The fight of the season!
Cinemax’s Banshee continues to kick my ass as one of the best shows of the New Year. The past of Sheriff Lucas Hood is beginning to unravel more and more as we get closer to the end of Season 1. Executive Producer Alan Ball knows how to flesh out these characters as the season moves on, but does not have any standouts from the pilot; you have to really invest before you begin to actually like these people. But that is Ball’s signature device in his preceding work in both television and movies.
I should note that at the end of Episode 7, Mr. Rabbit’s number one enforcer, Olek, rolled into town looking for Carrie (Anastasia). Olek is a towering Russian who has been in love with Ana for years, well before Hood came onto the scene and started working for Mr. Rabbit and the Russians. When the episode begins Carrie/Anastasia has finally succumbed, with her and Hood in bed together. The first six minutes of the show are sex, sleep, repeat. Sex, sleep, repeat. In TV time, that is much longer than six minutes, so apparently they are going for some kind of record. But eventually they are both spent; you know chafing and all. Finally, as they are completely exhausted and Hood nods off, Carrie begins to dress in her normal Banshee clothes to head back home to her other life as doting mom and wife of the District Attorney. Hood wakes up, sees what she is doing and we see some genuine emotion from the Sheriff and former convict. Hood is desperate to keep Carrie there with him if only for another hour; his armor is beginning to show cracks.
As the two begin to argue about pretty much everything (if you recall Ana/Carrie promised to deliver Hood to her father just a week earlier and chained him to a hotel bed), the master jewel thief is willing to put all that aside for his unrequited love for Carrie. She reiterates to Hood that Ana is dead and only Carrie exists now. Carrie tries to use their marathon love making session as a way to say goodbye once and for all, but this angers Hood even more because he knows in his heart that Deva is indeed his daughter and not Gordon’s. Carrie finally admits it, but it was something we knew very early on in the freshman season. There were far too many purposely placed overtures to think that the spunky teen could be Gordon’s and not Hood’s. Still, it is nice to have it finally out in the open. But Carrie’s resolve is ironclad and she wants him out of Banshee fast or she will take the matter into her own hands. I will say this, and it is proven in the rest of the episode, Carrie is one tough lady who knows how to handle herself.
On the other side of town, Hood’s young Amish lover Rebecca, who lives a double life, is being excommunicated by her strict family. They want her gone from their way of life despite her pleas to stay. Rebecca has no choice but to show up at Kai Proctor’s compound for shelter. Somehow they are related (I do not really know how all of the Amish sleeping with family rules work), but Kai welcomes the young girl to his spacious house and a new life. Gordon wakes up at his home with his Carrie missing. The D.A. gets suspicious and wildly jealous as he begins tearing up the house looking for some type of clue to explain where Carrie has gone. What he is looking for I do not really know, but he eventually settles on smoking a joint that he finds helps with the pain he incurred from the first Gulf War. Deva hears the ruckus and tries to console her “Dad” as best she can and they share a sweet father-daughter moment.
As Carrie leaves Hood’s place, she hears footsteps behind her and says, “stop following me,” before realizing that it is Rabbit’s head thug, Olek pointing a gun at her. Olek puts her in the trunk of the car, but Hood smashes the car window with his own pistol before Carrie and Hood tie up Olek in Hood’s barnyard home. After some arguing in Russian that Hood cannot translate, he notices that young Rebecca is coming to his place and he has to run out to intercept the young girl who has just been freed from Amish roots. He drives her away, thinking everything will be okay, but a massive and awesome battle between Olek and Carrie ensues. I am talking epic, like on par with Keith David and Roddy Piper in John Carpenter’s They Live. Hood drops off Rebecca in town, but Rupert, the maniacal enforcer of Proctor, sees her with the Sheriff which comes back to haunt Rebecca later in the episode. Proctor goes to the Amish country to plea on Rebecca’s behalf for them to take her back. They will not relent and Kai reiterates that no God will be able to protect them because it is he who allows the Amish to even be there. I definitely smell an Emmy nod for Ulrich Thomsen because the dude is downright scary. FBI Agent Xavier talks with Sheriff Hood, demanding how the evidence that could have put Proctor away up and disappeared. Special Agent Xavier is out for Hood and wants some answers about the newly appointed “Sheriff’s” sudden appearance in the town.
American Indian Chief Benjamin Longshadow is in the hospital dying when his estranged daughter Nola arrives to meet with her brother, Alex. She tells him that she is not here to see their father but will be crashing at his place. It is hard not to mention that throughout the episode, the fight between Olek and Carrie IS STILL GOING ON! It is absolutely insane and the two are more bloodied than a Tarantino movie. Every time you think it’s over, another CRAZY blow is struck. Carrie actually has a striking resemblance to “The Bride” from Kill Bill as she begins to have memories of Olek, Hood and herself from the good old days. Finally, the former brother and sister, like friends, are passed out, bloodied to a pulp. Carrie has a vision of Mr. Rabbit telling her what a terrible mother and daughter she has been. As she comes out of it, she takes a wooden stake and in an almost lovingly, merciful manner, strikes it down into Olek’s neck, killing him. Hood rushes in to see the carnage and takes Carrie/Ana (whatever you prefer) to safety just as the credits role. The Easter Egg this week is that of Chief Longshadown flatlining, thus leaving Alex in charge of the casino expansion and dealing with Kai on his own.
It was another solid effort from Cinemax’s hit show, as we quickly near the finish line. With just two episodes to go in the debut season, I have somehow gone from being lukewarm about the small Pennsylvania rural community to being absolutely fascinated. I guess the smaller the town, the bigger the secret and Banshee is just about as hot an ember from the fire as you can get. One more spark and the whole damn thing may go up. I can’t wait.