Banshee Season 2 Finale Review: Time Will Tell

By Cory Barker

Mar 15, 2014

Banshee S02E10: "Bullets and Tears"


I'll let you guys in on a bit of a trade secret: It's so much easier to write about a bad episode of television, or even one that's just disappointing. And we all spend so much time imagining what big episodes and finales are going to look like that sometimes it can be easier to nitpick about anything that doesn't live up to our expectations. But writing about this season of Banshee, as the show morphed from something that was fun and promising to something that was more assured, complex, and, by this finale's end, emotionally satisfying, I've come to appreciate what it's like to write about a series that's truly found another gear. 

"Bullets and Tears" wasn't my favorite episode of the season (that honor still belongs to the formula-breaking "The Truth About Unicorns"), but it was the proper, meaningful conclusion to the show's first 20 episodes. So I could spend time in this review talking about things here and there that bothered me—mostly the kind of plot conveniences that are bound to pop up—but what's the point? By the time Hood jumped out from behind that pillar in the church, ready to sacrifice himself for Carrie one more (and last) time, I was actually convinced he was going to take down a half-dozen dudes with automatic weapons. "Bullets and Tears" was so on-point with its character beats and resolutions that it was pretty easy to move past any lingering issues. 

Much of the episode's success was due to its structure, wherein the present-day action in New York with Hood and Carrie going after Rabbit one final time nicely folded back on their last few days together before Rabbit framed Hood and got him sent away for 15 years. The majority of the information explored in the episode's flashbacks had already been alluded to in the show's narrative (and basically out-and-out explained in bonus online content), but it wasn't the information that really mattered—it was the sentiment. Jonathan Tropper's script really hammered home how these characters had come full circle in some ways, and went back around in others. Hood and Carrie were in love, Rabbit didn't appreciate that, and he ultimately sacrificed himself for her. We knew all that, and yet as the flashbacks started to bleed into the present-day scenes, particularly as the characters returned to the same locations, the impact of all this history was palpable. 


It's perhaps easy to forget all the damage Rabbit caused 15 years ago, especially when Hood and Carrie are having their own issues, but when Banshee returned to this story and to the sense that Hood and Carrie simply could not let this go on any longer, the stakes were as high as they could get. Though that was clear by the end of last week's penultimate episode, "Bullets and Tears" did a fine job of underscoring it again as Hood and Carrie would not be stopped, no matter who they ran into while trying to secure guns, or how outmanned they were inside the church. Hood and Carrie aren't exactly lovers anymore, but they're not just friends, either. There's a depth to their relationship, defined by all this blood and drama, that was on full display here. Antony Starr and Ivana Miličević were as good as they've been all season, particularly because they were tasked with playing their characters in multiple time periods as well as through a wide range of beats. That's why the early detour to load up on weapons that introduced Fat Al was especially great; it allowed the two leads to have some fun before diving headfirst into the decade-plus drama with Rabbit.


And hey, the flashbacks also gave us a fun origin story of how Job met Carrie, complete with Job doing quite the musical routine for not the most supportive audience. There were times this season where I wished the show would give certain characters more to do, but the last few episodes have definitely made strong use of Job, and this one emphasized how integral a member of the 'team' he is. The present-day scenes also made it clear that there's some interesting history between Job and Fat Al, history I'm sure the show will explore in Season 3. I'm looking forward to that; Fat Al appeared to be the kind of broad-but-weird fella this show is always populated with. 

But I'm getting distracted because there was so much good stuff in "Bullets and Tears," and because all I want to say about the part where Hood and Carrie made it to the church is "!!!!!!!!!!!" Unsurprisingly, the big shootout sequence was wonderfully shot by Greg Yaitanes. It managed to be hectic and purposefully controlled at the same time, without an overreliance on slow motion or cheesy music. That was of course followed up by a much more low-key scene between Carrie, Hood, and Rabbit, but I think it made sense. Rabbit is a violent dude, but it's not as if he could really stand up in one-on-one battle with Hood, or even Carrie. For the three of them to have a final moment on the park bench where they all acknowledged the impact they've had on each other's lives before Carrie and Hood (barely) forced Rabbit to kill himself was close to perfect, both tonally and as a resolution to this long-simmering story. Rabbit had the chance to explain himself a bit, Carrie was able to see her father without granting him forgiveness, and Hood got to watch the man who ruined his life die right in front him. Rabbit was probably right that there is a bench out there "like this one" waiting for Hood, especially with the way he's been living since he got out of jail, but it was time for Rabbit to go, and this was as good a way as I can think of to do it.


