I love a good antihero.
From Patch on Days of our Lives to Spike on Buffy, The Vampire Slayer to Sawyer on Lost, the appeal of the “bad guy” with the ability to turn things around and save the day always appealed to me. Maybe it’s a mythical thing or it’s just the allure of being cool, but the draw of the antihero makes any fictional story infinitely more interesting.
Enter our mystery man (Antony Starr) as he arrives in the small Pennsylvania town of Banshee after a fifteen year stint in prison. He’s on the run from Mr. Rabbit (Ben Cross) and searching for a cache of diamonds which he stole along with his ex-girlfriend (Ivana Milicevic), now married and living in Banshee as Carrie Hopewell with a family of her own.
When new sheriff Lucas Hood arrives in town, he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and on the wrong end of several bullets. Our mystery man steps in and assumes his identity upon discovering the sheriff was hired sight unseen and goes from ex-con to new cop in a matter of minutes. Until Carrie (formerly known to “Lucas” as Anastasia in their previous life) realizes what he’s done, the only person privy to his secret is Sugar Bates (Frankie Faison), a retired boxer, ex-con and bar owner.
Confused? Wait until Lucas runs afoul of Kai, the leader of the Amish crime syndicate who becomes frustrated at Lucas’ thwarting his enterprise at every turn. And that’s just the beginning!
Created by Jonathan Tropper and David Schickler (and also co-executive produced by True Blood’s Alan Ball), Banshee at first might remind you a bit of Road House. Crime boss Kai rules the small town much like Ben Gazzara’s Brad Wesley and Starr’s Lucas Hood consistently runs smack dab into trouble (whether he likes it or not) just as Swayze’s Dalton did in the 1989 film.
But Banshee goes much deeper than Road House (a cult classic I completely love).
Though I’ve only watched the first three episodes, there are many twists and turns that could propel the series in any direction and it’s fascinating watching the story unfold. As the antihero Lucas, Starr is near perfect as a man trying to maintain his dangerous ruse while struggling to do the right thing in a corrupt town and Cross and Ulrich Thomsen provide just the right amount of menace as the villains this early in the story. I could go on about the rest of the cast but if you tune in, you’ll see just how great everyone is.
Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical when I saw Ball’s name on this as True Blood is, at its best, inconsistent but entertaining (season 5) and, at its worst, a lesson in downright terrible storytelling (season 4). He seems to have reined in his penchant for going all over the map in Banshee and it’s for the best. The strength of the show lies (and ultimately succeeds or fails) in the enigmatic Hood and his ability to hide in plain sight as the town sheriff. However, after the ending of “Meet The New Boss”, the season’s third (and incredibly brutal) episode, it’s hard to imagine how he’ll remain hidden much longer.
I know that I look forward to the fourth episode tucked away on my DVR and can’t wait to spend an hour each week in Banshee to live the vicarious life of an antihero.
Banshee can be seen Fridays at 10/9c on Cinemax and has already been renewed for a second season.