Banshee – Evil for Evil Review: A Devastating Hour
“Evil for Evil” is a surprisingly devastating hour of Banshee
. It possesses the inherent characteristics of any other episode of the series with a lot of conflict, interesting character moments and brutal violence, but the tone is significantly darker and grim. Deputy Emmett’s upsetting storyline colors the entirety of the episode with a dour and solemn feeling that made the whole thing hard to watch. His struggle and personal losses in the hour are executed with atypical gravity for such a pulpy, seemingly superficial series. Though the shift in tone is jarring and unexpected and even off-putting initially, this is a wonderfully gripping episode. Of course, there is no denying that the storyline could be qualified as exploitative, as is every other plotline in the series, and bordering on bad taste (whenever you have a visibly pregnant woman being physically attacked you are skirting the line), but the writers manage to eliminate such undesirable connotations. It is safe to say that the show revels in exploitative material, the writers own the pulpy and over the top style proudly and thus the series exhibits a semi-light tone. However, the nature of the subject matter alone adds a lot of weight to the story being told, and separates it from the series’ more familiar, superficial and/or frivolous milieu.
Usually the violence on Banshee
is treated with an ounce of gleefulness, the sequences are so highly stylized and over the top that imbues them with a fantastical/artificial element, which allows us to enjoy (or at least tolerate) insane levels of brutality. Some of these acts of violence are so ridiculous that one can only take pleasure in the mere audacity of the writers and the show that drives them to pull that stuff off. Also, the writers deftly introduce absolutely hateful villains, who instantly antagonize our “heroes”.
Unlike the antagonists who are series regulars, Kai and Longshadow, even Gordon, who are supporting characters and therefore more nuanced and layered, the ‘bad guys of the week’ are one-dimensional caricatures. Just in this season we’ve seen the ultra-pious hulk of an Amish teacher, and the sleazy British dude, both of them met hyper-gruesome ends that felt appropriate to their stories. Additionally, the majority of these one-time bad guys are often bumbling buffoons, ignorant brutes that one would take pleasure in watching their demise. When they are defeated, it doesn’t have much emotional weight or resonance. The person who inflicts the violence, usually Hood, doesn’t have much of a reason to feel remorseful or emotionally affected by his actions. And since he isn’t often weighed down by the severity of the violence, neither are we. Typically Hood’s emotional state post-battle is one of relief and/or satisfaction, which colors our impression of the event.
There was no pleasure or glee or satisfaction in “Evil for Evil” and Emmett’s situation. And we, along with him, are completely brought down and devastated by the extreme events that transpired. It is heartbreaking and horribly hard to watch, the skinheads are incredibly repulsive and there is no sigh of relief when Emmett beats them to a pulp, instead there is a dreadful stillness that washes over and emphasizes the grimness of the situation. The violence is over the top as usual, but the context supporting it is quite sobering. It is a decidedly different approach to violence and conflict than what we have previously been treated to, but it works. Once again, the writers are playing with how far the series can go, exploring and successfully expanding its limits.
While Emmett’s ordeal may have been the primary storyline and set the tone for the rest of the hour, there were other interesting developments for the rest of the characters. Hood is taking much more drastic and assertive steps in his mission against Proctor, but he might be getting a bit too smug about bringing down this big bad. There is a sense that his hubris will get the better of him and cause a slip, in which Proctor could get the upper hand. Proctor is a man of many resources and although it seems like he is in a difficult position, I wouldn’t be surprised if he managed to come out of it just slightly unscathed.
What is most interesting about Hood’s attack on Proctor is the effect it is causing on his inner circle. Proctor, Burton and Rebecca have a really intriguing pseudo love/power triangle thing going on that is absolutely delicious to watch. Rebecca’s true loyalties continue to be unclear, but I think she is just doing everything she can to come out of the situation intact and even better off. We have seen before how she is seduced by her uncle’s power and this episode we see her indulging in a brief moment sitting in Proctor’s chair, she certainly would not take issue with taking her uncle’s place. She might have some ulterior motives and Burton is totally suspicious/resentful of her presence. Those three have a really interesting dynamic that should be explored more in the future.
Finally, the episode definitely benefited form the minimal use of the Hopewell family drama. It was concise and effective and for once you don’t resent their presence in an episode. Their troubles are still dull and uninteresting but at least they did not take much time away from more engaging storylines.
“Evil for Evil” is another surprising take on Banshee
, the writers continue to experiment and push the series’ boundaries in really compelling and effective ways. Who knew that this pulpy, ludicrous show could reach such emotional and deeply disturbing depths?
- Job found Rabbit! I don’t know how that will pan out, but it will surely be interesting. Honestly, I have completely lost all interest of this story thread, much more interested in the Proctor stuff.