Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
Directed by Greg Yaitanes
Written by David Schickler & Jonathan Tropper
* For a review of the next episode, “The Rave” – click here
Banshee‘s pilot episode begins on a prison yard. The unnamed protagonist (Antony Starr) is leaving. Although, it is tough to get a read on him. He heads off down the train tracks into nowhere specific. Along the way he hits the bar, bangs a bartender. All the things any man who’d just gotten out of jail would probably want to do.
We know he can jack cars easily because he picks one up for a ride. In the city, he goes to see the fabulous Job (Hoon Lee), whose enthusiasm to see an old friend isn’t exactly bursting at the seams. Our protagonist starts to beat the shit out of the place until Job gives up what little he does know. Seems Job is a bit of a hacker, and he knows where one Carrie Hopewell (Ivana Milicevic) lives; obviously someone they both know, and someone that means a great deal to our main man. As he leaves, there are men waiting for him. He smiles, as if expecting them. Then leads the bastards on a chase through the streets. A wild one with bullets and everything! Even an overturned bus. This Cinemax series really starts out with a nice bang. Full-on thrills. This sets up an obviously wild identity for the so far unnamed lead character. And that’s also intriguing, that we don’t get to know him well enough to know his name, but get a glimpse of his unbalanced life.
The first time I watched the series I was very struck by the theme song and the score overall by Methodic Doubt. Different, edgy, melodic, heavy. Dig it.
Another highly intriguing aspect of this series is its inclusion of Amish culture, which we can see as our protagonist heads into the town of Banshee. We’ll sore more of that later. For now, we’re introduced to Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen). He’s the local gangster of sorts. Immediately his reach is apparent, having slipped out of court and the prosecution of Gordon Hopewell (Rus Blackwell).
More importantly, now we meet Carrie. She’s married to Gordon. So what does that mean or her relationship to the mystery man? Well, she has a whole life there. A husband, two kids. She nearly has a heart attack after spying a man in her garden; seconds later, he’s gone. Upstairs, Gordon smokes pot in the shower, leaning out the window; he’s got some kind of shoulder injury, it seems. The build up of not knowing exactly who the protagonist is, what his relationship to Carrie is either, it really makes things interesting. Of course, going back and knowing what I know after all these seasons, it isn’t a surprise anymore. Yet still fun. The writing is top notch and makes this pilot episode spectacular.
So our guy ends up at the bar of Sugar Bates (Frankie Faison). He was a former cruiserweight boxer. They bond a little, talking about Sugar’s boxing career, so on. Again, we get no straight answers from the lead. Except that he did time; so did Sugar. This solidifies their bond. Sugar is one of the lucky ones. He’s got a bar, some credibility. From the bathroom comes a man named Lucas Hood (Griff Furst). He’s the new Sheriff in town, came in quick not being voted in and all. So fast he hasn’t met anyone there yet, and the guy who brought him in died suddenly.
Not as sudden as a couple armed men show up to spoil things. All the while, Hood eats his steak dinner. The robbers don’t like that. A confrontation brews, our mystery man looks positively nervous – but not because he can’t handle himself. He gets into the mix. The robbers and the new Sheriff end up dead. Uh oh.
So what do two ex-cons do with three corpses, “on of ‘em a cop“? Sugar says he’ll take care of it because one way or another those guys were coming with bad intentions. For now, the mystery man is off the hook. So he goes to see Ana – or, Carrie, as she goes by now. He wants to know about the kids, specifically her daughter Deva (Ryann Shane), her age. They’ve obviously had a long, storied romantic history. She mentions someone named Rabbit. So clearly their past must involve criminal activity. He wants his cut of their final job. She claims the diamonds were taken – all $10-million. There was a life this guy dreamed of outside the walls of that prison – 15 years inside – and now it all crumbled away. He has nothing left whatsoever.
He shows up to help Sugar with the dirty deeds. Considering there’s nothing for him elsewhere. And when they’re about to bury the Sheriff, his cellphone rings. It’s Mayor Dan Kendall (Daniel Ross Owens). Our mystery man, on a whim, to take up the identity of Lucas Hood. Of course Sugar doesn’t like the prospect, but off he goes. Now our mystery man has a name: it’s Lucas Hood.
He gives Job a call – all the while washing off the badge, as if washing away his old identity, too. Having a hacker friend, one of the best to boot, is always great. Especially if you’re a major criminal like Hood. We find out from Job that Hood is one of the most notorious thieves in the U.S. What fun this whole mess will bring.
Flashbacks tell us brief bits about Rabbit. They stole from him, which was clearly a mistake. He’s obviously a powerful figure. We’ll certainly discover more soon.
