Is it possible for an episode that's mostly set-up to also be pretty nuts? If it wasn't before, it certainly is now. The penultimate episode of Banshee's strong second season hustled to put people in the right places for what is sure to be a high-octane finale, so much so that we can even view "Homecoming" as the first half of the season's capper. But as the episode moved pieces around on the chessboard, it also delivered two tremendous action set pieces and a number of important confrontations and conversations. At this point in the season, there isn't any time for methodical maneuvering; there's barely any room to even breathe.
Almost all of "Homecoming" trafficked in long-bubbling conflict. Confrontations that we've been waiting to see all season, or even since last season, started to develop, and the results were as emotionally charged as expected. The most notable example was, of course, the HUGE blow-up between Hood, Carrie, and Gordon that fittingly took place when Hood interrupted the Hopewells' sexual reconciliation and everyone decided to have it out right there on the front lawn. Though Hood and Carrie have all this history and are more or less the show's primary pairing—romantic or otherwise—Banshee's second season has put in every possible effort to make Gordon a sympathetic third member of this triangle of sorts. At his core, Gordon is a relatively solid dude who's had his world systematically destroyed by events beyond his control. Even though Carrie's begun to fill in the blanks here and there, what Gordon does know above all else is that THIS THING, whatever it is, tracks back to Hood. Was it healthy to point a gun at the town sheriff, a man who's already proven that he can beat the hell out of you? Probably not, but it speaks to Gordon's state of mind, and he's not really wrong to feel that way. The moment where Carrie had to reveal that Hood was Deva's father just to keep Gordon from pulling the trigger was hyperbolic and soap opera-esque, but in the best ways. Really fantastic job by Antony Starr, Ivana Miličevič, and Rus Blackwell for bringing that moment to life and doing it real justice after 19 episodes of build-up. I'm not sure it could have gone better.
That wasn't the episode's only important affray, nor was it even the only one to feature someone yelling at Hood. His relationship with Siobhan was bound to implode at some point because it was established on a whole lot of passion (of both the sexual and violent varieties) and not a lot of communication. By the time everything hit the fan and Hood had to skip town with Carrie to save an ailing Job and take down Rabbit once and for all, Siobhan was fresh out of patience. I've really enjoyed the Hood-Siobhan relationship because the performers have a different kind of appealing chemistry that has made the less communicative stuff completely understandable. It's easy to assume that Hood won't talk much, and that there will be problems as a result, but like with Gordon, this season spent enough time on his attraction to Siobhan (and hers to him) that I buy that they're getting something out it other than sex. That makes the squabbling more effective.
The other big emotional altercation was much quieter and almost completely out-of-the-blue, but still powerful in its surprising nature. Proctor's mother came to visit him on the inside! We received a little taste of their complex relationship earlier in the season when he visited the Amish community, and there's always been the sense that Ma Proctor wasn't as into the whole banishing thing as others in the cohort, but man, that was a nice scene. Not only did it make an effort to humanize Proctor while he's in a space that requires him to be perhaps more villainous than normal, but it also opened the door for more compelling stories to come in Season 3, once Proctor gets out of prison—because we know that he will, by hook or by crook (probably both).
You know what, though? While I could talk about the emotional impact of these various fracases forever, we have to get to the opening and closing sequences, which were tremendous. The pre-credits explosion, with Job investigating the church and Rabbit in what quickly became a suicide mission, just kept going and my dread level continued to rise. I watched the sequence a few times because it's so impressive from a logistical standpoint. It ripped through a few different spots within the church location without confusion, and also offered up multiple types of combat. I don't know about you, but as it progressed, I was pretty sure that Job was done, and even then, I let out an audible WHAT when he was clipped by the taxi. That was one heck of a conclusion to a great piece of action television, and a fine reminder that these characters aren't invincible. It was a brief reminder, considering Job survived, but hey, a reminder nonetheless.
And then, never satisfied, Banshee decided to concoct an extended shootout in a hospital as Hood and Carrie tried to pull Job to safety, because that's just what happens around these parts. That sequence didn't have quite the same impact as the opening bit because there was no doubt that our heroes were going to methodically destroy their opposition, get Job out, and move on to fight Rabbit, but let's not take anything away from it. Banshee seems to have committed to adding more diversity to the nutty action sequences it deploys—either that or I'm just noticing it more—and the fact that the show could pull off both of these in one episode is wholly impressive. Also, they were very, very cool.
With just one episode to go, you get the feeling that Banshee wanted to deal with some of the more notable character-based resolutions this week so it can move on to the punching and the stabbing and the Ukrainian revenge of it all next week. But it's not like the show just dumped all this stuff into "Homecoming" without thought, because it was not only a proper table-setter for the finale, but simply a great episode in its own right. Bring on that final hour.
– To clean up some of the stuff from last week: Emmett is on his way to Florida to get away from all of the terrible stuff he did. He and Hood had a really solid conversation about right and wrong, and God and I hope Emmett isn't gone for good.
– And to add credence to the obvious "Proctor is getting out of prison" theory, Kendall took care of the hospitalized skinhead just in case he was thinking about talking, re: the drug trafficking. This—combined with the fact that Rebecca convinced Hood's informant to leave town and that she started to snuggle up to Alex—suggests that the case against Proctor is going to come crashing down very soon.
– Hood and Brock shared another one of their "I don't really trust you, but I kind of respect you" conversations. I enjoy those well enough. Brock is starting to put the pieces together with Hood, but that'll probably have to wait until Season 3.
– Shout-out to Julian Sands' beard. That's fake, right?
– Reg Cathey made an appearance as a NYPD captain investigating Rabbit—and by proxy, Hood. He might play a role in the finale, I guess.
– Okay, let's hear those predictions. Does Rabbit finally get his in the finale? Do any of the series regulars die in the process? What's going to happen people?
AIRED ON 3/14/2014
Season 2 : Episode 10