Breaking the law usually means crossing someone in some way. If you think about it, most crimes are crimes because they have victims. Sure, morality plays a big part in what makes a crime a crime, but beyond that, from a more pragmatic perspective, if you cross someone there is no guarantee that they won’t bite back harder. Committing crimes means inviting reprisals, and reprisals tend to lead to either an ignominious end or an ongoing bloody cycle that ultimately takes away so much more than what you stood to gain by breaking the law in the first place. Hood and Carrie’s choices have had no shortage of consequences and those consequences have led them down darker and darker paths that saw those around them hurt or killed. So far, give or take a dead foster father, their daughter had managed to mostly stay out of it. Until now.
If this was a standard episode of Banshee it would be a pretty damn good one. We got bruising action, surprising tenderness, some punch-the-air Job badassery, a cliffhanger ending that made me jump and the terrible consequence of all Hood and Carrie’s choices; their daughter being dragged into it and forced to kill to save herself, a moment that was beautifully shot and scored to be just as hard hitting as such a huge development deserves.
And yet, it’s not quite enough to make up for the fact that all the big plots that will inevitably feed into the endgame are still in no real hurry to get anywhere. The Bunker brothers remain none too pleased with each other, Proctor is at odds with the Neo-Nazis and Brock isn’t a fan of the satanic serial killer, a stance that is probably reflected by just about everyone watching the show at this point.
Look, I won’t deny that the ending was effective and that this was the first week where I felt slightly engaged in seeing where the Satanic cult stuff was going, but until I see otherwise I can’t shake the feeling that the killer isn’t going to have an enormous impact on how this all ends. Sure, maybe he’ll influence Hood emotionally or something, but a show like Banshee can only come to a close focussing on the characters who drew us in in the first place, and probably in the Hood/Proctor showdown the series has seemingly been building to from the start. Right now, though, the series would have to do a huge amount of work in the two episodes remaining to make that showdown feel credible. That said, Proctor’s blatant attempt to kill Carrie and how close that came to killing Deva does give a pretty credible reason for Hood and crew to have to take him down. Let’s just hope the serial killer doesn’t get in the way of that showdown feeling earned.
Two episodes. Less than two hours. That’s all that is left to tie all of this up. Let’s take just one moment to consider what has to be resolved before the curtain closes over Banshee for good. Proctor has to face off with the cartel, Bunker needs to deal with the Neo-Nazis, the killer has to be disposed of, the corrupt deputy needs to go and that’s to say nothing of the myriad character relationships demanding resolution. At this point Banshee should be doubling down on all of that. I know I sound like a broken record and that I’ve been saying things to similar effect the last couple of weeks, but with every passing episode seemingly doing nothing to secure a satisfying ending, the concern becomes more pressing. The looming finale is a Sword of Damocles that can’t help but hang over every episode, no matter how strong the merits of those episodes might be.
But, as it stands, this was a solid instalment with a lot to love. Dawson going from potential lover to comforter of Hood in a moment of weakness was a striking, powerful moment. I love that Banshee allows its characters to be vulnerable and seeing Hood crying in the arms of the one person who might be as damaged as him was moving stuff. Likewise the ongoing impact of Job’s PTSD; a lesser show might have toyed with this for an episode before brushing it off, but Banshee once again reminds us that its characters are human and not even an unapologetic badass like Job can quickly bounce back from two years of torture. Still, Job powers through, and even manages to drop a killer quip at the end of it all. Despite everything, he’s still the same at heart, and that’s somewhat reassuring. His experience even seems to have softened him in other areas, as implied by another warm moment between he and Hood after the assault on Carrie’s house. For all its other current flaws, the tenderness that keeps Banshee from being too absurd remains.
I’m still holding out hope that Banshee will go out in style, and I think it is possible that the final two episodes could provide a fitting finale, but that possibility is dwindling fast, and another episode without clear urgency would be more than enough to doom the show. Still, on the evidence of Only One Way A Dogfight Ends, Banshee still has the potential to deliver gripping, powerful and exciting television. Let’s hope that potential comes to life in the ways that counts on the home stretch.