This review contains spoilers.
4.1 Something Out Of The Bible
One of Banshee’s greatest assets has always been the element of surprise. Particularly in its superlative third season, Banshee figured out how to tease you with a juicy plot point or two before turning the whole story on its head, or else dropping the kind of experimental episodes in the middle of a season that left you reeling from the confident brilliance on display. Expect Chayton Littlestone to be the season endgame? He dies spectacularly in a contained, character-driven instalment two episodes before the finale. Think the heist on Camp Genoa is just going to be another basic action scene? Get ready for a first person, found-footage style masterpiece of television. Ready for season four to pick up all the juicy threads left over after last year’s finale? Have a two year time jump with no shortage of unanswered questions and new mysteries to sift through.
Chief among them, and no doubt the big talking point of this final season’s premiere, the ignominious demise of Rebecca Bowman. While Banshee has never been shy about dispatching popular characters, Rebecca always seemed like one who would be around until the bitter end, Proctor’s niece/protégé/lover whose transformation from Amish rebel to powerful crime lord would surely be part of the show’s ultimate endgame. Instead, the cold open quickly drops her brutal death on us, right after the bombshell that it’s been two years since Job’s kidnapping and Hood has spent most of that time holed up like a hermit.
In a word, it’s brave. It’s also so typically Banshee that I feel stupid for not anticipating something like this. With the end of season three teasing an exciting new collaboration between Proctor and Hood, the way forward seemed obvious. So of course, that was too easy for Banshee. Instead, the show slowly lets us in on where our characters have been over the course of its first hour back. Carrie is separated from her kids, having therapy sessions with Dexter’s Sergeant Doakes, and spending her time rebuilding a house and beating up criminals. Brock is now the Sheriff and struggling with an office he fears has been infiltrated by Proctor, who, by the way, is now the Mayor. Bunker has recovered from his brother’s assault and is taking his revenge by secretly sleeping with his wife. Sugar is more or less the same, Job is still missing, and Rebecca is dead.
It’s this death that brings our characters back into each other’s orbit. Apparently there is a serial killer on the loose, and Rebecca is the third young woman to meet her end in this way. It’s the kind of set up that feels like the start of a long-postponed revival or a belated sequel more than a fourth season, but this being the beginning of the end, trying something a little different makes sense and is a pretty exciting prospect. The characters of Banshee, as messed up and regularly brutalised as they are, usually tend to succeed in one way or another, so it’s a new feeling to realise that Job’s disappearance left them stumped. They followed the leads they had, they got nowhere, and so they gave up and have been grappling with their guilt ever since. After everything that has happened, failure on this level is a new look for Hood, but a logical next step. It follows that after such a catastrophe it would take something as shocking as the death of Rebecca to bring him back.
At this early stage, I have no idea who the killer could be. One of Proctor’s enemies is the obvious choice, but, again, obvious isn’t exactly Banshee’s wheelhouse. Every other option I can think of seems equally unlikely, but Banshee has earned itself the kind of privileged position where speculation can never quite match up to where the story will actually go, so it’s better to just hold on tight and enjoy the ride.
The news that this year will be Banshee last still feels strange. The show has always been a gripping, exhilarating delight, but last year it staked a claim as one of the best things on television. There’s nothing else that has ever quite managed the same blend of pulp and depth (sorry Sons Of Anarchy), and with the series only just hitting its stride, Season Four seems like an early place to bow out. But by all accounts this was a creative decision made to send the show out on a high rather than let it slowly burn itself out. Like always, Banshee has made the unexpected choice, but you can see how it will work. And while I would happily sign up for several more years of this underrated gem of a show, I would rather four excellent seasons in my Blu-ray collection than seven of declining quality.
At this point, I don’t know where this show is going or what kind of ending we can expect, and that just makes me more excited. Something Out Of The Bible wasn’t exactly Banshee’s most propulsive hour, but considering how much ground it had to cover, it was never going to be. Instead, it’s laid the groundwork for what promises to be a stunning ride into the sunset. Bring it on.
Read Gabriel’s review of the season three finale, We All Pay Eventually, here.