[This is a review of Banshee season 2, episode 6. There will be SPOILERS.]

After last week’s stylish detour took Hood and Carrie on the long way around both their fractured history and their uncertain future, Banshee is back in, well…Banshee, doing what it does best: serving up a new adversary for Hood, and guaranteeing someone is going to get punched in the face.

It’s a return to the direct narrative that is actually from John Romano and Babek Najafi, the writing and directing duo who concocted the still resonant ‘The Truth About Unicorns,’ which now demonstrates their proficiency with storytelling extends to the brutal physicality of the series, as well as the harsh emotional stakes that sometimes feel overshadowed by the displays explicit of violence.

What’s interesting about ‘Armies of One’ – and all of Banshee season 2, for that matter – is the way it attempts to balance the brutality with the idea that Hood isn’t just playing sheriff for the sake of getting close to Carrie. When the Portland gangster Quentin (Andrew Howard) blows into town to collect Jason (Harrison Thomas) and return him to the drug dealer he ripped off, his conversation with Hood about “men like us” winds up having as much of an impact as any of the punches either man manages to land.

This season, Hood’s been on something of an existential rollercoaster – especially after the fever dream that was ‘Unicorns’ – that has him questioning who he is becoming and whether or not he really can change. The fact that his real identity remains obscured makes the idea of Lucas Hood not just a cover identity, but also something of a blank slate, a nonentity who can be molded into whatever he needs to be.

As Hood, our man has done some good around Banshee; sure, a lot of it has also caused some extreme property damage and resulted in the death of many an individual, but some extracurricular thieving aside, the man who would be Lucas Hood is, in fact, changing. This is evident in the way he almost instinctively protects Jason – first offering up his fighting skills and then his money to keep a young man he hardly knows from harm – and later during his conversation with Siobhan, which reveals Hood’s not too sure he wants to go back to being whoever he was before.

While ‘Armies of One’ will be most easily remembered for the fight Hood and Quentin get into, rolling around in front of and under several passing eighteen wheelers on a not-so-lonesome stretch of highway, the episode carries with it an interesting thematic core that revolves around the idea of change. For someone like Carrie, she’s already undergone her transformation; it happened when she became a mother, and, to a certain extent, it happened again when her relationship to Rabbit was revealed.

Meanwhile, there’s Proctor, whose increasingly bizarre relationship with his niece Rebecca results in the unexpected death of Jason Hood. The suggestion here is that men like him, Alex Longshadow, and the recently decapitated Quentin – and, of course, Rabbit – are not merely uninterested in change, they’re also incapable of it.

Hood, meanwhile, seems to wrestle with the implications of his continued use of violence. He may not be ready to swear off thieving or throwing the first punch, but he may be on the verge of using those talents toward a better end. Finding out that Brock Lotus is spying on him, and that the diamonds he served 15 years for were nothing more than worthless chunks of glass, may wind up staying his decision to change, however.

Banshee continues next Friday with ‘Ways to Bury a Man’ @10pm on Cinemax.

Photos: Gregory Shummon/Cinemax