The standalone Marvel-Netflix Punisher show has finally dropped, and once again we’re doing daily write ups of every episode, highlighting the influences, in-jokes, reference points and Easter eggs we spotted, as well as a few thoughts on the show itself.
As usual feel free to discuss whether you’re watching along or you’ve seen it all, but please don’t spoil future episodes for anyone in the comments.
This review contains spoilers.
Okay, so I get it. You have to make it seem at least possible that The Punisher might decide he’d rather be dead than killing people to avenge his family. I completely understand. That is no excuse to show two apparently sane people having sex with a Paul Weller backing track for about twenty minutes of the episode’s runtime. Who would have thought, in a series with scenes of action carnage, it’d be that which made my stomach turn?
ANYWAY. Other than that, I enjoyed most of this episode. Watching Frank get tortured, knowing that he had a way out but trying to figure out exactly what it was? That was great. My only complaint was the villains’ assumption that Frank “can you find him on that?” Castle would know how to deactivate Micro’s countdown. Or indeed, that the countdown could be deactivated at all. And that it was the ONLY copy of the dirt that would convict them. Marvel’s shows have a tendency more than most to make people into idiots for plot reasons, but The Punisher has been quite good on not doing it.
Side note, though: I liked that the random computer hacker they brought in was a woman, and not a male fantasy “female hacker” either. Just a nerdy woman who happened to be the best person for the job. Russo might be a corrupt psychopath, but hey, he’s not sexist.
On the similarly bad side, seeing Micro reintroduced to his family, then shot in front of them AGAIN was a bit much. I get that it needed to look genuine, but seriously, haven’t these people suffered enough? I doubt anyone in the audience bought that death as real, and I found it unnecessarily cruel that the characters apparently did. Weirder still, they learned the truth off screen. And did you see the size of the armour plates Micro was wearing? A couple of centimetres in the wrong direction and that feint wouldn’t have been so feint-y.
I also wasn’t so sure about spending the episode’s opening recounting the plot. I get that it’s not the most straightforward story, but that was maybe a little too directly at the audience. Though I DID like seeing Frank admit that he killed Zubair, which means that not only did Madani get her man, she was also forced to compromise on her mission of bringing the guy’s killer to justice in service of the greater good. As Micro once said to her – you might not be like your superiors now, but you will be.
And hey, I saw this coming a long time ago but it was no less satisfying when it arrived: Frank and Micro agree to work with Madani, then twist the plan in their favour so that Frank gets to Russo and Rawlins without her interference. I loved finding out that they’d rigged the whole thing to be filmed, because it meant that the conspirators had already lost from the moment they starting beating on Frank – the only thing left to discover was how badly they’d lose.
Indeed, even Billy could see that he was on the losing team, and it’s no surprise he turns on Rawlins before Rawlins has a chance to shop him. The irony of Russo is that he’s smart enough to be the kingpin he wants to be, but he’s picked the wrong guy to mess with. Rawlins turning into a ranting nutcase telling Russo that he’s no better than Frank probably could’ve been handled more subtly, but I guess the show needed to remind us that Rawlins was in some way worse than everyone else.
So a mixed bag. But hey, at least Frank got Rawlins. Will the CIA be so happy about that? I’m not entirely sure The Punisher gets out of this one as easily as he did by dying…
Read James’ review of the previous episode, Danger Close, here.