Kris Wall reviews the series finale of Banshee…
I have to hand it to Banshee’s creators, after a shaky and uneven final season, they knew exactly what needed to happen to course correct and send the show out on a high in its final hour, the ‘good’ guys won and the bad guys lost. Requiem perfectly encapsulated everything that I love and adore about Banshee, packing the finale with bruising action, emotional depth and heart, great character moments, and an 11th hour reveal that, while more or less completely voiding one plot thread that was already weak, worked to strengthen the season as a whole. Banshee looked like it was going big for its climax, but the creators actually delivered something on a more intimate scale that played to its strengths, the episode itself split into two halves with the first delivering the action and the second all about saying goodbye to these characters and sending them off into the sunset.
Let’s start with the big reveal then as Lucas quickly found out from Dawson that Declan Bode didn’t kill Rebecca Bowman as it was outside of his lunar cycle MO (seems a bit strange that Bode didn’t call Brock out on this), which immediately put Lucas back on the trail of Proctor when he discovered Rebecca’s necklace in a hidden basement beneath a garage at Proctor’s property. Lucas quickly caught up to Proctor and Burton, smashing them off the road and into a river, breaking Proctor’s leg in the process. Lucas accuses Proctor of Rebecca’s death and he remains steadfast in his innocence until it quickly dawns on both that Burton was her real killer after all.
Early on in this season, there was rumblings of fans believing that Burton was Rebecca’s killer, but I didn’t buy into it because it made the serial killer stuff even more superfluous than it already felt, seeing as it already felt weird having a key character killed off between seasons by a new mystery assailant. The reveal worked really well though to give her murder more of an intimate grounding within the show though, having her killed off by Proctor’s loyal right hand man made so much more sense for the show than for her to be killed by Bode, especially as I was feeling in the first episode of this season that Rebecca wasn’t going to receive the comeuppance or retribution she should have for double dealing behind Proctor’s back in season 3, she did get her comeuppance, at the hands of Burton.
However, as great as this reveal was, it pretty much voided the need for the serial killer storyline to be included at all, and given that it featured in seven episodes of this season, I can’t help but think where all that time could have been put to better use giving the other storylines and characters a bit more time and focus. Ultimately it served nothing more that to bring in Eliza Dushku (who remained a great addition) and for Brock to realise that there’s a lot of moral grey area to effectively police this town.
Anyhow, getting back on point, it made perfect sense for Burton to be Rebecca’s killer as, as he himself put it, he saw her for what she really was, a distraction and a threat to Proctor, something that Proctor couldn’t see being blinded by his weird creepy love for her. The fight between Lucas and Burton was absolutely devastating, and it looked from the outset like Lucas never stood a chance from the first blow. We’ve seen Burton as an absolutely monolithic powerhouse across these past 4 seasons, a mild mannered killing machine that has taken some pretty graphic injuries and walked away seemingly invincible each time, so when he began strangling Lucas out at the end, I really thought that Lucas’ need for revenge had finally gotten the better of him and this was how he was going to go out, made more believable by his flashbacks of every other battle he’s fought and overcome before, but maybe not this time.
Until he focuses on Deva, his real reason for living, and suddenly he’s back in the game and headbutting the living daylights out of Burton in a scene that made me wince just a little bit harder with each subsequent head crack. Lucas then left Burton lying bleeding and broken across Proctor, this final scene between master and loyal servant made even better by Ulrich Thomsen and Matthew Rauch’s performances, seeing Proctor slowly coming to the realisation that his closest aide had been the one to kill his beloved niece, while Burton maintained that everything he did he did for Proctor, whilst awaiting his fate at the hands of his master, which turned out to be a quick and brutal neck snap. I’ve said it many many times before, Banshee has a great cast of actors playing a variety of weird, wonderful and brilliant characters, but this episode really made Matthew Rauch the MVP of the show, that final reveal giving Burton an added tragic depth to this already brilliant character he has created.
Proctor’s deal with The Cartel went south, as we knew it inevitably would, though not on the massive scale I thought it might do. Proctor somehow managed to cobble together all the drugs that The Cartel had demanded for their shipment, and it looked like things might go down well until the truck pulled up and all of Proctor’s men inside had been killed by Carrie and Job, who had stolen the truck and driven it to the meet. Then Sheriff Brock got his badass hero moment when he came in and destroyed the truck and all the drugs inside with a rocket launcher shot from a half mile away, he even got to rock shades and backwards cap in that hero moment, just to be extra badass about it all.
In the aftermath, Burton and Proctor were faced with a kill or be killed moment on the runway, so killed all the members of The Cartel present, including their leader, before escaping (This was immediately before Lucas smashed them off the road). Obviously The Cartel were none too happy about this and sent a kill squad to Proctor’s property, which Brock and Bunker promptly ignored and just watched them go by when they drove through town. Knowing his fate was at hand, Proctor limped out on to his driveway to meet The Cartel head on, machine gun in hand, and as they raised theirs to fire, Proctor unleashed hell and the camera cut away. Though I think we can all safely assume Proctor went down in a blaze of glory there.
Without shadow of a doubt my favourite part of this episode was the climax between Kurt and Calvin Bunker, this was everything I had been excited about since the conclusion of season 3. Not only did it deliver but it surpassed all of my expectations for just how powerful this scene could possibly be, nailed by two fiercely committed performances that nailed every emotional beat needed to make this scene hit as hard as it did. Calvin’s Brotherhood coup against Proctor was quashed within the first two minutes of the episode when The Brotherhood show up at Proctor’s property and were met by Proctor, Burton and that Senator figure. It turned out that the State Senator that Proctor has met with last week was seemingly in control of just about everything here, including Watts and The Brotherhood.
