The Preacher season 3 premiere finally introduced fans to the character of Marie L’Angelle, otherwise known as Jesse Custer’s Gran’ma. Played by veteran actor Betty Buckley (Split), Marie is a formidable presence unlike any seen on the series up to this point. The character has previously been introduced offscreen through flashbacks but she’s never commanded the screen in quite the way Buckley does. And given Marie's incredible skills and twisted connection to Jesse’s dark backstory, it seems as though the character is set to leave her mark on the series.
In the premiere, Marie announces herself in frightening fashion after learning her daughter bore a child and hid his existence from her. In a single scene the show demonstrates how swift and brutal Marie’s vengeance is for those who cross her — family or not — so when Jesse shows up asking for his gran’s help in bringing the recently deceased Tulip (Ruth Negga) back to life, it's a lot like Jesse’s making a bargain with the devil.
It’s important for the audience to feel that way, says Preacher showrunner Sam Catlin, who has been waiting for the moment the show could introduce Marie, as well as T.C. (Colin Cunningham) and Jody (Jeremy Childs). But make no mistake, as dangerous as those two are, this world the series is about to enter is run entirely by Gran’ma.
“Gran'ma has to feel like she's a worthy adversary to Jesse. She's the matriarch of this powerful southern corrupt family and it's needs to feel like this is Gran'ma's world that she runs and Betty just has that sort of natural presence and authority to her.”
Speaking with Screen Rant ahead of the season 3 premiere, Buckely offered up some insight into what’s motivating Marie, saying there’s more to the mysterious matriarch than meets the eye, and that she comes from place that’s just as dark, if not darker than her grandson.
“Well she really loves Jesse, but with her background, she has a worldview that is about honor and respect. She calls herself a healer and I think she believes she really is. She has all these skills, including the capacity to bring people back to life, for a price. She's like a voodoo cajun sorceress. She has these talents and skills that are honed and she’ll use them for a price, but if somebody cheats her or doesn't pay what they owe, then her revenge is merciless. [That] is learned behavior from her own childhood.
In her youth she was abused. Sam [Catlin] says she is probably hundreds of years old. We don't know exactly how old she is, but she doesn't want to grow old and she doesn't want to die. And since Jesse left her at 15, she’s needed him back. So when Jesse comes back to Angelville to request her help to save Tulip's life, she requires this blood oath from him again, so he's back in her clutches. It all makes sense to her. She's pretty evil without a doubt.”
Season 3 gets off to a fast start with ‘Angelville,’ which makes quick work of the introductions for Marie, T.C, and Jody. Those introductions aside, the show finds Jesse in a tight spot with the last people on Earth he wants to be indebted to. After facing rogue angels and the Saint of Killers, it looks like Preacher may have found a truly worthy adversary in an unlikely place.
Preacher continues next Sunday with ‘Sonsabitches’ @10pm on AMC.