[This is a review of Banshee season 3, episode 9. There will be SPOILERS.]
If there’s one thing that Banshee has established about itself, it is that the show is capable of shifting its identity about as quickly and easily as any of its main characters do. So far this season, the series has shifted from surreal action and bloody violence to elegiac questions of “What if?” with great ease and fluidity. So when an episode like ‘Even God Doesn’t Know What to Make of You’ opens up with a bloody Kai Proctor on a dirty gymnasium floor (that was presumably once the proud home of the Eastern Banshee Bucks), it isn’t too much of a stretch to think that the story is going to veer considerably from such a dramatic starting point.
And if there’s another thing that viewers of Banshee know about the show by now, it’s that this is the kind of program where a man having his nose bitten off is of such trifling concern, he only briefly complains that a chunk of his face was forcibly removed by the individual he was torturing, and then returns a few minutes later with a single bandage covering the hole in his face. The wound is never mentioned again.
With this knowledge at the audience’s disposal, then, it’s easy to see why, after the last few weeks of mourning, foot chases, brazen multi-million dollar heists, and trips to the bayou to finish off a cop killer in one of the most intense displays of violence ever to grace television screens, Banshee might want to take a moment or two before jumping right back into the proverbial fire. Because with a show like this, there’s always something ready to burn.
As such, although the penultimate episode of season 3 ultimately concerns Col. Stowe’s efforts to get revenge on and restitution from those who stole his $6 million, the episode is mostly concerned with the idea of a reexamination of relationships. That means taking a look back to the time when Job first met the man who would become Lucas Hood, and figuring out exactly what’s going on between Carrie and Gordon. But it also means establishing a thread for Deputy Bunker to confront his dark past, while seeing how Kai responds to the near death experience he has at the hands of Frasier and his goons.
For a show that’s as kinetic and larger than life as Banshee is, it’s almost hard to believe how well it handles the human-sized moments that make its characters so rich and rewarding. The benefit of this is that moments like the one between Carrie and Gordon, where they discuss whether or not they actually want to get a divorce, tend to carry as much weight as Kai’s monologue about foolishly thinking he’d felt God’s grace in the wake of his mother’s death. Even though the scenes feature a thief turned waitress and an Amish man turned vicious drug dealer, their essences can be boiled down to the same basic idea: believing one thing to be certain, only to realize the opposite is true.
The power of Kai’s rebirth lies in how he comes of it through his own decisive action. He’s not helped by Hood, and by the time Burton does his best Jack Nicholson on the gymnasium door, Frasier’s goons have all been kneecapped and are waiting their chance to go out in an inauspicious of blaze of glory. But the change isn’t complete until Kai renounces the last vestiges of his faith, burning his mother’s embroidered handkerchief along with Frasier’s men, and ends things with Emily – much to the approval of Rebecca, it seems.
The notion of rebirth ties in nicely to the flashback that goes so far into the past, Hood wasn’t yet sporting his signature beard (much less a bandage that never seems to come off), and Job was rocking long hair and a grunge motif that’s a striking departure from the otherwise chic ensembles he pulls off today.
While the scene goes stylish on the violence, choosing an iconic, slow motion shot of Hood John Woo-ing a pair of handguns right into eye of the viewer, it does so to the benefit of building intrigue. The sequence isn’t shy about dropping a few references to Hood’s seeming indestructibility, or about his past employer, Dalton, whom Job made the mistake of working with. Moreover, the scene obviously predates Hood’s days working for Rabbit, meaning his relationship with Job is arguably one of the longest he’s ever had. As we see here, Job’s the man who made Hood the Man With No Name, and the threat of a relationship of that magnitude coming to an end – as Job suggests it has – feels all the more traumatic.
But aside from Banshee being one of the few series on television that knows how to use a flashback properly, it also knows how to set up one hell of a cliffhanger. Between Stowe’s Damon Lindelof-looking right hand man Leo (Dennis Flanagan) revealing that Job isn’t just some hacker, he’s “the hacker” and the swift, brutal fashion in which Sugar and Carrie are dealt with, it seems the season 3 finale is building toward something much larger than just the showdown between Hood and Stowe. It seems as though the series is setting up bigger things for Banshee’s resident hacker and his nameless friend.
Banshee season 3 will conclude next Friday with ‘We All Pay Eventually’ @10pm on Cinemax.
Photos: Gregory Shummon/Cinemax
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