Death is a constant presence in the world of Banshee. In a town where bullets fall even more regularly than rain, at least two gangs are trying to tear each other apart on daily basis, and the sheriff has a cargo hold worth of baggage from his past life, every character walks around with the potential for it to be their last day on earth. It’s a feeling that goes a long way towards keeping the show’s energy levels high, the near-constant tensions offering the promise that anyone could kill anyone and make it an event that’s simultaneously hard to watch and impossible to look away from.
But while the threat of death is constantly hanging over Banshee’s residents, where the show shines even more is in showing how the big deaths are processed by those left behind. Death means something in Banshee—yes, there’s plenty of Ukrainian gangsters and Redbone thugs and out-of-town crooks who the show feels no remorse about swatting away, but when someone who’s a central part of life in this world dies people feel it. Characters are changed by death, shattered by death, become psychotic over death, and over time process death in a way that changes who they become. “Tribal” took the lives of two people special to the central figures of Banshee, and “We Were All Someone Else Yesterday” shows that the impact of those deaths will be reverberating through this world for a long time to come.
The brutal circumstances of Siobhan’s death are the ones with the most visible effects. Many of you in the comments last week took exception to the show’s decision to kill off Siobhan, arguing that it was too easy of a route for the show to take and that it existed only as a narrative catalyst. I can see the merit of those arguments, but counter with the fact that killing her has far more impact on the show than merely postponing the reveal of Hood’s secret. It paves the way for Kurt Bunker’s story to advance as he takes her place as sheriff’s deputy, interestingly looking more official than either Hood or Brock at the moment despite the faded swastika on his cheek. It makes Brock the last original member of Banshee PD left standing, pushing him even further down his dark path that now seems to involve being willing to commit perjury to put Proctor behind bars. And it brings the full weight of an FBI task force into Banshee, a development that not even Hood’s war with Rabbit achieved to the extent it’s present here.
As for Hood, he’s taking her death the hardest, but the manner in which he processes it is what makes it special. Building off the success of the oddly dreamlike black-and-white scenes between Hood and Siobhan at the start of “Tribal,” Hood’s brain goes into serious “what if” mode. Not the what if you’d expect, but a what if going all the way back to the pilot episode, asking what would happen if he’d tried a pacifist approach to the showdown that killed the original Lucas Hood. These scenes are revisited in a manner so uncannily close to the pilot, it raises the question of if they shot this footage at the exact same time and have been sitting on it for two-plus seasons until the right opportunity presented itself.
This mental reset is even more telling than if Hood weighed the possibility of shooting Chayton before Siobhan’s neck gave way. Banshee is always about the lie Hood tells every day when he puts on the sheriff’s badge, but a detail less frequently explored is the fact that he chose to tell that lie in the first place. His black-and-white jaunt into an alternative reality shows how much the what-ifs of the life he’s chosen continue to plague him, and hint at the possibility that he believes he may have made the wrong choice. He’d be alone save for Job, heading into a future that has absolutely nothing to offer it, but he’d leave things better than they are now. The real Hood would be keeping order, Carrie’s family unit would remain unbroken, and—most importantly in his mind—Siobhan would still be alive. There’s a tremendously elegiac quality to these scenes, the look on alt-reality Hood’s face so loaded with regrets it’s oppressive.
But that’s not the path that Hood chose, and not the path he chooses to follow when the FBI mounts its assault on the Redbone camp, as he opts to sneak in ahead of them and take his time with Chayton. Hood can be frightening when he wants to be, yet he’s never appeared as sadistic as he has in this moment, twisting the knife into Chayton’s thigh and mocking his shushing of Siobhan with an almost rictus grin on his face. It’s a ruthless reversal of the approach he considers in flashback, the attitude that if he’s chosen this role as rogue sheriff he’s going to own it entirely. And sadly, the commitment keeps him from finishing the job, unable to best Chayton and almost too late to stop him from snapping a second neck when Aimee can’t bring herself to put her adoptive brother down. It’s a mess all around, both in terms of the raid and in terms of whatever’s going on in Hood’s head.
The other funeral that takes place in “We Were All Someone Else Yesterday” is Leah Proctor, an action that sees both her son and granddaughter returning home for the funeral. The death of the family matriarch is often a fracturing effect on the family unit, and the events of the funeral make clear that the Proctor outcasts aren’t spared from the pain despite being long broken off. Interestingly, the two react to the loss in very different ways, as their parents offer respective olive branches in this time of grief. Proctor accepts it by sitting in the front row and helping bear the casket to the hearse, Rebecca throws it at their feet and coldly states forgiveness isn’t something she’s looking for or willing to grant herself.
