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Villainess Review: Susan Bannister (You'll Never Leave Me)

A vengeful wife's murderous plan reaches so many lengths in this 2023 Lifetime film

By Clyde E. DawkinsPublished about a year ago 5 min read
Nicole Marie Johnson as Susan Bannister

The month of June is off to quite an awesome start when it comes to not only Lifetime films, but Lifetime villainesses as well! Right after watching Game One of this year's NBA Finals on ABC, I tuned into Lifetime for a film I had been waiting months for: You'll Never Leave Me (aka A Deadly Mistake). So the film actually opens with a delicious tidbit; we see our protagonist, April Cook, breaking off an affair with her lover, Patrick Bannister, as (surprise, surprise) Patrick never told her that he was married. So that's kaput, and Patrick appears to be in line with this, but once they are in the car together, an accident ensues.

Both parties are hospitalized; April is badly injured, but as for Patrick, he's in an induced coma. A brief flashback reveals how the accident really happened: Patrick, in response to his affair ending, turned up the gas and maniacally declared his love for April, leading to the crash. He's visited by his wife, Susan Bannister, who lets April have it for the affair, and flat out ignores April's statement that she ended things with Patrick before the accident. So we clearly have one of these wives who believes it takes one to tango. Yikes.

April has a good support system in the form of her sister, Lisa, as well as her best friend/co-worker Marie, and she has a nurse, Kathy, tending to her. However, as we see, her relationship with her mother, Stella, is quite complicated, as she blamed her mother for her father leaving them. We later see a new man enter April's life: Jimmy Conway, who manages to charm April, but in true Lifetime fashion, something is definitely off. We also get our first taste of villainy in this film, as a hooded assailant appeared and attacked Kathy with a crowbar (miraculously, Kathy survived).

As the film progresses, so, too, does the relationship between Jimmy and April. However, Lisa starts to wonder about him, and asks Marie to look him up. It's revealed that Jimmy's a culinary student, but Marie doesn't find anything else, prompting her to wonder, "What kind of student doesn't have a social media account?" In addition, we also see Jimmy attempt to actually drug April and even attempt to kill her, but he backs out both times. Eventually, Marie starts tracking Jimmy, and the investigation sees Jimmy enter Susan's house, and that's when the cat is let out of the bag.

So Jimmy is actually Patrick's half-brother, and he was enlisted by Susan to get close to April and kill her, as Susan wanted revenge on April. Apparently, she is set on having Patrick back with her once he wakes up from his coma, but also wants to eliminate April because he'll go right back to her. Though Jimmy had been making the attempts on April, it was Susan who attacked Kathy, as she wanted to divert attention away from themselves. Susan had been bribing Jimmy by paying his tuition, but Jimmy voices his reluctance to continue with the plan, as he's in love with April. Susan later catches Marie tracking Jimmy, and pulls out a gun while confronting her. Marie promises not to say anything and doesn't even know about Susan...until she sees Patrick's picture. So Marie puts two and two together, and unfortunately, Susan added up her own equation, and it equals Marie now knowing, and now being killed by Susan.

So we actually have a body in connection with this scheme, and elsewhere, April learns the truth about her father: he was abusive to Stella during their marriage, and it was only because of Stella that he never laid a hand on April, who now has the closure that she needed. Later on, Susan gets the devastating news: Patrick has died. This increases Susan's vengeful rage, and she tells Jimmy the news and urges him to "avenge his brother" by killing April. She won't hear any protests from Jimmy, and she even threatens to pin Marie's murder on Jimmy if he didn't comply. Jimmy appears to acquiesce, but later that evening, he sent a text to his sister-in-law voicing his outright refusal to kill April, as he loved her.

After growing a set, Jimmy went to Lisa and April's home and confessed to his actions, while revealing Susan as the true mastermind of this whole scheme. At that moment, Susan appears and wields her gun at the sisters, and later fires after April smashes her phone in response to Susan's demands for details regarding Stella's call to her. The shot strikes Jimmy, and once Stella arrives, April ejects her for her own safety, as well as Lisa's as Susan had her gun right to Lisa's head. As Stella leaves, she senses something off and returns to the house, and upon seeing the gun-toting Susan, she brawls with her. The fight ends with Susan being knocked out wiht a vase by April, and in the final moments, we see Susan reading a letter from Jimmy, which was one of 17 he had sent expressing his guilt. He's locked away, as is Susan, though the inner Law & Order fan in me suspects that Jimmy testified against Susan.

You'll Never Leave Me aired on Lifetime Movie Network on June 1, 2023, and featured Nicole Marie Johnson as the maniacal Susan Bannister, a very delicious villainess. Johnson's become quite the regular on Lifetime; counting Lifetime Movie Club's Sisters on the Run, this is Johnson's third Lifetime movie this year. This is not Johnson's first time as a villainess, but it's her first time playing one with absolutely no Freudian Excuse, redemption, or remorse. For most of the film, I found myself replaying a brief moment from an episode of CSI: NY, one where a villainess is being interrogated by Mac Taylor after it's revealed that she killed her husband. She vents about how horrible her marriage was, and Mac's response, "Then, get a divorce." It's the logical route. But if villainesses like Susan actually had the common sense to actually get a divorce, well, we'd have no story here. We wouldn't see Susan be the amazingly insane villainess that I knew she'd be, and we wouldn't see Johnson play out Susan's increasing insanity so, so brilliantly.

You know what we also wouldn't see? Nicole Marie Johnson in the "hoodie of evil." The hooded attacker's identity was hidden, but it had to be Susan, because Jimmy just entered the picture, plus I didn't think he would go that route so fast. After that scene, I was praying for a flashback shot of Susan in that hoodie, and we got it. Johnson donned that evil hoodie well, and the expression showed how far gone Susan was. She was truly hellbent on destroying April (and those who knew her), and she didn't care who she had to take down. Susan Bannister was an immensely awesome villainess, and we have Nicole Marie Johnson to thank for such a stellar performance.

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Check out Susan Bannister's profile on Villainous Beauties Wiki!


About the Creator

Clyde E. Dawkins

I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also into film and TV, especially Simpsons and Family Guy.

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Comments (1)

  • Babs Iversonabout a year ago

    Fantastic review!!! Left a heart!!!

Clyde E. DawkinsWritten by Clyde E. Dawkins

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