Closure is overrated. Even though we’re programmed to catalogue and file away experiences into contained packed wholes so as to save precious neurons, it’s unfinished business that always sticks with you the longest and strongest. A question mark can have more power than a period or exclamation point, as evidenced by some of the finales to some of the best shows ever made. More than half a decade after it blueballed viewers with an infamous fade to black, The Sopranos still sparks debate about whether Tony’s story got the ending it deserved. Less infuriating but equally open, The Wire brought the cyclical nature of its themes to climax in one final montage that could be read with equal feelings of optimism and despair. Even the shows that frustrate you in the end, your Losts, your Dexters, can have their legacy enhanced by spending their last moments embracing in the death the unanswered questions (in the case of the former) or aimlessness (the latter) that defined them in life.
The season finale of Banshee, and really the season in general, climaxes with Hood and Ana pinned down by a hail of assault rifle fire, armed only with a couple empty pistols and a single knife. As the two tearfully realizes the depth of the shit they’ve thrown themselves into, Hood’s failings finally catch up with him. Not just the ones that got him into this game of gunfire pew-pew in the church pews, or that drove him back to Ana after getting out of prison. Using flashbacks, “Bullets and Tears” drives home the thing that really defines Banshee’s hero: nearly everything that’s happened to the man who stole Lucas Hood’s name –the isolation, the loss, the bloodshed- is entirely his fault.
Let’s back up, same as the finale does. The end of the season is perhaps not the ideal time to be doing your story backfill, but “Bullets and Tears” makes its trip to the past critical by finally letting us see the inciting act that set the whole series in motion. The Capital Diamond heist was ruined by the choice of exactly one person; it wasn’t Ana, whose life didn’t offer much in the way of options while still under her father’s roof (Banshee’s focus on family bonds explores both how easily they’re used to excuse bad behavior, and the severity of what it means to break them). It wasn’t Rabbit, for both planning the heist, and later ratting on those involved; he might mistake his (literally) cutthroat nature for principles, but blaming Rabbit being greedy and vengeful is like blaming water for being wet. And it certainly wasn’t Oleg, who just did as he was told.
The one responsible for all of Banshee’s mayhem is, and always was Hood. The moment he chose to rip-off Rabbit and runaway with Ana, he destroyed countless lives out of self-interest. Was their initially merry foursome we see in the flashbacks dedicated to sharing the wealth and saving the whales? Not exactly, but the life they had built together was a shared one. And who knows, maybe Rabbit was being honest when he said the Capital Diamond job was going to be the last one. Seems pretty freaking unlikely, but we’ll never know thanks to Hood, the kind of smartass who jokes about the cliché misfortune that comes with every “last job” in the movies, and is dumb enough to actively invite that misfortune upon his and Ana’s heads.
Flash forward 15 years, and Hood hasn’t learned a damn thing, putting himself and Ana in the exact same position they were after the diamond heist went bad, only with bullets bearing down on them instead of the cops. He knows he has a daughter with Ana this time, yet still drags her into his mad Rabbit hunt, trying to seek that fabled clean slate that has always eluded him. What’s different now is that Ana isn’t blameless either; she got to get away once, and while Hood was the one who torched the new life she built for Carrie Hopewell, she still chose to follow him to the church, equally desperate to put a period on her old life with a little bit of led. In a twisted way, the two deserve each other more now than they ever did.
So as the present-day Hood has gunfire ringing in his ears instead of church bells, and begins his mad dash towards finding out what happens when you bring a knife to fully-automatic gunfight, I was torn. Okay, I knew this wasn’t Game of Thrones, and Season 3 is already in the works, so for as tense as the moment was, the back of my head knew Hood wasn’t in any real danger. Yet…part of me wanted him to see his comeuppance get delivered, in full, and at 715 meters per second. Hell, Hood probably wouldn’t have minded either; the last truly selfless thing he did was sacrifice himself to keep Ana out of jail, so to do the same here has a certain poetry to it.
But he doesn’t sacrifice himself, regardless of his original intent; a deus ex machine gun arrives just in time, thanks to Job and breakfast-obsessed Big Al, the arms dealer hinted at last week who turned out to be more endearing than intimidating. It’s a groaner of a reveal, even if we agree there was no chance of Hood and Ana really dying, and I imagine there’d be more to complain about if this weren’t Banshee. The show is, frankly, absurd, but accepted on its own terms, it makes moments like Job’s big entrance triumphant, just as a gang of toughs puling uzis out of nowhere on Hood and Ana earlier is ridiculous, but also really funny. Besides, one of Season 2’s great successes is in how it’s embraced what it really means when people like Hood and Ana get to win.