Banshee episode 3 review: Meet The New Boss

James continues to be impressed with the brutal, well-constructed Banshee. Here's his review of Meet The New Boss...

This review contains spoilers.

1.3 Meet the New Boss

If episode two of Banshee could have been sub-titled ‘Kai Proctor Strikes Back’, then its third could easily follow with ‘Return of Lucas Hood’. This was the episode that felt like it brought Banshee’s opening act to a close, dealt out with bloody vengeance from Anthony Starr’s rogue Sheriff. 

First though, it was dishing out plot twists before we’d even got to those impressive opening credits. A note on this title sequence is that the snapshots that make it up are now even easier to appreciate as we get to know Banshee’s range of characters. They relate to certain things about them. It now makes sense when Ivana Milicevic’s name is accompanied by a shot of a Coney Island fairground, thanks to this week’s opening scene.

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Unsure of whether we’re in the past or present to begin with, Milicevic’s Ana, looking more than a little Black Widow, kicks some ass against the mysterious Mr. Rabbit’s goons. Locating the man himself reveals some details of their relationship – walks on Coney Island – and that Rabbit is no longer interested in just the diamonds he’s owed. He wants Lucas Hood. Ana’s not caving that easily though and with a nice nod to Jurassic Park (“Clever girl”) injects Rabbit with a sleeping agent to make her getaway, but not before dropping the whispered bombshell of “Goodbye daddy.”

That goes some way to explaining why Rabbit is so obsessed with finding Hood and exacting some sort of revenge. You’d expect most shows to save a twist like this for the end of an episode, or even season. It’s a testament to Banshee writers Jonathan Tropper and David Schickler that they can give it away in the first five minutes. Even without this revelation, it’s a cracking scene between Milicevic and Ben Cross, who plays Mr. Rabbit.

Back in small town Pennsylvania, Banshee’s casino is welcoming MMA fighter Damian Sanchez for a bout that will bring in some much needed dollar to the out of date establishment, and for the man responsible. No prizes for guessing that man is Kai Proctor. This is emphasised as a big deal for Proctor and he’s keen to make Sanchez feel welcome. He’s even “made some improvements to your bedroom” in Sanchez’s trailer. Yep, it’s an improvement of the naked, female variety. This is Banshee, after all. 

Sheriff Lucas Hood is also a man with fighting on his mind. Taking a break from the flashbacks that send him running through the Banshee woodland like a demented squirrel, he’s reminiscing about a rough bout of fisticuffs he had in prison. First however, there’s the fall out from last episode’s rave and unfortunate death of the local senator’s son. There’s an uncomfortable moment between Lucas and the senator here. It’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it but this could be something that will grow in future episodes. 

The first two episodes left us in no doubt that Hood’s primary reason for staying in Banshee was to be near Ana, so it’s no surprise when he jumps at the chance to have dinner with her and her family after Gordon Hopewell extends the invitation. The meal scene is the first time Hood sees Ana as a mother, a move he tries to emulate with her son but it’s not long before he notices her fighting scars and the maternal image is blown out the window. This is his Ana. This is the Ana he knows. The small scene between Hood and Ana when they’re left alone sizzles on the screen. Milicevic and Starr display some great chemistry. The question coming out of this scene is just how long it will be before Gordon Hopewell notices the simmering tension between his wife and the new Sheriff? 

After that encounter, Lucas needs to blow off some of the sexual tension so it’s a good thing he runs into Rebecca again. Getting a few more lines than she did in episode two, Lili Simmon’s Rebecca Bowman is temptation personified. She is the Mara demon of Banshee, and so far Hood hasn’t been able to deflect her charms. He might start to think twice once he finds out who she’s closely related to. In the second, big, family related twist of the week, Bowman is revealed to be Kai Proctor’s niece. 

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The scene in which Proctor tries to chastise his sister’s daughter for her distinctly non-Amish behaviour is the first time we’ve seen Proctor seem like he actually cares about another human being since the brief, one-sided conversation between him and his father in episode one. This is a little more in depth though and adds another string to the bow of Ulrich Thomsen’s performance. Rebecca seems all too aware of the hypocrisy she encounters from her uncle, and his persuasions that she should respect her upbringing are twisted back upon him. “Why don’t you just admit that you like being bad?” she asks him before there’s a hint of something rather inappropriate between them. 

