This review contains spoilers.
Dialling back on its number of characters this week, Banshee returns its main focus to the man at the centre of the show, Sheriff Lucas Hood. Since Hood arrived in town six weeks ago we’ve seen and learnt with him about the wide range of colourful inhabitants that live in Banshee, but perhaps not as much of Lucas’ mysterious past as we might have thought.
During episode three, Ana told Hood that he used to be kind. He responded by telling her that spending fifteen years in prison would drive kindness out of anyone. This episode shows us a little of how that happened, as well as telling us just how far Hood will now go to defend his new freedom.
The opening scene immediately answers a question that Banshee had raised in the first half of the series. Shot in a stark, sepia style, the flashback to Lucas’ prison time clears up the query as to whether or not he knows Mr. Rabbit is Ana’s father, as the two have a cosy chat about her whereabouts. Lucas doesn’t know and we can’t imagine, from what we’ve learnt of him so far, that he would have given her up, even if he did. The price of this is a schedule of torment from Mr. Rabbit’s employee on the inside, The Albino.
Glimpsed in Hood’s episode three dream sequence, Hood’s first encounter with The Albino is only just on the right side of merciful. With a knife embedded in Hood’s back, the man whispers “I know just how deep to go without killing you”. It’s reflective of what Rabbit believes Hood is doing to him by keeping his daughter’s location from him.
Back in Banshee’s present and after last week’s biker gang insurgents it seems that once again the outside world is bringing trouble for Lucas Hood when a vagrant calling himself Leonard Vanderwick steps off a bus bound for Pittsburgh to stretch his legs and recognises our Sheriff. Promptly getting himself arrested so as to drag Hood away from his favourite past time, “serving the people” of Banshee, Vanderwick, or Wicks, is the ghost that was always eventually going to come to haunt Hood.
Through some more flashbacks we learn that Wicks knows Lucas from his time in jail, and seems to be the closest thing that Lucas had to a friend on the inside after his initial encounter with The Albino. Hood is immediately nervous. We haven’t seen Anthony Starr do nervous Hood since his first meeting with the Mayor of Banshee in episode one, but it’s a side of the character he does very well. Lucas Hood may be becoming more like a comic book superhero each week, but this episode reminds us that he can be flummoxed when presented with some situations, ones that perhaps require a more personal and delicate touch.
In some ways Hood receives a taste of his own medicine in Wicks. Ana has established herself a comfortable life in Banshee when Hood, a figure from her past, arrived and threw it into jeopardy. That is what is happening to Lucas now, and Ana takes the opportunity during a brief scene to rub salt into this new wound. It’s not quite identical, Hood isn’t as much of a threat to Ana as Wicks is to him, as Wicks really has nothing to lose, but Lucas finds himself very much stuck between a rock and a hard place, and for the first time we see Ana with a confidence and upper hand over Lucas in terms of their situations.
Banshee delves further into its fantasy, comic book style for more prison time flashbacks as this episode progresses. Unlike the megalomaniac, but conceivable reality of a villain like Kai Proctor, The Albino is Banshee at its most fanciful and outlandish. Joseph Gatt’s character is like a horror movie creation, a vision of vampirism with psychotic flashes that conjure up memories of Heath Ledger’s Joker. It’s around this character and prison setting that Banshee is at home delivering some of its most unflinching violence and sado-masochistic moments. To level the playing field Hood makes an extreme and unexpected impression on The Albino’s lover. It’s an explosive moment in an episode that’s just getting warmed up.
Did Hood really think it was going to be as simple as putting Wicks on a bus out of town after buying him lunch? Since his arrival in Banshee we’ve been waiting for Wicks to play his trump card – if you don’t get me set up here then I will ruin it for you. Wicks is so easily what Hood could have become after prison and now Wicks wants some of what Hood has. Michael Kostroff makes a good job of his guest spot in this week’s episode as Wicks. His performance holds up a “what could have been mirror” to Hood. He hasn’t adapted to the outside world with the kind of skill that Hood has. His backing of winners attitude that served him well on the inside turns out to be rather useless when people have places to run to.
In prison, Hood was an “investment” for Wicks. The final prison scene and showdown between Hood and The Albino threatens to tip Banshee into an unwelcomed, vulgar territory. It’s the first time that we’ve ever felt that Banshee was just pushing the boundaries of what it could get away with for the sake of it. Although the show obviously had to go to certain lengths to convey the extremity of what Hood went through in prison, to turn him into the survivor he now is, there are one or two moments in the bloodbath that could have been left out. More isn’t always more.
Though Wicks obviously had some brains in order to figure out that Hood was going to emerge the eventual victor in the feud with The Albino, you do have to question why he thought he’d be able to inconsequentially blackmail a man who could do something like that. It’s no surprise that his trip to Banshee ends up at the bottom of the lake. I’m not sure we learned a great deal more about Lucas Hood this week with the arrival and untimely departure of Wicks, apart from some filling in of the gaps with regards to his prison time and how he got to be so good at kicking ass. Banshee is playing the long game with this one.
With some much attention on Hood this week, only a couple of Banshee’s other regulars get a look in. Proctor sleazes about trying to protect his empire. The local Reverend doesn’t want to give up his family homestead to Proctor’s casino development. In fairness to Proctor, he does give the guy ample chance before he unleashes the compromising photos of his wife, though he keeps back the video. “There’s always a video” smirks Kai in deliciously evil fashion. Wicks might not have as many great lines as some episodes of Banshee but it still has that wicked sense of humour.
It feels like a treading water week for Kai Proctor, but not so for Ana/Carrie Hopewell. In what is an emotional onslaught for the character, her son suffers a major asthma attack leading to the news that his condition may be far more serious than previously thought. On top of that, Gordon Hopewell chooses to voice his suspicions on her relationship with Hood. Ana clutches at some straws to deflect his questions and change in her behaviour since his arrival but it’s seemingly enough to break her, in one way.
As we’ve seen the wilder, Hood influenced side of Ana emerging over the last few weeks, it’s a bit of a shock moment when she promises to deliver him to her father at the end of this episode. It tells us just where she places Lucas Hood in her affections. Things are getting too close for comfort and now she wants him gone, her family out of the endangerment they live in while Hood is still in Banshee.
There are plenty of interesting directions in which Banshee could take this part of its story. Will Ana hand Hood over willingly? Will Hood be able to change her mind over the coming days? It’s difficult to imagine it’s going to be so cut and dry in the complex web of Banshee’s relationships.
With Ana’s betrayal of Hood, Wicks’ body becoming fish food, it’s a dark ending to Banshee this week, and the post-credits scene doesn’t offer any trace of relief either. As Hood listens to an answer phone message from the real Lucas Hood’s son, it appears to dawn on him that Wicks is just going to be the first of those to arrive who will smell a rat when it comes to the new Sheriff, and he won’t be able to dump them all at the bottom of lake. It also seems that the original Lucas Hood wasn’t the loner that we’d been led to believe.
It’s a bit of a disappointment that many of the ideas that were set up in episode five – The Kindred – the arrival of FBI agent Xavier, the scars of Deputy Kelly, are completely ignored this week. Banshee seems in no hurry to tell its story, which is commendable in some ways as there’s no sense in cramming too much into every episode but Wicks feels like it could have done with a little more meat on it’s bones. The Proctor storyline feels a bit pointless and while the Ana revelations will undoubtedly have long lasting implications, you still feel this is perhaps the show’s slowest moment so far.
That’s not to say this isn’t a good episode, but that it maybe falls a bit short of the incredibly high bar that Banshee has set for itself with its opening five shots.
Read James’ review of the previous episode, The Kindred, here.
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