Is it possible to be someone else and not get caught up on your old habits? That's part of the premise behind Cinemax's new show "Banshee," which had one man starting over in every way he shouldn't be. The show had the potential to be memorable as long as it didn't fall back on any old plot cliches.
"Banshee" followed Lucas Hood (Anthony Starr) who was an ex-con that took over the identity of a deceased sheriff in an effort to run from a dangerous mobster. Hood's past as a master thief was what got him a 15 year prison and a broken heart after his ex Carrie Hopewell (Ivana Milicevic) left him to start over as someone else. She was now married to Gordon (Rus Blackwell) who was Banshee's D.A. and knew nothing about his wife's past as a jewel thief. It also appeared that Carrie might be hiding more secrets than she cared to admit to both men, but she wasn't to part with any of them just yet. Hood had to worry about a gangster named Rabbit coming after him and another (Ulrich Thomsen) in his new hometown that could get him killed just as easily. Luckily, Hood had allies in his old friend Job (Hoon Lee) and new friend Sugar Bates (Frankie Faison) to help hide him in plain sight. How will he handle a potential rival in Deputy Brock Lotus (Matt Servitto) who was upset that he was passed over for a promotion that was meant to be his? Will Lotus expose Hood's secret or learn to accept him just like everyone else without any questions?
In terms of questions, the show posed one obvious one that won't be answered anytime soon because it's what spurred the show from the beginning. If Hood's true identity was revealed too early, the show would be over before it truly began. The show also sold the premise of Hood's new identity by never revealing his real name in the premiere so that viewers would only see him as Hood. Unfortunately, "Banshee" might run the risk of some early comparisons to FX's "Justified," because they both have similiar plots of a small town run by criminals. The only difference was that the main character was more of a criminal than an actual member of law enforcement to help set "Banshee" apart from other shows. It was also a unique plot twist to have a criminal that was once connected to the idyllic Amish community, which was a stark contrast of some of Proctor's more questionable actions. The most disturbing scene involved Thomsen's Proctor coming to the rescue of a local Amish businessman who turned out to be his father. It was terrifying to watch how Thomsen's demeanor changed rapidly as he tried to show some kindness to his father, but it also foreshadowed how that relationship appeared to be clearly strained. Hopefully, the show will explore that relationship for future episodes to give Thomsen more to do than be a dark on-screen presence.
As for breakout stars, Starr and Faison were at the top of the list because they both brought something different to the show. Starr designed his character to be a rough and tumble tough guy who immediately went into combat mode before he realized that his actions had consequences. He also had the chance to explore his character's true identity, which viewers knew next to nothing about. Pretty much any actor would love to explore something new on television series, but they never get the chance to do this. Starr had a comfortable rapport with Faison's Sugar who was his only ally. The premiere illustrated them as two kindred spirits who would do anything to stay in one piece. Faison, on the other hand, was able to be a broken down regular guy who was just trying to keep his head above water. It remains to be seen whether his character will succeed or die trying. Sadly, the show's casualty was Milicevic's Carrie because viewers had no idea whether they should root for her or hope that her lies are exposed. It's too early to tell, but future episodes should help them to decide sooner or later.
"Banshee" premiered on January 11th and airs Fridays at 10:00 PM on Cinemax.
Verdict: A show that had the potential to be an action packed drama from start to finish as long as it didn't take itself too seriously.
TV Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)