In For the Long Haul: Preacher Season 3

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Based on the Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon (R.I.P) comic of the same name, Preacher is a series about a man whose voice must be obeyed by those who hear it, his assassin girlfriend and their vampire mate trawling the southern United States in search of God. The literal Christian God, who likes dressing up as a dog for sexual purposes. Anyway I read the comic back in my formative years, I loved the first two seasons and thought they were a more enjoyable take on the source material than the material itself, and now season 3 is here. Let’s get into it.

Episode 1: Angelville

First off, the way that Jesse’s grandma finds out about the existence of him and his doomed Father is different. Instead of Jody and T.C falling foul of Vietnam vet John Custer, stopping their assault short at the complicating shout of “Dad!”, here they hold down Christina L’Angelle while her mother cuts her open to retrieve a photo of the two Custers. Back in the present, Jesse and Cass arrive at Angelville seeking a resurrection for the deceased Tulip, with tensions still high after Jesse refused to let Cass turn her into a vampire. They’re going all in with the love triangle angle here, with Cassidy seeing no reason why he shouldn’t be with Tulip, and the two fighting over the revelation that he and Tulip had sex back in season 1. Jody and T.C are here, albeit somewhat different to their comic counterparts. T.C is now more of a well-meaning handyman type instead of a man who will seemingly have sex with anything and everything he comes across, should the mood take him. He knocks out Cass with the butt of a shotgun, only for Jesse to down him in one punch, and upon waking up he meekly apologies to Cass and offers to help despite the vampire being rude and irritable. Jody, on the other hand, is largely the same: a brutal hand-to-hand combatant who murdered Jesse’s father and whom Jesse has never beaten, the difference here being that rather than a lean, muscular man who wins fights through a mixture of skill and a cruel knack for causing pain, here he’s burly and seemingly supernaturally strong: easily lifting the back end of his truck off the ground with one hand. He’s also more superficially friendly, at least for now. A large part of the episode is devoted to Tulip stuck in purgatory; reliving the events that led to the death of her Father and her being moved to an orphanage, framed as a play. It’s well done, and a nice little taste for the dead of what’s to come should they go to Hell, although it seems strange that should a bad memory would play out in purgatory. Perhaps Tulip has a far worse memory than that, but for now this is all we get. I do like the absurd comedic angle of how her Father bites it: an argument about dish soap that leads to murder and an armed stand off with police, and how calmly he explains what happened to child Tulip. Overall a good episode, and a solid start to the season. It sets up the animosity between Jesse and Cass moving forward, with Jesse’s Grandmother apparently taking Cass’ side, and only reviving Tulip in exchange for some unknown act or object from Jesse. What that is I couldn’t say: in the comic she wanted him to become a preacher, but here he does that of his own accord, so clearly it’s something else and most likely nefarious. Looking forward to the next episode, and I’m really glad Preacher’s back.

Episode 2: Sonsabitches

Turns out little Jesse was something of a wheeler dealer, acting as a go-between for those wishing to use Madame L’Angelle’s services. Come up short on a payment and she steals your goddamn soul, which is how she’s still alive after all these years, and why she looks like a regular human being as opposed to the husk seen in the comics. Herr Starr is back, bringing with him the series’ penchant for violence juxtaposed with cheery music; this time it’s a rather one-sided gunfight between Grail agents and armed Hare Krishnas set to The Youngbloods’ “Get Together”. I do so enjoy when the show indulges in these scenes. Starr’s been sent to ensure Humperdoo, the inbred modern descendant of Christ is accepted by major religious groups as their one true saviour, which doesn’t appear to be going too well. Back at Angelville, by some amazing coincidence Featherstone and Hoover are spying on Tulip just as she’s talking about how much she wants to smash the former’s face in, and they nearly get ground up in a mulcher only to be saved by Jesse, who needs Starr present and content in order to regain his soul and with it, Genesis. New for this adaptation are The Boyds, the gang Jody decimated last episode, with whom Jesse picks a fight as cover for his meeting with Starr. But naturally things go wrong, Jesse and friends are stuck in Angelville for the time being, and while he’s being less openly belligerent Cass’ feelings for Tulip remain strong, and seem like they’re going to boil over sooner or later. Another good episode: I think it’s interesting that rather than draw out a potential escape in the form of Starr and Jesse’s soul they’ve opted to have them appear early on and then leave, so that no help is coming, which leads me to believe the only way out is for Jesse to finally win against Jody and burn the place down, like in the comic. Pip Torrens is a delight as he has been since his first moments on screen, the interactions between characters still ensure the down time is just as engaging as when things kick off, and I’m eager to see where the adaptation takes things. Finally, it’s worth mentioning, despite the scene’s brevity, that rather than bringing Tulip back to life in exchange for the gang dropping their pursuit, this version of God catches Tulip on her way back to life and commands her to “Get those sons of bitches”. She interprets that as gunning down Grail agents, but only time will tell exactly what Almighty Dog intends.

