Starring Antony Starr, Ivanna Milicevic, Ulrich Thomsen, Frankie Faison, Hoon Lee, Rus Blackwell, Matt Servitto, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Lili Simmons, Matthew Rauch, Geno Segers, Afton Williamson, Langley Kirkwood. Various Directors. (2015, 600 min). CINEMAX/HBO VIDEO
I guess the best praise I can offer after watching Season Three of Cinemax's Banshee is that it immediately made me want to run out and grab the first two seasons. It's like Peyton Place on acid...audacious, sleazy, lurid, immoral, mean-spirited, brutally violent and sometimes darkly humorous, with numerous moments which leave the viewer thinking WTF?. Banshee's also well-acted, sharply written and ferociously compelling enough for us to overlook lapses in plausibility and simply go along with it.
It figures that I'd discover the show only after it's been cancelled (Season Four will be the last). Still, Season Three is a thrilling introduction to the premise and these characters; we're given just enough info about events of the first two seasons that newbies like myself aren't completely lost.
Antony Starr returns as 'Lucas Hood,' the ex-con who assumed the identity of a recently-killed sheriff of Banshee, Pennsylvania. His former crime partner and lover, Anastasia (Ivana Milicevic), still lives in town, though her ruse has since-been exposed and she's now estranged from her new husband and daughter (who was fathered by Hood). The main story arc of Season Three has Hood bringing in his gang of buddies plan a heist at a local military base, where borderline psychotic Major Stowe (who Anastasia's been sleeping with) has been stashing ill-gotten millions. Meanwhile, Hood still fulfills his duties as the town sheriff, albeit questionably. The two other main plot threads has Hood trying to take-down local Amish gangster Lai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen) and prevent insane and vicious Chayton Littlestone (Geno Segers) from leading the Redbone gang in a bloody revolt to avenge the death of their tribal chief (Proctor's doing).
There are several other subplots, some of which have impact on the ongoing story, others which are an obvious set-up for Season Four (such as a former neo-Nazi becoming a Banshee deputy). There are a lot of character interactions to keep track of, but the show occasionally fails in making all of them equally interesting. For the most part, though, each episode is fast-paced enough to keep us intrigued, and even newcomers never feel left in the dark by what's going on.
Being a Cinemax series, Banshee is loaded with explicit, gratuitous sex, mostly of the non-erotic variety. A good percentage of the cast gets down & dirty at one point or another. Similarly, the violence is extremely graphic and over-the-top, particularly a brilliantly-conceived midseason fight scene and the death of one of the season's major characters (the latter of which is likely to be a real crowd pleaser since this character really has it coming).
There's almost a Grindhouse quality to some of Season Three's more shocking surprises. But hey, isn't this what we tune in for? No one watches a program like this for enlightenment or intellectual stimulation. Banshee is pure exploitation cinema presented in as an addicting soap opera, the kind of show where it's sheer audacity is morbidly compelling...and supremely binge-worthy. And while Season Three's main plotlines come to satisfying conclusions, it leaves just enough intriguing, unresolved threads to keep viewers hooked for one last go-around.
- "Banshee Origins" & "Banshee Origins Saga": Several prequel webisodes and a two-part feature which take place before the events of the series. For fans, this is the best of the bonus features.
- Featurettes: "The Heist" (making of the pivotal point in Episode 7); "Burton vs Nola Camera Movement" & "Burton vs Nola Stunts": (two features on the making of this outrageous fight scene); "Genoa Rehearsal"; "Zoomed In"; "Making of the Episode 2 Title Sequence"
- Deleted Scenes
- Numerous Audio Commentaries
- Digital Copy