The Punisher – Season 1 Episodes 10 – 13 Review

Punisher S1 P3

The Punisher’s first season comes to suitably brutal end as Frank Castle gets his gory revenge on those who wronged him. Also, other things happen! Let’s take a look at the last four episodes of the season, and see if the ending lives up to the strong rest of the season.

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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He’s fine, don’t worry about it!

Frank Castle / The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) – The world now knows Frank Castle is back from the dead, but they also now believe he’s a terrorist. All this is irrelevant to The Punisher, all he wants is to kill those responsible for his family’s death, at any cost…

David Lieberman / Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) – David’s plan is starting to unravel as the world finds out about Frank’s return, but “Micro” still hasn’t given up on seeing his family again…

Billy Russo (Ben Barnes) – Billy Russo always made sure he trusted the right people to take him to the top of the food chain, but it seems now that trusting William Rawlins might prove to be his undoing… or betraying Frank Castle… or both!

Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah) – Dinah has lost another partner to the Kandahar case, and was nearly ready to throw in the towel until David Lieberman arrived and sat next to her at a bar. Now she’s on the cusp of finally putting the case to bed…

William Rawlins (Paul Schulze) – CIA head of Covert Ops, Rawlins is on his way up the chain of command… so long as his past doesn’t come back to bite him on the arse…

Curtis Hoyle (Jason R. Moore) – Curtis was humiliated and beaten by young Lewis, shaking what little confidence he managed to regain since coming home from the war. All that being said, he’s still not willing to turn down a friend in need…

Lewis Wilson (Daniel Webber) – Lewis has snapped, he now believes bombing and killing all those in power or in the media will make the country great, and his next target is…

Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) – Reporter for the New York Bulletin, her unwillingness to support Lewis and his bombings has made her a target…

Plus more!

The Good:

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He … could be doing better… and it’s only going to get worse…

While I wasn’t a big fan of the unusual format of Episode 10, I did like how, in the end, Lewis just died blowing himself up for no reason. Some would think he’d “do the right thing” in the end, or have a last minute change of heart and go to prison, but nope! We saw the origin, actions and end of a terrorist bomber play out across the series. Unpleasant, sad, and awkwardly realistic. Good storytelling.

Episode 11 features a long scene of Frank truly becoming The Punisher as he acts like a one man army against a bunch of Russo’s men. It’s well shot, brutally entertaining, but it’s still no Daredevil Season 1 corridor scene… Meanwhile David’s wife and son have been kidnapped by Russo’s men, and an exchange is set up, Frank and David for them, otherwise Russo believes incriminating video of him will be uploaded instead.

Episode 12 sees David fake his own death (again! Although this time on purpose) before finally being reunited with his family, who rightfully greet him with a mix of love and anger. Dinah has Frank’s confession and David’s testimony, but still isn’t happy as she knows Frank is the one who pulled the trigger on her friend back in Afghanistan. What about Frank? Well, he was successfully captured by Billy Russo and his men, and spends a good chunk of the episode being very brutally (there’s that word again) tortured by William Rawlins, dropping in and out of hallucinations about being back with his wife. He eventually manipulates Russo into giving him a crack as Rawlins, and boy… he goes for it. The multiple stabbing was hard to watch, but Frank literally forces his thumbs into Rawlins’ eyes until you hear a squelching sound… it was… hard to watch, that’s for sure. Still, Frank got his revenge but is near death, and David, Dinah and a bunch of cops arrive to chase off Russo.

This of course all lead to the inevitable showdown between Frank and Billy, which first happens at Curtis’ apartment (with the poor guy getting shot in the shoulder, he just can’t catch a break, can he?) then they soon set up a meeting at midnight on the very carousel where Frank’s family died. The final fight is great, it’s a close call, with Russo using innocent lives and the setting to gain an advantage, and with Dinah arriving in time to distract Billy (and get shot in the head for her trouble), all leading to what all of us who’ve read the comics knew was going to happen: Billy Russo gets Jigsaw’d. His face is scraped and kicked into glass over and over, leading to the classically scared face appearance of the character, presumably in the next season. To my surprise, given the rather grim reality of the series, Dinah survives the shot to the head, David goes back to living with his family, and Frank begins attending Curtis’ help group for old soldiers. It’s a nice, neat ending, though plenty of ways it could go wrong for a season 2…

The Bad:

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She’s fine! … Him on the other hand… give him a few minutes.

Sometimes I like a bit of a change to traditional formatting, but the format of Episode 10, which flashes backwards and forwards in time from the post-incident interviews to the incident itself, was more annoying that interesting. I can see where they were going with it, but it just didn’t work for me. It didn’t hurt the overall story the episode was trying to tell at least, but it wasn’t great in my eyes.

Overall Thoughts:

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He’s… not going to do well either.

So, I’ve talked at length now about how good The Punisher’s beginning and middle was, and I’m pleased to say that the ending delivered as well. Horrifically brutal, realistically tragic while also over-the-top, plus some emotional beats and a cast you cared about how they ended up, a lot of shows could learn from The Punisher. This is right up there with Daredevil Season 1 and the first Jessica Jones season in terms of quality MCU viewing, and indeed quality viewing in general.

5 Star Watch

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