In an episode that is not short on great character one-to-ones, this is a fine scene. It builds on the idea that Proctor may feel some kind of guilt towards his heritage and Lili Simmons makes good on the idea presented last week that Rebecca could become one of Banshee’s most interesting characters. 

Meanwhile, Damian Sanchez is making himself at home in Banshee and entertaining local waitress Chloe in his trailer. Things take a turn for the worse though in a scene which pulls no punches. The hospitalisation of Chloe by Sanchez is a frightening scene. The transformation of Sanchez into a cold blooded animal is terrifying and includes an image that sears itself on to the brain.

Earlier during their post-barbecue conversation, Ana told Lucas that “He used to be kind”. Lucas responded that fifteen years inside would knock that out of anyone. Now, looking at the devastation Sanchez has visited upon Chloe and Hood’s reaction to it, Ana’s face tells us that, in his own unique way, Lucas is finding that kindness again.

After Sanchez mocked Lucas in an earlier scene, it was obvious that Sanchez Vs. Hood was going to be on the cards. Being the unscrupulous soul that he is, Kai Proctor has assured Sanchez and his management that there will be no problems following his indiscretion. Lucas Hood though has a problem with it and Proctor is powerless against him. A little guilt tripping from Deputy Siobhan Kelly (a character that has so far remained rather in the background) is enough to push Hood into displaying his own personal brand of law enforcement once again. 

Riled by Sanchez’s manager’s assumption that the Sheriff will laugh off a case of rape and battery, Hood delivers another of Banshee’s quotable lines, telling the man “You need to go somewhere I can’t see you, and stay there,” – a line so cool, I actually employed it myself the other day when dealing with a daughter who was refusing to get dressed. 

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It may seem unlikely that a small town Sheriff would fight a celebrity refusing arrest in front of a room full of people, but as I said earlier, this is Banshee, after all. If you thought the bar room brawl during episode one was brutal, it was nothing compared to Hood’s impromptu main event with Damian Sanchez. Bloody and crazily violent, this was Banshee not for the faint of heart. UFC and pro wrestling fans would have enjoyed this scene a lot. I’m unashamedly a huge wrestling fan and let out a small squeal of glee when Hood slapped on The Undertaker’s hell’s gate, triangle choke hold. 

It’s a career ending match for Damian Sanchez, though Hood doesn’t come out unscathed. There are scathing looks from Kai Proctor and the casino owning Native Americans. Again, they are two characters who have so far remained in Banshee’s background. 

Banshee closes week three with the scene we’ve been building to since the beginning. No more pretending, cards on the table time between Lucas Hood and Kai Proctor. In a tense stand off, Proctor tells Hood in no uncertain terms that he should be afraid of him, like everyone else in Banshee. Hood rejects Proctor’s now honest attempts to bribe him. Deep down Lucas knows that Ana wants the, perhaps not honourable man, but the one who does the right thing and that is Hood’s priority. Taking down Proctor will just be a bonus.

Episode three of Banshee missed some of the show’s best characters – there was no sign of Deputy Brock Lotus or Job this week – but it was another cracking edition. Lili Simmon’s Rebecca was built up and proved she’s going to be around for much more than T and A. There were great turns throughout from Ivana Milicevic and Ulrich Thomsen and Anthony Starr is continuing to lead the show very well. The writing and dialogue was well paced and snappy, something we’re becoming used to with this show and the use of violence, as brutal as it was, didn’t seem for glorification value in the slightest. 

Like a Marvel movie, Banshee has a post credits sting scene each week. It’s becoming increasingly fun to see which character will feature in this extra bit. Episodes one and two belonged to Hood and Proctor, so you may have expected Ana to get number three. Not so. This week it’s Proctor’s quiet but deadly henchman Clay Burton’s turn. In a move that showed just why he’s under the employment of a man like Proctor, Burton exits the Sanchez trailer following a rather bloody chat with his manager over the recovery of their fee. Burton is like the Bond villain henchman of Banshee and the calm way he removes his spectacles before getting down to business was a nice touch from actor Matthew Rauch. Here’s hoping we get to see more of this frightening man. 

So Banshee assembled its pieces by the end of this episode. The stage is set, the board has been laid out. It’s time to play the game.

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