by Matthew Thompson
(For this blog on the first season of Banshee I kept the spoilers to the bullets, so non-watchers could see what it was about and those who have seen it can see some more spoilerly thoughts of mine further below.)
High art Banshee is not, but it sure is fun. When an unnamed master thief (Antony Starr) is released from prison after fifteen years and looks to reconnect with his past, he finds himself in a small town named Banshee. In a ridiculous sequence of events, this man ends up taking the identity of the soon-to-be Banshee Sheriff Lucas Hood and in charge of the law enforcement in this rural Pennsylvania town. Things don’t get any more realistic from here, but if you can find your way past that you’ll be treated to a fantastically fun action series unlike any other you’ll find on television.
The first twenty minutes will give you a good idea of what Banshee’s unique brand of action has in store with a thrilling sequence in the city streets and a bar room brawl that leaves one man with a quarter-sized hole in his hand and another with a bottle of A1 rammed down his throat. It is the latter that makes Banshee stand out. The gun fights are nice, but it is the bloody hand-to-hand combat that will leave you breathless. These brutal battles leave weapons at the door for the most part save for the occasional blade or improvised armament (think a wooden chair or free weight plate). These knockdown drag outs are no one-sided affairs either, not afraid to leave the protagonists a bloody mess at the end. They aren’t for the faint of heart, but Banshee is worth a look for these fights alone if that that sort of thing appeals to you.
Banshee also explores our thief’s past as well as the criminal underbelly of his new home. It is his former lover and partner-in-crime Ana (Ivana Milicevic) that brings him to Banshee. She has tried to move on from her old life, so his arrival in town throws a wrench in the works. Their past connections to a Ukrainian mob sets up some of the opposition Hood faces in Season 1. He’ll also have to contend with Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen), a former Amish man turned crime lord who has a hand in many of the criminal issues plaguing Banshee. He and the Ukranian mob boss Rabbit (Ben Cross) make for entertaining long-term foes for Hood and his band of comrades. The show will also bring in weekly baddies for his crew to mete out their vigilante justice to. I was impressed with the show’s abilities to juggle all these threats.
As for the people on Hood’s side, you have Ana and his deputies, who generally have contentious relationships with him in this first season. On the more loyal side of things are Job (Hoon Lee), a colorful asset who generally provides Lucas with tech support, and Sugar (Frankie Faison), a bartender from Banshee who he befriends early on, both of whom are scene stealers. Lucas will also meet a bevy of love interests… or something like that. Suffice it to say, those looking for sex and eye candy will find it in spades in Banshee.
Banshee’s leading man is trying to reconnect with his past while simultaneously trying to not let it catch up with him and give away his true identity. It can make for an entertaining if slightly preposterous high-wire act to see play out. I think the real appeal of Banshee comes in seeing its unique action play out. It makes for one exciting hour of TV and I look forward to diving into the next two seasons soon.
- I think where I went from thinking this show is pretty good to really liking it was the fight with the MMA guy into the beginning of the next episode where he was trying to get out of the museum. The former showed just how vicious the fights could get while the latter was just thrilling as hell.
- Picking a favorite fight is tough. While Lucas was the most fun to watch in a scuffle, I think the Ana and Olek one has really stuck with me. It felt like it lasted a whole episode where they just kept flashing over to what other characters were doing and these two were still duking it out.
- Of course, the toughest to watch was the one with the Albino in prison. My goodness. Just so rough. Now I’ve managed to mention three fights which should suffice.
- I would have said they juggled all the different villains perfectly, but I think Rabbit should have just died at the end of the season. They had some weekly villains. He would have been the season-long one while Kai could be sort of always around one. Heck they could even bring in another Ukrainian to replace him if they wanted to keep that angle going. Him dying would have probably made the finale more satisfying, but I guess I’ll wait and see how it turns out going forward.
- The women on this show are all so beautiful, but Rebecca wins I think. It has become comical how any girl who steps foot in Banshee Lucas will sleep with though.
- I was sort of eh on the big team-up to go save Hood in the finale. It was a little cheesy for everyone to come together, but it gave us a bunch of awesome moments like that one with the rocket launcher, so it was still pretty good.
- At first I thought Burton seemed like a cheap white Brother Mouzone knockoff, but he is actually pretty interesting in his own right.
- I had lots of “Oh it’s that person!” moments while watching this. Like the Bubbles’ friend and the lawyer from The Wire showing up, but realizing that Ana was Milos’ wife on Seinfeld was definitely the craziest.
That will do it for my thoughts on Season 1 of Banshee. I may try to do one more post when I finish up Seasons 2 and 3, but no guarantees. Thanks for reading!