More Kai Proctor, too. He and Sugar have a casual relationship, knowing one another for quite some time. A couple of Kai’s guys went missing, so he’s checking around for where they might’ve ended up. But Sugar is able to keep him off the trail for now.
And Carrie, she’s starting to have some troubles. With her husband she starts remembering her days with Hood, their life together, their sex. All those old feelings come rushing back. She has a new life now, those feelings will only serve to disrupt all that.
But Hood, he’s busy becoming Hood. He meets with the Mayor and starts kicking things off. So far so good, as the guy has no idea what Hood looks like anyways. Perfect fit. At the same time, Job is having trouble staying in one spot, as the men who hunted Hood in the streets of the city earlier are now coming for him. A hacker as tricky and sly as Job isn’t going to let a couple guys in suits with guns be the end of him. When he figures out they work for Rabbit, he manages to slip out of the situation and detonate some explosives in the building. Not only action packed, Job’s character comes out in this sequence; we understand he is also a pretty serious criminal in his own right, having those kind of measures ready at the drop of a hat.
Hood is brought down to the cop shop – the Cadi, an old Cadillac dealership with only half a name hanging on front of the place. Nevertheless, everyone there is top notch from Brock Lotus (Matt Servitto), Siobhan Kelly (Trieste Kelly Dunn), to Emmett Yawners (Demetrius Grosse). When Brock takes Hood out on a drive through town, they come across some guys lead by Cole Moody (J.D. Evermore) giving an Amish man a hard time. Naturally the tough guy in Hood has him right in the middle of things. We now start to understand Hood’s character further, too. He isn’t simply a thief. He is a bad ass motherfucker. Four guys try and take him on, but his skills are beyond them. Then Kai shows up. The Amish guy? We find out later he’s Kai’s dad. That can’t mean anything good for those guys beating up on him.
Here we get a bit of the Amish angle. It’s clear Kai is shunned by the community, as his father won’t look at him or speak to him. Briefly, Hood encounters Carrie’s daughter Deva – he bumps into her, lifting her wallet to read her ID. Now he has suspicions about her age. Is it possible that’s his daughter? Carrie did lie about her age, so that’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Over at the slaughterhouse, Kai is teaching lessons. He’s summoned Cole to talk about his behaviour earlier, especially when he called Kai’s father a “fucking Dutchie“, which the Amish find terribly offensive. Kai lays a beating on Cole, knocks out his teeth, then makes him put the things back in before leaving. The toughness of Kai is obvious, too. Love how all the characters are developed so well in this first episode. Really makes you want to keep watching.
We find out more about Kai. His secret life at home. He likes when women dress up in Amish clothes before they have sex. That’s some weird, creepy shit. A bit of repressed sexuality somewhere along the line before he broke out of the community, no doubt.
There’s even a bit about Siobhan. She has a brutal, reddened scar on her shoulder near her neck. What could that be from? Definitely something significant, or else it wouldn’t have been included.
Finally Sheriff Hood – the fake one – is being sworn in. An amazing sequence that shows him during the swearing in ceremony, side by side with him investigating a crime he himself committed. Job creating the new identity. Sugar getting his belt back, clearly bought by Hood. All wrapped into one nice montage.
A big party at Proctor’s place draws everyone in town – the Hopewells, the police, Hood, everybody of any importance. In the background, always, hovers Kai’s personal bodyguard Clay Burton (Matthew Rauch). Best of all, Hood comes face to face with Carrie again, plus her husband. What a surreal, shocking moment. Furthermore, Hood meets a few of the big players around Banshee, including Chief Benjamin Longshadow (Russell Means) and his son Alex (Anthony Ruivivar). So the identity is sinking in, more and more.
Carrie isn’t pleased about him sticking around, though. That’s bound to keep generating tension and driving forward much of the plot. He loves her and isn’t about to let that part of his life completely slip away. Also, he needs her skills to open a safe; the one he stole from the scene he’d been investigating.
Carrie: “Sorry, I‘m not myself tonight.”
Hood: “No? Who are you then?”
Out of nowhere, Cole knocks Hood over with a punch. Trouble is a’brewing. He heads into the party with a gun, literally gunning for Proctor. Only Hood takes him down with one shot, surprising everyone. More surprises, as Carrie freaks Gordon out with a bit of ninja-like behaviour. Lots of layers, this episode. What will the death of Cole bring for Hood? Barely there a minute and he’s already killed a few people.
But the finale of the episode takes us to the infamous Rabbit. His man survived the explosion at Job’s place. These guys are Russian mob, and Rabbit seems damn scary. He won’t stop until both Ana/Carrie and Hood are found.
Stay with me for a recap and review of the next episode “The Rave”, which gets Hood into the mix of Banshee and the police department, as well as more of history clawing back to his present. Love this series, and really enjoying watching it over another time, recapping, reviewing closely.