He effectively ousted Calvin from The Brotherhood in front of everyone, getting slapped across the face and then seeing a new leader installed in his place, right in front of all his formerly loyal men was the final humiliation. While it was odd to see Calvin’s coup end even quicker than it began, it just served to send him on to his collision course with Kurt, there was nowhere else for him to go other than this final destination at Kurt’s house, where he caught Kurt in an intimate moment with his wife, Maggie.
The tension in this scene felt incredible as you could see it dawning on Kurt that there was only one way that this could possibly end, while Calvin had thrown all caution to the wind in his desire for revenge, not even the threat of being shot dead could sway him from his course of action now, and I’d be lying if I said my heart didn’t sink a little when Kurt practically pleaded with Calvin to ‘please just walk away’, having running out of options but to fight. The fight itself was a savage battle of wills, with Kurt alternating between attempting to pacify his brother with short sharp bursts of pent up anger starting to spill out of him, while Calvin was just out to cause pain, even breaking off a windscreen wiper to get in a few cheap and nasty stabs to weaken Kurt’s hold over him. As Calvin has previously stated, this was a dogfight and there was only one way it could possibly end now.
Kurt finally manages to get the drop on Calvin, leaving him bloodied and beaten, but Calvin’s need for some sort of revenge is just too powerful to overcome and he’s soon back on his feet, telling them there’s nowhere they can hide from him, that he will kill everyone, including their son, to get to Maggie. Ultimately Kurt knows that Calvin isn’t going to be stopped by anything other than a bullet, and the heartbreak and anguish that Kurt feels before pulling the trigger is clearly etched across his face as he shoots Calvin and his brother collapses into his arms. Just a staggeringly powerful and heartbreaking scene to watch, both Tom Pelphrey and Chris Coy were fantastic additions to this show, and their performances really helped to sell this blood bond that had been broken by diverging paths yet held together with an underlying brotherly love for each other that comes with being family, the true power of which was never more evident that it was in their fantastic final scene together, both actors at the absolute top of their game, giving their characters the send off they truly deserved.
With all of that out of the way, the rest of the episode was all about saying goodbye to the characters, and there was a lot to love in this back half that really worked to remind the viewers just why this show is so great when it’s at its peak . I really liked that the creators didn’t feel the need to go dark for the finale and wipe out half of the ‘heroes’, or having Lucas and Carrie reunite and leave town together, or for Lucas to have a final showdown with Proctor just because it was the finale, it didn’t need any of it because what we got instead was a series of heartfelt, fun and wonderful little send offs that were true to these characters and their world.
Lucas and Carrie shared a touching final moment which eschewed the conventional need for a happy ending of having them get back together, even though Lucas offered Carrie to join him on the road, by giving them the happy ending of having them acknowledge their love for each other and their love for Deva, but ultimately the acknowledgement that their lives must go in different directions now. It did feel a bit odd when Lucas told Carrie that she was the only one who really knew him, because Job did as well, but it was more than made up for by Carrie’s touching final ‘please don’t forget about me’ before he left.
Another thing I’ve always loved about Banshee is that its never been afraid to take action tropes and turn them on their heads, the typical tough guys and girls here all have emotional depth and vulnerability that the show isn’t afraid to put front and centre, we’ve seen Lucas crying almost as much as we’ve seen him kicking ass, but it’s always been a smart way of turning cliched stereotypes on their head and given the show the heart it needs to add some much needed emotional depth beyond all the visceral thrills, they’ve always felt like real people weighed down by action and consequence.
I loved Brock and Kurt’s acknowledgement that to a police a town like Banshee, sometimes they’ve got to take their badges off and get their hands dirty, a great moment for Brock obviously taking on some of Lucas’ methods for dealing with crime in Banshee, but for Kurt coming back from having to kill his brother and knowing that it was necessary to keeping Banshee safe. I’d happily watch a spin-off show about Brock and Kurt trying to keep law and order in this town.
Lucas, Job and Sugar all shared a great goodbye at the bar. Seeing Job giving Sugar the bag containing his ‘retirement fund’ that Job had taken back from Leo was a wonderful way of ending their friendship before Job left town to head to New York, and I LOVED that we got to see Job in one final fantastic wig and costume ensemble before he declared ‘Banshee, Pennsylvania, suck my tit’, and triumphantly marched out of the door, I really wouldn’t have wanted him to leave this show any other way. Lucas and Sugar shared a drink and reminisced about Lucas’ time as the Sheriff of Banshee, best of which was when Lucas responded that he was probably the worst thing to happen to the town, and that Sugar never thought he’d see Lucas leave alive. Seeing Sugar solemnly leaving the bar with his retirement money in hand was a perfect final moment for his character too.
Also, we never found out Lucas’ real name, which having had time to think about it now, I actually prefer that decision. As Lucas and Sugar talked near the end, Lucas was a figure that existed solely within the confines of Banshee, who he was before, and indeed who he’s going to be after leaving Banshee, is his business. His past was hinted at when Dawson left the FBI case file on his bed which detailed his history, but the show quickly moved on and I’m more than happy to be left with the mystery of Lucas’ identity.
The final season may have made a few missteps and wasted a lot of time on some superfluous plot that could’ve spent the time better elsewhere, but come the finale it knew exactly what it had to do to end on a high, the Burton reveal gave the season a strong and much needed thematic course correction, every character got their moment to shine in the final hour, and the creators clearly remembered the magic that made it such a special and unique show in the first place, so that by the time Lucas rode out of town on his motorbike for the final time, emotions were high and my heart was swelling with love for these characters and this show. Goodbye Banshee, it’s been a thrilling and incredible ride!
Kris Wall – Follow me on Twitter