Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer in AMC’s Preacher. Image: Lewis Jacobs/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

The best thing about the first four episodes of AMC’s new show Preacher is how badly you want more episodes of Preacher when they’re over. We’ve got a spoiler-free review of them, along with our first impressions of AMC’s upcoming series, based on the comic book by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. Long story short? Get excited.

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Preacher the comic book is about a man of faith who becomes possessed by a power that allows him to make people do what he says. He and his friends then set off on the road to literally find God, who has gone missing. It’s an odd premise for a story, but the TV show knows it’s weird, and wisely lets the audience connect to the characters before those characters can start disconnecting from the real world.

The pilot episode starts very big. The first shots of the series are crucial to the entire premise of the show but seem very out of place to what happens next. That’s when we meet a mysterious but charming preacher named Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) who is doing his best at a small parish in Annville, Texas. Jesse’s got a troubled past, one some people know about, but we aren’t quite sure of yet. A big part of that past is his ex-girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga), an unstoppable, but kind of evil, assassin. Then there’s an Irish vampire named Cassidy (Joe Gilgun), who finds his way into the mix in a very over-the-top set of circumstances. In the pilot, we get just the start of all of their stories and eventually, their intros circle back to the beginning, giving us the shocking basis for what Preacher will be all about.

Cassidy, Jesse and Tulip. Image: Matthias Clamer/AMC

In the first four episodes of the show, that’s basically the formula. Something big and weird happens near the front of the episode, things then get taken down a notch, and then stay nice and grounded... until everything is flipped on its head. That doesn’t always mean the show relies on a shocking cliffhanger all the time, but each episode is filled with surprising and enticing layers both to the fantastical religious subplot and the intricate characters of Annville.

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After seeing the first four episodes, it’s clear that what works best about Preacher is how the tone of the show, mixing weird and real, provides just the right mix of unease. It opens the audience up to just about anything, so it’s okay when a few characters reveal they’re not of this world. It’s okay this Jesse gets an immense, God-like power. It’s okay that there’s a vampire. It’s very much comic book stuff, but Preacher embraces it, so that as weird as things get, they never feel silly. And as you settle into that balance, with each passing minute, you want to see more of the show’s crazy originality... like an extended action scene featuring a renegade chainsaw. Or the show suddenly shifting 400 years into the past, out of nowhere.

Preacher expertly keeps you on the edge of your seat with interesting characters, mysterious storylines, and batshit insanity, and ties it all together in one (please pardon the pun) hell of a show. The first episode premieres on May 22 on AMC, and after a week off the show continues in June. Based on what we’ve seen so far, you absolutely won’t want to miss it.