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Last week’s “Armies of One” provided one of the most shocking moments in the season so far. Jason’s death came as a huge surprise and unexpected development that would lead to the central narrative of “Ways to Bury a Man” and seemingly the rest of the season. Proctor’s ruthless acts incite Lucas to extensively investigate the powerful man’s various illicit endeavors in an ambitious attempt to bring him down. Though Proctor and Lucas have often teamed up in the past when it was convenient for both of them, those days are clearly over. Lucas makes no attempts to hide his contempt for Proctor and his dealings and quite openly ventures to bring on his downfall. Thus we get an entertaining hour that not only provides the usual Lucas kicking ass material, but also Proctor doling out his unique brand of cold and intimidating villainy that nevertires.
Not since the early days of the series have these two characters been at such an antagonistic situation, so it is definitely an exhilarating turn of events. It is so much fun to see Lucas so enthusiastically pose himself against the town’s bad guy, especially with his unique approach: playing the well-to-do sheriff to keep up appearances while at the same time reverting to his own illicit maneuvers like blowing up the factory with Sugar and Job. The series’ use of stylish editing and intercutting scenes effectively juxtaposes Hood’s duality with an appropriate amount of humor and glee. And while it is amusing to see Lucas on this vengeful mission, his reasons behind it are slightly unconvincing. Yes, we have been shown how he felt protective and responsible for Jason, but would he really care this much? He was ready to kill Jason when he first met him, and his death is somewhat beneficial to his standing in Banshee. And, as Job succinctly puts it, “Most people are happy with one psychopath after them, you really want two?” Not that Lucas has always been the most level-headed dude in the past.
It is doubtful that the show will explore Lucas’ emotional turmoil/ what led him to react so strongly but more insight would surely be welcome. However, despite the questionable circumstances of this intense narrative, the story intensifies at such a quick pace that one is swiftly swept by what is happening and easily lets all reservations go. This is an interesting development and the reasons for it happening aren’t necessarily as important as the consequences that will inevitably arise.
The most anticipated of those consequences is how Proctor will retaliate and react to the sabotages to his businesses. As I said last week, the series is reminding us of what a ruthless and brutal man he is, just in case you forgot. The cold open in this episode is a perfect example of his extreme callousness and cruelty, poor Rebecca; it is a truly disturbing and sickly entertaining sequence, chilling. The episode continues this line of characterization in the rest of the story, which sees Proctor having to handle some inconveniences with his calculating and unfeeling ways. He is unnerving and unsettling, and curiously stoic when being confronted, he never lets any emotion disrupt his composed visage until something within him just snaps and he acts out in (most of the times) brutal violence, much like he did with his strip-club underling, which was quite enjoyable. Ulrich Thomsen’s performance never fails to engage the viewer. He is just fantastic.
With all the brutality we have seen him enact upon his adversaries, it will be interesting to see what his move will be againstLucas and how Rebecca will potentially factor in this clash. Proctor and Rebecca again provide the most engaging and curious character dynamic, as the glimpses into Rebecca’s psyche indicate her unhappiness/turmoil; she outwardly remains loyal to her uncle. Her struggle might be evident to the ones that surround her and therefore motivate them to exploit her weakened state. Whether Proctor will be successful in his manipulation and intimidation tactics, or Lucas will be able to convince her to go against her uncle (unlikely) is unknown, but incredibly compelling. Her scenes and interactions grow in terms complexity with every appearance and her role has increased in narrative importance considerably, which is certainly a plus. Her role in this new conflict will be integral to its outcome.
How these characters will maneuver and interact with one another in the wake of this new objective against Proctor is the driving force of the series right now. We still have yet to see how Alex will factor in (likely as an ally to Proctor) or evenGordon and Carrie, presuming that Proctor vs. Lucas will be the main conflict in the remaining three episodes of the season. If so, will the writers conclude with a definitive winner? With a third season already underway and the series more than likely continuing after that, would they really end such an entertaining battle? One that would surely end with Proctor’s demise because let’s face it, Lucas isn’t going anywhere. Is it too soon to get rid of Proctor? Of course it is, I doubt the writers are going there. But if Proctor’s ultimate downfall is not the endgame of the season, what is? How will this narrative be addressed in the season’s final moments?