For the first time in its freshman season, Banshee has a solid stand-alone episode that departs from the overall narrative. Admittedly, I was nervous when I got the gist that they were leaving the beaten path because the show has been on such a dynamite roll. However, after the hour was done I realized that it was one of the best stand-alone installments of any cable drama I have ever seen. Back when The Sopranos was on HBO fans were always pissed off if a new episode did not tie into the storylines we were most invested in. But Banshee somehow manages to make the tension come full circle, touching on all the salient points regardless of straying out of their wheelhouse. If anything, “Behold a Pale Rider” shows that Hood is a man not to be trifled with in any dire situation.
Hood, Sugar and Job are plotting the American Indian casino robbery at the old boxer’s dive bar. Job seems to steal every scene he is in and even when he is not in drag, he still sticks out like a sore thumb because of his hysterical attitude towards small town life in Banshee. Every line he emits sounds like a threat, but he genuinely needs to be in Hood’s presence to fully function as a criminal. Hood receives a random call from Carrie and he excitedly meets her at a local parking structure where she boosts a car and they both get in presumably for a job. As Hood is getting comfortable she doses him with a needle to the neck (Dexter-style) and he passes out. If you remember from last week, Carrie called her father Mr. Rabbit and told him she was bringing Hood to him. She just cannot do the double-life thing anymore with Hood playing such a prominent role in Banshee. Despite obviously still being in love with him and Deva presumably being Hood’s daughter, Carrie feels that she must do this to restore order to her life.
In between what happens next for Carrie and Hood is the centerpiece of this week’s episode. Deputy Emmett Yawners (Demetrius Grosse) is at the local drug store on the phone with his wife buying home pregnancy tests when he realizes that the place is being held up by two bumbling criminals in masks. The clerk is shot dead because one of the thugs “saw him reaching” and the Deputy is next. In a rush, the thugs decide to leave the store with barely any take and what follows is one of the best non-theatrical foot chases I have seen, filled with car crashes and gunfire. I felt like I was watching a hick version of Michael Mann’s Heat. The camera technique they use for this sequence is not the “shaky cam” that makes you sick that we saw in the Bourne movies. It is more like war correspondence footage you see from overseas reporters, very realistic.
The chase leads to the local High School, where the Mayor’s young wife is monitoring detention as she ducks out for a smoke. The two criminals grab her and get a shot off, hitting the Deputy in the arm before going into the gymnasium where the kids with detention are designated to stay. It’s like Banshee, PA’s version of The Breakfast Club. Deva is amongst the kids in detention and the media, SWAT, local police and townspeople have descended outside the gymnasium.
Mr. Rabbit and his men are on their way from New York City to get Hood from the location Carrie tipped them off about. Rabbit is visibly delighted to finally get revenge on the man who turned his little girl against him. Carrie has handcuffed Hood’s hands to both sides of the solid wood bed frame, but you can tell she is torn about leaving. She knows that once she leaves it will mean certain death for Hood. If I have learned anything this season it is not to count Hood out of any fight, no matter the odds. As Hood is doing his best to free himself from both sets of cuffs, time is ticking away as Rabbit and his Russian thugs are minutes away. Hood breaks free from one of the cuffs and as he is desperately working on the second, the door swings open and it’s….Job. The genius hacker put a tracker on Hood’s phone and saves the day. When Rabbit and company arrive a minute later, the Russian crime boss is irate as he sees the dangling handcuffs with no one attached to them.
Hood races to the scene back in Banshee as Sheriff and Carrie is shocked that he is alive, but cannot say a word without blowing her own cover. She knows the repercussions of crossing Mr. Rabbit. Hood enters the gymnasium as one of the gunmen is watching a group of kids while the other is giving chase to Deva and a friend who managed to slip away in the labyrinth of the school. Hood easily kills the first baddie in the gym saving the kids but now he is after his daughter. With Deva held in a headlock by the crazed and desperate man, Hood and SWAT have guns pointed at the madman in front of the H.S. trophy case. With a simple father-daughter nod to Deva, she ducks out of the way and Hood puts one right between his eyes. Deva rushes into Hood’s arms and for the first time realize that she is her father’s daughter.
Mr. Rabbit sees the local TV coverage of Hood saving the day (and his grandchild) and is bewildered to say the least. Back at Sugar’s, Hood is tying one on with none other than crimelord Kai Proctor who indirectly thanks Hood for “losing” the evidence against him for murder, causing the charges to be dropped. Kai explains to Hood a passage from Revelations about a “Pale Rider” whose name is Death and compares the Sheriff to the rider. Proctor leaves with no fuss before Hood retires to his apartment behind Sugar’s bar where Carrie is waiting to apologize. I would say more than an apology is in order after what she just pulled, but neither can deny their love for the other. And since time was running low on the episode and there had not been any nudity yet, naturally they bone. Hood literally sees more ass than an Enterprise rental car.
This episode was another solid outing for the freshman series and I am impressed with the growth and character development since the first few episodes. The show definitely takes deliberate amounts of time presenting new characters and each receives their due. I forgot to mention in previous reviews that there is an “Easter Egg” at the end of every show after the credits, but I am not going to ruin this week’s for you. With just three episodes left in Season 1, I am expecting a monster finish from Hood and company. One thing I have learned is that nothing small happens in Banshee, PA. Especially with the Pale Rider who is Sheriff Hood in charge.