Pilot Recap

Outer Space

A baby cries and a glowing object streaks through space. It finally slams into Earth

In Africa, a preacher tells his congregation that the light and darkness are fighting again, and it is written that a prophet will come. The door blasts open, slamming the preacher to the ground. His eyes open after a moment, and the congregation cheers and says that it's a miracle. The preacher stands up and tells them to be quiet. Everyone does, and the creature possessing the preacher says that he is the chosen one... and then the preacher explodes. The congregation runs out, screaming, and behind them something smashes out of the church.

A preacher, Jesse Custer, gets up from his bed and gets dressed. He walks to his rural church, the All Saints Congregational, in the towns of Annville, Texas. Later, Jesse stumbles through a sermon to a disinterested congregation, and afterward everyone gathers for a picnic. Jesse talks with Ted Reyerson and advises him to be honest with his mother when she interrupts him at dinner. The preacher finally cuts him short to talk to a boy, Chris, who has brought him a beer. Chris says that it's about his dad, Donnie Schenck. He says that he doesn't like Donnie because he's mean, and Jesse sees Donnie twisting his wife Betsy's arm. Chris asks Jesse to hurt Donnie, and Jesse points out that it's a sin just to ask. The boy says that Donnie has it coming, and when Jesse chuckles, Chris tells him not to laugh. He says that he's heard that before Jesse became a preacher, he did things. Jesse tells Chris to bring him a beer and maybe he'll do them, and asks Chris how far he should go. He warns that Donnie will fight back and his buddies will want to help out, and Jesse will need to defend himself. Things will escalate, and violence makes violence, and finally makes nothing much at all. Jesse asks if Chris wants that, and Chris stares at him in shock. Jesse says that he might be able to help but doesn't know what, and Chris tells him to pray for him before walking off.

That night, everyone gathers to unveil the high school's new politically correct mascot. Jesse is there and finally goes to his truck to take a drink. Sheriff Hugo Root comes over and warns that they can't get rid of beloved cultural icons, and asks Jesse to stop by and visit Eugene. Jesse says that Donnie is abusing his wife, and Hugo says that he'll listen to a formal complaint. When Jesse mildly objects, Hugo admits that he was a bit uneasy when he heard Jesse was coming back. But Jesse has been quiet, and Hugo is fine with Jesse being back.

30,000 Feet Up

On a plane, businessmen are partying on a private plane. The bartender, Cassidy, is talking with them and steps away to go the bathroom. He finds a bible in the drawer and thumbs through it, and discovers someone has scribbled on the pages, talking about wrath as love. Cassidy looks at himself in the mirror and smiles, and then goes back. He sees the sun out the window and wonders why they're heading that direction. But then shrugs it off. Cassidy then attacks the businessmen, who grab weapons and attack him. He defends himself, killing them all. The pilot runs out and Cassidy throws a bottle into his chest. The officer calls Cassidy an abomination and pours holy water on him. Cassidy shrugs it off, asks when they'll earn, and rips out the officer's throat with his teeth. As the alarms go off, Cassidy pours himself a drink from the bottle in the pilot's chest, opens the outside door, grabs an umbrella, and throws himself out of the plane.

Jesse is eating at the diner with Emily Woodrow, and Ted is still complaining to him about his mother. Jesse tells him to be honest with him again, and the manager Gary comes over to complain that he has to seat people. Once he leaves, Emily and Jesse discuss church business. A man, Miles, comes over and tries to make conversation. Emily says that they're discussing business. Once Miles leaves, Jesse points out that it's three years since Kevin has died, and Emily can make herself available. She insists that she is but clearly isn't convinced.

In Africa, two men pull up to the now-abandoned church and go inside.

Jesse drives to Walter's house and finds him passed out on the couch. He goes to find Walter a shirt and sees a gun on the dresser. There's a woman singing in the shower, and Jesse quickly leaves. The woman comes out of the shower and watches Jesse go, and starts singing gently to herself.

