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Banshee – The Warrior Class Review: Focused and Compelling

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With a focus on the growing tension between the Amish community and the Native American reservation in Banshee, “The Warrior Class” expands the world of the show considerably, and builds a richer universe within which its characters are able to roam and navigate. The contentious conflict between the two factions certainly brings intriguing obstacles for our characters; the rivalry between Kai and Longshadow is intensified, as they are both defenders/protectors of the opposing sides; and Hood, still adjusting to the sheriff role, now has to deal with a highly problematic murder case that again puts him in between of Proctor and Longshadow’s battle.  Also, the real Lucas Hood’s son, Jason, comes into Banshee complicating things even further for the new sheriff. This new storyline definitely provides compelling material for the rest of the season, and sets up intriguing struggles to anticipate.

Banshee has dealt with the Amish and Native American communities since the series’ inception. The theme of community has always been an important subject of the show, and the dynamics among the Amish, Native American, and the rest of the town of Banshee have often fueled some of the drama on the program. I’ve enjoyed how the different cultures have been portrayed in the past. Consistently present, seemingly in the background, adding to the milieu of the town, but always kept under a shroud of mystery. There was always something unknown/hidden about the intricacies of the communities, which sustained a sense of uncertainty and/or anxiety.

We’ve learned more and more about the Amish community due to Proctor’s history and Rebecca’s story, while the reservation has been more clandestine, apart from the Longshadow business aspects and a few tribal council meetings. The expansion of these two worlds, which have been so crucial to the foundation and nature of the series, is a welcome development. Not only are we getting more information in terms of the cultures and their dynamics with the ‘outside world’ but the character interactions are quite compelling. Proctor’s familial struggles are highlighted when we see his parents disagree and just that short moment communicates so much about how these people function. How even they resent some of their own traditions and might bend the rules if it benefits them or one of their own. The little inklings we get make me wantto explore these people’s way of life even further, and I suspect we will be going more in-depth in later episodes.

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The episode did focus almost strictly on the antagonistic relationship between the Amish and the Kenohe (am I spelling that right?) tribe, in which, it seems, the town of Banshee is caught in the middle. This main conflict is foreshadowed and emphasized by the young lovers’ conversation. In the dreamy introductory scene Lana and Solomon (mostly Lana) express their grievances about where they come from and talk about running away together. It is a fine preamble to the main storyline as it presents a fairly pleasant mood; the gorgeous cinematography captures the simple beauty of the setting and the kids’ naïve and idealistic conversation establishes an amiable tone. However, with Lana’s words articulating her dissatisfaction with the reservation and her tribe as well as the intercutting of the Amish ceremony comes a sense of dread and uneasiness. Preparing us for something ominous ahead. And while the editing prepared us for something bad, the implied violence is quite jarring and disconcerting. The juxtaposition is very effective, and heightened by the murder’s setting, which can be said to be Amish land, where violence is forbidden.

The narrative flows in an organic and natural way, since everything is so interconnected and affects so many people. Even the insane fight sequences, which are quite amazing, don’t feel incredibly forced as they sometimes do on the show. The moments of extreme violence, that are signature to the series, arise out of character agency and thus come across believably in terms of narrative. I believe that Lucas Hood would go into the Kenohe territory even though he shouldn’t because he thinks he is unstoppable and can do anything. Then, of course, he promptly gets his ass kicked by the crazy, huge Chayton Littlestone. Ouch! That dude’s like the Hulk and it is so adorably hilarious that Hood thinks he can take him, I know he triumphed over the also intimidating MMA fighter last season, but this is ridiculous. It ultimately takes like four people to take him down. And any time Kai gets the opportunity to show his skills is absolutely welcome. Also, Burton in a bow-tie kicking ass, yes please. Proctor’s brutal fight scene is undeniably enjoyable, and despite his questionable moral standing, it is easy to root for him in that moment.

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Mostly because the depiction of the Native American people, particularly that gang, is sooo negative and unsympathetic. They are the straight-up villains in that situation, especially when it is Proctor that comes out as the more noble and principled opponent. Banshee is all about extremes and types, but a little nuance wouldn’t hurt. Sure, there is some of that in Chayton’s short speech (who wouldn’t be angry with that history?), which doesn’t justify but explains some of the despicable behavior, and Lana calls attention to the tribe’s situation, but they don’t do much else. Chayton is still just an angry brute. Which leaves an overall negative portrayal of the Kenohe people. However, since the story is going to be an ongoing one, the writers definitely have the opportunity to show different sides of that community in particular and incorporate some dissenting voices. Hopefully they will.

As for the less encompassing storylines, Carrie remains dull and uninteresting and I appreciate the succinctness of her material. The arrival of Jason will no doubt bring more complications than the episode hinted at. I have a feeling things will not end well for him. Absolutely love how Sugar showed his loyalty to Hood and sets the record straight for Jason.

The focused quality of the episode is a definite improvement from last week’s overlong and scattered installment. “The Warrior Class” is the strongest episode yet for the sophomore season and the conflicts that arise out of the scenarios present intriguing and engaging potential material for the episodes to come.

Final Thoughts:

  • Where I Solomon. We are to assume that the hooded dude that attacked Rebecca might be him, but is that just a red herring?
  • I love how the show keeps putting Rebecca in these innocent and virginal dresses as she is delving deeper into the corrupted world of her uncle. Last season she made the call that blew up a construction site, now she learns how to shoot a gun in a frilly, lacy white dress. I like the visual discrepancy.
  • Where are Job and Racine? Racine has been MIA for a while and at least one scene from Job is necessary in all episodes. Come on.
  • Nola is none too happy about Lana’s death, that closing shot is perfection and builds up anticipation for next week’s episode, for sure. I want to see her retaliation, if any.
Rating
7.8
Pros
  • Great fight sequences
  • Compelling story and mystery
  • A more focused and concise narrative
Cons
  • No Job
  • No Jim Racine
  • Questionable portrayal of Native American tribe

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