The Punisher – Season 1 Episodes 5 – 9 Review

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The Punisher’s middle is full of exciting action and a few twists, but most importantly it still focuses on its cast of broken characters and develops them so well. It’s amazing how the portrayal of one event, one period of time has changed so many people in so many different ways. It’s great story telling! Hooray! Let’s take a closer look at the 5th to 9th episodes!

Synopsis:

Frank Castle and David Lieberman, two people great effected by the off-the-books operation / cover-up known as “Kandahar”, orchestrated by William Rawlins, are on the hunt for justice… or what each person considers justice. All the while several other players caught in the same game make their moves…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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“This is going to end well for both of us!”

Frank Castle / The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) – Frank had thought he was done punishing the demons who took his family away but now he has a new target, which to most would be depressing news, but he can’t shake the feeling that having to get back into the action is actually what he wants, deep down…

David Lieberman / Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) – David leaked the events of Kandahar and ended up underground, leaving his family to believe he’s dead. He now has a solitary goal to stop the people behind the event and rejoin him family, which is why Frank Castle, the man he’s had to team up with, getting so close to his loved ones is starting to strain his sanity…

Billy Russo (Ben Barnes) – Formerly one of the top members of the same Force Recon unit Frank Castle was in, except he didn’t share Frank’s sense of right and wrong, and was soon in on a rather shameful conspiracy with William Rawlins, to whom he still keeps in contact. Frank’s return and declaration of war towards the Kandahar conspirators has had Billy on edge…

Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah) – Dinah knows the truth about Kandahar, or at least knows her old ally that was killed in the cover-up was innocent and wishes nothing more than getting the truth, and now she’s head of Homeland Security, she may get her wish…

William Rawlins (Paul Schulze) – A major CIA figure who was behind the off-the-books Kandahar incident, as well as several other unpleasant actions during that time. Most importantly, he was the man who sanctioned the shoot out that took the lives of Frank Castle’s family…

Curtis Hoyle (Jason R. Moore) – Curtis lost his left leg on the battlefields, and is doing all he can to rehab both himself mentally and physically, and other soldiers who come to his meetings…

Lewis Wilson (Daniel Webber) – Lewis has slowly become disillusioned by society, his time on the battlefield are the only things that made sense to him. Sadly, Curtis’ words haven’t gotten through to him…

Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) – An old acquaintance of Frank’s (as well as other people!) who works for the New York Bulletin. She is among the only people to ever see the tragic side of Castle, and genuinely wants to help him…

Plus more!

The Good:

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“One batch, two batch, N… oh damn, he moved.”

It goes without saying if you read the first of these, but the entire cast play their roles perfectly. Frank Castle is a broken man, often more violent and bloodthirsty that those he “punishes”, but he believes he’s in the right, making him a dangerous person to be around… and he’s our lead protagonist! Everyone else has crosses to bear: Micro leaked the footage of Kandahar because it was right, but put his family at risk and now selfishly asks for Frank’s help so he can return to them, Billy Russo found a way out of the hellhole he was in during his army days, but it was the morally wrong one, selling his soul to become a success that was never on the cards for him due to his upbringing, and Curtis and Lewis are two very sadly realistic depictions of PTSD, one is depressed and is searching for answers with fellow soldiers, and Lewis is just completely broken, much like Frank, but without any one person to point to in order to overcome his issues. Throw in Dinah and her tunnel-vision quest to the truth about what happened to her friend at the expense of her career and those around her, and you have a lot of broken people all tied together due to this one incident in the past. What a great set up!

Episode 5 is focused on another member of the squad who was involved with Kandahar, Gunner Henderson, who even as the mission was going on, had major issues with it. He found that “Agent Orange”, as they knew William Rawlins as, was smuggling heroin to the US within dead soldiers bodies, on top of everything else. He became a recluse, and even when Frank catches back up with him he lashes out before they even talk. It all leads to a big showdown between the two and a group of army men (seemingly…), which was really well done. Gunner doesn’t make it and Frank is in bad shape.

This leads to Episode 6, where Curtis patches up Frank and everyone discusses the idea of meeting up with Billy Russo, which Castle eventually does. The two talk about the conspiracy and the actions of the evil Rawlins, and Frank considers an offer from Billy to escape under a new identity. It is, of course given his look and swagger, then relieved that Billy is working with Rawlins and the two have been in cahoots for sometime. Russo’s intention was to kill Frank at the getaway meeting that he lucky didn’t end up arriving at. Well played, though given Billy Russo is the “real name” of classic Punisher villain Jigsaw, I can’t say I was surprised to find out he was a baddie!

Episodes 7 and 8 are focused on Frank and David finally finding out who “Agent Orange” is, they do this by cloning and tracking Rawlins’ lackey Col. Morty Bennett’s phone. There are plenty of great fight scenes and shootouts during this time, but it ends with Frank shooting a sniper bullet at Rawlins, only for the glass in front of him to be bullet-proof. It’s a great scene, complete with the old “One batch, two batch” quote that has so far only appeared once. There is also a lot of focus on Dinah and her relationship with both Billy Russo and her partner in Homeland Security Sam Stein. Basically Dinah finds out her office has been bugged and so sets a trap for whoever is doing it by pretending to talk about a plan to capture Frank in her office, but actually planning to capture whoever arrives to kill Castle. This leads to Dinah and her team coming face to masked-face with Billy Russo and his team, who have been instructed to kill Castle by Rawlins. Billy is the only one to escape, but kills Stein beforehand, leaving Dinah (who wasn’t around to see who it was) grieving at putting him in the line of fire, and soon finding comfort in the hands of her lover… the man who killed Stein! Grim.

Episode 9 is focused on Lewis, who has now broken to the point of murdering admittedly-a-complete-knob fake wounded soldier (whose name I can’t remember) a few episodes ago and has now blown up several building with improvised explosives. Curtis tries to stop him but Lewis overpowers him by focusing his attack on Curtis’ false leg, and the ties him to a bunch of bombs before leaving. Frank arrives, concerned that Lewis is targeting Karen Page as she refused to see things from his perspective, and the three end up talking via the phone (or in person, in Frank and Curtis’ case), waxing lyrical about what’s acceptable and not after going through what they all did. They all saw terrible things, and they all went in three completely different mental directions. Curtis is eventually saved and Frank runs from the arriving police, but uh-oh! He’s caught on camera! Suddenly all the news broadcasts have his picture plastered over it, making Micro (who had met up with Dinah to get her on their side) begin to panic…

The Bad:

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Evil suited CIA man! Classic.

Phew! You always know I love something when I end up just writing up the majority of the episodes. I just love this dark, unpleasant story. It’s such a fascinating watch, I honestly can’t think of a bad thing to say about it.

Overall Thoughts:

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Who ever would have thought such a well-dressed, smug git would end up being a villain?

The Punisher continues to tell a great story, full of multi-layered and broken characters, all of whom effected by a single incident. Everyone is starting to connect, leading into what I hope will be a great final four episodes! Let’s keep out fingers crossed!

5 Star Watch

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