The time has come, Banshee addicts. The gritty landscape that has paved the way for the most entertaining and fulfilling show in the past three years could be closing its doors. According to TVLine.com, the Cinemax gem will end its run with 2016’s fourth season. Sadness doesn’t begin to explain the way I feel right now. Punching something sounds better. Maybe a punching bag perhaps. Something to ease the pain.
Excuse me while I step out of proud professional writer mode and into a passionate fan’s skin. This is sad on so many levels but the signs were there earlier this year as I interviewed the producers, writers and directors. Writer/producer Jonathan Tropper hinted at it in our chat. Former showrunner/producer/director Greg Yaitanes and director/producer Loni Peristere all referenced making every episode as great as the last one as if the swan song was one punch, bullet hole or explosion away.
The best shows don’t save the goods for last. They make sure every single moment is worth keeping people home on a Friday night. That’s right. Thank God It’s Friday became Thank God it’s Banshee Day…..
Banshee was the first show I loved that also gave me a real reason to not go out on Friday night. While everybody else partied, I stayed at home and reveled in the land of flawed men, tough women and bad decisions.
Who needed a shot of whiskey when characters like ex-con turned sheriff turned doom maker Lucas Hood(Antony Starr) drank enough for six death row prison guards? Who needed action outside your house when Hood got into more fights in one episode than a Goon did in an entire hockey season? Banshee is cinematic television, churning out movie styled hours of couch fantasy binge blasting than 98 percent of other premium cable networks.
Instead of taking a season off after critics respected the second season, Banshee cut the deepest with its third round. It added mph to its fastball instead of throwing softer. Beloved characters fell, unpredictable learned a new name and vengeance grew a pair of legs inside a few bodies that fateful night back in March.
The reason the departure cuts extra deep has nothing to do with the best stunts on television, the most passionate sex scenes ever filmed and the most brutally menacing people you’ll find on any plasma screen. The actors, such as Ivana Milicevic and Hoon Lee, interacted with the viewers every Friday night. They logged in on Twitter and traded with people watching their creations do the most outrageous of things. It doesn’t get any better than Milicevic describing her parents reaction to the violence and sex on the show. Lee and Starr trading hits created great humor while the one and the only Matt Servitto brought the wittiest drops of flavor on a weekly basis.
The personal touch provided by these people started something. Look around. Showtime’s Ray Donovan is doing cast twitter work. Other shows are catching on. Banshee started something and it all began with Yaitanes years ago. Thanks Greg for starting a fire that won’t be put out for years. One day I will watch with my son and tell him why characters like The Albino and Rabbit aren’t just bad guys. They are men with a different purpose.
More so than any show on television(I watch a lot of TV), Banshee didn’t drew a single line between good and bad people. They drew about 49 lines and they shifted every week. You could call Ulrich Thomson’s Kai Proctor a bad man until you saw how he treated his mother. You could call Geno Segers’ Chayton a monster before you saw his upbringing. You could be scared out of your shoes by Matthew Rauch’s Clay Burton but once you know his backstory, it fit like a glove. Lili Simmons’ beautiful yet deadly Rebecca Bowman coming onto her uncle could be a little off putting at first, but after you took a look around the set, it kind of fit. You could call Kurt Bunker a tattooed beast until you saw Tom Pelphrey deliver the speech of the year at the end of the finale in March. I’ll miss these misfit square pegs forever trying to fit into round holes.
I’ll miss Starr’s badlands version of a Bruce Willis anti-hero the most. Starr combined shades Colin Farrell, Sylvester Stallone, Willis and a dose of Steve McQueen to create this good man stuck in a violent body twisting a piece of aluminum foil that was the good life. From the moment he stepped outside that prison gate in the pilot, viewers fell hard for this ex-con gone wrong and more wrong. He was human but a fighter to the core. A thief turned hardened prison turned tortured lover turned wrongful lawman turned crimefighter.
Hood saw his world fall apart in Season 3 and by the end, was ready to walk down a road possibly with a man who he had sworn to kill hours earlier. That’s Banshee. Once you think you know what’s going on and your hands drop, the writers slug you with an uppercut you never saw coming. That’s great television. It endures and never leaves your mind days later.
I suggest watching or revisiting the first three seasons. If you don’t have Cinemax, make a friend or neighbor that does and buy them beer to watch their cable. Show some self respect and take a trip through this unusual town. The women may cut you with their good looks but they will knock you out with their actions. Just wait for a bloodied Rebecca to step over a man she just killed and say, “I have all the thunder I need.” The men won’t allow you to look away for too long either. They are battleships on dry land.
As Banshee’s fourth season wraps up this summer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and its final eight hour set launches into action early next year, I will sit back and remember the great times I’ve had with this show, behind the scenes and in front of the tube. I’ll remember being humbled by its creators and blown away by its actors. I’ll remember feeling alive after every episode.
Friday nights after March, 2016, will never the same again. We have eight months to prepare for that feeling. I suggest buying a punching bag immediately.