In my review of "The Warrior Class," I made a joke about Banshee going Full Mallick with its dreamy shots of hands moving through wheat. Well, if that episode went Full Mallick, "The Truth About Unicorns" went FULL Mallick. This one was chock-full of those meditative sequences with the wheat, the sun, the open road, and characters imagining themselves taking a different path of action but ultimately deciding to stay the course. But despite my hackneyed joke, the approach worked, and very successfully. "The Truth About Unicorns" was, without a doubt, the quietest episode of Banshee to date and yet another interesting departure for a show that continues to find slightly new things to focus on and different approaches to take in its second season.
"The Truth About Unicorns" basically hit pause on most of the season's ongoing stories. Only three series regulars appeared, and Frankie Faison's Sugar was only around for a few moments at the end of the episode. No Proctor, no Alex, no simmering tension/uneasy truces between the Amish and the Kinaho. No Siobhan or any of the hangover romantic tension between her and Hood. And no scummy Jason Hood hanging around to make things more difficult for Hood and Job. Nope, "The Truth About Unicorns" was all about Carrie and Hood, where they've been, where they might want to go, and where they like to imagine they could end up, in some kind of skewed perfect world. I wouldn't go as far to say that Banshee absolutely needed this kind of episode, especially when the first four did great work building out the show's world and adding layers to its characters, but dedicating an entire hour to its central relationship is never going to be a bad thing.
If anyone did in fact need this episode, it was Carrie. I've mentioned some minor frustration with her story over the last couple of weeks, not because it wasn't solid or compelling (because it was), but because the show didn't give it enough time. "The Truth About Unicorns" certainly made a real attempt to rectify that issue, and for the most part, it worked. I think the episode could have been even better if we'd seen more of Carrie's internal struggles—which would have made her awkward re-entry that much more awkward—but at a certain point, the show probably had to just pull her out of prison to end the isolation. And to be fair, "The Truth About Unicorns" worked overtime to emphasize that even though she's out of jail and back in Banshee, the isolation isn't gone. Heck, it might even be worse now that she's closer in proximity to everyone she cares about, but can't really be close to them emotionally. Re-entering the real world after spending time inside is surely never easy, and Carrie's circumstances are fairly extreme.
One of Banshee's strengths this season has been the way it hasn't made Hood and Carrie into this tragic fated love story. The feelings and the history are there, but there are no simple ways for them to get together—and at this point, I'm not even sure they want that. "The Truth About Unicorns" reinforced Carrie's dedication to her kids, and conveyed that Hood isn't entirely sure why he's still in Banshee because he recognizes Carrie's commitment to her family. On a lesser show, the pair would try to be together no matter what, blowing up everything in sight to stick it out, but there's a certain level of restraint here that I appreciate. Carrie and Hood understand the crappy situation they're in, and while they don't necessarily want out of each other's lives, they're also not in any hurry to run off together, consequences be damned.
"The Truth About Unicorns" was really successful in establishing those awkward feelings, for both Carrie and Hood. Antony Starr and Ivana Miličević have good chemistry together, but one of the things Banshee seems to have figured out is that it can pull great moments out of them without dialogue. As such, this episode went all-in on the non-verbal, almost dream-like sequences, with the two of them sitting in the car or just walking in silence, intercut with the possible avenues they could go down, if all those weird feelings didn't exist. That approach probably got a tiny bit repetitive by the end of the episode, but it was a really nice way to structure the story and examine the relationship between the two without having to rely on long monologues about the past and the future. It also gave John Romano's direction a chance to shine throughout; this was a wonderfully shot episode that made great use of its locations and the beautiful weather. Those elements really added to its dream-like quality.
And all of that made the second portion of the episode that much better, with Racine making his triumphant return and all the Rabbit information spilling out onto the table. I was actually disappointed to see Racine and Zeljko Ivanek go so quickly, but I guess that's what happens when the show brings in characters who know Hood's real identity. IMDb suggests that Ivanek will return in future episodes, so I'd expect some more flashbacks very soon. And! The closing "action" set-piece, with Carrie and Hood slinking through the fields trying to take out the sniper who popped Racine? Awesome.
All told, it was great to see a show that's known for loud, physical, and bloody fight sequences try something almost the opposite—a quiet hour with little real physicality, and not a lot of blood. "The Truth About Unicorns" was a smart, well-constructed detour into more character-based territory. And the midpoint of the season was a great place for it, as it dealt with some leftover tension between the leads and brought Carrie back into the fold for what will likely be a much louder, more violent second half.
– I love that Hood can sense someone hiding in the woods hundreds of yards away. He's like a superhuman bloodhound.
– That unicorn toy was kind of creepy. It may or may not haunt my dreams.
– Do we have any theories about how the second half of the season, specifically the stuff with Rabbit, might play out? Is it possible that Hood and Carrie will cut some kind of deal that keeps the feds off their asses in Banshee, in exchange for taking Rabbit out? Or does Racine's death change that?
What'd you think of this different-ish episode? And how are you feeling about the season overall?
AIRED ON 5/20/2016
Season 4 : Episode 8