Episode 3: Gonna Hurt

The Almighty Dog is a loving God but don’t push it. He’s got a pass/fail test for humanity coming up, and he counted on Tulip messing up her attack on the Grail, with the result being that Genesis will no longer pose a threat. Anyway since the aforementioned Grail cock up left Jesse, Tulip and Cass stuck in Angelville with no hope of escape, all three are going about their own little schemes in an attempt to cope and/or find a way out. Tulip is desperately seeking a work around for the blood pact Jesse made, which can only be undone when Madame L’Angelle says so. Cass’ vampirism is discovered because while off his tits on a gas concoction he reminisces to T.C about how he’s been mortally wounded multiple times, despite now having no scars to speak of (and drinks the blood of a chicken when Jesse confiscates his blood packs). Jesse, meanwhile, is driven by Jody to different support groups seeking potential marks in need of L’Angelle’s help, though no one’s interested while “The Tombs” stay closed, something Jesse insists upon. As it turns out The Tombs are basically an underground fight pit, with the loser implied to lose their soul. How this helps cure glue addiction I don’t know, but people are into it. Cass ends up fighting that paedophile teacher from episode 2, thrown in their on Jesse’s suggestion after Jody and T.C plan to string him up and wait for the Sun to rise. Speaking of Cassidy, he’s taken L’Angelle up on her offer of a love potion for Tulip, hinting at the horrible shit he got up to in the comics. Finally Tulip ends up meeting with Madame Boyd, L’Angelle’s main competition, seeking her help to free Jesse from the blood pact. Good episode overall, things are moving faster than I expected. I figured once the action of last episode and the removal of any Grail or Genesis-based assistance a slow burn would set in, but clearly no one has any intention of just riding this thing out. That makes sense; this arc in the comic was pacey and to the point, and given that one episode later in the season references shitty vampire group “Les Enfants Du Sang” I reckon Angelville will be vacated before too long. Regardless, Preacher remains great, and I look forward to next week.

Episode 4: The Tombs

First of all, they kept the “FUCK COMMUNISM” lighter. I was pleased. Anyway Jesse’s dark and troubled past extends to hosting Tombs fights as a teenager; it’s clarified that those who have had their souls taken already are pitted against each other, and the winner takes on Jody for a chance to have their soul back. He’s obviously shaken by having to be involved in such an event, but manages to do so while pulling the “break their heart to save them” trope on a young Sabina Boyd, though it backfires when her brother comes down looking for payback and Jesse kills him in self defence. According to the present Madame Boyd the solution to the curse placed on Jesse is simple: Tulip has to kill Madame L’Angelle. So we’ve got a way out, there’s just a few loose ends to tie up, as well as the promise of future hi-jinx. Firstly, Cass has to get the hell out of Angelville, whether he likes it or not. Jesse’s attempt to smuggle him out involves cutting him into pieces and literally posting him back to New Orleans in a box. Of course Cass doesn’t understand that this is in his best interest and is still planning to use his rapey love potion on Tulip, so he comes back for a barney with Jesse. He finally makes it out when Jesse pretends to stake him to death, Cass sneaks out wearing the science teacher’s skin, and Tulip puts him on a bus after shooting down his love declaration. A bus that has Featherstone on it, but that’ll be dealt with another time. Finally, The Saint of Killers has to atone for everything that happened in season 2 by being whipped down to the bone, but once that’s finished he makes a literal deal with the Devil: find and return two people (presumably Arseface and Hitler), and in return get his weapons back to murder Jesse. Good episode overall, some nice black comedy with the whole posting Cass in a box scene in an otherwise dark and serious entry. It continues to move along at a good pace, I’m glad Tulip continues to be a level-headed, competent presence who gets shit done, good to have the Saint Back and I maintain Angelville will be wrapping up soon. Not much else to say really: Preacher’s still great. It was surprising back in season 1 but it’s been so consistently excellent both on is own merits and as an adaptation of a comic I really like that now I expect to have a good time every week.

