March 14, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “Banshee”


Everyone in Banshee, Pennsylvania is a tortured soul, from its Mayor to its police officers to its waitresses and teens.  That’s what gives BANSHEE a weight that goes beyond its sheer awesomeness as an action series–although make no mistake, it so consistently hits so high a bar in its set-piece sequences that there’s nothing else on television that even comes close.  (And for that matter, dollar-for-dollar it accomplishes more than just about any big-budget theatrical epic around.)  Banshee‘s third season came to an end last night with enough torture, massacre and general bloodletting for at least three other shows, but the toll all of that took on its characters was what made it powerful instead of just viscerally impressive.

The episode, written by Jennifer Ames and Steve Turner, and directed by Loni Peristere, included mysterious flashbacks to the past of the man we know as Lucas Hood, and Antony Starr, with no more cosmetic aid than a shaved beard, suggested not just a hefty amount of aging between the scenes, but a soul that had taken on more pain that it could comfortably handle.  His allies were equally shell-shocked, especially after Carrie (Ivana Milicevic), Job (Hoon Lee) and Sugar (Frankie Faison) were abducted by Colonel Stowe (Langley Kirkwood), from whom they’d stolen $6M in illegal funds, and with whom Carrie engaged in one of the show’s trademark fight-to-the-death battle sequences.  Eventually, Hood saved them, but with a price:  Carrie’s husband Gordon (Rus Blackwell), one-time mild-mannered district attorney, proved himself a badass sniper as he and Hood launched a two-man attack on Stowe’s squadron, at the cost of his own life.  That entire battle sequence was intercut with the resolution of another of the season’s storylines, as Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomson), his niece-with-benefits Rebecca (Lili Simmons), Kai’s bodyguard/assassin Burton (Matthew Rauch), and a sword-wielding drug dealer slaughtered the other drug dealers who had been about to burn Kai alive in last week’s episode.

The temptation is to think of a season of Banshee as a collection of its action sequences, and certainly this season was marked by the incredible combat between Burton and Nola Longshadow (Odette Annable), which made it impossible to look at a car’s hood ornament the same way ever again; Hood’s escape from an obese gangster’s headquarters, which happened to be located on the flatbed of a speeding truck; the spectacular episode-long salute to Assault on Precinct 13, where the Banshee police station came under siege; and the various battle scenes involving the season’s Big Bad (in all possible ways) Chayton Littlestone (Geno Segers), culminating in some terrific CG work when Hood literally blasted Chayton apart with a shotgun.  An enormous amount of credit is due to the show’s directors, stunt team and editors for these sequences.

But the most powerful piece of violence in the season was one of its simplest:  Chayton’s snapping the neck of Hood’s deputy and lover Siobhan (Trieste Kelly Dunn), an act that broke Hood as Banshee had never broken him before.  Series showrunner and co-creator Jonathan Tropper is a novelist whose day job is writing sensitive male-oriented rom-coms like This Is Where I Leave You, and Banshee insists on giving its characters their due; death is frequent in Banshee, but it’s not casual.  No one will ever give its cast members an Emmy (hell, no one will ever give Banshee a non-technical Emmy in general), but Starr, Milicevic, Simmons, Thomson, Hoon and Faison all perform their roles with far more depth than action-adventures usually allow.

Banshee spent the latter part of its Season 3 setting the stage for Season 4 (which for cost reasons will be 8 hours rather than the usual 10).  New deputy Kurt Bunker (Tom Pelphrey), who has a troubled ex-skinhead past, was introduced, along with his current skinhead brother.  More importantly, Job was kidnapped, probably by the same secret government unit that had interrogated and tortured Hood in the flashbacks into confessing that he’d killed his brutal father, and a despondent Hood turned in his badge at the end of the episode, apparently about to go work with Proctor while he searches for Job.  It’s certainly fertile material for the next session of the series.

Although Banshee isn’t a breakout hit for Cinemax on the scale of HBO’s Game of Thrones, it’s a solidly reliable success for the network, and cost issues aside, can probably keep going for several more seasons.  For these past three, it’s been as satisfying an hour of action entertainment as pop culture currently provides.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."