The setup is classic noir. Within hours of being released from a super max prison, an enigmatic and nameless thief beds a lusty barmaid, steals a classic American muscle car, and puts the screws on an old crime land crony. He’s been on ice for years and damned if he isn’t going to get what he’s owed.
Things get weird when his lead on the lost loot, and the woman who helped him lose it, puts him in the awkward position of playing sheriff to the twisted intrigues of a small town in Pennsylvania Dutch country.
Though the identity theft starts out merely as a means to pulling off another caper, our wily thief soon finds that Sheriff Lucas Hood has a life all his own. In trying to pass as the lawman, he increasingly finds himself tripping down the hero’s path — albeit brutishly.
Part of the charm of his conflicted impersonation is that it leaves everyone — the townsfolk, his co-conspirators, we viewers, and not least himself — wondering which way he is going to turn next. Finding out is what keeps you watching from episode to episode.
That said, BANSHEE won’t be for everyone. The visceral (arguably gratuitous) nature of the show’s sex and violence might go too far for some. If you can get past that, there’s a lot to like.
BANSHEE doesn’t have the star power of some of our favorite American cable series but it more than makes up for this in a number of ways. The writing is stylish, quirky and atmospheric. The characters are impressive in their complexity (but never so much that they cause the show to lose its tight pacing). And the solid cast never fails to please, with Antony Starr’s sheriff/anti-hero and Ulrich Thomsen’s shunned Amish gangster shining particularly bright.
What viewers are treated to is a unique take on the simmering small town crime thriller, one that’s able to regularly surprise with a pyrotechnic chase scene or a well-choreographed dust-up, and still feel murky and sinister.
Best of all, it does this without trying to be more than it is — a well-crafted guilty pleasure.