Oh Banshee ... you actually had me going there for a minute. For at least one episode, I was under the impression that I had misjudged you. Then you had to turn around and ruin this good thing we had.
Where to begin? Let’s start with the gay panic embedded into the show. There are two ostensibly homosexual characters to be found here. One is a swishy, catty shit-talker who tends to dress in women’s clothing; the other is a dandy with a penchant for bow ties. If that weren’t enough, the latter—Proctor’s strong-arming righthand man—has a thing for being handcuffed and whipped until he bleeds.
This may be pure speculation that this character is homosexual, but between those weird S&M, Cruising-style flashbacks and his apparent love of opera … well, the signifiers are all there, aren’t they? What does that detail add to the show or the plot? Absolutely nothing. Unlike Job, the cross-dresser, who is there for us to giggle at, this character’s primary purpose is to make us feel creeped out. Especially when he sniffs at the mattress in the hotel room he’s cleaning up for Proctor.
Why is he cleaning this room? He had moments ago murdered Jason Hood in the same room and is cleaning up his and the young man’s mess. And why did Jason have to die? I’m still trying to figure that out.
Proctor’s insistence that “you’re either with me or you’re not” to his niece doesn’t explain a damn thing. Perhaps it’s a reminder of Proctor’s power in the community. A weird dramatic choice, though, in an episode that seemed devoted to proving that very point. Whether it’s Alex Longshadow looking like he made a deal with the devil asking Proctor to put the squeeze on the Kinaho Tribal Council or a young dancer at Proctor’s strip club asking her boss for the money she’s owed before being encouraged to suck him off, he’s raw power incarnate here. Why belabor this notion?
Anyway, poor Jason didn’t make it out of Banshee alive. Even though he was tracked down by a couple of nasty enforcers looking for the money he stole from a criminal in Oregon, the young man made it out by the skin of his teeth. All thanks to the man who stole his dad’s identity and feels beholden to Jason. The sheriff feels so beholden in fact that he bribes and then eventually beheads the chief enforcer in one of this season’s most over-the-top moments.
If all of this weren’t enough, here’s Sheriff Hood, sitting across from his dulcet new lass asking the question they are trying to drill into the heads of everyone watching: “You think we are who we are, or do you think we can change?” A question that pretty much gets brushed aside when Job returns to let Hood know that he couldn’t fence their stolen diamonds because … pause for dramatic effect … the stones were fake this whole time.
As Job so kindly points out, “You served 15 years for stealing a handful of glass.” Yeah, and I’ve wasted a total of six hours and change trying to figure out why the creators of this show keep talking down to its audience, rolling around in overplayed stereotypes, and making sure each female character is either in some kind of emotional or physical distress whenever they aren’t in bed with a dude. And I’ve got four more hours to go before the season’s done, and I can be done with this show for good.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.