This review contains spoilers.
Banshee has always been rooted in characters we can care about. No matter how bloody or absurd things get, the characters on the show are vulnerable and nuanced. Villains like Proctor and Chayton can win our sympathy, and heroes like Hood and Carrie bleed and suffer and sometimes fail terribly. This means that for all its insanity Banshee never feels shallow. Consider the explicit sex, the graphic violence, the explosive action and the superheroic, hyper-masculine badass at the centre of the series. It’s the kind of thing a fourteen year old boy would salivate over. Except Banshee has always managed to be more than the sum of its parts, always smarter and more thoughtful than detractors give it credit for.
From his first appearance Job has served a very particular role in the series. Not only is it great to see a transvestite presented without comment as probably the toughest character in a show full of tough characters, but Job has always been a brilliant source of comic relief, and Hoon Lee’s performance is in no small part what has made him such an immediately iconic fan favourite. But for the first time, this week, he is given some very unfamiliar material to play and he rises to the challenge brilliantly. After two years of torture and interrogation, Job is utterly broken. Dressed in rags, unshaven, hair grown out, barely able to see; he’s a twitchy, traumatised mess, and it is gutting. Lee plays this vulnerability with as much expertise as he plays every barbed wisecrack, and while this is new territory for the character is never feels jarring. Rather it is just a stark reminder of how brutal the world these characters exist in can be. Even the most seemingly carefree and resilient of them all can be destroyed this thoroughly, and that fact is so powerful. As awesome as they are, the characters in Banshee are allowed to be damaged by what they experience.
Job puts on a brave face. He snipes at Hood about how long it took them to find him, he coldly murders his captor and he is even able to make a snarky comment as Hood is arrested. But alone in his room at Carrie’s house he breaks down. He can’t even drink Sugar’s best scotch. And with Leo still out there with his money, is there any way that Job won’t chase his revenge to the bitter end?
It almost seemed a little anticlimactic how easily Job’s plight was resolved, after being told the characters could find no lead in the preceding two years, but I’m willing to buy it for now as I’m pretty sure that it won’t just be business as usual going forward for him. We’re yet to see the full extent of the wounds Job has been dealt, and I wonder if he may be less than determined to help Hood out of his newfound tight spot when he learns that his best friend had given him up for dead.
Speaking of which, the reveal that Rebecca was pregnant with Hood’s child at the time of her death was a gut punch I did not see coming. The flashbacks to her tending his wounds did seem like they could swiftly turn sexual, but I somehow doubt the situation is quite that straightforward. If Hood and Rebecca did sleep together, whatever the circumstances, it does a lot to explain his determination to find her killer, while also adding new shades to the ongoing mystery of just what happened in the two years since season three ended. At this point, the slow unfolding of reveals is much more compelling to me than the serial killer element, and by far the most interesting choice Banshee has made this year. I really love how it keeps Rebecca an active player and actually adds to her as a character, despite her brutal and seemingly ignominious demise.
Speaking of the killer, surely it’s Burton, right? I feel like the show is attempting to set Proctor up as a red herring, particularly after this week’s fairly clumsy subplot involving him almost killing a down-on-her-luck girl who tries to take advantage of him, but he’s too obvious and besides, nothing we’ve seen of the character has implied him being driven by anything other than ice cold pragmatism and a deep sense of hurt. Meanwhile, we’ve been seeing glimpses of Burton’s breaks with reality from the start; compounded by his tortured past, implied castration, and often tense relationship with Rebecca, he’s by far the most likely candidate.
But then, Banshee is smart. However the reveal of the killer plays out, it almost certainly won’t be what we expect. With a new victim meeting her demise in the final minutes of the episode, it looks like Hood will be swiftly exonerated as the hunt ramps up. If Burton is the killer I could almost see a scenario where Proctor protects him from Hood, bringing the two into their pretty much pre-ordained final showdown. The fact is, we’ve yet to see much of Proctor’s trademark vengeful fury toward the death of his niece, implying that either he knows more than he is letting on or his obvious feelings of betrayal still loom large where Rebecca is concerned. Whatever the case, I can’t wait to find out. The action and tension is beginning to escalate, and with only five episodes left the stage is set for a spectacular denouement.
Read Gabriel’s review of the previous episode, The Burden Of Beauty, here.