HBO’s crazy, horny little brother has become a legit player in the hourlong game.


When we last saw Lucas Hood (Antony Starr), former convict and current small-town sheriff, he was battered, bleeding and fresh off an all-out gunfight that saw a mountain of henchmen waxed and his deranged former mob boss vanished with a sucking chest wound.

This season, Hood continues to reconcile his felonious nature with the creeping attraction he’s fostered to being a lawman. It won’t be easy as lapsed Amish/local crime-lord Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen) consolidates power, a deranged Native American strongman launches a war against the cops and one character after the other rolls into Banshee looking to pick a fight.

Oh, and those fights–some of the best you’ll see on television, cable, premium or otherwise. Despite the back-stabbing, betrayal, politicking and power-plays, the core of Banshee remains its hard-boiled action, and the lunatics in the writer’s room don’t disappoint. This won’t be a beat-by-beat breakdown of the season, but allow me to just say this: there comes a point when Lucas squares off with an assassin in the middle of the highway and at the end of the confrontation, this dude’s–no, I can’t do it.

I’d love to blow the surprise and convince you that this show is high-end pulp serial entertainment at its zenith, but who am I to deprive you of the nasty delight that left me saying “Dayyuuumm.” Yes, friends, Banshee still is pretty, pretty, pretty awesome.

If you read my review for the first season, you know I didn’t skimp on the hyperbole. This show (for me at least) came out of nowhere, and wowed me so thoroughly I purchased a subscription to Cinemax just to watch the second season. Thankfully, there hasn’t been a letdown. It’s a different-feeling show, for sure, but the second installment of the Misadventures of Lucas Hood (and Friends) keeps the momentum largely intact from the maiden voyage.

This season is a bit more fractured than the previous, with stories blocked off into what feels like two-episode rhythms. There’s an Amish murder to solve, the reappearance of a prodigal son to handle, a blood vendetta against Proctor to execute and a trip to New York that’s going to end bloody. Embedded in these mini-arcs are the ebbing and flowing of relationships, some tragic ends to beloved characters, a hardcore stint in women’s lockup and a shootout in a hayfield.

All of this gonzo amusement would only be fleeting if there wasn’t actually some legit quality supporting the squibs and debauchery. I’m just going to go ahead a crib from my Season One review, because the sentiment still stands:

But more than that, it’s a genuinely good show, well-acted, well-plotted and filled with memorable characters. The fact that it’s on Cinemax–and all the baggage and expectations that may come with that–should in no way dissuade you from tracking this down.

Again, ignore the (well-earned) baggage that the word “Cinemax” has tended to bring on itself. With Banshee, Strike Back and, most recently, The Knick, HBO’s crazy, horny little brother has become a legit player in the hourlong game.

The DVD’s not bad, but it won’t compare to its slick Blu-ray brother. As far as standard def goes, the 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer is fine, laying out the varied colors and textures of a crazy small town with verve. The 5.1 Dolby Digital transfer blasts out the gunfire, roundhouses, ecstatic moans and profanity suitably. Extras: a selection of prequel Banshee “Origins” episodes and “Zoomed In” featurettes on six episodes.

THE VERDICT
Not Guilty. Banshee’s a great place to visit. But I wouldn’t want to live there. Because I’d probably get shot or blown up.
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HBO, 511 minutes, NR (2014)

A/V
1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)

SUBTITLES
English CC
French
Spanish
Brazilian
Portuguese

EXTRAS
Prequel Videos
Featurettes

ACCOMPLICES
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2017109

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