Now that’s more like it. Much as the slow start to Banshee’s second season has had me pining for the days it would just do one-off episodes (like last week’s enjoyable British invasion), “Ways to Bury a Man” is the first time since the tail-end of season one that it’s felt like all the stuff surrounding the procedural escapades is cohering into an exciting whole. This time last year, we had the episode “Wicks,” a fine enough bit of backstory-fill that was ultimately self-contained. A year later, with a slew of new characters and dynamics set up, Banshee is finally at the point where its main plot can begin in earnest: a war between Hood and Kai Proctor that’s going to smash a semi through what little veil of normalcy this town had left.
Up until now, Kai and Hood have been mostly accommodating of one another, though not to the degree that Kai would probably like. The town sheriff is usually pretty high up on the list of people you’ll need in your pocket if you want to own a community without resistance, but circumstances have made their relationship less a racket of mutual backscratching, and more a cold war between isolated super powers. When their paths have crossed, there’s been tension and compromise in equal measure, as the two will go from fist fighting each other one minute, to saving each other’s necks the next. Despite being the largest potential threats to one another, Hood and Kai have been too occupied with problems in their own personal vicinity to deal with one another.
Then Jason Hood had to come to town and ruin everything. Like many a fool come to a strange place seeking shelter, he made the mistake of pulling the old “sleep with the farmer’s daughter” routine, where in this case the farmer is an Amish crime lord, his daughter is a niece he has…complicated…feelings towards, and the offender is sent away not in the next passing turnip truck, but instead a few dozen meat freezer bags. Seeing as Jason almost never left Sugar’s bar or his sleazy motel, it stands to reason that Kai’s wrath was nothing personal, and more a matter of making sure that Rebecca knows that being in the lap of his luxury makes you just as subordinate to him as any other thug or official he has under his thumb.
Brutally murdering Jason and then disposing of his body in humiliating fashion certainly gets Kai’s point across to Rebecca and the viewer, though it does expose a curious weakness in Mr. Proctor. The only part of Jason not turned into discount ground beef is his real dad’s watch, left behind as a sort of message. Why Kai would leave such a message is questionable, seeing as A) he’s not sure who he’s leaving it for, and B) leaving evidence behind intentionally is a rookie criminal mastermind play. The cash stash hidden in the toilet was all Hood needed to know Jason was a goner, so the extra bit of taunting seems like a mistake on Kai’s part.
Granted, the salt meant for the wound does have its desired effect, as even if Kai doesn’t know that it’s Hood he’s just made enemies with, he has the upper hand on him from the first bell. No character on Banshee has struggled more greatly with their impulses than Hood. Whether his violent nature is the product of his time in prison, or rooted more deeply to his core identity, the irony of Hood pretending to be a cop has always been secretly undercut by how desperately Hood needs a life that offers violent release. The tin star has given him license to indulge his worst instincts without coloring too far outside the lines of what’s legal, but when tasked with being a real police officer, he’s often come up short, both professionally and ethically.