Sometimes all it takes to get me hooked on a new obsession is the smallest taste. Tease me with striking visuals, and I'll make a trip to the comic book store. Whisper me an enticing quote, and I will just-one-more-chapter a book into the small hours of the night. Lure me in with a fascinating character, and I'll sell my soul to Bioware.
The latter is how I came to meet Job, thanks to a friend who knows my buttons and can feed my addictions.
Banshee isn't about Job, though Job is fucking awesome. It's about Lucas Hood. Actually, it's about the guy who, after leaving prison, escaping one of the best chases scenes ever, getting into a bar fight that results in dead bad guys and a dead sheriff, takes the new sheriff's badge and name and makes himself comfy in the town of Banshee, where the love of his life and former partner-in-crime, and daughter of the incredibly dangerous mob boss, Rabbit, is trying to hide from their past. Throw in the threat of Rabbit's return due to some missing diamonds and a few vendettas, animosity between the various cultural groups residing in and around town, including Amish and First Nations, and you get a big soup of amazing television.
Sordid details aside, this show is just the perfect example of excellent storytelling combined with amazing acting and cinematography. The latter reminds me of some of my favourite Steven Soderbergh scene work, particularly in Out of Sight. Movement is often cut or stuttered, with scenes transitioning almost like panels in a comic book. It knows the value of heating a moment with silence, allowing the actors to ground scenes in raw emotion right down to the very last second (read: stay for the credits).
Unlike Out of Sight, Banshee is not subtle. Or rather, it is subtle in many, many ways, but not when it comes to sex and violence. But unlike the sex and violence in some shows on some stations that are all about viewer ratings first, neither is about mere titillation. Every scene in Banshee serves a purpose to advance the story and characters, not just to entertain. This is a bit surprising to me, since Banshee comes from creators of True Blood, a show that seems only to serve that purpose, and, with its last season upon us, appears to have forgotten the entire concept of storytelling altogether. Anyway, Banshee literally pulls no punches when it comes to its violence, with Lucas Hood at the forefront as a sheriff ready to solve every case with his fists.
These fights are not for the squeamish. They are very realistic and often leave me cringing. But they are true to the characters--because Hood isn't the only one capable of such violence. There are a number of characters who can hold their own, sometimes quite surprisingly--and the show never fails to deliver when it unleashes them. But I stress, every fucking and every fucking up is pivotal. And some of them have even left me in tears because of the heart and soul behind them, which we learn even as the blood flies. I particularly love the way many of these scenes are shot, with some of them juxtaposed against others. The latter link in particular is amazing for so many reasons that I can't get into because SPOILARZ! But if you choose not to clicky, I will reveal that it features two of the main female characters in separate battles, dealing with their shit.
Following my season one binge, I discovered Banshee Origins, vignettes providing a tiny peek into the history behind the characters. More shows need to do origin episodes like this--but only if they understand the power of "less is more," like Banshee does.
Hmmm... and now I see that IDW Publishing has taken the Banshee Origins phenomenon one step further with a comic book. Do I dare take my obsession to the next level? I'm actually of two minds about this because, while I do want to know more, the magic of Banshee is in what it doesn't tell or show. Even with the Origins shorts, there is only just enough to make you be like oooooooh, while still leaving the mystery firmly in place.
Oh, almost forgot to mention the soundtrack. A lot of shows use music to set a scene, and Banshee isn't unique in that. But since the show is already doing everything right for me, it's not surprising that my music box is frequently getting an update. The latest? "Hope" by Abi Wade.