Weirdly, though, I thought everything that happened after Rabbit's death told us more about Banshee's growth this season. Even though Hood and Carrie took care of business and made it out alive (barely), they had to return to Banshee where the rest of their messy lives were still waiting. Getting rid of the Rabbit problem was a big step forward for both characters, but it doesn't solve much for them. In fact, everything that's happened over the last 20 episodes now means that they can't use Rabbit as an excuse. Carrie has to try to put her family back together, for real, and Hood has to determine whether there's enough of a reason to stay in Banshee now that the primary one is gone. Is the relationship with Siobhan real? Can he actually play the fatherly role? Those are questions he must answer. With Rabbit alive, both Carrie and Hood had excuses—for weird and erratic behavior, to skip town, whatever. But now have to move forward. The external threat is gone, but all the internal issues and stresses these two people have experienced all season? They're probably worse now. And the fact that I feel this way about the characters and the show's future is due to the real effort Banshee put into its characters this season. Even with the primary antagonist removed from the equation, there isn't much concern about where the show goes from here—at least not from me.

Unfortunately, we have to take the good (if you can call Hood and Carrie returning to Banshee to a host of awkward situations good) with the bad... and with the creepy. Bad being that Emmett and his poor wife simply couldn't escape the evils of Banshee, and found themselves gunned down at a rest stop. As far as supporting character deaths go, Emmet's was hard to take. Bummer. And of course, creepy being Kai and Rebecca. The latter's seduction of Alex turned out to be just a ploy to get close enough to kill him, which didn't go according to plan but ultimately had the intended result. Consequently, Kai got of prison and reunited with his niece in the most uncomfortable way possible—she's watching him shower, and hugging him in the nude. There's so much blank-but-loaded staring between those two, I just can't take it. But they're going to be quite the pair to deal with come Season 3. 

And we can worry about Season 3 later; for now, we should be celebrating Season 2. Banshee took a noticeable leap in quality over its last 10 episodes, and this finale was a lovely culmination of its primary storyline, but also of all the great things the show did this season. We're getting close to that place where Banshee belongs in the discussion of the great shows on TV right now, don't you think?


NOTES

– As some of you might know, I had the opportunity to talk to Greg Yaitanes and Jonathan Tropper about the finale and the entire season. Check that out; I really enjoyed doing it.

– Julian Sands didn't have much to do this season as Rabbit's brother, but that beard was magnificent and his character got a bloody death, so party on. 

– Similarly, not a ton or work for Zeljko Ivanek's Racine, but it was nice to see that character return via the flashbacks in the finale.

– This episode alluded to a military background for Hood. I'm guessing that's something that comes into play somewhere in Season 3. 

– Speaking of Season 3, fresh off of straight-up murdering dudes in the French Quarter, Chayton's on his way back to Banshee now that Alex is dead. I'm already pumped for that fight between him and Hood.


What'd you guys think of the finale? Which death hit you the hardest?


  • Comments (162)
Add a Comment
In reply to :
  • halleyg01 Dec 31, 2014

    Everyone who is excited for season 3 has good reason to be. My uncle was the Special Effects Coordinator for seasons 1-3 and my boyfriend a SFX technician for 1 and 3. I've read over the scripts for S3 and saw one episode at the wrap party.

    All I can say is, Banshee fans will not be disappointed =)

  • mariawitwiky9 Sep 05, 2014

    What an Fantabulos show is this! Woww! I mean I love the watching this show and the great part is its again start coming on hbo hits these days. Guys those who love it, do watch it again feel the energatic vibes with it and make it easy for schedule check at hbohits.in on their sites. Don't Miss it!!!

  • ale00928 Aug 16, 2014

    I finished watching Banshee season 2 not a long time ago. I don't won't/ need to repeat all the Great Things people have written about Banshee. All its well deserved for one of the best (or The Best) TV shows on tv right now. One thing I like to comment its how good it feels that the writers didn't fall for the typical well end Love Story for Lucas and Carrie (or Ana). That its what it makes Banshee so good to watch, the unpredictable drama.

  • loldude1 Apr 19, 2014

    I'm proud of this show. I LOVED the gritty, raw edge it had during the first season, but it really grew up in its second season. Other than Justified, which had ups and downs in its 5th season, there isn't another show on TV that provides episodes as purely entertaining as Banshee. Definitely need to start talking about it with some of the best shows currently on TV,

  • TaraLamont Apr 18, 2014

    Great season!!!! Enjoyed every episode. Only part I didn't like in finale was Emmett and his poor wife getting gunned down! Seemed a bit much for characters who had already suffered and deserved a quiet send off. The rest was fantastic!!!

