Banshee: Tribal review

The stakes are the highest they've ever been on Banshee. Love, truth,and honor are all on the line in perhaps the series' strongest outing.

This Banshee review contains major spoilers ahead.

Once again, Banshee proves why this show’s successful blend of action and drama makes for must-watch television. To be honest, I’m still trying to collect my thoughts after tonight’s stunner of an episode. “Tribal” is many things: For Chayton, it’s a siege. For Hood, it’s a last stand. For Kai, it’s about choosing sides. And for Siobhan, it’s about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whatever it is, lives will be sacrificed upon Chayton Littlestone’s altar of vengeance before this night is over. On a show like Banshee, death is neither cheap nor easy; begetting the refrain “blood for blood.”

Brock was tonight’s true hero, as far as I’m concerned. That he knows he would be a better sheriff than Hood is not the point. What matters is that he stands by the power of his convictions despite being embroiled in a life-and-death scenario. The letter of the law matters even if the world is going to hell. (This was once true of The Walking Dead‘s Rick Grimes, but where’s his morality now?)  Siobhan had the truth about Hood spelled out for her in a case file, but Brock’s judgment isn’t clouded by sentiment. He knows, empirically, that Banshee’s sheriff is a toxic influence not only on the whole department, but to the very laws they are sworn to uphold. I give a lot of credit to Matt Servitto and the writers for allowing Brock to be such a deep, well-rounded character who, from moment, can be darkly funny to self-deprecating to morally superior.

As much as I loved and appreciated Brock tonight (and this entire season), Tribal had many unlikely heroes. Surely Allison, the gun-toting DA, was a surprise. She, too, stood by the power of her convictions, determined to protect herself and the innocent civilians trapped along with her in the station—all the while keeping Kurt Bunker at arm’s length. And who could blame her, really, given what we learn about her family’s previous run-in with white supremacists. Bunker, who is both proactive and polite to a fault, claims to be a changed man. And throughout Tribal, the reformed skinhead proves to be an unlikely ally. Hood certainly seems to trust him enough to deputize him on the spot. Given Tom Pelphrey’s surprisingly vulnerable, soft-spoken performance, and the fact that he takes out an awful lot of Red Bones, I’m inclined to agree with Hood’s judgment—at least for now.

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As for Hood, he may finally be in over his head. Last week it seemed as though his fate rested in Siobhan’s hands, that they had no possible future together. She doesn’t know who the real Hood is (and maybe neither does he), but he is willing to let her in. It’s an emotionally intense scene between two characters that clearly care deeply for one another. But then again, as Brock said so aptly, everything Hood touches turns to blood.

It’s interesting to note that “Tribal” was about setting up defenses, about keeping the danger out. The same could be said about Hood, and even Siobhan. Their hearts have suffered beatings before, punishing them for letting people in. But there is always a way in through those defenses, be they steel shutters or a well-constructed emotional facade. Either way, when those defenses fall, someone pays the price. And tonight, that person had to be Siobhan. Banshee may be a show with a high body count, but this death really struck a chord with me. Maybe it was because Hood was helpless to save her (much the same way Kai was powerless to save his mother). Or maybe it was the way Chayton took his sweet time in doing the deed. Either way, losing Siobhan is a real heartbreaker.

Mother Proctor’s death was expected, but nonetheless very sad, especially for Kai, who, like Siobhan, found himself at the wrong place at the wrong time. Like Bunker, Kai afforded Hood another uneasy alliance. When he shot his way out of the basement, I honestly didn’t know if he’d survive. (It was that kind of night.) Considering the sheer level of violence in Tribal, Leah Proctor’s quiet death carried a lot of weight. Indeed, seeing Kai’s bloodied hand clasping his mother’s cold hand is an apt summary of Kai’s two world’s colliding.

Some closing thoughts:

Tonight’s episode reminded me a lot of Game of Thrones in the sense that certain characters’ deaths can really shake fandom to its core. “Tribal” was, in many ways, Banshee‘s “Red Wedding” episode. All we can do as viewers is to appreciate and understand that the very best entertainment evokes a visceral response from its fans; quite often, we are punished for our loyalty.

“Rebecca sees the light and hits the bricks” is essentially what happens to Ms. Bowman, but the seemingly supernatural way in which Kai’s dying mother confronts her granddaughter is chilling. A lot of the credit for this scene’s effectiveness comes down to crackerjack editing. As swift and unexpected as her departure was, I imagine we’ll be seeing Rebecca again.

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Banshee strikes me as a very closed, claustrophobic place. It’s like Stephen King’s novel, Under the Dome, minus the dome; anyone we care about (and even those we don’t) is essentially trapped by something they cannot see.

If this is only the season’s midway point, the mind boggles at what’s in store for the season finale. I very well may need to institute a 6-star rating system…


5 out of 5