The Punisher – Season 2 Episodes 1 – 4 Review

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The Punisher’s first season took me by surprise, as I was expecting the usual over-the-top action and violence that you get with the character, but I also got a reserved, broken version of Frank Castle and a really interesting and well-written look as PTSD. Season 2 so far has started to fall back into line with what I originally expected from the show, but the MCU version of Jigsaw is looking to be very interesting indeed…

Synopsis:

With his identity hidden and his revenge achieved, Frank Castle has gotten used to just travelling the road and seeing where it takes him. Fate has other things in mind for him however, though when the blood starts flowing, maybe a return to The Punisher is what Frank wanted all along…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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Frank Castle: Lost in the Woods.

Frank Castle / The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) – Frank has been away from violence and blood since his finished his business with Billy Russo, and he’s begun to get used to a more … normal life. But is that what he really wants?

Rachel (Giorgia Whingam) – A girl on the run from some very bad people, “Rachel”, as she’s going by, is running out of options to save her life…

Billy Russo (Ben Barnes) – Billy is starting to rebuild his body after so many months lying in bed, but his mind is another matter. His memories are like a jigsaw, pieces all over the place, he just needs to pull them together, if he can…

John Pilgrim (Josh Stewart) – A simple religious man who has a very dark past, Pilgrim is willing to take on missions that tap into that past if it means more money and medicine for his ailing wife…

Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah) – Dinah is herself still recovering from the showdown between Frank Castle and Billy Russo, having been shot in the head during the incident. She has been stalking Russo’s hospital room daily since then, enjoying his suffering, but becoming more paranoid that he might escape…

Dr. Krista Dumont (Floriana Lima) – Dr. Dumont has been given the unenviable task of trying to help serial killer and ex-marine Billy Russo rehab his body and mind, trying to help him become a normal man again…

Curtis Hoyle (Jason R. Moore) – Curtis is an old war buddy of both Frank and Billy, but really he just wants to be left out of their respective lives…

Plus more!

The Good:

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“Look, I know you were a killer, and now you’re a killer who’s messed up in the head, but don’t do anything violent, okay?”

For whatever reason, I never really thought about the fact that the MCU’s Punisher hasn’t really become the Punisher yet. Now he’s got his vengeance, he went back to trying to live a normal life, and this series is seemingly going to show us how he sees that punishing other people who have done similar things that were done to him would be a good career choice. This is evident in Episode 1, where Frank sees a seemingly innocent girl get stalked by well-trained killers and comes to her rescue (in a great, well choreographed fight scene in the bathroom), eventually taking her on a road trip where he is “forced” to fight off more and more hitmen. He tells himself that if it was a man he would have let things play out, but we as viewers probably know different. He was seeing a girl with a son before all this, but all it did was bring visions of the life he lost…

Now the gruff, stoic older guy takes scared street-smart girl on the road while being chased isn’t a new idea, but it does work well here. Even at the end of Episode 4, the two are only just beginning to open up to each other, and that was only because Rachel, or Amy as her actual name is, found out his real identity and sympathised with him. She’d only had a group of friends for a “family” and they were all killed by the same people that are now after her for having kept some photos they were hired to get, meaning Frank was probably the only person who can relate to her… and get vengeance for her…

The other main highlight of these episodes was Billy Russo. We see him mentally unhinged, wearing a mask he decorated to look like broken glass, complaining about nightmares involving a white skull symbol. His psychiatrist is trying to help him reassemble who he once was, describing his mind as being like a jigsaw, needing to be put back together (presumably that will be the only way his comic book name is mentioned). When he eventually breaks free and goes into the wild we see this isn’t an act, he is mentally broken, he thinks Frank and Curtis are still his old war buddies he hasn’t seen in ages, and he even revisits his old orphanage leader… and kills him when he gets made fun of for the way he looks. He then arrives at the house of his shrink, Dr. Dumont, who hesitates to call the police as she sympathises with him after their sessions, and soon agrees to help him, so… that’ll be interesting to follow.

I really have to give it to Ben Barnes here, in the first series he was the perfect arrogant prick, but here he is really convincingly crazy, even the early scenes of him wearing the mask, so much emotion and energy was given without any facial expressions. Really great work here.

The other antagonist is Pilgrim, a religious man who is also a hitman, with a white supremacist background judging by the burned tattoos on his body. He is being manipulated into going back to his old life to do “God’s work”, which in this case has something to do with Rachel and her photos. Episode 3 has a great stand-off between The Punisher, Rachel, some cops and Pilgrim’s men in and outside a small-town police station, with Frank managing to get out and take most of Pilgrim’s men out by himself. It was great, and I wouldn’t have said no to seeing more of a lot of the cops in the episode later on. Pilgrim himself is interesting, but I don’t know enough about him to get much of a feeling for him yet. It’s early days though!

Oh and Curtis, Frank’s old war buddy, returned in Episode 4 when Frank arrives back in New York, but… nothing much to say about him. Just thought I’d mention him as he has a bio in the “Cast of Characters” section…

The Bad:

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“That guy shot me in the head so don’t trust him!” God, unreasonable bitch…

The only real bad at the moment is Dinah, who is obsessed with Billy Russo and is letting that obsession turn her into a rather unpleasant person. Again, we’re only at Episode 4 or 13, so this character arc she’s started on might be a really good story by the end, but as for now she’s not very fun to watch…

Overall Thoughts:

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“I’m pretty sure if I hide behind this small bit of wall, they’ll never find me!”

Punisher Season 2 is off to a good start, while it may not have the more grounded storyline of the first season, the action is still really well shot and planned, and the characters are for the most part really interesting, especially the evolution of Billy Russo into a literal maniac. Looking forward to seeing more in the coming days, which means this opener has accomplished its mission!

4 Star Watch

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