Banshee episode 8 review: We Shall Live Forever

Review James Stansfield 17 Jun 2013 - 23:30

Banshee's latest is a blood-soaked, emotionally heavy instalment that fills in many of the blanks about Ana's past...

This review contains spoilers.

1.8 We Shall Live Forever

Most weeks on Banshee, we’re treated to an opening scene before the titles roll, often as an indication of what to expect. We Shall Live Forever goes straight into the mixture of ever-changing snapshots and end-of-the-world guitar riffs, which seems a little odd. Once this hour is up though, you realise that it would have been very difficult to choose an appropriate opening to indicate the emotional draining that was about to occur. 

This instalment picks up where we left off in Behold a Pale Rider, with Lucas Hood and Ana/Carrie Hopewell enjoying their moment of blissful happiness. This isn’t just so Banshee can squeeze in another sex scene between its two leads but rather to reinforce the pinnacle that it represents for the characters, and to contrast with what is coming for them, because no sooner is Ana pulling her clothes back on than the descent begins.

Despite Hood’s heart-on-sleeve style pleading, Ana is insistent that the previous evening’s shenanigans were their way of saying goodbye, a form of closure on their relationship that they never achieved. With only a sheet to cover his modesty, Hood looks crushed. The power that Ana holds over him is immense.

During this week’s titles, Ivana Milicevic’s name was shown alongside pictures of a woman wearing different masks. This foreshadowed the ensuing conversation as Hood desperately tries to convince Ana that Carrie Hopewell is her disguise, not who she is. Ana disagrees and retreats behind her family shield, leading to the reveal what we’ve suspected since episode one. 

“She’s yours”. At last, the confirmation behind the true paternity of Deva Hopewell, forced out of Ana by Hood. As she begins to slip through his fingers, Lucas goes for a pretty low blow, getting Ana to admit that the family she so wants to protect is a lie, just like her Carrie alter ego. It’s a measure of how hurt Hood is at this moment that’s he risking pulling at Ana’s most volatile thread, but he’s also ingratiating himself into the situation she holds so dear. If family is what means the world to Ana, then she will never be able to truly say goodbye to him. 

Last week I noted that Banshee’s writers, Jonathan Tropper and David Schickler, had astutely pre-empted what their viewers may be thinking and worked it into their dialogue. For weeks we’ve assumed that we were one step ahead of Lucas Hood in the knowledge of Deva’s true father, and that it would rock the Sheriff when revealed. We should not have been so presumptuous about a man like Hood though, as he greets the news with an “I knew she was mine the moment I saw her.” It’s another great moment from Banshee that takes what we’ve been expecting and turns it on its head. 

This is a whirlwind scene between Ivana Milicevic and Anthony Starr. A great deal of Ana’s history is filled in during these few minutes regarding how she became Carrie Hopewell. Ana is such a conflicted character that it must be murder to be inside her head. Did she hope that this bunk-up was going to send Hood on his merry way? She even hopes that the confirmation that he has a daughter who he is endangering by staying in town (though her saying that after he’s got her out of trouble several times now seems a little hypocritical) will persuade him to now leave, and when that fails she tells Hood “If you don’t (leave), I’ll kill you myself.” 

Ana’s dramatic exit from Hood’s apartment doesn’t get her very far as no sooner is she out the door than she runs into her father’s associate Olek, who arrived in town at the end of last episode, and who tries to stuff her in the boot of his car. Thankfully Lucas Hood is having none of it. In case of emergency, break glass, which is precisely what Hood does when he caves in Olek’s car window. 

Banshee continues with the theme of an outsider arriving to cause problems each week, and Olek isn’t a disappointment on that front. The character has a distinct influence from the world of video games as he appears to be Niko Bellic, walked straight out of Grand Theft Auto IV. We’ve seen Banshee draw plenty of influence from other pop culture, in particular comic books, and now it taps into the world of gaming too, though its fight scenes have often whirled with the great feats of beat ‘em ups. 

The central action of Banshee is taken up with Hood, Ana and Olek this week but there’s also a couple of side stories running too. Lili Simmons returns this week as the wild, but directionless Rebecca Bowman. Her family has discovered her distinctly un-Amish ways and the bell is tolling for Rebecca, and her time at the homestead. Rebecca initially turns to the only person she thinks may understand her situation, her uncle, Kai Proctor. 

Proctor tells Rebecca how he came to be exiled from their family. It’s a scene reminiscent of their first one together back in episode three with the conclusion that “I guess I wasn’t built for contrition.” As Rebecca surveys all that Kai has achieved without his family – the house, the swimming pool – she appears like an alien amongst new surroundings but with a look that reads “Why wouldn’t I choose this life?” That said, Proctor’s creepy sidekick, Clay Burton, watching you take a dip might put you off a bit. Is that a note of jealousy on Burton’s face? 

Meanwhile Ana’s husband, Gordon Hopewell, has discovered that his wife slept elsewhere last night and isn’t taking this too well. Hopewell has been suspicious of Ana’s behaviour since Hood arrived in town and really, she’s not done herself any favours in not coming home. We’ve previously seen Rus Blackwell’s Gordon as a level headed individual but definitely one with a paranoid edge. This is a tipping point for the character, and one we can hardly blame him for. He knows that he can never have been Deva’s father and regardless of what story Ana told him, maybe he’s always been waiting for the day that man might return, and Ana’s actions haven’t been subtle. 

With Olek subdued, Hood is still trying to play at being Ana’s knight in shining armour, trying to persuade her to go after Mr. Rabbit in New York. As testament to how fractured her state of mind is right now, she nearly agrees, but her priority remains her family as it has done all along. We know now how she met Gordon Hopewell and thanks to a chatty Olek, we get lots of blanks filled in as to their time in New York. It was a jealous Olek who betrayed Hood and Ana to Mr. Rabbit and informed him of their relationship. 

