[This is a review of Banshee season 3, episode 2. There will be SPOILERS.]
Not long after she shoots the kneecaps off the mouthy son of a drug dealer who gained a foothold in Kai Proctor's narcotics territory, a somewhat shaken Rebecca is told by her uncle to "finish what you started." Despite the blood that has already been spilled, the scene ends with Proctor's niece locking eyes with him as she pitilessly ends the life of the man who couldn't finish what he'd stared. The events play out in the early part of 'Snakes and Whatnot,' allowing Proctor's demand to sink in and be carried across the other threads in another taut and engaging episode of Banshee.
If you think about it, the idea of finishing what you started takes on a whole new connotation to people used to making their living as thieves. The basic idea behind the average heist, bank robbery, or simple smash and grab is to literally finish what you've started by vacating the premises immediately.
That's nothing new to Hood, Carrie, Job, and now Sugar. The only trouble is (for basically everyone but Job) their lives have become exponentially more complicated now that they've inadvertently created lives for themselves. As such, the trade-off of letting stability take root is: once they've started something, finishing it is no longer as easy as running far away and finding a place to hide.
Then again, that hasn't exactly worked either. If anything, running away and finding a place to hide is what got Carrie into her current predicament. Pregnant and on the lam, she had no choice but to wrap herself in the seemingly benign robes of motherhood and quiet domesticity. But with so many threads left dangling, Carrie's untidy past came back to haunt her, and now she's paying the price, having dragged her ex-husband and daughter through the mud of her unfinished business.
The same goes for Hood. He and Carrie may have succeeded in closing the book on Rabbit, but in doing so wound up with more dangling threads than a pair of tacky cut-offs. With Deva exposed to the truth that he was her father, Hood suddenly had another reason to stick around Banshee for a while longer.
But the complications didn't stop there. Last season, Banshee's resident counterfeit sheriff wondered if he couldn't refashion himself into an actual lawman, or the closest thing to it (with plenty of unlawful action on the side, mind you), and he used Proctor as his first major test. Throw in an increasingly serious workplace relationship with Siobhan, and Hood suddenly has more on his plate than you'd expect from a guy who spent the last 15 years in prison.
To that end, 'Snakes and Whatnot' is chock-full of characters faced with the weight of finishing what they started – or, at the very least, being asked to contemplate the potential consequences of engaging in any sort of decisive action. And there's no more decisive action than Chayton Littlestone sending two of his men to Proctor's as the first salvo in the war he plans to wage on...well, everyone.
When both of Chayton's men bite off more than they can chew with the feistier than expected Rebecca and the decidedly un-butler-y presence of the inimitable manservant Clay Burton (Alfred Pennyworth, watch out), the first battle in this conflict decidedly ends in Kai's favor.
As with everything on Banshee, it's not the action that puts people on edge; it's the anticipation of the inevitable reaction. By making the first move, Chayton ensures he has Kai and Hood's attention. And their response, like Hood and Billy Raven (Chaske Spencer) storming the reservation and failing to make friends with Meaghan Rath's Amy King is likely to beget an even louder response from the well-armed Redbone army hiding out in the woods.
Perhaps that's what has made these first two episodes of Banshee stand out. After two seasons of turning up the volume on the outrageousness – made complete with the rage-fueled squirrel crushing by the one and only Ben Cross – the opening of season 3 feels as though the open bar has suddenly become cash only, and everyone's rethinking their choices now that they have to pay (or have paid, in Carrie's case). The introduction of consequences greater than the threat of death is an attention-grabbing tonal shift for a show that has gleefully played fast and loose with everything from sex and violence to how far it can stretch the audience's suspension of disbelief.
As a result, 'Snakes and Whatnot' walks a fine line between everything Banshee does well and trying something a little different. So far, it's paid off. Even though Hood's real name remains a secret, his motivations are clearer now than ever (and they're about more than the unwashed bills in Col. Stowe's vault in Camp Genoa).
The same goes for the rest of the cast, as the show brings back familiar faces like Odette Annabelle as Nola Longshadow. The distinct wants and internal conflicts that arise from each of these characters makes the show about so much more than the wants of its compelling protagonist. And that's worth caring about, whether or not these characters succeed in finishing what they've started.
Banshee continues next Friday with 'A Fixer of Sorts' @10pm on Cinemax.
Photos: Gregory Summon/Cinemax