Episode 5: The Coffin

This is a big episode, as a fan of the comic. Not only does a comic-accurate Allfather D’Aronique make an appearance in all his glory, they even kept The Duke; Jesse’s hallucination of John Wayne who gives him emotional support in times of trouble. Initially I thought that shot of a lawman when the opening credits shows Dominic Cooper’s name was a hint at the part late in the comic where Jesse briefly becomes a sheriff, but it’s actually a dream Jesse has about him and The Duke re-enacting “High Noon”. After Jody and T.C. discover Cassidy has escaped with help from his friends, Tulip ends up handcuffed to a radiator while Jesse ends up back in the titular coffin, a childhood torture in which he’s trapped in a coffin and left at the bottom of a swamp with an air tube. Adult Jesse’s sick of this shit though, so he McGyver’s his way out with a pack of cigarettes- flooding the coffin and sticking filters in his ears to protect against an explosion caused by sticking a lit fag in the air hole, wrapped in his dog collar. It’s quite impressive actually, I’m considering keeping a pack on me from now on just in case. Elsewhere Betty Buckley continues to be excellent as Madame L’Angelle, here re-enacting a weird forbidden love sex scene from a confederate romance story, and revealing that her life is linked to Tulip, after the latter chokes out the former and dies alongside her. Finally, after going on a date with a woman pretending to be a vampire and revealing that he’s the real deal, a Cass completely off his tits on whiskey and elephant tranqs is kidnapped first by the Grail, like in the comic, and then by “Les Enfants Du Sang”. In the comic they were basically a shitty group of goth kids led by an actual vampire Cass murdered in a flashback scene, seeking revenge on him during the events of the comic. That flashback scene was important because it detailed, through dialogue between Cass and his new “friend”, the extent of vampire’s strengths and fatal weaknesses in this universe which are, basically: super strength, healing and immortality, and literally nothing except the sun. I’m intrigued to see where this goes. Anyway, great episode.

Episode 6: Les Enfants Du Sang

Okay, so they’ve gone a different way with it. In the comic, Cass shows Eccarius that his life of embracing Anne Rice tropes is far less enjoyable than a life of drinking, drugs and debauchery, and explains that vampires are and explains their powers. Like I said: super strength, healing, immortality and the Sun kills them. Here, Eccarius shows a jaded Cass his powers of glamour (the ability to command humans with his voice), the ability to turn into an animal, flight and superhuman reflexes, all things Cass had no idea existed. He also turns his “children” into vampires, spelling further issues down the line, rather than the ineffectual humans the trio dealt with in the comics (Jesse beats a load of them up with such ease that he completely forgets he can use The Word on them). Here also, Cass turns his back on his best friends in favour of Les Enfants, stating that due to his immortality he’s had thousands of Jesses and Tulips, and he’ll have thousands more. More in-line with the comic are Allfather D’Aronique, who remains a dangerous, cold-hearted killer, true believer in the Grail’s mission, and bulimic despite being the size of a small rhino. Herr Starr’s hats are covering up his comic-accurate huge scar that makes his head look like a penis, though this version was caused by Tulip shooting at him back in episode 2, rather than by Jesse during their duel as ordered by the Allfather. Speaking of Jesse, he and Tulip rob a bank in order to steal Madame Boyd’s store of souls, while T.C. distracts the police by, ahem, disturbing a petting zoo, and Jody guns down the head Boyds to kidnap Sabina. Sabina’s soul is taken, Jesse retires her from this new canon, and proclaims that in order to repay his Grandma’s debt, it’s time to call The Grail. Things are moving forward, but I think Angelville needs to move towards a conclusion. It’s been grand, but I don’t know what else they can do- they’ve tried to take Tulip’s soul twice now, Jesse clearly has no intention of re-opening The Tombs, so something drastic needs to happen. Given that D’Aronique seems to have unearthed Herr Starr’s “Make Jesse the Messiah” plan and Jesse intends to seek his help, I think we’re moving towards the events at The Grail compound from the comic, which I’m looking forward to. The stuff with Cass is interesting, taking things a different way is one thing I really enjoy about this adaptation, and I’m eager to see where it goes.

