Banshee season 3 episode 2 review: Snakes And Whatnot

Banshee's creators' experiments and commitment pay off in another impressive episode that crackles with underlying tension...

This review contains spoilers.

3.2 Snakes And Whatnot

It’s arguable that any TV series, whether it be Banshee or Mad Men or Breaking Bad only really succeeds if it has heart. That means a couple of things; not only that we care about the characters and what is going on, but also the less tangible sense that the people making this show really care about what they are doing. Even in its messier, less slick first season, Banshee has always seemed like a show where the writers legitimately believe in everything they do, and are willing to experiment and try new things. The excitement sparks off the screen like electricity; just look at the brilliant opening sequence of Snakes And Whatnot. It was the kind of thing you’d expect from Breaking Bad; the camera following the production of Proctor’s drugs while the familiar names and credits twisted around the footage. Exciting, energetic and totally in keeping with the manic thrill of this show; Banshee finds new ways to remind us all of how good it is every week. Even a quieter episode like this one, more focussed on setting up the conflicts that will doubtless see us through the season, crackles with underlying tension and the promise of carnage to come. Oh, and more than a few insane fight scenes of its own.

In terms of development not a lot happened this week, but the conflicts were consolidated in effective, fun ways. We learned more about the army colonel/Carrie’s new friend, who seems to be more than a little unstable. We got to see the honourable, protective side of Chayton come out, as he seems to have had some kind of past relationship with Nola. We got an awkward bedside scene between Brock and his ex-wife, which somewhat clumsily revealed that putting work first was the reason for their separation. Was this a little predictable and not especially interesting? Yeah, but it beat the scenes with Gordon. As a character he worked when he was in the way of Hood and Carrie, but I really can’t see any point in continuing his misadventures here. It was refreshing to see him finally decide to turn his life around after so many interminable scenes of him drinking and going to strip clubs, but it’s hard not to question the point of his continued presence in the show. Hopefully his plot comes to something down the line.

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But honestly, those are minor quibbles. It’s not like the show spends huge amount of time with such storylines; Banshee excels at giving the audience what it wants and there is no sign of that changing this far into the run. Characters like Chayton, Hood, Proctor and Nola are so dynamic and interesting, and even the new arrivals like the crazy colonel and Billy the Native American deputy have been beautifully set up as new sources of conflict. Billy’s days certainly seem numbered, with the mentioning of his wife and kids and the fascinating set up of the former Neo-Nazi applying for the deputy job, but in a short amount of time he has been cleverly established as a character we can care about, and a nice point of clashing for the reservation and the police.

Elsewhere, Proctor has brought his ailing mother to live with him and Rebecca. Aside from reinforcing the vulnerability that makes Proctor such a compelling character, I’m certain that this will not end well. How long until she sees her son and granddaughter in a compromising position? Just what that would mean for Rebecca and Proctor’s relationship is at this point unclear, but it will almost certainly force them to confront exactly what they are doing.

Banshee is written by my favourite novelist, Jonathan Tropper, and as such I have always felt a bit of a personal stake in how successful it is. To see it moving with such confidence and energy at this point in its run feels a little like a minor victory for me, and there is nothing to suggest that Banshee’s winning streak is going to end any time soon. This is a show operating in the form of its life, and I can’t wait to see how much more wonderfully insane things are going to get in weeks to come.

Read Gabriel’s review of the previous episode, The Fire Trials, here.

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