The relationship between Ana and Olek is a curious one. They’ve clearly never been lovers but there seems to be an undercurrent of fondness between them, as though they were cousins. It’s not mirrored exactly though, as Olek’s feelings were stronger than Ana’s. Christos Vasilopoulas, who plays Olek, and Ivana Milicevic have a good chemistry in their one on one dialogue scene. 

“This is what love does” Olek tells Ana, “It kills us.” Love is a central theme in Banshee, particularly prevalent during We Shall Live Forever. Hood, Ana, Gordon, Rebecca’s family, even Olek – these characters' actions are all motivated in one way or another by love and family, even if some of them may seem misguided. Hood’s motivation throughout this season has been his love for Ana and trying to get her to return to the person he knows loved him. Ana has never made any secret of the fact that her love for her children is what makes her do what she does, while a man getting as worked up as Gordon Hopewell does in this episode must be in love to make him react in such a maddening fashion. Banshee shows what happens when love crosses the line into something else, and what that now becomes between Olek and Ana is something very ugly indeed. 

By the time we reach the end of season one, Banshee is going to have racked up some serious contenders for TV fight of the year. Hood Vs. Sanchez in episode three, Hood Vs. The Albino in episode six, but leading the way might well be Ana Vs. Olek. This is an incredibly bloody and carnage-like encounter. It’s clear that Olek knew only too well that he was going to have his hands full with Ana, and she more than holds her own in an acrobatic and energetic brawl. 

While Ana is turning his humble abode into a wrecking shop, Lucas Hood has been tracked down by Rebecca Bowman. Given their numerous previous encounters, and the connection that the two seemed to establish during episode five, The Kindred, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for Rebecca to think she’d found a friend in the Sheriff. Lucas has other things on his mind though and his distraction pushes her away, but not before that pesky little tell tale Clay Burton has spied them. 

This could be a turning point for the Rebecca character. Had Hood not been so distant towards her then she may not have retreated back towards her uncle, and who knows what. 

Proctor himself has decided to show the side that Rebecca brings out in him, that of a human being. His long black car is like a serpent snaking through the grass as he visits his family to deliver them a message of shame. There’s no other way to say this - Ulrich Thomsen is phenomenal in this scene. Chastising his wayward family for their treatment of Rebecca, it seems he is venting a great deal of frustration about the way in which they treated him too. He is harsh – “Not God, it’s me!” he tells them when addressing who allows them to continue their existence in Banshee. This is an utterly superb scene and Thomsen shows Proctor at the maniacal, but cold and calculating best that we know he can be. This confrontation is made all the more powerful by juxtaposing it with the very physical encounter going on between Olek and Ana. Both are uncompromising and extreme but it completely different ways, and the effect on the viewer is exhilarating. 

The conclusion to the Ana and Olek duel is slow but intense. Both completely exhausted and battered beyond belief, Olek seems to have her beat. “There are bigger things than love” he tells her. If Olek knew anything about Ana, or at least this Ana, then he would have known this was the wrong thing to say to her. For Ana, there is nothing bigger than the love she feels for her family. We’ve just learnt from Olek that Ana’s mother died giving birth to her so she’s never had a family unit until now. This is Olek’s undoing, and why he gets a wooden spike through the neck. 

Killing Olek feels like the first step for Ana in the process of purging herself of her past. Hood rushes in to find her on the verge of collapse and in typical Hood fashion scoops her up in his arms to take her for help. Once Ana feels better though, will she see the need to erase the Lucas Hood shaped part of her past too? 

Her husband isn’t really in any shape to help her out. Having trashed their bedroom, only to find her mysterious locket as a clue to his wife’s former life and identity, Deva finds him sat smoking pot. This is a really nice scene between Rus Blackwell and Ryann Shane. It’s clear that Deva feels a great attachment to this man, but then she would. As far as she knows, he is her father. It’s difficult to see right now that Deva could ever accept Lucas Hood as her father, no matter how much Hood might want that in the future. 

It’s got back to Kai Proctor, that after he defended his niece so fiercely, she’s been consorting with his arch enemy Lucas Hood. In a powerful scene that features another stand-out moment from Ulrich Thomsen and a vulnerable turn from Lili Simmons, she pleads with Proctor to not throw her out. It gets a little bit creepy but at the end of it, it seems that Rebecca Bowman has chosen her allegiance in Banshee to the one person who hasn’t pushed her away. Lili Simmons is terrific in this scene, looking almost bridal with her ivory duvet wrapped around her. 

As if Lucas Hood didn’t have enough problems, that annoying FBI agent is still hanging around and is now launching a full investigation into what’s going on in Banshee. That might not be the wisest of moves, we’ve seen what happens to folk who get in the way in this town, but it’s a storyline that looks like it’s going to make Hood sweat a bit. 

Banshee closes this week with the passing of the Indian reservation and casino chief. His son, Alex Longshadow, simmers with a silent fury, signalling another dark rising. His animosity with Kai Proctor has been well documented and held only at bay by his father. Now we may see it unleashed. This episode also introduced Cloverfield actress Odette Annable as Alex’s sister. It seems we may see more of this background family very soon, or at least in season two. 

We Shall Live Forever was a detail-packed, blood-soaked and emotionally heavy offering from Banshee. Anthony Starr, Ivana Milicevic, Rus Blackwell, Ulrich Thomsen, Lili Simmons, Ryann Shane and Christos Vasilopoulas all provided memorable moments and terrific performances here. With two weeks to go until this season bows out, it makes you wonder just what they may be saving for the finale, and if anyone is going to be able to cope with it.

Read James' review of the previous episode, Behold a Pale Rider, here.

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