Episode 7: Hilter

They finally paid off that shot in the opening credits of Hitler working at a sandwhich place, and it lasts…until the opening credits. They named the episode after him, but all he gets is a cold open, in which he starts planning a new Reich, only to be chained up and escorted off by The Saint. He was in the previous episode actually, and I completely forgot to mention it. He snapped up Eugene from an orphanage and that was pretty much it; so far his task of capturing the two runaways is going really well. Anyway the meat of the episode is split between Cass’ adventures in N’awlins and Jesse working with The Grail. To that end: Tulip and Featherstone, as escorted by Jody, are off to Osaka to break into a soul warehouse, while Starr and Jesse are off to reclaim the latter’s soul, with the last minute revelation that D’Aronique is on to Starr, and Starr’s coup has been brought forward by necessity. So the big comic Starr-Custer showdown as ordered by the Allfather seems likely next week. Pip Torrens’ Herr Starr is consistently one of the best things in the whole show: his dry, exasperated delivery while taking all of the more outlandish events in stride is a beautiful thing to behold, he’s wonderful in the role. Meanwhile, in Cassidy’s side of the story, he’s romantically involved with Eccarius after saving him from Hoover’s buff priest and nun squad (they never stood a chance, he utterly decimates them), and it seemed like this new approach to Eccarius was paying off. He turns members of Les Enfants then sends them off to open safe haven vampire embassies, he’s teaching Cass how to use his newfound extra powers, and seems like a pretty good dude. But then the show throws in a last minute swerve, reminiscent of how Dragon Ball Super handled Frost: Eccarius isn’t a good dude at all, and in fact he hates vampires despite being one, and murders all the ones he turns. For some reason. I’m sure this will be explored in the coming episodes, but at this point I’m not into the way this has gone, it seems like a twist to help facilitate Cass’ return to the company of Jesse and Tulip further down the line, and make Les Enfants an enemy as they were in the comic. I dunno, maybe it’ll all work out, but it’s gone from an interesting turn and potential source of conflict to an easy get out. Finally, it’s revealed, during a scene implying that Madame L’Angelle knows what Genesis is, that T.C stands for Theodore Charles, which I don’t remember being mentioned in the comic. So that’s a nice little tidbit. Good episode for the most part, really looking forward to Jesse and Starr dealing with The Allfather next week.

Episode 8: The Tom/Brady

Note: Turns out the previous episode is actually called HILTER, not HITLER, and despite the fact his name tag has been staring me in the face for eight episodes worth of opening credit sequences I didn’t twig until someone says his name out loud in this episode. I’m not dyslexic or anything like that as far as I know, but I do often jumble letters when reading words or just read an entirely different word to the one that’s there, often based on what I expect it to say rather than what it actually says. Anyway I’ve corrected it now.

Holy shit Hoover’s a bloody vampire now, like. Didn’t see that coming. He’s turned after trying and miserably failing to kill Cass and Eccarius by himself, because it’s implied that Eccarius kills and drains the vampires he turns in order to access his super powers. Cass finds out about it sooner than I expected, actually, so things are looking to heat up in the Enfants part of the story. They got through this all quite quickly really- two major events that move this part of the story forward, potentially drastic consequences, job’s a good ‘un. Elsewhere it’s all go: Madame L’Angelle gets her soul eating powers as part of a seemingly romantic relationship with Satan, and offers him Jesse as part of some new deal. He sends Sidney the Angel of Death to kidnap Tulip, only for her to trick Sidney into taking Featherstone instead, after they successfully pull of the Soul heist. Jesse ignores Starr’s plan and immediately murders about ten Grail agents in a lift, and after a long and arduous process of trying to transfer Genesis from Jesse into a seemingly endless parade of cloned Humperdoos (who all explode seconds after said transfer), success is marked by the Allfather instructing his head scientist to “Bring out the Messiah”, who at this point is unseen. This was a strong episode, deviating from the comic even further in surprising, interesting ways as it has been from the very beginning, cutting loose after the steady build up of the previous episodes. Jody and Tulip’s bad acting during a sexual harassment seminar they act in to maintain their cover is great, Hoover and Featherstone respectively becoming a vampire and being escorted to Hell opens up a potentially drastic shift in the Grail’s storyline, and things aren’t going at all the way I expected for Herr Starr and D’Aronique, with the promise of a true, non-Humperdoo messiah providing a nice cliffhanger for the ending. Good episode, things are moving towards a dramatic conclusion in two week’s time, I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Episode 9: Schwanzkopf

