The Punisher episode 7 review & nerdy spots: Crosshairs

The Punisher gets bleak in episode seven, Crosshairs. Spoilers ahead in our review...

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.

Hey, that was a good ending. I did wonder if Frank was going to easily take out Agent Orange and be left with a five-episode coda where he takes on some even BIGGER bad guy, but it turns out: not so much. Whatever happens next, I suspect Frank’s not going to get another shot as easy as the one he just missed for a lonnnng time now. Exciting stuff.

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I also loved, in this episode, Frank’s interrogation of his own methods. Would he kill a soldier who was just doing his job? I mean I already complained that he wasn’t too bothered about offing the ones on his trail a few episodes ago, but the lines here are a lot less blurry than those were. You sign up for a secret CIA death squad, you’re probably not a great guy. Private subway guard, meanwhile, was just following orders. I mean realistically, Frank can’t kill him – preventing collateral is why The Punisher shoots first – but it’d be interesting to see whether Frank would give himself up rather than have to make that call.

On the down side, once again the makes of this show need to pile on the reasons for us to think someone who died deserved it. I found the kinkshaming of Bennett problematic. He was already a drug-trafficking crook who defiled corpses for profit, you don’t need to go “AND he’s into BDSM” as a way of making him seem more corrupt when he gets killed off. Especially since it was Russo who was doing the murdering.

And man, am I getting that existentially bleak feeling again. Watching Bennett get his guts hacked out then crawl to the phone before expiring was the point where this show really started getting to me. I reached this point at about episode 10 in Daredevil season 2, so as you’d expect The Punisher is ahead in those terms. Just once I’d like to see someone go to the grave with something other than the panic of their own inevitable submission to the void for company.

In fact, Lewis’ conversation with his father and turn away from suicide was probably the most hopeful thing in this episode. I don’t think Lewis is headed anywhere particularly good, but I do find myself wondering where it’s going. Perhaps he’ll be rescued from himself. Perhaps he’ll try and be the next Frank Castle. Perhaps he’ll wind up on the receiving end of someone’s bullet/retractable dagger/bow and arrow. I feel like anything could happen with him, but most of the options are kind of tragic at this point.

And, just to check in on them… I’m enjoying Sam and Dinah’s slow realisation that they’re being spied upon, and the way those characters are bonding, but I wish they’d hurry up and hook up with The Punisher because that’s the way this story seems to be going. We’re past the halfway point, if they’re waiting until the last minute to put them all in one scene I’ll be disappointed.

And hey, this episode had basically no Marvel references in outside of what we’ve covered. The comics fan in me is trying to not equate this with The Punisher being the most consistent Marvel show so far, if not the most exciting one. I hope it’s a coincidence, because I love seeing the nerdy references on screen, but by this point in the last few shows a lot of unforgivably stupid stuff had happened. The Punisher, at least so far, has avoided anything that made me wonder if anyone’s doing second drafts of their scripts. If it keeps it up like it has been, it could end up the most well-written Marvel Netflix show since Daredevil S1. To be fair, after the latter half of Luke Cage, all of Iron Fist and all of Defenders, we were kind of due an uptick.

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Read James’ review of the previous episode, The Judas Goat, here