BANSHEE Season Two Review: Cinemax’s Rich, Violent Drama Returns Strong

     January 10, 2014


Last year, Banshee — created by Alan Ball (and much closer to Six Feet Under than True Blood) — quickly established itself as a hidden gem in its inaugural season.  Mixing visceral violence with beautiful cinematography, and a number of fun and emotional arcs, Banshee provided an intense experience that continues in its second season.  The past haunting Sheriff Lucas Hood (played by Antony Starr, whose character’s real name is still unknown) as well as Ana/Carrie (Ivana Millicevic) can never really be put away, even after such a bloody finale.  New complications mix with old ones to create a rich and often difficult tapestry of problems for the town and Hood, with once again engaging results.  Hit the jump for more.

banshee-season-2-ben-crossFor those who haven’t watched the first season since last year, the second season premiere does a nice job catching viewers up on where the characters left off (physically and emotionally) in a way that seamlessly mixes in with where the are now.  The fallout from Rabbit’s (Ben Cross) shootout is not about to be overlooked, particularly regarding the revelations about Ana’s past that have left her family unsure of who she is, and whether they still want anything to do with her.

Though Ana is willing to serve her time for her involvement (which her husband Gordon — Rus Blackwell — doesn’t help her out of at all), the ordeal has also left her with a firm recommitment to Gordon, her children, and the life she built away from Hood.  Still, the love between those two has always been the emotional drive of the show, and the longing, Victorian-esque repression between them this time around is both tragic and beautiful, given the knowledge that the life they had hoped for together probably will never, for so many reasons, come to be.

Hood though is staying busy elsewhere in Banshee, attempting to keep peace between the Amish community and the local Native American tribe, who collide violently in the wake of a young girl’s murder.  Still involved and prowling around on the edges of the conflicts are Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsem) and his niece Rebecca (Lili Simmons), the latter of whom remains naked most of the time she’s onscreen.  Proctor and Hood are at the place now where they are wary, but no longer enemies of one another, and their dealings with the tribe are both individually and together some of the most brutal scenes of the new season.

banshee-season-2-ivana-milicevicBanshee‘s main theme has always been about the futility of escaping one’s past, which Hood battles two-fold as Rabbit’s shadow continue to haunt him, as do some acquaintances of the real Lucas Hood (leading our Hood to experience — no wonder — some anxiety and PTSD-like symptoms).  The show has started to expand some of its focus as well on the backgrounds of characters like Siobhan (Trieste Kelly Dunn), who develops feelings for Hood, and whose story also sticks to the overall desire to break free of the chains of the past.  As Sugar (Frankie Faison) tells Hood, some people live a life that always puts them behind bars, even when they think they are free.  “Fuck that,” Hood mutters, walking out to his next confrontation on his tiring path to freedom.

The first half of Banshee‘s new season doesn’t explore the town itself as much as the first, but its ruling tenet remains true: as a special investigator looking into Hood’s case tells them, “I understand your mayor was blown up … this is some town.  Everyone is connected to everyone else.”  And that, folks, is Banshee.

Banshee‘s second season begins Friday, January 10th on Cinemax.

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