You know that it’s been an eventful episode of Banshee when the least-exciting moment is the release of Proctor from prison. That’s the sort of scene that should have been treated with the show’s signature jagged editing and voiceover and dramatic music. Instead, it’s a quiet return for Proctor to his palatial estate. Oh, and the final move towards an incestuous relationship between him and his niece. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
Every scene prior to that skin-crawling first untoward embrace between the crime lord and his young charge was crackerjack entertainment, pulsing with the energy and tension that this series has been seriously lacking this season. And all it took was a move backward to look at the events leading up to Hood’s imprisonment.
In an extended flashback that takes up almost the entirety of the episode’s first half, we follow the criminals as they plot to break into the Capital Diamond Exchange, as well as hear Anna’s concerns that her father is hip to the affair going on between her and Hood. Or should I call him “Soldier Boy”? If you’re keeping track of all the little details about the lead character, that was the one big reveal of the night: he used to be in the military.
The big break-in scene was a bit of a wash, if only because they decided to cut between it and the big showdown at the Russian Orthodox Church where Rabbit has been hiding. The body count starts stacking up courtesy of Anna and Soldier Boy, but they quickly become pinned down by machine gun fire. Soldier Boy’s big plan is to sacrifice himself and try to take out as many of them as he can with a knife, letting Anna run away. And just as he sets off, Job and some associates, wielding sub-machine guns, come to the rescue.
With all the volume and bullets expended on those random black-suited thugs, the showdown with Rabbit is a quiet one, taking place in the garden behind the church. They draw it out with some hyperbolic dialogue (“Part of you always knows it will end like this … bullets and tears…”), but the end result is the same: Rabbit is gone.
Incredibly, the most dramatic moment of the episode—hell, of the entire season was yet to (ahem) come. In it, Rebecca throws herself at Longshadow, as if ready to become his criminal companion. But as he’s going down on her, her intention is revealed as she pulls a revolver from her purse. There’s a great feminist theory reading of this whole six-minute segment to be had, but we only have so much space here. To sum up: it starts with a rare moment captured on film in a non-porn setting of a woman receiving pleasure, but immediately after, she’s smacked to the ground. To protect herself, she grabs Longshadow’s knife and plunges it into his neck, getting covered in blood in the process. But it still takes a bullet to the forehead for him to finally be taken down. Everything after that—from the reunion of Anna and Gordon, the reunion of Hood and Siobhan, the yucky hookup of Proctor and Rebecca, even the gunning down of Emmett and his wife outside of town—can’t help but pale.
So, what have we learned from the second full season of Banshee? Life is cheap, sex is currency, gay people are weird, women are punching bags, minorities are dangerous unless they are doing right by the white people in the show, and no taboo is too safe in the hands of the writers of this show. As well, Banshee’s defenders are an easily angered bunch of people. I wish them well when season three comes back around next year. For as much as I enjoyed the spare moment and odd episode of this show, I will not be re-joining its viewership in 2015. Fare thee well Banshee, may you never darken my towels again.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.