Banshee "Bloodlines" Review: Like Pulling Teeth
You know, BANSHEEEEEEE truthers, it's a lot of fun to show up every week and dig into the details of stuff like THEME and CHARACTER, because that's just what I like to do on a typical Friday night. But one of the glories of this show—and perhaps its most spectacular accomplishment—is that it simply keeps finding giant human beings to throw into gruesome fights with Antony Starr's Lucas Hood. Last week it was the tribe gang member Chayton Littlestone, who was still wreaking havoc in this episode, and just so we didn't think the Amish community didn't have their own MEGA HUGE boulder of a human being, "Bloodlines" introduced Olafur Olafsson's Jonah Ambrecht.
It's silly that Hood and company keep running into the biggest oafs on the planet when working cases in a small hamlet in Pennsylvania, but it's also completely awesome. (I kind of hope that at some point, the show reveals that there's toxic sludge in the water, and one of the primary byproducts is increased hossness.) The Banshee team consistently creates new ways to set up and execute the fight sequences, and this one was no different. The showdown between Hood and Ambrecht, a religious extremist teacher who killed the Kinaho girl and kidnapped Rebecca's brother Solomon, started with your basic interrogation tactics, which helped build tension before Hood decided that he'd be better off handling matters his way—you know, by holding people down and burning the back of their necks. Last week's scuffle with Chayton was probably more impressive from a fight choreography standpoint, especially given how long it went on, but this one's intensity really got to me. And that intensity only ratcheted up further once Proctor arrived on the scene and took care of Ambrecht himself. The "oral surgery" Proctor performed on Ambrecht had me hiding my eyes behind my shirt, and that wasn't enough. Mouth and teeth stuff just gets to me, guys. Like, I kind of want to puke right now.
ANYWAY, cool fights are cool, and we (read: I) should never lose sight of that when watching this very entertaining show. I now return to you to the regularly scheduled discussion of theme and character because hey, "Bloodlines" did some solid stuff on that front, too.
To go back to topics I've discussed previously—namely, Banshee's efforts to try different things, and its success in balancing stories in a more impressive fashion—I liked how last week's "The Warrior Class" and "Bloodlines" served as a nice little two-parter. And more than that, since "The Warrior Class" spent some some quality time on the Kinaho reservation, "Bloodlines" focused more on the Amish side of things. These two sub-communities are so prominent within the town of Banshee, and the season's opening episodes have smartly looked into them. The nature of the show means that there's going to be a lot of corruption, fighting, and even murder, especially when the two groups interact with one another, but it's nice to have a more tangible rationale for why those awful things might happen. That adds color to Banshee's universe, and it also makes the scenes where Hood and the rest of the force saunter into these communities more valuable. One of the scenes that really stood out to me in this regard was Hood's interview with the Amish escapee who talked about his desire to read, and what the community would or would not allow him to do. That's not really new information, and there was something moderately goofy about "I JUST WANTED TO READ," but that's both a realistic representation of what can happen in Amish communities and a useful reality for the show to display in its desire to depict what happens to people within these communities—and when they escape them. It takes a toll, to say the least.
"Bloodlines" also returned to the tension between Alex and Proctor a bit more clearly, going as far as to deliver a full-on tussle in a local diner. I appreciate that the patrons who were there barely reacted to such a hateful and emotional fight, but I guess by this point, that's kind of the norm, huh? Here again, the show has done a solid job of establishing who Alex is and what his issues are, both within the tribe and outside of it, so that we can better understand what's going on with him and Proctor. We know that Proctor's kind of a weird dude, but if we hadn't had these little moments sprinkled within the first four episodes (and a little at the end of last season) with the two of them escalating their problems, their temporary truce here wouldn't have worked as well. While Proctor has been banished from his family and community—and in a lot of ways prefers it that way—Alex is still trying to modernize or improve his community from within. The two of them are different in that way, and somehow, despite all the bloodshed and exploding cow parts, it seems like they've come to realize that. It's possible that Proctor might be playing a long con with Alex, but I think Banshee could be really fascinating if they start working together to try to better the town. Although that probably won't have great impact on Chayton's anti-white crusade and is bound to result in violence or criminal activity that Hood will have to stop, Proctor and Alex couldn't have kept one-upping each other without one of them dying sooner rather than later. I'm glad they're both sticking around for now.
Elsewhere in "Bloodlines," the stuff with Job trying to control Jason Hood worked fine enough, I guess. I liked how last week, the show simply dropped the younger Hood character into the world, and this week, tried to treat him like a bit of a ticking time bomb, but we're probably just going to have to wait and see. The guy playing Jason, Harrison Thomas, hasn't left much of an impact on me yet and given this show's processes, the character is almost certainly going to do something awful/violent/troublesome. I just don't know what that is right now and in the interim, it's not that exciting of a story. But hey, Job! Glad he's back in the picture.
Carrie's sort of stuck on an island, story-wise, which is obviously the point. I think that plot would be more successful if we spent more time with her inside, doing more than just making phone calls that no one is picking up, or fighting. The dream sequence that kicked off the episode made some inroads toward something more, as did the episode's final moments in which Rabbit visited Carrie, seemingly pretending to be deathly ill. Perhaps next week will focus more on how she feels about Rabbit's return (even though she knew he was alive) and that will drum up some of the alienation, confusion, and pain she's feeling at the moment. It's a good story, and I think the show needs to embrace it.
For me, this episode probably wasn't as strong as last week's, but it was a rock-solid cap to the Solomon's Missing story. This pair of episodes succeeded in bringing us further into different corners of Banshee's world while leaving us with some dangling threads and characters (most notably Chayton) that will absolutely cause problems in the near future.
– Hey, I don't know if you heard, but Banshee has been renewed for a third season. That's pretty cool! We still have a long way to go here in Season 2, but I'm very interested to see just how long the show can run, at least in its current form.
– Hey, I don't know if you saw, but Ivana Miličevič read last week's review—or at least tweeted to me about it. This comes after executive producer and director Greg Yaitanes tweeted at me for our Season 2 premiere discussion. That's not only cool for me (next stop: writers' room!), but cool for everyone because the Banshee team seems to really appreciate and pay attention to the love people give it. That's nice. Now y'all better be on your best behavior from here on out; who knows who's reading!
– That Awkward Moment When... you sleep with your boss and clearly like him but he's kind of uncommunicative and dispassionate until you get into a car accident and almost die. Need more Hood and Siobhan, right?
– It seems like Odette Annable's Nola is on her way out of town, at least for now. But anytime you can throw an axe directly into a murderer's head from like 15 feet away before you throw up the deuces and ride off, you have to do it.
What'd you think of "Bloodlines"? Are you satisfied with how the show resolved Solomon's kidnapping?
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