After two seasons of bloody, bone-crunching, pulpy action on Cinemax's Banshee, viewers still know very little about the show's protagonist, Sheriff Lucas Hood.
Hell, that's not even his real name. But in fairness, Antony Starr's charming con man — who assumed the role of sheriff back in Season 1 when he strolled into the small town looking for the love of his life Carrie Hopewell (Ivana Milicevic) — doesn't really even know himself! But that's about to change. After a Season 2 finale that featured the death of Rabbit (Ben Cross), the gangster who cost Lucas 15 years in prison and hunted him the second he was free, co-creator and executive producer Jonathan Tropper says Lucas will finally have to take a closer look at himself.
"The excitement for Season 3 was moving forward," Tropper says. "Even when you're faking being sheriff, if you've been in that office long enough, there's something in you that starts to believe you really are the sheriff. So, it really became a season of identity. What does Lucas Hood want now? Now that he has nothing he's running from and nothing he's fighting for, what does he want? That turned out to be a really difficult question for him to answer. And, of course, any time our people grapple with these metaphysical issues, a lot of people die along the way."
Perhaps the best place for Lucas to start building his identity is with his daughter Deva (Ryann Shane), who revealed to her pops in the closing moments of Season 2 that she knows he is her father. "You have a guy who's never had a family, who's never had any one love him, who's never had anything real in his life," Tropper says. "That's really on his mind in Season 3, and [family] is something he's striving for, but he also is so ill-equipped to even begin to know how to do it."
As such, look for Lucas to lean in to his criminal family. Once he realizes a local military base might be full of dirty money, Lucas quickly lures Job (Hoon Lee) back to Banshee to plan a heist with Carrie and Sugar (Frankie Faison). "You have four broken, lonely people who... have no other companionship except each other," Tropper says. "And no matter how much they drive each other crazy and aren't necessarily even positive influences for each other, the only family they really have is with each other. Job hates Banshee, and he could leave any time he wants, but the real reason he doesn't leave has nothing to do with the heist or the job. The real reason he doesn't leave is because Lucas is his only friend."
And the heist in question is sure to be complicated, if for no other reason than Carrie is sleeping with Col. Douglas Stowe (Langley Kirkwood), the corrupt base's commanding officer. "We have these master thieves who've been hanging out together for a few seasons and have yet to pull off any kind of significant, sophisticated heist," Tropper says. "So, we really wanted to show that this is a skilled group who can pull off a major heist. At the same time, the very thing that defines them tends to undo them. Just at the point where everything else seems to be getting under control, they can't escape their true natures. They have to go after the score, and as a result... the consequences of this heist are going to haunt them well past Season 3."
For Carrie — who is now a waitress after the truth about her own past was revealed — going back to thieving is a relief. "Carrie, who has spent 15 years pretending and believing the pretense, is now a bit screwed because she's in the opposite place of Lucas," Tropper says. "She had a home, she had a life, she had a whole place she belonged, and suddenly she's been stripped of that identity. What she discovers, no longer being married and not living with her kids, is that life has become suffocating for her and she's actually rebelling against it. She realizes that in the absence of family and identity, she's back to being the thrill junkie she was before."
But it's not just the "good guys" who are having identity issues this season. Lucas' nemesis, meatpacking kingpin Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen), will also be doing some reflecting this season, particularly as he watches his young niece Rebecca (Lilli Simmons) follow in his bloody footsteps. "Rebecca has kind of blossomed into a real sociopath," Tropper says. "The minute she was sort of set free and given her first taste of control, she found she liked it and doesn't seem remotely bound by conscience or a sense of consequence."
Which, surprisingly, may be a problem for Proctor. "[Rebecca's] rise is a little like the Michael Corleone story," Tropper says. "With Proctor, we're somewhere between The Godfather and Frankenstein. He does not understand what it is he's created until it becomes bigger than he can handle. He was thrilled to introduce her into his life, but when he does that, he can't really control her. He's having a real crisis, because the more Rebecca steps into his shoes the more he seems to want to step out of them. And he's struggling with the same thing Lucas is struggling with: Can we step out of these shoes and be someone else? And, of course, on our show the answer is, 'No, not without a lot of people dying.'"
For at least part of the season, however, Lucas and Proctor will be united against a common enemy: Chayton Littlestone (Geno Segers), the Kinaho warrior Lucas pissed off last season. He's back in Banshee, and he is on the warpath. "Proctor is Lucas' nemesis, but he's still a man who can be reasoned with," Tropper says. "With Chayton, we wanted to create an absolute force. This is a guy whose conviction is absolute. He can't be corrupted, he can't be bribed, he can't be negotiated with. It is very hard to fight a fundamentalist. Chayton is a sociopath who absolutely believes in his cause. It's very hard to fight someone who's willing to die for their cause. There's no diplomacy, there's no negotiating — there's just pure terror."
With all these balls in the air, the one thing Lucas might actually be able to hold onto is his burgeoning relationship with deputy Siobhan. But of course, that, too, is built on a lie. "Lucas is falling for Siobhan, and he wants it to work, but he needs to tell her the lie of who he is in order for it to work," Tropper says. "He's going through what Carrie went through 15 years ago, which is wanting the life to function as the truth, wanting to have a functional relationship with Siobhan even though the person she knows isn't really who he it. But he believes he can somehow make that work the same way Carrie thought she could make it work for 15 years."
But Lucas' secret may not be safe for much longer once FBI Special Agent Robert Phillips (guest star Denis O'Hare) comes to town. "We need to always remember that at any moment this whole thing can come tumbling down," Tropper says. "We can't let the viewer get comfortable that the sheriff thing is a done deal. You can't live without creating some kind of trail, and you can't behave the way Lucas is behaving without ramifications. So, he's never going to be comfortable sitting in the sheriff's office. There's always the threat of his exposure. He has to constantly be looking over his shoulder."
Banshee airs Fridays at 10/9c on Cinemax.