I haven’t checked out either of the first two seasons of Cinemax’s Banshee, but surprisingly had very little difficulty slipping into the third season and keeping up with what’s going on. After the first scene, which sees the officers of the Banshee police department seeking vengeance for their fallen comrade in the previous season, everything just fell into place and made this third season of the series feel very much like a first season. Perhaps due to the show’s lack of popularity, the executive producers feel the need to make every episode a good jumping in point for the show.
I know from reading the back of the blu-ray that Anthony Starr’s character, Lucas, the Banshee Sheriff is a former convict who assumed the role of Sheriff under some less than moral means in the beginning of the series, using his position to establish himself as the anti-hero of the town protecting his ex-girlfriend, Carrie (Ivana Milicevic; Casino Royale), and their now teenage daughter, Deva (Ryann Shane; Frances Ha). Along the way, he can’t help orchestrating heists while simultaneously throwing his deputies off his trail. The conceit of a character being simultaneously cop and criminal is not very interesting to me as an audience member, especially with the added USA Network like twist of a former criminal somehow establishing himself as sheriff, which is an elected position. Again, I don’t know how he pulled this off, but it strikes me as a dark version of USA’a Psych about a fake psychic who helps the local police solve crimes and people just quickly stop questioning that he has supernatural powers.
I imagine the series made it to four seasons by having a lot of sex scenes and subsequent nudity. This is to be expected from Cinemax and it’s an effective aspect of the series to an extent, but when the season premiere had (I think) 4 different sex scenes in 50 minutes, you start to wonder if you’ve accidentally volunteered to review one of their infamous softcore porn series rather than an actually good character-driven drama about crime and punishment in a midwest small town. Fortunately, other episodes aren’t as dependent on the sexual content and actually give characters other things to do. One really great scene features Deva breaking into a local weed depository to raid the cash and merchandise with her friends, immediately getting caught by her father the sheriff, who proceeds to show her everything she did wrong with the robbery and why she got caught. It really helped define and develop their characters for me, who has never seen them together before.
Easily my favorite character on the series is Clay (Matthew Rauch), who is a seemingly mild-mannered, quiet man in a bow tie who works for the town’s resident crime boss. You think Clay might be his boss’s accountant or something until he cuts loose as his bodyguard and beats the hell out of a perceived threat with immense skill and seemingly no reaction to pain. I like characters who can’t or rarely speak; there’s something interesting about having to define a character completely through their actions and we know right away that this guy is as ruthless as he is devoted to his employer.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD on April 5.