Oh so Humperdoo IS the messiah, and while he may be the original, there’s still a load of clones milling around in a backroom, so I’m not sure what’s going on there. Anyway Jesse finally manages to escape and kill D’Aronique by transferring Genesis over to him to make him explode. His soul is literally pushed out of the Allfather’s arsehole, which is hanging suspended from the ceiling by a long string of meat, and he reclaims it after a slapstick gore fight with Starr, resulting in Jesse finally having control of Genesis again. This is a pretty drastic change from the comic, where after being forced by D’Aronique to fight Jesse and running off, Starr pushes his chunky boss out of a helicopter ONTO Humperdoo, killing both and succeeding in his coup. This better suits the style and pace of the show though I feel; rather than set up an elaborate fight between the two and include the revelation that Genesis’ Father is being held by The Grail, include The Saint, all that stuff, the more immediate, punchy conclusion of Jesse gaining the upper hand and doing in the Allfather himself fits well. I also appreciate that Jesse regaining Genesis signals a sort of “Fuck it”, devil may care attitude in him, as instead of killing Humperdoo to kneecap the Grail’s plan to nuke everyone who doesn’t accept their Messiah, he simply lets them all run free, and forces a fire engine crew to give him a lift back to Angelville. As a final little revenge (for the moment) he commands Starr to completely forgo hats, meaning a switch to comedy wigs is in order; something he dabbled with in the comic before settling on wearing one type of hat, rather than constantly switching between them as he does here. Elsewhere, Tulip very nearly escapes Sidney and The Saint with the briefcase full of souls, but is busted by Eugene enthusiastically greeting her. Her various attempts to escape the apparently mundane bus ride to the Christian afterlife are ultimately rendered moot by the arrival of Hitler’s new friends, who contrary to the comedic set up as just some guys he knows from work disable the bus with a FUCKING TANK, emblazoned with a swastika. Maybe this is an opportunity for The Saint to show how well his guns work on tanks, as he did in the comics, and I’d like to see Sidney murder some Neo Nazis. She’s been used sparingly so far but her presence is welcome, and I look forward to her being a recurring character. Finally Cass’ story is entering endgame: surprisingly Eccarius is determined to keep Cass on his side and live as dedicated Murder Husbands, but Cass isn’t having any of it, and after a brief fight Eccarius resigns himself to the situation and has Les Enfants nail him to a pool table to burn up in the Sun. Something that, as Cass points out as embarrassing, will take a while given the tiny basement window and position of the Sun. His final gambit is to ask the Mother who owns the house, who is just as determined as Les Enfants to see Cass die, to call Lisa in Poland, with the hope of her finding out that she died, and unravel Eccarius’ history of murdering his “Children”. The episode ends with Jesse arriving at Angelville for a showdown, as Gran’ma reveals to T.C that she knows her Grandson is here to kill her, setting up this season’s finale.

Great episode overall, moving things along well and setting up a potentially drastic finale. Good examples of the series’ black comedy too: Jesse revealing Starr’s coup and the Allfather immediately responding “Then he will know my buttocks as few men have”. The ensuing slapstick gore fight and Starr insisting that not everyone needs to be killed, just “Certain undesirables: Hipsters, Presbyterians, trade unionists… the Danes.”
As for the story moving along: given that they’ve adapted the New Orleans arc complete with Les Enfants Du Sang while simultaneously introducing and killing off Allfather D’Aronique I have no idea where a potential Season 4 would go, but I’m very much along for the ride and happy to be here.