Indeed, Rebecca’s behavior following the funeral is that of someone who doesn’t need anything, and is in complete control of her environment. She’s throwing her weight around at Savoy by firing and then beating a loudmouth employee, and then daring to dictate terms to Lennox, a representative of Philadelphia crime boss and former Proctor business partner Mr. Fraser. Lili Simmons’ cocky grin in both those instances is one of almost childlike glee, showing that Leah’s deathbed plea for Rebecca to find her own way in the world fell on deaf ears, and the role of outlaw queen of Banshee suits her just fine. It’s further emphasized by some excellent direction by OC Madsen at the Savoy opening, a tracking shot of her walking through the club and feeling completely in charge setting the mood—a mood that immediately does a tonal 180 once Burton’s silhouette appears in the hallway.
Turns out that Proctor isn’t in as much of a mood to pick fights, as he’s in a quieter place with the death of his mother. Although the last two episodes have backed him into a difficult position, his approach to it is now one that’s simultaneously repentant and contemplative about the course of his life. A large part that clearly has to do with Emily, who has deepened their connection and done so with a refreshingly honest attitude—as a lifelong Banshee resident her eyes are wide open to the reality, if not the specifics, of what sort of man Proctor is. Emily’s actions remains something of a cipher to the viewer (Is she genuinely fond of Proctor? Trying to make Brock jealous? So desperate not to be alone she’ll take any safe harbor?) but to Proctor it’s real enough to ground him and smooth over things with Lennox regardless of how humiliated it leaves Rebecca. It makes an interesting parallel to Hood’s situation, Proctor moving into domestic peace at the same time his rival has lost it.
The events of “We Were All Someone Else Yesterday” don’t resolve any of the issues the day started out with. Hood’s still alone in Siobhan’s trailer, unable to shake the what-if cobwebs from his head even as he picks up the dishes he threw against the walls in rage. Rebecca’s on the couch seething over all the choices her uncle made. Chayton survives the umpteenth thing that should have killed him and bursts from the water like a vengeful lake spirit. Both the minister at Leah’s funeral and Emily speak of the promise of tomorrow in this episode, but based on the decisions and reactions of those of everyone still alive, tomorrow looks like it’ll be a lot yesterday and today—full of bullets, blood, and bad memories.
- Banshee got picked up for a fourth season! Good news for fans, and for executive producer Greg Yaitanes, who got another boost last week when Cinemax ordered his new show Quarry to series. Interestingly, the release also says season four will be for eight episodes instead of the usual 10, and shooting will be moved from North Carolina to Pittsburgh. We’ll have to wait and see how much, if at all, the show will change.
- I didn’t talk about Deva’s walk on the wild side above, largely because I want to withhold judgement until I can tell if it’s as bad of an idea as it looks. Deva channeling her parents and moving into petty theft is interesting, Deva falling in with a druggie crowd and sleeping with their smarmy leader feels like a TV teenager minefield of plots that could be a chore to watch.
- In better Deva bits, the scene where she and Gordon (who proves himself a crack shot at the range) take tentative steps back to a father-daughter dynamic is an hopeful moment in an otherwise bleak episode.
- Carrie taking a seat next to Hood in the bar post-funeral is a fantastic illustration of the history between the characters. Not a word spoken and barely a glance exchanged, yet the poise of both makes it clear that condolences are given and received; and the distance maintained between the two further solidifies that the other part of their history remains dead and buried.
- Colonel Stowe returns after a three-episode absence, trying to rekindle his relationship with Carrie and unknowingly getting his hand and voice copied in the process.
- I would watch a webisode of Burton and Lennox’s sunglasses-sporting henchman comparing bow tie notes while their bosses meet in the other room.
- Best Job Look: After a few toned down weeks, Job’s sporting a excellent green paisley smoking jacket. Perfect for planning to interfere with a federal bust or plot a high-stakes heist.
- “Baby, I ain’t talked you out of anything since nineteen-ninety-never, so I’m gonna ask again. What do you need?”
- “I put that cross on my back as a challenge to his God, to see if I’d be dealt with the way he said I would.”
- “I’ll have your badge for this, fucker.” “Get in fucking line.”
- “Are you chasing something, or are you being chased?”