This review contains spoilers.
3.10 We All Pay Eventually
When Banshee’s season three finale came to an end, I felt a profound and crushing disappointment. Not because the episode failed to live up to my sky-high expectations (it didn’t) but because the realisation that we have to wait a year to see the next chapter is a devastating one. Somehow this season managed to not only provide an utterly satisfying conclusion to its many plots, but to leave us with no shortage of promise for the insanity waiting next year. It’s honestly hard to know where to begin in discussing an episode like the one we got tonight, so I’ll do my best, but in reality my head is still spinning from what I just saw.
I’m gonna get the obvious out of the way first; the showdown at Camp Genoa, coupled with Proctor’s revenge, made for a perfect conclusion to the season in terms of both plot and emotion. I can’t have been the only one who thought Chayton and the Redbones would be our endgame this year, and I certainly had my concerns when that arc was concluded two episodes before the finale, yet Jonathan Tropper and his team made it work perfectly by tying the clash with Stowe directly to Hood’s lingering guilt over Siobhan’s death.
The ghost of Chayton hung heavily over proceedings, informing not only how Hood decided to act in the final moments of his attack on Genoa but paralleling his tormenter in the flashbacks. Just what, if anything, does Lucas Hood stand for? Chayton taunted him for never understanding what having a true purpose would mean, but as we learned tonight, that was far from the first time he had heard such an admonishment. Dalton had suggested that running away from doing something worthwhile would make Hood little more than a thuggish reflection of his own father, and while this backstory element was almost certainly a retroactive addition to his mythology, it’s not hard to see how it hangs over everything Hood has done in the last three seasons. Becoming the Sheriff may have once simply been a convenient cover, but it has come to mean more to Hood at roughly the same moment he realises that he may not be the right person to try and fight for justice. Hood’s search for purpose has underpinned almost everything that happened over the last ten weeks, and now at the end of another hellish period in his life he is confronted with the fact that he is falling short of the person he may not even have known he wanted to be. It’s very telling that it was Gordon who took the decisive shot to save Carrie’s life right when Hood did not know what to do.
Just about every character stepped things up a notch this year, but none more so than the late Gordon Hopewell. Coming into season three I could not understand why his character was still in the show, but seeing him sober up and become a force to be reckoned with was more affecting than I expected. It was legitimately exciting to watch his transition into a badass that could rival just about anyone else on the show, and during the immensely exciting pre-attack tooling up montage when he turned up with a gigantic gun I actually cheered at the screen. It’s sad to see him go, but he got a hero’s exit that one year ago would have been unforeseeable for the character. It’s a turnaround to rival Jaime Lannister on Game Of Thrones, and somebody needs to buy the Banshee writers a beer for pulling it off so perfectly.
Across the board this show is proving an aptitude for turning unlikable characters into fan-favourites, and while sleazy-mayor-to-gun-toting hero isn’t quite as surprising as making a former Neo-Nazi one of the most sympathetic figures on the show, the team still deserves kudos for the unreserved success that has been Kurt Bunker. Admittedly I liked the concept of the character from the moment he made his first appearance, but that did not prepare me for just how much I would start caring for this unfailingly polite, softly spoken figure with his veneer of repulsive tattoos. Seeing his brother and cronies set to work on him with a blowtorch had me watching through my fingers, and while we got no indication of what his ultimate fate would be I can only hope he is back in action next year with some gnarly scars and a desire for vengeance. The monster we saw him briefly unleash tonight was thrilling to behold and I’m expecting a lot more of that if (when) Bunker makes a triumphant return next year. His scene with Brock when he admitted that despite his best efforts he is still thrall to his anger and hate was deeply moving and I felt my growing love for Brock increase with his honest and simplistic reassurance that Bunker’s fury is aimed in the right direction.
Brock, while always a steady and likable presence, has also solidified his credentials as a character worth rooting for this year, and seeing him finally become the sheriff is both a satisfying resolution to his longstanding discomfort with Hood and an interesting avenue to explore this year. After all, with his own morality so thoroughly compromised, does Brock even want that badge anymore? Does he trust himself to do the right thing with it? I can’t wait to find out.
Of course, Brock’s impromptu promotion is only a symptom of the bigger development tonight, one that has been hinted at all season; Hood has finally walked away from his ongoing masquerade as a lawman. It comes as a culmination of both the brutal emotional assault he has suffered this year and also the growing disconnect between his inherent morality and his creeping suspicion that despite his best efforts he may not be a decent person. Between Gordon dying for the woman he loved and Job’s kidnapping, Hood is reeling from a Pyrrhic victory, and if the final moments of the episode are to be believed, this may have driven him at least temporarily away from the side of the angels. Proctor’s smile at the end as Hood agreed he had not been a good Sherriff was both disturbing and strangely cathartic; are these two compelling antiheroes about to team up? If so, why? What’s in it for either of them? I don’t know, but I suspect we may be about to find out. Whether Hood remains in Banshee and makes a claim for the Mayor’s office or whether he sets off to do Proctor’s dirty work for him, a union of these former enemies promises a fascinating new direction for the show and the already established conflicts that run through this twisted town.
At this point there is no indication that things will be slowing down for Banshee anytime soon, and the multiple cliffhangers we are left with have promised even more greatness to come. Yet the dizzying achievements of season three cannot be ignored. Aside from the usual succession of shock deaths, mental fight scenes and mind blowing plot twists, Banshee burst out of the gates with a renewed confidence this year, proving that that Rabbit arc of the first two seasons was only the beginning for what this show has to offer. Chayton Littlestone may well be one of the best villains ever put on TV, and the growing complexity of older characters like Hood, Carrie and Proctor proved that the series has barely scratched the surface of what can be achieved in this particular universe. Indeed, I think more than ever it is the characters of Banshee that make it such an unqualified success, that make us care so strongly about every brutal fight, as cool as they may be. The brilliance of Banshee has been to ground its chaos and carnage in people we can truly care about, and the results have been nothing short of brilliant.
It’s been an absolute privilege to cover Banshee in what is undoubtedly its best season yet, and a gigantic thanks to everyone who has read these reviews and followed what was essentially a weekly series of rants about how much I love this show. But as I’m fairly confident very few people will argue that this season has been something special, I have no intention of apologising. Congratulations to the entire cast and crew; I am salivating at the thought of what you might cook up next. See you in 2016.
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