Episode 10 (Season Finale): The Light Above

Hoo boy, this was a big one. Lots to get through, things were thoroughly shaken up, and a whole lot of people died. After a flashback shows Jesse trying and failing to go through with killing Madame L’Angelle, he leaves for Texas, passing his older self on the way out, who’s hear to finish things. Like in the comics he fights Jody hand to hand without using The Word, and after some comic-accurate lines: “Hope for you yet, boy”, “That was different” (When Jesse slams a piece of nailed wood into Jody’s face) and “Proud of you boy”, Jody finally dies after Jesse pounds his face into a wall and some dodgy CGI blood effects happen. They also popped up in the Saint and Sidney vs Nazis scene, but more on that in a minute. T.C chooses to burn along with Jody’s body, and after immediately having his and Tulip’s curses reversed Jesse learns about L’Angelle’s new deal with Satan: if Jesse kills her, his soul is bound to Hell. Initially he makes her destroy the briefcase full of souls so she’ll live as a husk, but after he and his younger self agree that it doesn’t feel like they’ve won, he goes right back, kills her with her soul extractor and burns Angelville to the ground. Meanwhile Cass’ plan to have Mrs Rosen call up Eccarius’ victims pays off, and results in him being eaten alive by Les Enfants. However, Hoover arrives, kills off almost the entire group and kidnaps Cass. Tulip, the Saint and Sidney make short work of the assembled Neo-Nazis, and the aforementioned CGI blood pops up during a really cheap, jarring scene of the Saint and Sidney advancing on a line of shadowy, blurred figures obscured by smoke. Not sure why they couldn’t just show the actors playing the Nazis, who were all there a minute beforehand. They make mincemeat of the facists because of course they do, and Tulip’s part in it is more interesting; a windscreen wiper on collapse-able baton fight in the upturned bus. God arrives to offer a deal reminiscent of when his comic counterpart resurrected her at Angelville: the O’Hare name will henceforth be blessed, and Tulip will be forgiven for everything she’s ever done wrong, if she convinces Jesse to stop looking for God. No deal. Finally after mocking the Saint about crows pecking out his daughters eyes and letting the Tank run him over, the Saint rips Sidney’s eyes out. Back in Hell, The Saint’s weapons are returned, and after learning that it was apparently God’s idea to have crows peck out his daughter’s eyes, he shoots Satan in the head (like in the comic), and sets off with Eugene, as Hitler takes Hell’s reigns, because of course he does. The episode ends with Herr Starr killing Hoover, and setting up in a massive Grail base in the Israeli desert, where he is holding not only Cassidy, but what seems to be Genesis’ Angel Father I talked about last episode. So now that they’ve jumped ahead to Les Enfants Du Sang and the group’s time in New Orleans, they’re taking things back to the previous arc in which the Grail kidnaps Cass and takes him to their base to be tortured by a man who keeps shooting bits off him and waiting for them to grow back. This is where Allfather D’Aronique died, but now Starr’s in charge and he wants Jesse tortured and killed for humiliating him.

Episode wise, it wasted no time and had no fat, cramming in as much as it could before the credits rolled. It’s almost like, as a finale, they thought they’d spent too long developing things and needed to pay it all off in rapid succession for the final episode, but it worked well, and that nine-episode development was all really good, so I don’t mind. Jesse’s final fight with Jody was surprisingly low-key, and apart from one brief moment isn’t as close as in the comics, where Jody gets Jesse in a chokehold from which he has to bite himself free. T.C’s final moments were surprisingly touching, and on the whole he’s been a lot less grimy and despicable than his comic counterpart. Both he and Jody have been more enjoyable to watch than their print versions, and Gran’ma’s powers and hold over Jesse have made her a more effective villain than in the comic, where she was just an extremely old woman who had access to the talents of Jody and T.C. as well as a load of other henchmen absent from the series. I’m glad Jesse went back to finish off L’Angelle, that was far more satisfying than the alternative, and I was pleased that before he did anything else he immediately used The Word to free himself and Tulip from their respective curses. The Saint and Sidney slaughtering the Nazis was surprisngly poor for a show with such a flair for well-choreographed, gory slapstick violence. Between the cheap effects and lack of on screen Nazi killing save for the ones Tulip deals with it felt like a wasted opportunity. I quite like Sidney and look forward to seeing what they do with her going forward, and having Hitler take over from the now dead Satan just makes sense. Everything about the season’s worked really well, with the Angelville and Grail segments being particularly strong, but if there’s a weak link it’s everything with Les Enfants Du Sang. While not bad, and having some good ideas and the relationship between Cass and Eccarius, their scenes were less consequential and generally less interesting, as least in my opinion. Anyway, good season overall; Preacher’s my favourite current TV show, and after covering so much in this one season I’m looking forward to a leaner, stripped-down conflict between Jesse, Tulip and The Grail. Maybe, just maybe they’ll put in one of the coolest moments in the whole comic:

“Not enough gun.”

I patiently await season 4.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18.

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E3 Top Five

Despite being an incredibly cynical person, I am capable of getting all hyped up for future releases and game announcements. I generally enjoy E3; so many things are announced that there’ll be at least a few things I’m interested in. Last year Wolfenstein 2 won the day for me, and I expected this year to offer a few treats to sink my speculative teeth into. What I didn’t expect was what we actually got: more good looking games than I know what to do with, genuine surprises and existing games being demoed to double down the already established interest. Narrowing that E3 down to five games has not been easy, so believe me when I say that these five are something special.

