Turn off the Lights

Banshee – Behold a Pale Rider Review: Hell Followed Him

What is it with the town of Banshee that keeps attracting so many volatile criminals to its innocuous streets? Is Lucas a “pale rider” as Kai Proctor says, a kind of harbinger of criminal activity and danger, or do the people of Banshee just have the worst luck? Given the fact that Proctor has managed to rule the town with his own illicit endeavors, it can be safely assumed that unlawful goings-on have been present within the town even before Lucas’s presence there.

However, Proctor’s short speech to Lucas, “after you arrived it’s been one thing after another, it’s almost as if you’ve brought it all with you,” seems to be about outside forces coming into the town, also Proctor is alluding to his own difficulties with the law since Lucas has been sheriff. Lucas does seem to be a kind of magnet for unlawful phenomena, maybe its just karmic payback for his past transgressions. Still, the amount of threatening situations and delinquents that have made their way to Banshee since the start of the program has been absurdly high. Nevertheless, the nature of the show forces us to accept this improbability for the sake of drama and conflict, so there is no choice but to embrace the ‘bad guy of the week’ structure of the series.

Last week’s episode dealt with this in an interesting way, by using a flashback to introduce and deal with the “main villain” of the installment, this bad guy was limited to Lucas’s memory and personal experience. There was nobody wreaking havoc all over town and threatening the livelihood of innocent people. The present day storyline dealt with Wicks, who only posed a real threat to Lucas as opposed to the people of Banshee. Last night’s episode, “Behold a Pale Rider” reverted to more straightforward storytelling techniques. The bad guys of the week were Nathan and Lance, whose unsophisticated pharmacy robbery escalated into a hostage crisis at the local high school.

The more aggressive of the two robbers, Lance, is portrayed (much like the motorcycle gang and the albino man in the last two episodes) as an unredeemable villain, completely cartoonish and exaggerated. He is just completely hateful and vicious and entirely one-dimensional. It’s like the writers went out of their way to make us despise him, his actions became superfluous and manipulative, only there to titillate the audience and rouse their emotions, in the easiest and cheapest way possible.

Still, there was a slight counterbalance with the presence of his partner, Nathan. In contrast, Nathan seems a weak man, almost innocent and benign when put right up against Lance’s malice.  The writers instilled in Nathan some humanity; there was emotion present in his portrayal as opposed to the manic determination of his partner. He went through serious inner conflict, and while not knowing anything at all about his backstory; it was much more interesting to see than watching Lance be cruel to their captives. The hostage situation in its entirety appeared to be just lazy writing; it is one of the easiest conflicts to introduce in order to build tension and gain audience investment. Just put a bunch of kids in a precarious situation in order and a woman being sexually harassed to manipulate viewers, these aren’t original or bold developments, just the products of gimmicky and lazy writing.

While we are on the topic of lazy writing, Lucas manages to escape his confinement with the help of Job and arrives at the high school just in time to flaunt his ‘badassery’ and save the day (again). Sigh. Look, I enjoy watching Lucas kicking ass and taking on the bad guys single handedly just as much as anybody (Anthony Starr is indeed proficient and believable in action sequences), but it does become tiresome after the seventh episode. Are the writers afraid of letting him fail at least once? We have seen him make stupid decisions, (trusting Carrie in this last episode) which put him in problematic situations, but he always manages to escape unscathed. Job conveniently tracks his phone so he knows where he is; Carrie helps him out and provides a getaway car during the botched robbery, etc.

We need him to truly fail at something to raise the stakes, to make him human, to create tension. If he continues to be an infallible hero time and time again, then the potential for suspense and excitement diminishes. No real tension could ever be built up or enhanced if Lucas is always triumphant in his battles. There were moments of uneasiness in this episode, formulated to build up anxiety and expectation and while technically successful in a formal way, the feeling of artificiality was always present. We knew Lucas was going to escape the motel room before Rabbit got there, we knew that Lance was not going to shoot Deva, and therefore, even though those scenes were well acted and well executed, they ultimately became empty exercises.

I’m curious to see him actually deal with some real consequences, because the conflicts that have opposed him have always been fleeting, and temporary. He does have an advancing threat coming his way in Mr. Rabbit. While a cloud of threat has followed Lucas throughout the season, Rabbit finally knows where both Lucas and Carrie are and will definitely be making his way to Banshee. In this sense Lucas is certainly the pale rider, luring in destruction and death (in the form of Mr. Rabbit) to the town of Banshee. The threat that Rabbit represents is serious enough for Lucas to have to join forces with Kai Proctor. In order to successfully deal with Rabbit I suspect that Lucas will have to finally give in and acquire Proctor’s help. Proctor’s influence within the community has made him a powerful man and although Lucas has resisted his influence, it might be an inevitable progression for the characters.

Random Thoughts:

-Just shy of forty-four minute mark, this has been the shortest episode and it did feel like a good fifteen minutes were missing from the overall story.

- Job is still awesome, could use a little bit more of him.

- When are Lucas and Carrie going to have a real conversation about Deva? He knows she’s his daughter, she knows he knows. When is it going to happen?

-The actors playing Nathan and Lance were really great, regardless of how critical I am about characterization, the performances were captivating.



Meet the Author

Follow Us