After spending its first hour re-establishing Banshee‘s status quo, “The Thunder Man” quietly edges forward into season two material – which feels a lot like season one material, even with Hood mostly pushed to the fringes of the narrative (save for the episode’s two best scenes). Oddly enough, the episode turns its focus to the women of Banshee, the prisoners trapped in the games of the men around them – but does so without really having anything to say about it all.
The most obvious of these come between Ana and Siobahn, whose scenes are literally intercut with each other through the entire episodes, conversations with others bleeding into each other to create the very overt feeling of being trapped by circumstance. It comes in some very, very odd forms, however: where Ana has to deal with a drug-addled husband and unbelievably nasty women in (county) jail, Siobahn comes face to face with the man responsible for her scar, an abusive ex-boyfriend who is nothing but a faceless man spewing misogynistic garbage at Siobahn for the hour. In a way, they are the ‘Thunder Men’ the episode is titled after – but instead of using their situations to display this, it becomes about petty dramas and predictable scenarios where Ana and Siobahn express the same empty, violent characteristics the men in this world do. There’s no distinction made between their personal tribulations and the overall nature of this world: and by sticking the two characters in cliched situations, the brutality of their conclusions becomes more empty spectacle, than a shocking display of a human unraveling for a moment (an emotion an audience can use as escapist spectacle, something Banshee normally excels at).
When “The Thunder Man” moves away from this, there is noticeable improvement: while the growing drama between Alex and Nola (and Alex and the casino board) isn’t inherently interesting, his willingness to think objectively about Nola’s kidnapping of Rebecca and the line he crossed added an intriguing layer to the brewing war between them. Kai’s response (dropping all the cows Alex exploded into a hot tub). It shows that Alex is a little more intelligent than Kai believed, able to think rationally where most ‘villians’ are unable to: he backs off the kidnapping, realizing that the only outcomes to the situation were horrible at best, taking his licks for his sister’s behavior and moving forward. Alex is more of a worthy adversary than Kai is paying attention to: and for all the posturing him and Rebecca do around Alex, “The Thunder Man” makes it clear that Alex is holding a few more cards than Kai actually knows.
Oddly enough, the most impactful part of the episode comes away from the constructed parallels and constant threat of rape against female characters (be it the weird, voyeuristic angles used when Alex talks to Rebecca, or Rebecca’s misadventures trying to visit Hood): Hood dealing with the reality that Rebecca was going to jail sent him into a spiral of flashbacks, causing anxiety attacks from the fifteen years of memories drummed up by his fragile subconscious. In season one, Hood’s post-traumatic stress was mostly kept on the back burner, disappearing whenever it required Hood to fill his masculine destinies (which usually involves knuckles meeting other people’s faces). And it does in the episode’s best scene – Hood destroying a series of security officers guarding the unfinished building where Rebecca was being held – but it becomes a major factor again at the episode’s conclusion, after dropping Rebecca off at prison. Hood is unstable (at best), and with the woman he loves behind bars, it’s forcing him to face the memories he’s repressed since moving to Banshee – and with Rabbit, the feds, and Alex on his tail (who is still trying to figure out who robbed him), it’s only going to get worse as the season moves forward.
– “Are you lost?” Hood: “Is this the kitchen?” “Yes.” “Then no.”
– Rebecca actually says “you came for me” when he arrives to retrieve her for Kai (who by the way, definitely knows Hood robbed Alex).
– Nola shoves the barrel of Hood’s pistol so hard into his forehead, it leaves a deep red imprint. How aggressive!
– Hood’s fight against every single security officer in sight was just awesome, especially with the one-liners delivered in between each onslaught.