Fans of Preacher need not pay much attention to one of the recurring jokes in the series, so far: The letters on the sign outside of Jesse Custer’s church are re-arranged on most weeks to spell out something profane.
For instance, this sign:
Was changed to this sign:
Here are all the rest of the examples of this through the first six episodes of the AMC series.
There’s another recurring motif in the series, as well. At first, I thought it might have been another joke-y Easter Egg, but now I’m beginning to believe there may be something more to it.
Here’s why: Sam Catlin is the showrunner on Preacher. The name may not immediately ring any bells, but Sam Catlin was also a writer and executive producer on Breaking Bad, joining the series in season two. Fans of Breaking Bad may recall that the second season began thusly:
I don’t know if Catlin himself came up with the Pink Teddy Bear motif, but I do know that Catlin wrote a few of the episodes in which the pink teddy bear appeared, including the teddy bear’s last confirmed appearance, season five’s “Rabid Dog,” which Catlin also directed.
The pink teddy bear, however, was more than just a fun Easter Egg. Even Vince Gilligan admitted there was some symbolism to the eye of the bear, and other critics have noted that the bear represents a “symbol for the damage Walter White feels responsible for.”
What we know is that the pink teddy bear stood for something ominous, and that Sam Catlin was both familiar with it and may have also been at least partially responsible for it. It’s the kind of recurring motif a smart guy like Catlin might reproduce in another show.
Enter the Annville, Texas mascot war. In the pilot episode of Preacher, one of the very first things we see is this sign:
Like the teddy bear in the second season of Breaking Bad, this mascot war is framing the season. Here we see that Pedro the Prairie Dog has replaced the politically incorrect Chief Savage as the Annville High School mascot. One might not think much of that but for the fact that the two mascots reappear several times throughout the series. Here are the two mascots fighting in the pilot episode (and this image also makes it into the opening title sequence).
The battle between the two even extends to yard-sign wars:
There’s something going on here. Some people have noticed that the Prairie Dog often appears– if only for the briefest of glimpses — in the strangest of places, like the brothel:
Before the prostitute falls into a sinkhole and dies, the Prairie Dog can also be seen walking alone in the dark streets of Annville.
Blink and you’ll miss it, but the Prairie Dog can also be spotted walking on the street while Jesse and Eugene are driving around in the fifth episode.
It’s not just the Prairie Dog that recurs, however. It’s also Chief Savage. Here he is on Tracy Loach’s bedroom wall:
Here he is again in plain sight: On Cassidy’s T-shirt.
After recurring that many times — which is more than the pink teddy bear in the second season of Breaking Bad — we can safely assume there’s meaning attached.
I think the mascots probably represent something ominous, but here’s a more specific possibility: Prairie dogs themselves are burrowing rodents and believe it or not, they have been blamed for creating sinkholes. Remember that little Chinatown problem facing Odin Quincannon after one of the prostitutes fell into a sinkhole and died? Remember why Miles Person encouraged Odin to partner with Green Acre Group? To deal with its soil sustainability problem.
Dollars to donuts it was prairie dogs who are causing the sinkholes on Quincannon’s property. It’s precisely the kind of Vince Gilligan-like Easter Egg that would pay off in a big way in the season finale.