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.
Ah yes, it’s the customary episode of the Marvel-Netflix show where one of the leads spends some time unconscious on a table while the supporting cast perform radical surgery. There’s a rumour that Netflix have algorithms that help people write shows based on what’s popular, and nothing about the Marvel Studios Bag o’ Tropes shows discourages that notion. The only surprising thing is that we’re six episodes in and no-one’s had a long-take, closed-quarters fight in a corridor yet. Will we get the extended flashback episode too? I would put money on it.
Snark aside (yeah, yeah, I know.) this episode was good for supporting characters, if not Frank especially. I find myself surprisingly engaged with Micro’s family dramas, and it seems to me, after watching Micro’s wife trying to flirt with Frank, that he’s actually visiting the Liebermans to try and draw him back out. Reminding Micro that if he doesn’t fill the role of father, eventually someone else will.
I also enjoyed the culmination of Lewis’ drama. It looks a little like he’s going to become a sort of twisted mirror of Frank’s own trauma, and I find that interesting in that it all makes us examine Frank’s actions closer. That said, I think this show maybe goes a little too far in trying to make its victims unsympathetic. O’Conner was a fraud and a gun-nut, he didn’t have to also be an anti-semitic racist. It feels like they were laying it on a little too thick there so that we still have some sympathy for Lewis when he kills him.
I also enjoyed the Russo/Madani plot – their combative relationship seems typical of two type-A personalities, and that makes for an intriguing dynamic. I believed, too, that Frank – once he met Russo – might actually take up his offer. The cutaway to Micro pondering Frank’s absence was a nice quiet moment that left me in some doubt over what his actual decision was going to be. I knew whatever he did he’d end up back in the fight, of course, but for a minute I did believe he might try and take the deal.
Likewise, I genuinely bought that Russo would care about Frank, to the extent that if I hadn’t known since the beginning who he was, the twist might’ve actually been surprising. Because Russo is, of course, working with Agent Orange, and was presumably always aware of, if not completely in on the plot. If you know the comics this isn’t a huge surprise as Russo is a pre-existing villain known as Jigsaw (not that one). Details, of course, below.
So I’ve been promising this for a while but: Billy Russo is Jigsaw, a supervillain who first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #162 (1976). He’s the closest the Punisher has to an arch-enemy. The comics version is quite different to the MCU version – he was a hitman whose face got sliced up and permanently scarred when The Punisher threw him through a plate glass window. Clearly, something like that is going to happen to Russo here – they’ve made a lot of references to his pretty-boy face, after all. But maybe not for a while.
And once again, that’s all we’re getting. This show is very thin on comics material. Or rather, quite tight on the stuff it’s using. Still bitter we didn’t get more of the Gnucci’s, to be honest. Maybe in season 2…
Read James review of the previous episode, Gunner, here.