Firstly, honourable mentions:

DOOM Eternal (and Wolfenstein Newblood)

The night of the Bethesda conference I tweeted about how I hoped they’d announce a new DOOM, so imagine my joyful surprise when they did just that. Alongside a new Wolfenstein starring the next generation of the Blazkowicz family, Bethesda clearly have no intention of slowing down the twin FPS juggernauts in their possession. They’re only getting honourable mentions because they had teaser trailers with no gameplay, so there’s nothing to go on other than a brief outline of the protagonists and setting (Wolfenstein) and the fact that it exists (DOOM). Still, happy to see them both returning.

Nioh 2

Same thing here: a very brief teaser trailer culminating in a logo and the first game’s beautifully soothing main theme. I’m glad Nioh got a sequel and I’m looking forward to playing it, but I’ve not got anything to go on.

Death Stranding

This year’s trailer actually provided some more tangible footholds. Norman Reedus is a courier who traverses massive, empty landscapes on rather lonely looking deliveries of large crates. Lea Seydoux is also a courier, who appears before Reedus as a helpful NPC, who offers advice before leaving and telling Reedus that the “Timefall fast forwards everything it touches”. The invisible monsters whose handprints and sort of sludge-based drowning attack were seen in the previous trailer turn up, and can be seen as humanoid ghosts with long umbilical cords aiming towards the sky, and they can be detected and snuck past thanks to that tank-baby powered antenna thing that Reedus has. Despite all this, it only gets an honourable mention because despite other people’s willingness to be swept up in the tide of “WHAT DOES IT MEAN? NO IDEA BUT I’M DESPERATE TO PLAY IT AND FIND OUT”, to me it doesn’t make any sense devoid of context, and I know it’s been robbed of that context deliberately for trailers. I’m sure it’ll all make sense once I actually sit down and play the game, and I’m looking forward to doing so, as a big fan of Kojima’s work, but until then it’s just an interesting but nonsensical series of cryptic images. Also Norman Reedus hiking.

Now for the main event:

5: The Last of Us Part II
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I’m coming around to this whole Last of Us sequel idea. Back when talks of a sequel first cropped up I was adamant that the original remain untouched. It had told its story beautifully and apart from a prequel I felt any re-visitations would spoil it. While I remain a tad wary and cautious, I am generally on board now, thanks to the PS conference’s opening trailer. After a cutscene that felt like something out of Uncharted, where a now adult Ellie makes out with her girlfriend Dina at some kind of communal dance, there’s an extended gameplay sequence in which Ellie takes on what appears to be the cult seen in the previous trailer. At first I thought the literal cry of “WOLF!” when Ellie is spotted was just a creepy cult thing, but they then refer to Ellie as such to one another, so they’ve apparently encountered her before and judging by their behaviour here, it didn’t go well for them. Gameplay wise it was definitely familiar- stealth, shooting and brutal, teeth-shattering hand-to-hand violence (violence is a better word for it than “combat”), but it seemed more fluid this time around, and tied into story elements. The cultists react to Ellie’s presence, they search for her when she’s hiding under a car, during a fight in a shop one of them throws her through a glass panel; just little touches that blend the gameplay and story without having to stop anything. It looks good, I like Ellie as a grown-up using what Joel taught her (there’s a nice touch where she grabs a hostage and grunts “C’mere!” like Joel used to), I like that her sexuality as established in Left Behind is an evidenced part of her character rather than just being paid lip service (I promise you I do not intend that pun), and the cutscene direction and storytelling call to mind Uncharted 4, which itself took cues from TLOU. I eagerly await more footage and/or details.

4: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
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I adore AC Origins, I think it was exactly what the series needed and I loved it from start to finish. I had a slight sense of trepidation with the leaked reveal of this, the next game in said series, because I assumed a one year development cycle. Turns out I needn’t have worried, because they’ve clearly used the three year dev cycle to great effect; what was shown off looks like Origins but with some cool new things layered on top, with a general goal of leaning in to the RPG elements. Dialogue options are here now, as are romance options, there are two characters available to play, a man and a woman, who are Spartan mercenaries on a journey to become a hero to all of Greece in the Sparta/Athens war. What they showed off at the Ubisoft conference was a game that uses the best title in the entire series as a base to build an action RPG: same combat, same levelling system and gear, but with more to do in terms of character interactions. I’m hoping it pays off; I certainly didn’t see anything that would lead me to believe otherwise at this point.