Kansas: Not That Long Ago

A woman, Tulip O'Hare, is driving down the road and a man grabs her from the rear seat. The car goes into a cornfield and she grabs a knife. They struggle and the man tries to drive the knife into her throat. Tulip knocks it away, pulls the man down, and bites his ear. She then gets back into the front and gets control of the car, and drives out of the cornfield and brakes to a stop. Tulip then gets the man out of the car and kills her attacker with an ear of car. Two children come out from the nearby farmhouse and think it was awesome. Tulip explains that the killer was a bad guy and asks if their parents are there, just as Tulip's cellphone goes off with an ETA of 20 minutes. She sees some cans and gasoline nearby, and leads the children inside. Tulip says that more bad guys are coming and pours the corn shine into the taped-together cans. They suggest that she call the police, but Tulip says that they wouldn't help. She puts some chains in the cans and tapes them in a row, and explains that's how to make a bazooka.

Tulip has the children hide in the cellar and locks them in as a helicopter comes down. There are gunshots and explosions. Once the noise dies down, the children go up and find corpses everywhere. Tulip is getting into her car and apologizes for the mess, gives the children her name, and drives off.

Jesse dozes off in his truck and remembers his father making him promise before he dies. The preacher then goes into a building.

Cassidy wakes up in a crater and is upset to discover that he's been splattered apart by the impact. A cow comes over and looks down for him, and Cassidy bites the cow and drags it down.

Jesse meets with Betsy Schenck and admits that he's been asking parishioners for money. She says that Donnie is out of town and doing fine, and Jesse suggests that she should tell him if Donnie hurts her. Betsy says that Donnie beats her all the time. He asks if she could tell Hugo the same thing, and Betsy says that she doesn’t want trouble. She insists that Jesse doesn't understand what's going on with her and Donnie, and she likes it. Jesse doesn't believe it, but Betsy insists.


Two men arrive at a church where the parishioners are saying that the Magister was leading them in worship when he exploded. They go inside and close the door behind them.

Jesse drives out of Annville and meets with Tulip. She thanks him for checking on Walter and offers to tell him about a job. Jesse insists that he's not doing jobs anymore, and tulip says that it isn't any old gig. He doesn't believe her, but Tulip figures that he doesn't miss it. Jesse says that he did, and insists that the preaching thing is working good. She doesn't believe him, and figures Jesse came back to Annville to fillhis daddy's shoes. They both say they're sorry, and Tulip says that they are who they are and she's done crying about it. Jesse insists that he's not doing it, and Tulip says that something will happen if he doesn't. The preacher goes back to his car, and Tulip calls after him that they are who they are as he drives away.

Later, Jesse goes to Hugo's house in response to Eugene wanting to see him. Hugo blends his son's dinner and gives it to Jesse, and Jesse goes up to Eugene's room. A deformed Eugene, whose mouth is all but sealed shut, invites Jesse in. He drinks his supper through a straw, and says that he hasn't been to church because Hugo figures he'd be a distraction. Eugen figures that God doesn't want him there because he's mad at him. Jesse admits that what Eugene did was wrong, but the boy confirms that he's sorry about it and says that God forgives him. Eugene says that he used to pray to God and would hear him, but now God doesn't talk to him. Jesse assures him no matter what someone does, God has to be there for them. He assures Eugene that if someone prays then God will say something. Relieved, Eugene hugs him.

Jesse goes to a bar to drink, and the news is running a story about an explosion at a Church of Scientology. Cassidy comes in and asks for a bottle of 10-year-old whiskey. As he takes a drink from the bottle, Jesse looks over at him. Cassidy ask where he is but Jesse can't tell what he's saying and the newcomer moves on. Donnie and his friends come in, dressed as Civil War soldiers from a local reenactment, and Donnie punches Jesse. Furious, he says that no one talks to Betsy without talking to him first. He invites Jesse to show them what a tough guy he is.

Cassidy is on the phone telling the man at the other end that he doesn't know how they keep finding him. The man tells him to hold up and lie low, and hangs up.

