This review contains spoilers.
3.6 We Were All Someone Else Yesterday
On a week to week basis, Banshee regularly manages to deliver explosive, exciting and thrilling TV, often in episodes that would generally be considered filler yet still manage to have enough pulp panache to make it all seem worthwhile. Take the third episode of this season; an hour that did very little to advance the overarching plot of the war with the Redbones, yet still managed to feel like a series best for its combination of beautifully batty ideas and one of the best fight scenes ever delivered on television. Then we get an episode like this one; an episode that delivered a legitimate game changer and yet still felt oddly quiet and reserved, and in some ways a little anticlimactic.
Let’s start with the stuff that worked. While at first I questioned the necessity of showing us footage we had already seen in the opening minutes of the episode, the writing quickly showed its hand as giving us a glimpse of Hood’s potential life had he never stayed in Banshee. It’s an interesting idea, albeit one that I wasn’t expecting. Really, when you stop and think about it there isn’t all that much storytelling potential in this notion other than ‘Hood leaves town presumably to go and carry out lots of heists with Job’. Luckily, this episode wasn’t overly concerned with any It’s A Wonderful Life-style shenanigans, and used the fantasies more to underline the fact that had Hood never stuck around, Siobhan would probably still be alive. In my recent article about Banshee’s skill at balancing pulp storytelling with character development, I mentioned that the show is rarely concerned with calling Hood to task for his actions. I was proved wrong on that front tonight, but what surprised and impressed me the most is how subtly it was handled. There was no dialogue forcing his guilt down our throat, and the imaginary moments weren’t extensive. We saw just enough to know what he was thinking. For the first time, Hood is seeing the damage he has caused. Not directly and certainly not intentionally, but he has created a ripple effect that has resulted in more than one destroyed life. Honestly, I never expected or needed Banshee to go down that road, but I’m glad it has, even if this is as far as it strays. It’s just enough to challenge the audience and the character without feeling artificial (cough, Sons Of Anarchy, cough) or too much like its ruining an otherwise fun pulp show.
Elsewhere, Proctor also had to consider the results of his actions. It’s interesting that the writers chose not to have him directly blame Hood for being unable to say goodbye to his mother (at least not yet) and rather, in reflection he seemed to understand that his choices and lifestyle have had this consequence. I was struck by the rather affecting moment where he explains the cross on his back and how he’s starting to think that he may have been already been punished in his loneliness without realising that this was God’s way of getting back at him. It’s a remarkably poignant and thoughtful moment for a show that just two weeks ago depicted a fat man being demolished by a semi-trailer and seemed to treat that like a satisfying punchline.
Banshee can be beautifully understated when it wants to be, and much of Proctor’s storyline this week exhibited that. The scene in which he rebuked and humiliated Rebecca while pushing her away was excellent in its layers; it told us at once that Proctor is not the all-powerful figure we think he is, and also that Rebecca, whose descent into corruption we have thus far enjoyed, has grown too arrogant too quickly. She may love the power she feels she has gained, but that power comes with the ability to compromise. Rebecca is understandably enraged by the harsh slap of reality here, and spends the night on the couch seemingly in protest. Proctor’s response? Covering her in a blanket and giving her a paternal kiss on the head, before retreating to his bedroom with Brock’s ex-wife. This relationship and the resultant rift have been built up to all season, and it will be fascinating to see what the now unhinged yet chastened Rebecca does.
And yet, uniquely for a Banshee episode, it was the big set-piece that fell flat tonight. After the carnage of last week’s siege, I think everybody in the audience was ready to see the police rain hell down on the Redbones. Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded if we’d had to wait a week, just to give us some time to breathe after Siobhan’s death. Instead, the attack on their camp seemed ultimately throwaway; while the focus on Hood and Chayton was understandable and made for some great moments, it seems a little odd that the entire Redbone army has been defeated off-screen, leaving Chayton as the sole insurgent still out there. It’s an absolute turning point for the war and the season, and yet it just feels clumsily handled after weeks of build-up with all the training sequences and demonstrating how lethal the Redbone army is. Don’t get me wrong, Hood torturing Chayton with the knife and the subsequent chase scene through the woods made for edge-of-your-seat viewing, but the battle between the FBI and the Redbones should have been a massive, explosive set piece and instead we got a far too easy defeat. After the near perfection of the last three episodes, it felt a little disappointing.
On some level I’m reserving judgement until we see just what Chayton has in store in weeks to come, but by and large I felt like the whole attack sequence deflated the tension and high stakes built up in previous weeks. We’ve now gone from the promise of all-out war to what basically amounts to a mano-a-mano between Chayton and Hood. Certainly an enticing proposition on its own, but a little different to what we’d been led to believe this season was building up to.
Generally then, Banshee continued its winning streak this week, going to new depths and giving us some great little character moments, but it was hard not to feel cheated by the anticlimactic resolution to the bulk of the season’s major conflict. Maybe it can be argued that we saw the war come to a head last week, but that episode felt more like a first strike than a deciding battle. Then again, I could be wrong and the off-the-cuff treatment of the Redbones this week might just have been saving the good stuff for later. As always with episodic TV, we’re playing the long game here, and Banshee has built up enough goodwill in a thus far exemplary season to keep my faith, even if there are caveats.
Read Gabriel’s review of the previous episode, Tribal, here.
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