BANSHEE Season 3 Review: More Violence and Identity Crises Against a Background Of War

     January 9, 2015

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Last season, Cinemax’s violent, engrossing, underrated series Banshee put a major gangster and driving force to eternal rest.  But for fans of the show, it should have been obvious that in no way did that mean peace in our favorite tiny Pennsylvania town.  Early into the new season, Sugar (Frankie Faison) comments to Sheriff Lucas Hood (Anthony Starr) about the quiet between the storms.  “You have a problem with quiet?”  Lucas asks.  “On the contrary, I’m going to miss it when it’s gone.”  And it goes quickly.  Hit the jump for what new schemes Sugar, Lucas, Job (Hoon Lee), Carrie (Ivana Milicevic) and the others are getting up to this season.

banshee-season-3-imageFor the last two years, Banshee has distinguished itself from among other ultra-violent dramas by incorporating a gorgeous visual style, and linking together a cast who each shine in their memorable roles.  And while its initial, unique Amish slant has been commandeered by reality television, its expanded portrayal of the Native American community has become an admirable inclusion instead.  It also manages, narratively, to marry together high-stakes heists with small-town conflicts.  In its third season, all of those conflicts concentrate right around home.

There is a war brewing in Banshee between the Kinaho tribe and Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen).  When Proctor’s niece Rebecca (Lili Simmons) killed Longshadow last year, lines were clearly drawn.  Now super-scary Chayton Littlestone (Geno Segers) is back with the tribe, and looking for revenge, alongside Longshadow’s sister Nola (Odette Annable), who has her own ideas of what that is going to look like.  And so, from the very start of the season, Chayton begins threatening and attacking Proctor and Rebecca, with Proctor expecting Lucas to get involved.

Lucas (or rather, our unnamed hero who has taken that name — Banshee is nothing if not about identity), though, has his eye on another prize.  The aftermath of a slaughter committed by Chayton gains Lucas access to a local military base that is being decommissioned.  It also happens to house a huge amount of cash that is set to be moved.  It doesn’t take much for Lucas to assemble Sugar, Job, and Carrie for the payday, but it’s also not a simple job: the cash — which the colonel has been scamming from the government — is guarded by a mercenary squad.  Essentially, expect bullets and bloodshed by the bucketload.

banshee-season-3-image-4But all of these violent schemes are background to the character dramas happening throughout Banshee.  Lucas is still in a relationship with Siobhan (Trieste Kelly Dunn), but struggles in figuring out his place in Carrie and Deva’s (Ryann Shane) lives.  Brock (Matt Servitto) even gets a little more story to himself, with the introduction of his ex-wife (and the continuation of his wariness towards Lucas’s vigilante methods).

Meanwhile, poor, sad Gordon (Rus Blackwell) is fighting a pill addiction as he and Carrie go through a divorce.  And Carrie, whose life is falling apart, just happens to have found a very unfortunate bedfellow.  Or as Job describes him: “Not just a bad motherfucker, but the kind of bad motherfucker called in to clean out other bad motherfuckers.”  She has a type.

Banshee‘s third season also seems set to expand the stories of those on the reservation, like Chayton and Nola, as well as a new Deputy to the Banshee force, who is a kind of liaison to the Native American community (although the relationship is complicated).  It has not left its Amish roots behind, though, as Kai  also continues to deal with family issues and his old community.

Banshee picks up — both narratively and thematically — exactly where it left off last year.  It’s clear though that a lack of Rabbit does not mean a slowing down of the show’s intensity.  Fans should expect more of the same — sex, drugs, violence, more violence — but also some new perspectives and situations, and unexpected alliances.  A member of the Kinaho police tells Lucas that if he knew what was good for him, he would leave.  He replies: “Do I look like someone who knows what’s good for him?”  Nope, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Banshee returns Friday, January 9th at 10 p.m. ET on Cinemax. 

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