A few weeks ago when reviewing Banshee’s season premiere, I expressed support—or at least understanding—that Jonathan Tropper and company made the decision to end the story after this season. I still hold to that statement, but I need to tack on an amendment and say that while a creative team has the right to end on their terms, they should get a full season to reach said ending. With only three episodes left after tonight, the uneasy feeling is beginning to set in that there’s not enough time for the various plots old and new to conclude in the way the show has before. To name a few, there’s a serial killer plot, Amish tensions, a Colombian drug cartel, PTSD, a white supremacist power struggle, a mole in the police station, and six different layers of family drama between various players.
Now, Banshee being a show rife with chaos and goings on is nothing new. In my first review in fact, I praised the show for its willful abandonment of order in pursuit of going crazy. The problem is that it’s always had a method to its madness, a pacing of said craziness that you could see how the town’s various power players were driving each other forward and how the messes and crises were compounding each other. Banshee doesn’t have that same focus at this point, and they’re running out of time to get it. Like “Innocent Might Be A Bit Of A Stretch,” “A Little Late To Grow A Pair” is still a fun episode of the show, packed with many great individual character beats and moments, yet when it comes to the big picture the momentum and impact isn’t where it should be this close to the finish line.
For a case in point, look no further than the abrupt removal of Randall Watts from picture, as his son-in-law finally grew sick of kowtowing to a man who clearly had no respect for him and had evidently sold out the higher principles of the Brotherhood in favor of investments. Calvin orders him to leave his house, and when he laughs it off, Calvin literally gets his point across by wedging an icepick deep in Watts’ neck. It’s a moment that’s effective for its shock value, and there’s obvious narrative reasons for this twist: it further jeopardizes Proctor’s ability to complete his deal to the Colombians and makes Calvin’s volatility all the more stark. (The closing moment of the episode where Calvin stands naked and about to dismember his tormenter, his tattoos finally freed from his white collar outfit, is the most relaxed that we’ve seen him all season.)
The problem here is that while the abruptness of Watts’s removal from the scene helps Calvin’s arc, it also undercuts all the time spent establishing Watts’s connections to the rest of the Banshee world, even when you leave aside last episode’s reveal of his familial ties to the Bunker clan. Chance Kelly played the character with an overt swagger and cheerful disregard for his underlings in keeping with Banshee’s prior crime lords, and his energy promises interesting confrontations that will now never pay off. His conversations with Proctor portray a much more compelling business partnership than any of Calvin’s seething, and any man who’s able to dismiss Burton as “Bowtie” seems in line for a more momentous reckoning.
Similarly, the moment where he goes to see Kurt and offers both the carrot and stick approach to returning to the Brotherhood produces one of the episode’s best scenes, playing perfectly to Tom Pelphrey’s strength in portraying barely restrained tension. Kurt’s feelings about his past have been largely sublimated this season in favor of family drama, and seeing him pushed to a potential assassination using a department rifle is worlds more interesting than Maggie sharing Calvin’s badly concealed financial statements. (Especially given that he chooses to use department resources on said assassination, yet another thing that makes Brock tear out his nonexistent hair.) While Calvin’s tried using the “Brothers before Brotherhood” argument on Kurt before, this episode enforces a more interesting take on that argument that’s almost immediately rendered moot.
Going through similar family tensions this week is Proctor, as the Amish community is out in full force to demand the return of Rebecca’s body. Proctor’s conflicted relationship with his roots has been woven into the show since the beginning, with a potential return to the fold last season undone by his niece’s extracurriculars to traic effect. And while it’s impressive to see him facing off against the unified front of his kinsmen, now facing him directly as opposed to years of shunning, his anger doesn’t tell us anything new about his feelings. It’s a reiteration of tensions seen before, his umpteenth frustration at a culture that refuses to accept him or grant him any ground. Similarly, another Rebecca flashback also just reemphasizes the same things we’ve come to know about their relationship, that she wasn’t as clever as he was and that his control in the face of her rage remained absolute.
And yet while it’s doing nothing new with the character, it does produce the moment to equal last week’s “Carrie with a goddamned flamethrower,” as we’re introduced to “Burton with a goddamned chainsaw.” Longtime Banshee director Loni Peristrere is back behind the camera for “A Little Late To Grow A Pair,” and his angles invest the scene with perfect levels of tension, the uncertainty of Burton’s intent growing all the more unbearable. While its use never approaches Scarface levels, that doesn’t undercut the impact of the tool’s revving or Burton’s steely proclamation of the new embargo on their produce. Proctor standing impassively by reminds us again that his political standing doesn’t change the fact that he’s a gangster, and he knows every way to make someone hurt.
