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It is impressive how Banshee continues to improve as it progresses. Each episode the writers seem to hone in on what makes the show so much damn fun and execute it with great skill. “Bloodlines” continues the stories set up in the previous episode and wraps up the big mystery behind Lana’s death and Solomon’s disappearance, while introducing interesting character conflicts and dynamics.
While last week’s episode presented an unfavorable depiction of the Kinaho tribe, with the character of Chayton (who continues to be a formidable antagonist) and the gang from the reservation, this week the show comes down hard on the Amish community. Highlighting the brutality of its archaic traditions and backwards beliefs, which are epitomized by the violent and oppressive teacher, kind of the Chayton equivalent of the Amish community. And again, while most of the brutality came from this particular character, the series did not necessarily absolve the rest of the community of its hand in the whole ordeal.
They must have had an inkling about the teacher’s cruel practices. We are meant to believe that Daniel and Solomon weren’t his only victims, as the other young people of the community know of his violent ways. How is it that not one adult would become suspicious? This man should have been excommunicated a long time ago, but his religious devotion proved to serve as protection and allowed him to commit horrible acts. Whether or not the rest of the community knew of his evildoings, the fact that he was able to stay there for so long and get away with such forbidden acts of violence certainly paints the people in an unfavorable light.
I am glad to see a more nuanced exploration of the moral complexities regarding the people of Banshee. Nobody here is exclusively good or bad, the series makes that perfectly clear, which makes for interesting characters. Take a character like Kai Proctor, who is a despicable criminal, and does horrible things, but more often than not we find ourselves rooting for him. He is reprehensible, but he helps in the search for Solomon in his own twisted way. Yes, there are selfish reasons for his involvement but ultimately something good comes from it. And nobody is feeling sorry for the teacher in this situation, that’s for sure. There are still some issues with Chayton, but he is clearly becoming the main antagonist of the season, much like Rabbit was previously and the show revels in over the top and characterization. And Alex Longshadow serves a counterbalance to Chayton’s viciousness. These two characters represent two extreme types in the Native American community.
And Chayton is becoming a seriously intimidating and impressive villain. Everything to do with him this episode is chilling and tense, his anger and power are palpable always. He is the perfect kind of villain for a show like this, his superhuman appearance and strength appeal to the hyper-real quality of the Banshee universe. Also, all of his dialogue borders on the cliché, his conversation with Emmett is totally on the nose and we have seen countless variations of it in other shows, movies, etc. but it absolutely works. The actor’s booming voice and subtle delivery command so much, along with the style of the series make for the perfect context for such straightforward dialogue. Plus, he managed to provoke an insane car flipping crash with just the power of his body and some serious intimidation skills, that’s quite badass.
As always, the fight and action sequences are fun and well executed. The stunt department on the show keeps doing an amazing job in realizing the many acts of violence in an episode of Banshee. The torture scene is incredibly effective and gruesome, but doesn’t go overboard. And the reveal sequence of Lana’s death is interestingly shot, reminiscent of the dreamy quality used to introduce those characters. Though we knew what was coming, it was still shocking to see the act committed. Equally shocking is Nola’s act of revenge in the sheriff’s department; she is all kinds of badass. She is definitely a wild card, now that her brother has effectively banished her from the community, what she will do next will definitely be interesting to watch.
With all the brutality and grimness of the episode, Job’s elevated presence in the episode is much appreciated. He is just the best and adds such a breath of fresh air to any scene he is in. I’ve complained about the lack of Job in some episodes, but it works to keep him away for a while and then insert his so pointedly in an episode like this. It definitely makes one enjoy the character that much more. His interactions with Jason are great; he is not taking any shit from anybody, certainly not baby boy Hood. And, as usual, he continues to be the voice of reason in every situation, if only Hood would listen to him. If we have to suffer through a couple of episodes without any job greatness to have him heavily featured in the future, then it is worth it.
Once again it is the Carrie material that falls flat and brings down the episode a bit. Her anxiety and fears of losing her family and her rivaling identities manifest in a dream sequence, which isn’t exactly subtle. I get that we are supposed to understand her situation, thus the scenes of her family basically ignoring her, but it doesn’t prove to be compelling. I want to know more about Nola’s backstory, not wallow in a Carrie pity party. Though her storyline did provide a great surprise. I admit I was not expecting to see Rabbit in that jail cell, I should have seen it coming, but it didn’t occur to me at all and it was a very nice moment. Her fears of losing her family and sense of self are becoming true, not only are Deva and Gordon dismissing her, but even Rabbit tells her this is the last time they’ll be seeing each other. Ouch. Will this cause Carrie to go to the extreme and return to her criminal ways? We already saw some of that before she was committed. This might all be pushing her to embrace ‘Anna’ and leave behind the Carrie Hopewell role that, let’s face it, is a little boring.
“Bloodlines” is another great episode for the series, which is just getting better and better with each episode. The writers have really hit their stride providing intriguing storylines, new mysteries with the perfect amount of the expected action for the series.