dealing with life is not to accept that, not to accept her own issues, but fight through them and fight them off and kill them. That’s one of the avenues that we go down this season with her.”

Cassidy Will Surprise You

With the gang filming in New Orleans, our mind immediately went to one place: VAMPIRES. Readers of the comics know that a contingent of New Orlean vampires plays a major part in Cassidy’s storyline, but don’t expect it to get all the way there yet. “That [stuff’s] not happened yet,” explained Gilgun. “If everyone’s sat there thinking there’s gonna be a bunch, that Cassidy’s going to meet these vampires, that shit hadn’t happened yet. They’re really stringing it out.”

But he did add that it may be teased this season: “It’s not to say there’s not vampire shit going down, like there’s a bit of something goes on … you don’t see it happen, but we’ve visited the world of vampires, just not in the way it’s done in the comics.”

Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy - Preacher _ Season 2, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Skip Bolen/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

For all his comic relief, however, Cassidy displays a more vulnerable side that pervades the first few episodes of the season.

“I think this year people will be surprised,” Gilgun explained. “It’s just… I think his past has caught up with him in such a way that it’s redemption for Cassidy, a little bit, this year. He’s trying to seek a bit of redemption in New Orleans. I think the viewers will be shocked to see that difference—a bit more of a caring side to Cass.”

Would that caring side have anything to do with his repressed feelings for Tulip, his best friend’s girl? Sure seems that way, based on Gilgun’s explanation: “We all have the best intentions of going on these adventures, but unfortunately, especially [for] characters like this, the past catches up with them and that’s exactly what happens to Tulip and Cass for sure.”

It is “Stiller”

For all the bombast and audacious excess in the first few episodes of season two, Gilgun asserts that the show has found a pace that allows for more breathing room for the story they’re telling. “It gets stiller, I guess, is what I want to say,” Gilgun proclaimed. “For want of a better word, fucking word, it gets stiller. It starts to chill out a lot more. It’s not like constant fucking road trip—obviously we land in New Orleans and everyone’s past catches up with them. We wanted to put … the reality of a road trip like this on screen, and the reality of a road trip like this would be shit getting in the fucking way.”

Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy - Preacher _ Season 2, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Skip Bolen/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Preacher season 2 premieres on AMC on June 25th at 10pm. Are you going to tune in? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: AMC

Alicia Lutes is the managing editor of Nerdist, host of Fangirling!, and a total stan for Preacher. Find her on Twitter!

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