[This article contains SPOILERS for AMC's Preacher.]
AMC's Preacher started strong, condensing a lot of hyper-violent material and peculiar characters into its pilot. Now, four episodes in, the action hasn’t slowed down too much, and audiences are starting to get a better picture of the nuances of the show (and its source material to a degree) – including the cast of bizarre and often-menacing characters we meet along the way.
Although audiences haven’t seen a whole lot of the man Odin Quincannon (played by Watchmen’s Jackie Earle Haley), they’ve come to understand his position in Annville as well as his disposition. As the owner/operator of Quincannon Meat and Power, he has his stubby little fingers in just about every piece of the town’s pie. His connections also run a bit deeper with the good Reverend Custer and his kinfolk.
So how did this pint-sized oddball come to dominate Annville? More importantly, how will he impact the life and times of Tulip, Cassidy, and Jesse?
The Meatman Cometh
Thus far, viewers have only been treated to brief moments of the man who owns Annville, so to speak. In the first episode, we meet the meat impresario by building alone. His ominous yet bland company headquarters is clearly the largest construct in town. It also turns out he’s the primary employer in the rustic burg, as well as a major property holder throuhgout the county.
Our first real look at the demented corporate overlord comes from his arrival, with his employees/thugs in tow, at a local homestead. After purchasing the land from some less-than-willing sellers, the decrepit bossman makes haste to demolish their house. Later, we catch Quincannon in his office, where he callously goads broken-armed Donnie Schenk (deftly portrayed by Derek Wilson) to pick up his tray one-handedly, while remarking about having a right-hand man "without a right hand."
The most telling (and disturbing) shot of the pint-sized meat baron shows him holed up in his office, listening to the intercom. As he turns up the volume, horrified viewers discover that, rather than Beethoven or Justin Bieber (sorry Cass, can’t get behind you on that one), Odin’s jamming out to a symphony of animal slaughter – and getting a thrill from it. Quite the charmer, indeed.
How Odin’s Changed over the Years
As readers of Vertigo Preacher series know, the minute meat mogul wasn’t a part of the original Annville narrative thread, which was barely a flyby in the comics. Odin and his (*ahem*) proclivities didn’t show up until issue 42, when the plot entered the revealing and perturbing Salvation story arc.
In the books, Odin Quincannon already has the town of Salvation in his grips long before Mr. Custer arrives. Sweeping into the relatively undeveloped county, the wealthy entrepreneur set up his massive Quincannon Meats operation. The size and scope of his venture alone dictates his prominence in the area, as he single-handedly employs the bulk of Salvation.
Quincannon pays off the local sheriff, fills the city and county official coffers, and pretty much keeps the local economy in his grips. His power also allows his goonish employees to dominate the township, as the greased palms of county law enforcement allow assaults and abuse to slip through the cracks. Quincannon is also deeply racist and has a direct connection to the local Ku Klux Klan, which he exploits during the story to little effect.
The show also delves (slightly) into his odd listening habits, which may hint at the flesh peddler’s disturbing fetish – something the AMC series may or may not broach in full (although Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg haven't shied away from perverse material in the past). Quincannon also employs an on-staff lawyer, Ms. Oatlish, who has an inclination towards rough trade and idolizes a revisionist Adolf Hitler, while being (oddly) less-racist than her boss.
At this point, though, it’s too early to tell if the legal eagle will show up, or how closely the meat mogul’s story trajectory will match up with his Vertigo counterpart. His role in Reverend Custer’s life, on the other hand, will in all likelihood, test the newfound do-gooder’s mettle.
The Meat Baron Meets the Preacher Man
In the Preacher graphic novels, Odin Quincannon and Jesse Custer have no prior relationship. This isn’t the case with AMC’s adaption, though. Rogen, Goldberg, and Catlin made Annville much more vital to the show, including retconning it to become Jesse and Tulip’s home, as well as Quincannon’s domain. The town also links Jesse and Odin to one another in the past.
“Monster Swamp” revealed that, in his time, Jesse’s preacher father attempted to bring Quincannon into his flock. At the close of the fourth episode, Odin was forcibly proselytized, via the Word, to return to godliness. The long-term effects and effectiveness of Custer’s ability (at least on the show) remain to be seen. However, Jesse is just beginning to understand the true power his Voice has over others – and its potentially unintended side-effects, a la poor Ted Reyerson (Brian Huskey). It remains to be seen how the congregation will react, but suffice to say, the word was only used once on Quincannon in the comics, and it worked quite well.
Even if the Rogen and team don’t adapt the story identically, the true meat of Quincannon, at least to Jesse Custer, is reordering his universe. In the comics, Jesse crosses paths with the meat purveyor during a time of deep soul searching, when his day has become night. Lost, he’s able to rediscover himself and his purpose while dealing with Quincannon and his travesties against Salvation (Annville).
What Comes Next for Odin Quincannon
Unsurprisingly, most of the villainous characters from the Preacher canon, with scant few exceptions, don’t exactly meet the happiest of endings. The meat maven of Salvation née Annville may not be in for a bright future overall, but unlike the Vertigo series, the precise future of Odin Quincannon is not yet written. Still, if a minor (if interesting) thug like Donnie Schenck managed to survive a surprisingly long time, at least compared to someone with his ill-disposition, in the comics, then Quincannon stands a chance at being around for a long time.
As such, it would be waste if Rogen, Goldberg, and Catlin dispensed with the pint-sized flesh purveyor before fully exploring this love-to-hate character. The AMC show’s story arc has already differentiated extensively from the comic book with regards to Quincannon, as with a number of other main characters. Since the show has unraveled significantly slower than its source comic – by necessity of stretching the comic book into multi-season episodic programming – his story should include a number of interesting twists and turns.
In all likelihood, Quincannon will be the primary villain this season, though. Which is significant in the long run, because on a show which enjoys blurring the line between right and wrong, the big baddie really needs to be twisted.
Preacher side note:
In case you were wondering: Quincannon bears no connection to the creepy, snuff-film watching gent in the red and white garb first witnessed in “The Possibilities” (at least in the comics). The man, who receives a “Grail Industries” map, is in all likelihood, be a member of a top-secret organization called the Grail. In the Vertigo series, the Grail protects the bloodline of Christ, and do so in the vicious, underhanded way expected from a clandestine puppet organization. The clip was probably our first look at Herr Starr, the right-hand man of the shadowy international cabal. Stay tuned for more about the Grail in the upcoming weeks.
The next episode of Preacher, 'South Will Rise Again,' airs Sunday, June 26, 2016 on AMC.