In the first 10 minutes of the pilot for Banshee, a man (Anthony Starr) walks out of prison, boosts a car, beds a random hot bartender, smashes up the basement of a transgender hair salon, crashes said stolen car during a chase through Midtown, jacks a motorcycle, dodges bullets fired from tattooed baddies, and roars into the sleepy town of Banshee, PA looking for his lost love and former partner in crime, who happens to be the same person. By the end of the episode, the former con assumes the identity of the man destined to be the town’s sheriff, Lucas Hood.
In the 30 episodes that comprise Seasons 1-3 of Banshee (returning for its fourth and final season at 10pm ET Friday on Cinemax), the intensity and mayhem of those first 10 minutes echo throughout each and every episode. Producer Alan Ball (True Blood) has delivered a gripping, pulpy, violent, country-fried delight as consistent as it is confounding. Hood, the impostor sheriff, has waged war with crime bosses, motorcycle gangs, skinheads, a crooked Native American tribal council, the Amish, and any number of random criminals and scofflaws. Now, the end is near.
As fans of a similarly-paced Justified know, there is something deeply satisfying in Banshee’s constant blurring of lines between the righteous lawman and the “off the books” and “not to code” solving of problems. While this construct works well for a while, eventually the pressures of living double-lives, keeping secrets, and the undue influence of “outsiders” forces a reckoning.
With so many storylines to wrap up and debts to pay, longtime fans will be glad to know that the writers and creators have said they are truly going for broke; everything is on the table. Early looks at the season suggest a much darker, bleaker tone, and while that might be cause for concern on a lesser show, in the hands of Banshee’s crew it sounds like dessert for dinner.
Here are some things to think about as the series barrels non-stop to its finale:
The Education of Lucas Hood
Left a mess at the end of Season 3, will Hood get a moment to catch his breath, or are the shadows of his past rushing toward the inevitable? Will we finally learn his real name?
Brock (Matt Servitto) emerges from his own hell and finally steps into the role of Sheriff. Will he play it straight or slip and get behind the chaos of Hood?
Mayor Kai Proctor
It seems obvious that the crime boss will meet some kind of end in the final season, but Banshee is a perverse enough show to flip that script. Will he be the one left standing? Now at the seat of power and with a tighter grip than ever on the town, anything can happen.
She wields a flamethrower. That’s worth my Cinemax subscription right there, no matter what else happens. Carrie continues to struggle without Gordon, without the safety of her identity as a mother. Does she find redemption, even if it’s incredibly messy?
Meet New Castmembers
Eliza Dushku joins as an unhinged FBI profiler, Ana Ayora as a Banshee deputy (and spy for Proctor), and Casey LaBow as a woman who seeks freedom from the her life as the wife of a Aryan Brotherhood leader.
Banshee has the rare luxury of having a full eight episodes to wind down its intense and brutal storyline, and we’re expecting nothing less than full-on Banshee-esque unrest. Since there are no sacred cows and no chance of a season five, expect one of TV’s most beloved (if under the radar) shows to stomp on the gas and go over the cliff in righteous flames.