I fully stand by my review of season one of “Banshee” and season two stays right on course with all the violence and sex that Cinemax can throw at you. It is apparent some lessons were learned from that initial season which leads to a more cohesive and smoother storyline this time around.
We start right where we left off after the gunfight altercation with Rabbit (Ben Cross) and his henchmen. With Rabbit presumed dead, Lucas Hood (Anthony Starr) is recovering in his room behind the bar. The deep gash that Rabbit knifed into Lucas’s face has healed up nicely without a scar to be seen. The story then moves to a small federal review of those events from last season’s finale held by FBI Agent Jim Racine (Zeljko Ivanek). As the review goes on we see flashbacks which is a good way to ease us back into this world. With that out of the way the season dedicates several episodes to larger storyline as opposed to the single episodic challenges which occurred in the first season. This is a good move, to move from a series of unrelated jobs to a more of a cohesive stretched out narrative. With this, it gives the show an almost “True Detective” feel. In the third episode a key storyline gets introduced as well as some pretty interesting characters especially the menacing Chayton Littlestone (Geno Segers). His size and anger exude dread and destruction making for a formidable foe for Lucas and his police force. The Kinaho reservation is more prominently featured in this season as well as the Longshadows who are trying to keep it in their control.
This is also a more emotional season. The characters problems are deeper and the line separating morality from being a immorality is muddied and contemplative. Anthony Starr is better this time around and is more charming and not as one note. He convincingly plays a guy who is trying to play sheriff. By this I mean that he doesn’t just step into a sheriff’s role and acts like a sheriff. He just does enough to make it look like he knows what he’s doing to have some type of law and order. He doesn’t use police jargon but he has learned the basics. And he still gets his ass whooped almost every episode. His police force takes on a larger role as well with Deputy Brock (Matt Servitto), Deputy Kelly (Trieste Kelly Dunn) and Emmett (Demetrius Grosse) all mor intertwined into the plots. The rest of the cast like Sugar, Job, Carrie, Kai are all back and great in their respective roles. It was also nice to see Julian Sands back on screen as the gun wielding Priest, Yulish.
The one big negative I’ll give this show, aside from some suspect acting from time to time, is the editing. They are going for a pseudo artsy-kinetic editing technique that does not really work for me. Two different scenes will be happening at the same time and they will be intercut with each other as each of the events unfold. However, most of the time the scenes have no consequence on each other. This can cause some unintentional confusion between what is a flashback and what is really happening. This is especially an issue during the bank truck heist scene early on in the season. I could see it being done sparingly to bring some heft to certain scenes but this is done at least once an episode. A scene will be cut up and shown out of order, showing a character’s reaction to the current scene. It’s a strange choice but I’ll give them credit for trying to be creative and giving the show its own unique style.
“Banshee” has a lot of production value inconsistencies as well. With the show being what it is, it doesn’t have as high as a budget as “Game of Thrones” or “Boardwalk Empire” and because of it you can see some cracks in the foundation. The makeup and wigs aren’t as expertly done as in those other shows. The fight choreography while amazing at times, can look amateurish in some other scenes. The effects work is better this time around but still not at a cinematic level.
As before HBO/Cinemax presents “Banshee” in 480P using it’s OAR of 1.78:1. Again, the image looks very well detailed. The same color palette is used here as it was in season one. This time around there does seem to be some more de-saturated scenes which are intentionally made to look grainy and messy. Like before, it looks pretty good for standard DVD.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track does what it needs to do considering it is lossy. It may lack the extreme highs and lows of a lossless track but that is about the only thing is lacks. Every bullet, punch, kick and chokeslam is as alarming as it needs to be. The bass is gets mean at the appropriate times as well.
This set includes five Audio Commentariesthroughout the ten episodes. There are also several Deleted Scenes and well as a Conversation Between Olek and The Albino. The Zoomed in feature is back as well. The best of the bunch is “Banshee Origins” which is a 45 minute summary broken into 17 different chapters that details the 15 years that led up to the very beginning of the show. At 45 minutes it is like getting a free episode.
Again, I stand by everything I said in season one with one noted exception, Anthony Starr has leveled up a bit in his acting. He looks more comfortable and has broadened his spectrum, adding some much needed charm to the role. This second season brings in some intriguing storylines as well as some even more intriguing (and frightening) characters for Sheriff Lucas Hood to deal with. Definitely recommended for escapist entertainment. Just don’t compare it to the upper upper echelon of TV shows and enjoy the ride.