Burning out his enemies is Proctor’s modus operandi for the week, as in addition to lighting up some part of the Amish community he also takes a torch to Hood’s hunting cabin. However, rather than enter a brawl in the style of “Always The Cowboy” or “Real Life Is The Nightmare” they just stand there and watch it burn as Proctor insists Hood bring the killer to him. It’s something of a disappointing return to status quo, Hood’s year and a half away forgotten as they go back to keeping each other mostly at arm’s length. Similarly, Hood showing up in the back of Brock’s car to needle the other man is back to their original dynamic, Brock wearily resigned to the fact that there’s nothing he can do to stop this lunatic from running around his town enforcing his own brand of justice. (He does apologize to Hood for dropping a bombshell about Rebecca’s pregnancy though, and between that and his press conference it further reinforces Brock as the last bastion of sanity in this town.)
Hood’s brand of justice helps return to another status quo element as his investigation brings him back into contact with Agent Dawson as they follow similar leads on the killer’s body modification fetish. While Eliza Dushku is continuing to have a blast with this role, sweet-talking bartenders and then fighting off heavily pierced men with branding irons, it’s operating on largely predictable beats. She and Hood share their emotional scars over Scotch, quip with each other post-fight, and agree to pool their resources in pursuit of a similar goal. Based on Banshee timetables she should be in Hood’s bed in the next episode, at his throat in the one after, and then dying and stabbing Hood in the conscience in the one after that. I can easily see it going that way and hope it doesn’t, as it’ll only reinforce the feeling of missed opportunities.
Of all the arcs presented, Job’s return from the dead remains the most intriguing thing happening, and the first legitimate conversation between Job and Hood since the former’s rescue delivers the biggest emotional payoff of the episode. For someone as ultimately solid and stoic as Hood to admit he just gave up is nothing short of miraculous, and both Antony Starr and Hoon Lee make it clear that both men understand the impact of what he’s done. Banshee could draw out Job’s resentment of Hood and keep things arctic between the two, but it’s fully aware of the shared history between the two and that both understand the value of what would be lost should they commit to a petty grudge. “You and me, we ain’t never getting that time back,” Job advises. “So what you really need to worry about is what’s happening in the here and now.”
That advice, coupled with doing some work on Carrie’s house—not windows, Job doesn’t do windows—are enough to start stirring him back to life. Deputy Cruz is picking up Carrie’s not at all hidden trail right to her front door, and in greeting her Job shows every bit of poise and elan as we’ve come to expect from him in a strange circumstance. Job seems to draw the best out of Banshee’s femme fatales as we saw in brief one moment long ago between him and Nola, as their sex appeal does nothing for him: all he can see is how dangerous they are. (Then again dangerous is all we know about her at this point, another indictment against some time the series could be using better.)
Again, Job’s not back to where he was if his shaking hands on the weapon during that chat are any indication, but the mere fact that he’s able to hold that weapon indicates that the torturers couldn’t snuff what makes him him. His ragged beard and hair disappear with the flick of a razor following that interaction, and if Job can start to find his way back to his prime, I’ve got my fingers crossed that Banshee still has enough time to do the same.
- Best Job Look: Back in all his shaved-head glory!
- Earlier this week I caught up on Lucifer, which in its penultimate episode also had a plot about a Satanic cult employing subdermal implants (or as Lucifer described them, “misguided nobheads with Frisbees in their earlobes”). Amusingly, by tying its inclusion to the main character’s feelings about his reputation, this often-silly show about the devil solving crimes in Los Angeles managed to be smarter about its cult inclusion than Banshee is at this point.
- Speaking of which, our serial killer Declan—played by Frederick Weller of In Plain Sight—only makes a couple appearances this week to smirk at Brock’s righteous indignation and to leer over a florist cult member. Verdict: still “meh.”
- Rabbit’s mentioned in Hood’s conversation with Job, and his ghost is also hanging over Carrie’s appearance this week as her therapy recalls happier times with her father. (Speaking of time running out, Erik King better get a chance to unleash his inner Doakes sooner rather than later.)
- Pony Joe just can’t couldn’t catch a break this season. First Bunker beats him up and arrests him while filming a porno, then Carrie kicks the shit out of him in a burning warehouse, and now thanks to Calvin’s truck and a length of chain he’s reduced to what my notes referred to as “Torso Boy.”
- Sugar: “You’ll need to find another place to live.” Banshee gets around the location change by having Hood’s old home a den of termites, but neatly pivots from that by returning him to Siobhan’s old trailer.
- Bunker: “That was a good speech.” Brock’s pissed-off look in response to that is the best.
- “I can’t drink all this Scotch myself.” “Yeah, I think we both know that’s not true.”