Banshee "The Thunder Man" Review: Bible Thumpin'
One of the things that was easy to forget after the last few episodes of Banshee's first season and the events of last week's premiere, at least for me, is that this is still something of a fish out of water story. Recent episodes have presented something of a focus on the kind of hell the Hood and Carrie wrought in the town of Banshee, and with good reason. Their respective, connected, and tumultuous histories were bound to come calling, and the show managed to tell that story in a couple of different ways—the violent set pieces powering the end of Season 1 and the more meditative stuff we saw last week. However, a good portion of what made the first season so enjoyable were the episodes where Hood had to deal with a given town- or community-related problem. He is the fake Sheriff, after all. "The Thunder Man" got back into that kind of storytelling, but in a slightly more personal way, to underscore that by now, Hood is caught in the middle of all kinds of bloody drama and in-fighting—even the kinds he didn't directly cause.
First, Hood got roped into the ongoing feud between Alex Longshadow (and his seductress of a sister Nola) and Proctor. Facing pressure from the tribal council, Alex decided to take his frustrations out on Proctor—and ultimately, Rebecca. The payback for the Proctor-planned explosion in the Season 1 finale (and the truck robbery, which Alex assumes Proctor carried out) was pretty gruesome in its own right: explosive livestock. But while Alex seemed fine with "minor" threats related to udder-laced debris, Nola took matters into her own hands by kidnapping Rebecca and holding her hostage in exchange for the truck money. Banshee has purposefully kept Nola's intentions or motivations close to the vest; we don't really know why she seduced Hood last week, and it's unclear whether or not she actually has her brother's best interests at heart. Nevertheless, she's certainly willing to make bolder moves in the name of the family, to keep its power intact—moves that Alex was so fundamentally opposed to. Listen, blowing up cows? Totally fine. Kidnapping Amish babes? Less so. I like the way the show is developing the tension between Alex and Nola within the larger battle between Alex and Proctor and the various tribal pressures. It's a nice way to expand the town's universe and character base.
In any event, it's perhaps unsurprising that the explosive (hey-o) tension between Alex and Proctor eventually roped Hood in. At this point it seems like both the show and the character are uninterested in more impersonal police work and upholding typical notions of "right" and "wrong," or "criminal" and "victim." In this instance, Hood agreed to help Proctor because he owed him one, and because Rebecca was in danger, and if that means beating the hell out of a sequence of big, lumbering security bros and meatheads, so be it. After last week's slower episode, it was great to be reminded of Banshee's ability to successfully commit sizable chunks of episodes to well-orchestrated fight sequences. Hood's methodical movement through the mostly abandoned location (I couldn't totally tell what it was based on my screener) was fantastic, and probably recognizable to anyone who has seen The Raid. It obviously wasn't on that extreme and prolonged level, but there were rock-solid variations to each little encounter, and Greg Yaitanes brought it all together behind the camera.
"The Thunder Man" followed up on the Alex-Proctor stuff with another sequence later on (apparently introducing a variation of Chekhov's Gun that we might as well call Chekhov's Bloody Cow Parts) and I'm sure that their issues will continue in coming weeks. But for Hood, there's a sense that he's wrapped himself up in all of these longstanding personal squabbles and business deals gone wrong, and he's starting to recognize the problems with that. He did the job for Proctor and saved Rebecca, but without much enthusiasm or palpable urgency. Somehow, some way, he managed to resist Rebecca's flirtation post-rescue. Instead of taking her back to the hellhole he lives in, Hood gave Rebecca a lecture about staying away from bad men. That's going to be a problem in this town. Yet that little speech signifies that Hood knows just how quickly everything went to shit, and that there isn't any easy way out.
After saving Rebecca, Hood actively injected himself into Siobhan's domestic problems. Siobhan has a restraining order out against her ex, and this being Banshee and all, the reason for it is that he was extremely violent toward her (and others, frankly), going as far as to burn her with a curling iron. The dirtbag meandered his way back into town in the name of finding work, and guess how that went? But unlike with Proctor and Alex, Hood seemed interested and invested in helping Siobhan—only she wasn't as interested in accepting his aid. The episode's final sequence—where the ex returned to Siobhan's trailer and assaulted her and Hood hoped to step in and clean up the proverbial mess, only to find that Siobhan beat him to the punch—was tension-filled and masterfully edited (including the cross-cutting with Carrie's first big prison fight). It was one of those sequences that only Banshee can pull off in that it was one part ridiculous, one part disturbing, and two parts awesome. Not that Siobhan's dirtbag ex didn't deserve the beatdown, but I felt at least a little weird about just how gleeful the moment, not to mention the subsequent make-out session between Siobhan and Hood, made me. She beat him with the hotel drawer bible, and then Hood smiled about it! He might as well have freeze-frame fist-pumped.
And although "The Thunder Man" dedicated quite a bit of time to Hood cleaning up (or at least trying to clean up) other people's messes, it didn't let us forget that he's caused quite a few of his own—namely, Carrie's crappy situation (and that's an understatement). The show probably burned through Carrie's local struggle a little fast for my liking, convicting her and shipping her off to prison already, but it also made up for it by giving us that really well-done sequence at the end of the episode. And of course, it's not as if being in prison isn't going to create moments of struggle for the character. Carrie doesn't have to deal with the embarrassment and shame that came with slinking around the corners of Banshee, trying to talk to her disinterested family, but now she'll have to sit with all those nasty feelings a couple hundred miles away and deal with whatever comes her way inside the cells and the barbed wire fences. I'm guessing that it's not going to be as funny or uplifting as Orange Is the New Black, so I hope Carrie didn't watch that series to prepare.
After a mostly successful yet generally different season premiere, "The Thunder Man" was a good transition back to more familiar Banshee rhythms. The show's world keeps expanding and the stakes seem more personal (if not higher) than ever, and Hood will surely only face more difficult decisions in the coming weeks.
– No sign of Zeljko Ivanek's Racine or additional evidence of Rabbit's survival this week. That makes sense, given the episode's return to Banshee's more procedural storytelling. It will be interesting to see how long the show waits to bring those characters back in the fold. It might not happen until the finale.
– Unsurprisingly, Carrie's family isn't doing too well in the aftermath of everything that happened last season. Gordon's handling it so well that he's taking drugs and having a good time with some ladies in seedy parking lots.
– I like how the truck heist kept popping up as a point of tension this week. Other people are bound to find out that it was Hood and company, and that's surely not going to fly. Not that Banshee is devoid of consequences (as last week's premiere showed), but it wouldn't hurt to have some more.
What'd you think of "The Thunder Man"? What was your favorite fight sequence this week?
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