Donnie tells the bar patrons not to believe what they hear, and says that he knows who told Jesse what is going on. As he goes off to deal with Chris, Jesse tells Donnie not to touch him. The preacher stands up and repeats himself, and tells Donnie not to do it. Donnie asks what Jesse is going to do if he doesn't listen, and Jesse says that he'd hear a noise and Donnie will be the one making it. Unimpressed, Donnie takes his jacket off and throws a punch at Jesse, who easily blocks it, breaks a bottle over his head, and takes him down. Donnie's friends charge over and Jesse takes them out as well. Cassidy comes back and knocks out one of them. Jesse then goes over to Donnie and asks if he's ready for the noise now. Hugo comes in and tells Jesse that's enough, but Jesse breaks Donnie's arm.

Later, Jesse and Cassidy are locked up in the same cell. Jesse admits that he's a lousy preacher, and that Tulip was right about saying he should never have come back there. Cassidy wants to hear about Jesse's story, and Jesse says that he broke a promise a thousand times. Unimpressed, Cassidy says that the world could do with less faith, and says that he has no hope in the world. Emily posts Jesse's bail, and he thanks Cassidy for his help before he goes.

Emily drives Jesse to the church and he tells her that he's quitting. He thought he could make it work but he is who he is. Jesse thanks Emily for everything that she's done, and then gets out. Emily tells him that she's not going to beg him to stay because he was never really there, so his leaving won't make a difference.

As Jesse lights up a cigarette, Ted calls and complains about his mother. Jesse hears something slamming in the church, tells Ted that he has to call him back, and goes inside. The lights are out but no one seems to be there. Jesse sits down on a pew and prays to God and demands an answer or that's it. He drops to his knees and asks God to forgive him. There's no answer, and Jesse sits back down and lights a cigarette. The door creaks open behind him, and an invisible force moves down the aisle, crying like a baby. It slams into Jesse, throwing him back against the altar.

Jesse remembers his father telling him that much bigger things are coming for him, so Jesse has to be one of the good guys. Crying, Jesse promises and his father says to stop because Custers fight, they don't cry. Then someone shoots him.

Three days later, Jesse wakes up in bed and Emily says that they figured Jesse was okay once his fever broke. Cassidy is in the attic cursing at the air conditioner, and Emily says that Cassidy came around to check on Jesse and found him passed out. She explains that Cassidy moved in and is working as a handyman, and she didn’t cancel the service because she knew Jesse wanted to announce that he was leaving. Jesse gets dressed and Emily goes to set out the programs.

As Jesse walks to the church, Ted comes up and Jesse tells him that it isn't the time. Ted goes on about his issues, and Jesse tells him to be brave and tells his mother the truth. Ted stares at him and repeat the words, and then smiles and runs off. Jesse hears something echoing in the air, but nobody else does.

As a local performs on the electrical guitar, Tulip comes in and sits down. Cassidy is in the back and looks at her with interest. Jesse goes to the podium and says that there's no sermon. Donnie and his family are in the congregation, and Jesse says that he's let everyone down. He admits that he's a bad preacher, and figures that apologizing doesn't help anything. Jesse looks out at everyone staring at him, and then says that he can't quit because he's been quitting on everyone and everything for far too long. He tells the congregation that they deserve a good preacher and that's what they're going to get. Jesse is going to fight and pray for the sinner, and offer peace for the restless.

Bullies pick on Eugene.

Tulip paints her toenails.

Cassidy drinks and holds his hand out into the sunshine, and watches it burn.

Jesse says that he's going to speak forth the word of God.

Ted flies to Florida to see his mother, repeating Jesse's words. He arrives at her retirement home and tells his mother that he would appreciate it if she'd stop calling to criticize him. Ted asks her to treat him with some kindness and consideration. He then takes out a knife and opens his heart to her... by cutting it out of his chest and putting it on the table in front of her.

Jesse says that he is that preacher and that is why he's come home... to save them.

The two men, Fiore and DeBlanc, park outside of Annville. As Fiore eats the teabag in his cup, DeBlanc comes over and tells his partner that it's there. Fiore gets out of the car and they look at the road leading to the church.

Written by Gadfly on May 23, 2016