  • mahiaf Apr 10, 2014

    when does the next series start?

  • rikozz Mar 25, 2014

    I'm also curious if kai will "bang" Rebecca! Does anybody know when the third season is going to start?

  • Whedonrules Mar 24, 2014

    Its taken me a while to put that amazing season finale into perspective and join the community to share my thoughts. Another episode another 'BANSHEEEEEEEEEEEEE'! Written by Jonathan Tropper and Directed by the man the myth the legend who now knows what freedom from Network interference and restrictions tastes like- Greg Yaitanes and we fans wouldn't have it any other way. A lot of EEEEEE's to go around this week but the MVP is the person who really saved everyone's ass (once again) Hoon Lee's 'Job'. (He was so on fire on tv that weekend, he came back Monday on 'The Blacklist' only to be killed at episode close by James Spaeder. )

    That episode had IT ALL and didn't need much more than the allotted time to finish a major story that has been being told since 'Hood' stepped out of prison, to finish off Alex Longshadow's troubled period of leadership as the chief of the Kinaho, to make Rebecca choose quite the dark side in pure 'Banshee' style (plan to kill Alex while he was eating her ......cookies.. is that OK to say?- ONLY ON 'Banshee'!!!!!!), to have Deva step into the Cadi to say, 'Hi dad.....', and then we get Chayton Littlestone killing some dude in a fight club in New Orleans before getting the call about Alex and announcing to his dirt bag brother that they are headed back to 'Banshee'. Every note hit with precision to let everyone know that the Season 1 finale was no mistake, not only is this the best show on television but they also know the best way to end a season on their show. This was a masterpiece and it had so much; it even had Beyoncé's choreographer, Charlotte native James Alsop, putting together quite possibly one of the most fun scenes this show has done, Carrie/Anna's meeting Job. Job in drag and full makeup owning the stage with his take on Sylvester (James) 1978 DISCO CLASSIC 'You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)'. Yeah that's right 'Banshee' used Beyoncé's choreographer and how Corey Barker missed mentioning that fact is beyond me. He was even in the scene, in drag, standing by Anna and 'Hood'. This song was an anthem at the time playing in many many clubs. That scene was too perfect. Sylvester James was someone who never got as famous as he deserved because he wore the fact that he was gay on his shirt from the moment he appeared on the music scene. Bringing Mr. James back to the public's attention needs to get people checking out the great music he made before he lost his own battle with AIDS.

    The bringing of the origins comic to life in the flashbacks was a stroke of genius and made it really feel like a tip of the cap to the fans. Thanks show for making it work perfectly. They all looked younger in the flashbacks which many shows can't pull off. Ben Cross 'rabbit' and Christos Vasilopolous 'Olek' both looked so much younger (how many people missed that it was still Christos?) as did Antony and Ivana (her standing by the bed with her perfect body and the black wig) and even 'Racine'. One of the best scenes in the past may have been the one with 'Hood' and Olek in the ring, 'Hood' still so much in love having no idea that (1) Olek is on to the affair and (2) Olek is in love with Ana. The noise was all there and he just didn't want to listen to it. You know how much he still loves her the way he held her hand the entire ride back to 'Banshee'. So many beautiful scenes together in this episode, Antony and Ivana were so good every time they were next to one another. Carrie/Ana and Hood are the Stevie Nicks and Lyndsey Buckingham of 'Banshee' they know each other so well and have a love a step above most - but they are smart enough to know they have no reason or business being married.

    The shoot out in the Church... I'll throw this in there 'Methodic Doubt' does one hell of a job scoring these episodes. There's Bear McCreary scoring many, many shows and then there is Methodic Doubt. McCreary is awesome but he needs some competition. That scene isn't half as good without the music. 'Hood' holding 'Ana' back, ready to die for her to survive and return to her new family - (his family) was just beautiful. I thought someone was going to die so Job to the rescue with Big Al was awesome. Big Al gets a thumbs up. Him coming to the rescue with Job seems to be showing 'Hood' that he isn't rabbit. He has done enough good things mixed in with the incredible amounts of violence, protecting others, that there are people that will stand with him. He just can't keep running so hot or he's going to burn out alone on rabbit's bench. He got back to 'Banshee' and he wanted Siobhan in his arms (poor beautiful Siobhan having no idea her best friend was gunned down, that is going to hurt her more than anyone else - almost glad we didn't have to see her reaction to the Yawners execution). He has no idea how to have a relationship where him or the other person isn't always in danger, This love affair, Siobhan and 'Hood', has a lot of road to cover and doesn't at all seem possible - is she going to be the first 'Banshee' citizen to learn his real identity? I'll take these two together as long as its possible.

