On the surface Banshee embodies everything about Cinemax — copious amounts of sex, copious amounts of violence.
It’d be a complete lie to say the action/crime drama series, brought to us by the minds behind True Blood, was not dripping with plasma or featured lots of good-looking naked people having very revealing sexual encounters (read…they get naked a lot).
However, it’d be a complete injustice to say Banshee is just a show about sex and violence.
Banshee is as much about character and a wickedly clever story as it is thrilling action sequences and sexy bodies. The whole premise seems like it’s straight out of an old Western. It starts with an ex-con (Anthony Starr) looking for his former lover Ana (Ivana Milicevic) in the small town of Banshee, PA (where she resides under the name Carrie Hopewell). He’s involved in a bar fight which results in the death of the new sheriff of Banshee (not his fault though)…a man no one has ever met. The con assumes the identity of the murdered sheriff and must now deal with the duality of being both a law man and a criminal. His actions are outlandish and unorthodox, but he soon gains the respect of the town and even gains a little respect for himself. Throw in a whole lot of crazy fight sequences, shoot ’em ups, sex and heaps of twists and turns and you’ve got the first season of Banshee.
In the second season, we pick up where left all our heroes — in the bloody aftermath of an all out between the Banshee PD (along with Hood’s criminal accomplices) and the Ukrainian Mafia…a mafia run by Carrie/Ana’s estranged father Rabbit (Ben Cross) who is also his former employer.
Post shoot-out Hood is left licking his wounds and must find a way to maintain his cover despite the probing eye of the FBI and the constant inquiries of the real Hood’s son. Also, Carrie is reeling from losing her family, (who found out her true identity) and must now decide between playing ball with a new federale in town (Zeljko Ivanek) or go to jail for her blatant reckless and violent behavior.
“Little Fish” is a real table setter of an episode as it reminds us about the high octane finale which was on our screens nearly a year ago. It also sets in motion story lines of Carrie/Ana’s tortured conscious, Hood’s identity crisis, the constant threat of Rabbit and the everyday comings and goings of Banshee. What are those? Oh nothing huge, just the war between Indian casino owners and a former Amish turned mob overlord named Kai Procter (Ulrich Thomsen), who happens to be a legit bad ass.
If you’re going into Banshee for the first don’t start with this episode. This is a show you’ve got to watch from the beginning and with only 10 episodes in the first season, this will be a quick binge watch. The second season premiere really serves as a bridge between the seasons and as a standalone episode it won’t do much for the casual viewer. For a true fan of the series, it’s such a blast because you get thrown right back into the mix without having missed a beat. No awkwardness of trying to reorient yourself, it’s a full throttle all the way.
Banshee is one of television’s true hidden gems. It’s a noir wrapped in the bloody clothes of a run-and-gun action series. The story has more breakneck twists and turns than any car chase sequence they’ve come up within the show (and that’s saying something since the chases are so good). There’s tremendously rich characters littered about the series who are brought to life by terrifically underrated actors. It’s a shame this show is slotted for a late Friday night run, given more exposure with a better time slot as this show would really connect with a much larger audience.