WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the Season 4, Episode 4 of Preacher, "Search and Rescue," which aired Sunday on AMC.
Despite all its crass humor and gory violence, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Vertigo comics series Preacher was sensitive to the emotional heft of the relationship between its three lead protagonists. The love triangle involving Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy grew into a huge point of contention and lead to some melodramatic confrontations that helped define the comic series. This is also true for AMC’s adaptation, but the drama it spawns is very different, especially in terms of who comes out on top, as exemplified third episode of Preacher’s final season, “Search and Rescue."
Cassidy is not a good dude. He’s not even technically a dude; he’s literally a monster. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still find humanity in him. There is a charm to the character in both the comics and on the show that is undeniable. When he interacts with Jesse or Tulip, we see how genuine his compassion for them is, even when one of them is at the verge of punching Cass in the face. In the source material, Cassidy isn’t the only charming rogue to lead the series. Jesse is equally charming, but he has a warmth and sense of justice that his vampire pal doesn’t possess. And while they are best friends, this dichotomy is what drives them apart for a time.
The show handles things much differently. Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) isn’t as charming or kind or compassionate is his comic book counterpart. He’s far more brooding, violent and sadistic. His heart is blackened. Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), on the other hand, has a kind soul, and we see his compassion bubble to the surface whenever he’s near his would-be paramour, Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga). Cassidy’s love-verging-on-obsession of Tulip is exemplified in “Search and Rescue,” when she finally breaches The Grail’s compound to rescue Cassidy.
Tulip’s determination to break Cass out is as palpable as his infatuation with her. There is a moment in the episode where the two of them lock eyes and despite the fact members of the Grail are restraining them both, hope blooms in the hearts of the damned. It’s one of the truly non-cynical things AMC’s Preacher has ever done. There was no follow up gross out gag to undercut the emotional weight. The show seems to know that, unlike the comic book, maybe Tulip and Cassidy are meant for each other.
Ennis and Dillon’s series drew a pretty thick line in the sand on the subject. From the get get-go, it was forgone conclusion that Jesse and Tulip would end up in each other’s arms, despite the winding roads they traveled. Cass and Tulip were romantically involved with one another in the source material as well, but it was far from picturesque. The pair starting getting intimate after the presumed death of Jesse, and instead of a healthy, budding relationship, things played out more like a bizarre Stockholm Syndrome situation, with Tulip dulling the pain of losing her beloved with drugs and alcohol and settling for the person closest to her, who happened to be Cassidy.
It was a bad situation that wasn’t fair to any of the parties involved. The show, however, paints Tulip and Cassidy’s budding romance with more heart. While the two of them were intimate in Season 1, it felt very one-sided, with Tulip using Cass in the moment. The unlucky vamp, of course, felt much differently. In the show, Cassidy truly loves Tulip in as much as he can love anyone (including Jesse). In the moment from “Search and Rescue” where these two see one another again, the look on Tulip’s face hints at the fact that she Cassidy’s infatuation might just be reciprocated, which could lead to a very different resolution for that love triangle than in the comics.
Airing Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on AMC, Preacher stars Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, Ruth Negga as Tulip and Joe Gilgun as Cassidy the Vampire, Pip Torrens as Herr Starr, Malcolm Barrett as Hoover and Julie Ann Emery as Featherstone.