    Rebecca and Alex. Only on 'Banshee'. So her plan was to walk into the casino in her typical white dress. Alex just smelling sunshine from the minute she steps into the room. Her beauty is her weapon because it can put men completely at her mercy. She planned on shooting him in the head while HE was giving HER oral favors. This girl, only in 'Banshee' and only in 'Banshee' is it the girl doing that to the boy. WOMEN OF 'BANSHEE' RULE! But she hesitates for a second, because she saw how close his face actually was before pulling the trigger and he gets enraged, then she ends up killing him with his own knife - the knife Alex told stories about. So bloody. The white dress is now forever bloodied as Rebecca has embraced the dark side. She was so proud delivering the news to Uncle Kai and embracing him as he steps from the shower. The scene ending as her hand was reaching his ass. Thank you show for stopping there. (Lili must have loved this scene getting to be the clothed actor in a nude scene.) And now Chayton's coming back as well -- this is getting great.

    A final word about Emmett Yawners. So instead of just letting Emmett escape into the world leaving hope that we hadn't seen the last of Demetrius Grosse - they had to show this lovely man being blown to bits, along with his poor wife who clearly hadn't suffered enough this season apparently (1st appearance - beaten up and lost baby after kick to womb, 2nd appearance gunned down). It was one of the first lessons we learned this season with the sad story of young lovers Lana Cleary and Solomon Bowman - nothing good survives in this town - and there is no way out. Was everyone as mad as I was as these two were just eviscerated on the way to Florida? Just a bit depressing. So long to the most handsome man in the cast Demetrius Grosse playing a character my brother tells me whose image resembled many black athletes that landed at Penn State that got injured during their time at State and never made it out of Pennsylvania.

    This week all the extra EEEE's are for Yaitanes getting some great assistance in putting on 'Mighty Real' in such a marvelous manner. This show is friendly to EVERYONE. Who doesn't love 'Banshee' except for the prudes?

    I love love love 'Banshee' and know its going to be too long a wait for Season 3. (Hearing Yaitanes in everything since the finale and he's already talking about Season 4 lets me know exactly how much these folks know what they are doing.)

    Thank you cast producers, directors, camera men who are filming this show beautifully almost exclusively on hand helds, editors, casting directors, musical professionals, musical acts, etc. that make 'Banshee' something different and better than any other show on television. Thanks Cinemax for proving it isn't just about After Dark softcore.

    One WTF though to the mother-ship HBO - You aren't always playing original programming every night so why put two shows against each other on the same night and time? 'Banshee' (Max) and 'Real Time' (HBO) are going to share viewers, why put both shows on at the same night and time? HBO needs to make a smarter decision about this next year and maybe move 'Banshee' to nine or to another night.

    Thanks show for going out the door of Season 2 a perfect 20 -20, 20 episodes, 20 A's. I think if Corey had been there from the beginning like most of us he would stop sounding like season 1 was a mess, it really wasn't.

    I love 'Banshee'. That is how you do a finale. One final 'BANSHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!'
    Heading out the door after another spectacular season.

  • Whedonrules Mar 24, 2014

    Forgot one thing -- How upset was Sugar when 'Hood' returned to The Forge without Job? Trying to be such a man when expressing just how much he is going to miss having Job around. Job and Sugar forever!!!!!!!!! I can't wait to see the spectacular reason this show creates to bring Job back to 'Banshee' cause this ain't never ever going to be the last time we see him.

  • admrosn Mar 18, 2014

    Watched both seasons in 3 days, I'm hooked! This was quite possibly the best season finale I've ever seen. So much emotion, character building, action, everything fit together so well and kept me interested all the way to the end and even now I want to see more.
    I wish Anna and Hood could be together, but their relationship seems all jacked up. She gave him up to be tortured by Rabbit! It's like one day she can't think about anyone but Hood and the next day she doesn't care about him. I'm content now thought that Hood and what's her name cop girl have a thing, because if it ended that he was alone, it would've been the most depressing ending.
    This show has a ton of potential and a bunch of directions to go into. I can't wait till season 3! But really, I don't think I can wait, so please hurry it up and strongly consider adding about 5 times more episodes to each season.

  • canegolfer Mar 18, 2014

    Great series. loved every moment. Can't wait for season three.

  • See More Comments (104)