3: Resident Evil 2 Remake
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What a difference eight hours of sleep can make. When I saw the trailer for this live, I hated it. Visually it was nothing much, and combined with the new character designs made me arrive at the conclusion that it looked worse than Darkside Chronicles’ RE2 chapters. Generally speaking I thought it looked like a rushed hack job, too much action, dodgy tone; wasn’t into it at all. Then, having slept, seen more screenshots, re-watched the trailers and seen the seventeen minute gameplay video, I’ve done a complete 180. The R.P.D. station feels familiar but definitely redesigned, because it’s a proper remake that makes changes rather than a remaster offering a graphical overhaul. Marvin Branagh’s up and about and given more natural dialogue (and a cute note for Leon about using the names of his fellow officers to unlock his desk), helping Leon out and then hanging around a triage set up in the main hall, complete with medical curtains. The wings are now locked with shutters, structural damage means the pouring rain is coating the halls, the place looks fantastic. One officer has tried to negotiate the station’s puzzles and has drawn a way out in his notebook, which Leon grabs when said officer gets ripped in half. Leon has a knife now, used to escape grapples, he aims over the shoulder like Resi 4, but he can move and use a torch in his other hand. The game’s clearly taken cues from Resi 7, in its U.I, inventory, environment interaction, and the more general sense of progression (also present in 4) of “You need to find this key item, go explore this wing of the building and you’ll end up with it”. Also there’s gunpowder now, used to craft different ammo types like in Resi 3. Really my only issue is how dark it is: it looks like it could be disorientating and not in a good way. Presumably that can be changed though, and they’re just demoing it in default brightness. The game looks fantastic, like a proper remake handled with care, taking cues from the superb Resi 7 and doing the original game justice. I was completely wrong with my first impression, I’m fully hyped and completely on board. My only worry now is if they’ll be using any of the original score, which remains excellent. Time will tell I suppose.

2: Devil May Cry 5
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A silver medal so strong it could blot out the sun and so, so close to the gold. See I heard this was coming, both in the form of a rather detailed leak a while back, and them registering the name “Devil May Cry 5” just before E3, but I didn’t expect a full gameplay trailer. So first off Nero has a robot arm that does all manner of combat-related things, and alongside the sassy Southern lady who made it work for Dante’s Devil May Cry business, in a van with a neon sign depicting the company name bolted to the side. Cool enemy designs, Nero with a robot arm but still packing Red Queen and Blue Rose, same over the top sense of style and what looks to be fluid, satisfying combat: it’s a new DMC, baby. As much as I love DmC and its grimy, punk take on the series and its characters, I’m more than happy to have another entry in the main run eleven years after the last one, and were it not for the next game on this list this would be my game of the show by a country mile. Eagle-eyed people on twitter think Vergil might be making a more than welcome return (having died in the original, only to become rather popular through prequel stories), and Dante makes an appearance at the end, looking a bit rough and ready in the new art style, as does Nero (seen above). I love Devil May Cry, I love the look of this one, just let me play it already.

Also, Nero turns his arm into a missile, rides it like a skateboard and does a pop shove it. I’ve missed this series.

1: Hitman 2
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Not actually announced at a conference, but given two trailers, as well as gameplay at E3 I haven’t watched so as not to spoil myself. It’s more of that same 2016 Hitman goodness but not episodic, from what I’ve seen. The trailers showed off the Miami level, in which 47 is tasked to kill a race driver and her brother/husband (same last name), and  can do so mid-race multiple ways; something I never knew I wanted in a Hitman game. Not much more to say really, it just looks like more Hitman but released all at once, and despite the almost unanimously strong showing across the board at E3, more Hitman is exactly what I need. It’s not flashy, I haven’t been looping the trailer like I have with DMC5, but it’s as close as E3 got to a sure bet for me, with as little room for doubt as possible, and that’s enough to make it my best of show.

So that’s it then: stupendously strong showing at E3 this year, so many games I could have put on this list, but these five stood above the rest and I can’t wait to play them all.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

P.S. Western release date for Like a Hokuto, or as it’s called here “Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise” and Cory Barlog announcing on twitter mid-PS conference that God of War is getting New Game Plus: icing on the E3 cake.