Full spoilers for season two of Banshee follow!!! Read at your own risk!!!Anyone who has spoken to me about television for more than fifteen minutes or so knows that I am a true fan of the Cinemax original series Banshee. To me, the show is unapologetic in its desire to embrace cranking the pace up to a solid 11 and keeping it there as long as it damn well pleases. It made for some incredible moments in its freshman season, from the excellently choreographed action to the tastefully handled moments of intimacy. I found myself curious as to where David Schickler and Jonathan Tropper would take the show in its second season though. Would they maintain that fast pace I loved so much? Or would they slow things down a bit? I would seem, as we find ourselves on the other end of Banshee’s sophomore season, that the answer is yes, on both fronts.
Season two picks up right where season one leaves off, dealing with the fallout from Lucas Hood’s rescue. It’s a clever way to refresh your memory about the events that concluded the previous year, and it introduces a man who will become a rather important supporting character — Racine (Zeljko Ivanek). It also ends with Carrie (Ivana Milicevic) heading to prison for 30 days as punishment for her part in Hood’s epic rescue from last year. Carrie’s stay behind bars is the beginning of what turns out to be one of the biggest and most enjoyable character arcs of the season. She is torn away from the family she has built in Banshee, and finds herself realizing how much they truly mean to her. Counter to that though, she is also forced to use the skills she still posses from her former life to survive in a way that you’ve come to expect from Banshee. Carrie’s growth, along with several other main cast members, if a large part of what makes this season so different, and ultimately so much better, than the first.
Not to be out done, Lucas Hood (Antony Starr), the criminal-turned-sheriff we’ve all come to love, also progress quite a bit throughout season two. Sure we were able to see that he had a heart in season one, but this year we see the size of that heart. Seeing his relationship with Deputy Kelly (Trieste Kelly Dunn) go from its meager beginnings at the mid-way point of the season, where the two are simply convent for one another, to one that Hood is truly dependent on and invested in the season finale, is wonderful. And it’s done in such a way that you almost don’t realize what’s happening until they’re together in the end. That entire final scene between the two made me feel as if I was coming to the realization of how much Hood needed Kelly, right along with him.
While are two main focal points might be Hood and Carrie, the biggest surprise of season two, for me at least, was the arc that Rebecca (Lili Simmons) had throughout the season. She easily had the biggest journey from beginning to end, and the darkest and most intense one at that. The image of seeing her as she imitates Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen), showing a bit of dominance in the bedroom with Jason Hood (Harrison Thomas), will be stuck in my head for a long time to come. The amount of information conveyed in that one simple act by Rebecca sets up everything that comes for her as the rest of the season unfolds. Then of course, in what I saw as her finale right of passage into Kai’s world, she ends the season by brutally slaying The Thunder Man himself, Alex Longshadow (Anthony Ruivivar). I never saw it coming, and my jaw remained on the floor for a solid minute afterwards.
Those three certainly stood out to me, but I’d also be remiss is I didn’t talk about some of the best supporting cast in the show, namely Job (Hoon Lee) and Emmett Yawners (Demetrius Grosse). Job is simply a character that never disappoints. He is funny, charming, portrayed perfectly, and never gets old. He also steps up this year and makes some strides at becoming an even more central player in season three. Doing this would be one of the smartest moves Banshee could possibly make. Then there is Emmett. The rage you feel when his wife is assaulted is uncanny, and the sympathy that follows for Emmett as he reacts as any human being with a heart would, and yet still betrays the integrity he holds so dear, is simply impossible to describe. I don’t think I’ve felt the loss of a supporting character on a show more than Emmett this year. It was truly tragic, but at the same time, served it’s purpose, to move the story forward.
This leads me to my next point, the death of Rabbit (Ben Cross), and how incredibly smart killing him was. Shows thrive on change and progression, and Banshee wasn’t able to do that with Rabbit still waiting in the wing to take out Hood and Carrie. He needed to be dealt with, so that the show could move forward, and that’s just what happened. This, coupled with Carrie and Hood seemingly parting ways to be with their respective significant others, Job stepping up, and Rebecca and Kai strengthening their relationship in the most awkward of ways, makes for a finale that feels light years from where the premiere began, and in the best possibly way.
Banshee‘s second season was a remarkable leap forward for a series that I already loved, solidifying it as one of the show I deem worthy of the moniker “best on TV”. And with the tease of none other than Cheystone Littlestone (Geno Segers) returning as the main antagonist for season three, we have a lot to look forward to. Overall, I think I can sum Banshee’s second season up in three basic statements: No character left unchanged, every plot twist completely vital, and no apologies for what Banshee does better than every other show currently on air — never pulling a punch.