Although Banshee's second season has pressed the proverbial pedal to the metal as far as the fights, sex, and violence are concerned, the show, particularly over the last few weeks, has really taken its characters to some compelling new places. Banshee isn't some Mad Men-level character study, and it's not trying to be, but I've been especially impressed by how it's turned inward on Hood and Carrie. And as I mentioned last week, their story isn't just about the romantic tension that exists between the two of them. They have individual goals and problems that've added an extra level of texture to the season, and ultimately, that's made the show better.
And while last week's "The Truth About Unicorns" technically made it a little easier for Banshee to explore the complicated feelings between Hood and Carrie and their various personal demons because it was such a singular entity, "Armies of One" deserves a lot of credit for blending the character stuff into a more "typical" episode of the series. Outside of its over-reliance on fast-moving flashbacks to really hammer home the point of whatever the characters were thinking about in a given moment, I quite enjoyed how "Armies of One" handled the aftermath of the detour into the woods. (Seriously though, the flashbacks were too much. Sure, they were helpful in a way, but I prefer that TV shows don't just assume I'm a dunce who can't remember things. I am a dunce, but I can usually remember.)
And despite my squabbles about Banshee's treatment of Carrie's prison stint, there was a lot to like here as she continued to push herself back into the Hopewell family, with varying degrees of success. Carrie's singular directive to get her family back is appealing to me, because it constantly reminds us that she's not going to just run off with Hood and start doing jobs for kicks. And though the beats here were pretty familiar given that we already know what Carrie wants and that she's willing to do whatever to make it happen, I liked how "Armies of One" further illustrated the impact of Carrie's actions on the rest of her kin.
It was smart of Banshee to not drag out any sort of "secret" plotting by Carrie, and as such, Deva was already clearly aware that her mother had returned, and was dropping off random gifts. Deva's reaction to her mom's actions was about as level-headed as we could expect from a confused teenage girl: She told Carrie to get out, then lost it when a couple of preppy peers were talking trash during driver's ed training (shout-out to the instructor for letting that garbage happen), and eventually realized that she could only be so angry for so long. At worst, it's time for her to discover who Carrie really is. But for Gordon, things couldn't sink much lower. He's trying to keep it together for the kids, but that's not really working. And while we learned this week that he has Brock investigating Hood to figure out why all of this happened, there wasn't much there yet. Thank goodness he has access to a fully stocked (in more ways than one) strip club where he can drown his sorrows, only to stumble home and scare the life out of his son. But even still, I got the sense that Gordon isn't really ready to ditch Carrie completely—or at least he's not ready to ditch the possibility of an intact family. Oh, and hey, the one flashback I did enjoy was the one where Carrie first met Gordon at the diner, that was cute.
While this week's Hopewell family drama was good, this episode's material for Hood was even better. Banshee has been slowly teasing out Hood's frustrations, disappointments, etc., for a few weeks now and "Armies of One" brought it to the forefront in probably the best way the series knows how: by introducing a highly-skilled fighter who in some ways mirrors Hood. There are reasons keeping Hood in Banshee, but those reasons are becoming fewer and farther between, and when a couple of deadly hitmen-esque characters strolled into town looking to take down Jason Hood for his robbery in Portland, Hood found himself right in the middle of another shootout he didn't have anything to do with. That has to wear on a man physically, but it's a mental drain, too—especially since Brock no longer appears interested in looking the other way. Sure, Hood did take another man's identity. But he didn't ask for scummy Jason Hood to show up in Banshee, bringing all his problems with him. And yet, Hood knew that he had to manage the situation, not only to save his own ass, but because this is becoming the thing that he does. Although he might not be the real sheriff, he has certainly grown into Banshee's protector.
"Armies of One" went out of its way to drum up a comparison between Hood and the episode's primary antagonist, Quintin (played by Welsh actor Andrew Howard). It also pressed hard on the whole 'honor among thieves and criminals' thing. Howard and Antony Starr had a fun chemistry, and it was nice to be reminded that Starr can handle those tête-à-tête-style conversations, just as it was nice to be reminded that Hood can also outsmart his opponents before he beats them half to death on a highway and then uses a skidding semi truck to decapitate them. You know, as you do. The kind of instinct that pushed Hood to follow Quintin even after they made a deal (more money for Jason's survival) makes him one hell of a sheriff, but it's also the kind of tactic that shows us he's never going to be a traditional law enforcement officer. And he probably doesn't want to be, but what the heck does Hood want?
If "Armies of One" is is any indication, he doesn't have much of answer to that question. The conversation between Hood and Siobhan was illuminating in that regard. He wanted to know if she thinks people can change, or evolve, clearly because he's struggling with what evolution might mean for him. Does it mean committing to the job, to Siobhan (who he's kind of going through the motions with), and to Banshee? Does it mean skipping town and trying to start a new life? Or does it mean returning to a life of crime? This episode's final moments, where Job revealed that Rabbit set Hood up to go to prison all those years ago for a bag of fake diamonds, is sure to make those questions even tougher to answer. But it also means we'll probably see a few more sequences with Hood fighting his way through those complex feelings, if only to forget them.
– R.I.P. Jason Hood. You will not be missed. I appreciate Banshee dealt with that character in a Banshee-y way, but the storyline never totally succeeded for me. Though "Armies of One" tried to make us think that the leftover watch, the one Hood took off the real Hood, could still lead to some kind of reveal, Banshee has now managed to dispatch two people who knew Hood's secret in as many weeks. Good thing Brock is investigating on the periphery.
– Hey, did you think Clay Burton was creepy before? Now you're probably terrified. Not only did he take out Jason—mid-coitus with Rebecca, per Proctor's orders—but then we were treated a lovely montage of Clay cleaning up the murder scene, cross-cut with him being flagellated. PARTY ON.
– And I guess as far as Proctor goes, it's totally cool for him to get down with the ladies, not to mention for Rebecca to watch as he's, uh, serviced, by said ladies, even though she's not really allowed to experience that kind of gratification herself. Banshee probably needs to dedicate much of a full episode to those two really soon, because these little weirdo moments aren't quite enough. I think. Let's hope it doesn't get too weird.
– Job's hairdo this week was my favorite by far. Hoon Lee looks great as a pinkhead!
What'd you think of "Armies of One" How'd you feel about Jason's departure?
AIRED ON 5/20/2016
Season 4 : Episode 8