Banshee – Bullets and Tears Review: Disappointingly Dull
The long-awaited showdown between Rabbit and Lucas/Carrie finally materializes in “Bullets and Tears”, but the anticipated confrontation (muddled by ineffective flashbacks and questionable storytelling) falls flat, resulting in a surprisingly dull and anticlimactic conclusion to an otherwise engaging and inspired season of Banshee
. Despite some fun moments, seemingly unnecessary flashback scenes and a determined focus on the unending Rabbit storyline significantly hinder the first half of the episode, getting it off to a slow start. However, the second half is able to deliver with some much needed surprises as well as the incorporation of more compelling storylines. The second season finale is an uneven effort that wraps up a dangling story thread and hints at some intriguing turmoil ahead.
How great is it to finally be rid of Rabbit? Despite any interesting drama the manipulative crime boss brought along with him in the first season, it was certainly the time to say goodbye to him. What started out as mysterious and intriguing backstory for Lucas and Carrie devolved considerably in the second season. The Rabbit narrative has been one of the weakest narratives (along with Carrie’s family woes) working only as a far away threat to the main characters, but not offering anything in terms of interesting character information or interactions. It is disappointing to see it take over most of the action in the finale. Did we really need all those flashbacks illustrating the events before the fated diamond heist? Nothing in those scenes is especially eye opening or revelatory. Yes, it is interesting to see how some of the characters met or their early interactions (look there’s Job performing drag! Or that’s Racine’s first visit to Rabbit!), but that doesn’t make up for the act that these scenes are basically useless, filler inserted into the episode in order to flesh out the hour.
With these trips into the past, it feels like the writers are actively withholding the more intriguing and compelling material. Forcing us to watch the boring stuff, which we could have correctly assumed from past narratives, before getting to the more pressing and important matters. We know all we really need to know about Lucas and Carrie’s past, there is evident urgency in their present timeline, that’s where the stakes are; there is no reason to once again explore their past with such detail. Also, seeing the past events play out only highlights how thin and flimsy Rabbit’s motivation was to essentially betray his own daughter and then pursue her so ruthlessly. I know this show often plays with genre conventions and clichés but the whole ‘forbidden lover/lying to daddy’ story is just so lazy and insipid. So she lied to you, get over it, Rabbit.
Once the story moves into the present, there is a significant positive shift in the episode. The shootout in the church is pulpy and fun (killer priests are always amusing) as Lucas and Carrie, and even Job get to, once again, show off their badass-ness. Rabbit’s final moments drag on a bit too long, by the time Carrie and Lucas get to him, I just wanted him to die instantly, enough with this storyline. And while it is an interesting character moment for Carrie to show some compassion for her father, it would have been nice if she were the one to deliver the final blow.
And once we get to Banshee, things get insane. Now, the level of violence on the series has always been over the top and ridiculous. Usually the violence inflicted is perpetrated against really hateful characters making it easier to digest, but the brutality of the Rebecca/Emmett montage is truly harrowing, hard to watch and deeply disturbing. Violence against women is something that will always trigger strong reaction in viewers, and Rebecca has become a character we somewhat care about or at least sympathize with at times, so Alex’s actions are disturbing enough. Then the show juxtaposes this moment of brutality with the enraging and shocking event of Emmett and his wife’s senseless death and it is almost too much to bear. The Emmett storyline was a surprisingly grim and affecting thread in the normally ridiculous and fantastical narrative, and this scene (shot in fetishistic slow motion) brings back all the emotion and devastation felt in the original episode. The series has always been deft at skirting the line of tasteless exploitation, and this sequence is pushing it more than anything shown previously. In that instant no longer is the show a fun, escapist romp, but a painful, almost sadistic exercise. Not fun to watch at all.
However, the sequence does stir excitement and anticipation for the next season and the show manages to move on from that bleak moment. How will the sheriff department react to Emmett’s death, will they hunt down the skinheads that did it? And what will happen in the aftermath of Longshadow’s death? We get a pretty clear idea in the episode’s intense closing moments. The superhuman Chayton will be making his way to Banshee to avenge this act against the Kinaho tribe. Yes! He is an intimidating and formidable opponent, even against the powerful Kai. And speaking of Kai, his relationship with Rebecca continues to perplex and fascinate. What is going on with those two? Despite their limited screen time Rebecca and Kai remain the most intriguing characters and command our interest wholeheartedly. As Rebecca’s role in her uncle’s business grows, her creepiness factor increases substantially so does her creepiness factor, which is always welcome.
The writers seem to be following a kind of finale formula; “Bullets and Tears” has many parallels to the first season finale, “A Mixture of Madness.” Like its predecessor, the second season finale features a highly risky ambush with aims to kill Rabbit, a selfless sacrifice by Lucas in attempts to help Carrie, questionable flashback scenes, Rebecca delving deeper into her uncle’s world, and brief appearances from supporting players, among others. This is surprising seeing as this season has been all about branching out and experimentation. The stylistic flourishes explored throughout the season are virtually nonexistent; instead it is basically a retread of a past installment. The forward momentum the season cultivated, in terms of style and narrative, came to a halt with this episode. While it achieves some levels of success, it ultimately feels like a step back for the much improved sophomore season.
What did you think of the Banshee finale?
- Did we get any confirmation that Rabbit set up the diamond heist in order to sabotage Carrie and Lucas? Or are we to assume that he knew the diamonds were fake and this was all an elaborate ruse? Also, who cares?
- “You’re married, by the way. Mazel Tov!” Job is the best, perfect line reading. He better make appearances next season.
- Again, looking forward most to the storylines that don’t really concern Lucas and Carrie. Chayton’s return and Kai and Rebecca’s weird dynamic are what intrigue me the most.