Preacher began its first season with the epic introduction of a powerful entity known only as Genesis: traveling first through outer space, then through Africa and Russia, and making a pit stop at Tom Cruise before finally settling inside small town Texas preacher, Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper). At first, the audience is just as confused about what happened as Jesse is. It isn’t until the angels DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef) and Fiore (Tom Brooke) reach Annville that we learn Genesis is the spawn of a forbidden meeting of an angel and a demon. Little else is known about its backstory, but the parallels between both Genesis and God, and Genesis and Jesse are uncanny.
In the original comics, written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by the late Steve Dillon, Genesis’ creation was engineered by God. It was he who put the angel and demon into each other’s past, wanting to create a being that was just as powerful as he is. All of this happened because God got bored of being loved and adored by angels in heaven. He’d already created humanity, but humans spent more time warring with each other than worshipping him. Genesis is all-powerful because God wanted something as powerful as himself to choose to love God.
Genesis, however, had other plans. AMC’s version has Genesis try on a few other meat-suits before finding the perfect companion in Jesse Custer. Being half angel and half demon, and arguably half good and half bad, Genesis didn’t really gel with the faithful, evangelical preacher whom it first encountered. The devil-worshipping cult the entity tried next didn’t end well either. Then there’s the gag that Tom Cruise spontaneously combusted after Genesis decided not to follow Scientology either. One area (of many) where the TV series diverges from the comics is in Genesis’ introduction. The original found a home in Jesse immediately upon reaching Earth, and that is what caused Annville to be blown off the map. However, executive producers Seth Rogen and Evan Greenberg wanted to give viewers time to form some modicum of attachment to Annville before kicking off one of the most epic road trips in comic history.
But how does Genesis work? It could be argued that Genesis, when inhabiting a host, is the physical embodiment of the word of God. The almighty may have created the heavens and the earth, and all beings therein, but he only left instructions for how humanity should behave. Following this logic, good and bad have the power to influence humanity, but they cannot force anyone’s hand to do something.
Genesis, on the other hand, commands immediate action when speaking through Jesse. With Genesis, nothing is figurative — the entity only deals in “literally.” It feeds off of Jesse’s need for instant gratification, making no effort to discern playful from harmful. While we’ve seen Jesse use the power countless times, he was most reckless with it when he told Eugene to go to hell.
The fact that Jesse uses Genesis so haphazardly is another reason why the entity sticks with him: they’re very much alike. Could it be as simple as Genesis stays because Jesse actually wants it to stay? After its creation, the entity was imprisoned and guarded by the Adelphi angels, Fiore and DeBlanc. Like any child with an overbearing parent, Genesis, much the same as Jesse, rebelled. Flashbacks into Jesse’s past from the first season show us that his father was trying to prepare him for something bigger than himself; and the second episode of season 2 reiterates that calling is what Jesse believes binds him and Genesis.
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” Luke 6:45
This particular verse from the Bible perfectly sums up the dynamic between Genesis and Jesse. When the angels realized how well their symbiotic relationship worked, they knew Genesis wouldn’t leave Jesse willingly once again. They could see early on just how unstable Jesse could be, and his utter misunderstanding of Genesis is a major theme of the first season. DeBlanc even corrects Jesse after he mistakenly refers to the power as an angel-demon baby, saying, “If by “baby” you mean the most powerful entity ever known, the singular force that could shift the balance of power, and threaten all of creation, then yeah, it’s a baby.”
If we’re to believe the God of Preacher comics, he gambled the universe on the assumption he could get anything to love him. Yet once he realized just how powerful Genesis was, he left heaven and the angels (and humanity) to fend for themselves. Despite his shady past, it is Jesse that has always been a believer, and his devotion (however twisted and selfish) is what’s driving this search for God.
With Tulip and Cassidy being around full-time, Jesse now has other personalities to consider before jumping into action. The premiere of season 2 shows Tulip’s dislike of his ability, calling it an unfair use of mind control. Jesse doesn’t disagree with her, but maintains that he’s the only person in the world who can find God and Genesis is going to help him. Tammy, owner of the She She’s strip club calls Jesse’s “quest” arrogance. His ego is just as prevalent as he continues to tell people that he plans to find God and hold him accountable for abandoning heaven to walk the earth.
We’ve seen the power of Genesis on its own, but within Jesse, the power is focused and harnessed in less destructive ways. Though sending someone to hell, suggesting a man rip his heart from his chest, telling a Texas State Trooper to “mace your balls,” are far from pleasant, it’s not the same as leveling a whole town. Right?
Something about Jesse, specifically, keeps Genesis around. Its overseers were able to extract Genesis to its home in a coffee can by singing “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.” It wasn’t until they reneged on their promise to retrieve Eugene from Hell that Genesis got upset and chose to rejoin with Jesse. Genesis may have a mean streak, but it’s also half angel, and the two halves keep each other in check.
Jesse can wield the power of Genesis because they are perfect compliments to each other. The preacher at one point believed himself to be a righteous man who was doing God’s will in serving the people of Annville. Belief is what makes Genesis and Jesse so effective. With the promise of more comic book characters coming to the series, perhaps the series will also explore the Genesis/Jesse connection a bit deeper.
Preacher airs Monday nights on AMC.
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