The Punisher – Season 2 Overall Review

punisher s2

The Punisher’s second season was less focused than the first, and told a less compelling story, but it has to be said that it was still fun to watch. Ben Barnes’ Billy Russo was believably crazy and The Punisher is still an interestingly broken character himself. Let’s take a closer look at the series overall, then…

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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“Hang on Frank, you said you wouldn’t kill anyone anymore…”   “*whistles nonchalantly*”

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” / Amy (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:

punisher s2 1

Billy Russo IS: a nutter with a gun.

The Punisher Season 2 is pretty much a two-man show, and thankfully those two are our protagonist (Frank Castle) and antagonist (Billy Russo). Frank continues to be mentally fragile in a very believable way, complete with moments where it seems he’s going to settle into a normal life again, followed by scenes of extreme violence and scary outbursts, the latter often to his own allies. While the journey he goes on in this season isn’t as significant, after all he’s already got his revenge, we see him going from Frank Castle to full-on Punisher, mostly thanks to ending up looking after lost girl Amy, who is being pursued by hitmen thanks to being apart of a cover-up that wasn’t quite covered up enough. Frank starts off saying he couldn’t let a little girl get hurt, but we soon see him come to the realisation that he was looking for an excuse to jump back into the warzone, and by the end of the season he’s accepted that he’ll always be that guy in the middle of the bullets, and begins to seek out those to punish…

Billy Russo on the other hand suffered mental damage from his encounters with Frank in season 1 and never gets better. He escapes, and starts hiding out and becoming romantically involved with his psychiatrist Dr. Dumont, but never has anything close to a normal life. He doesn’t remember anything from after he was in the army with Frank and Curtis, so when Frank comes after him he loses it, not knowing why his best friend would hate him. Even when he finds out that he killed his wife and child, he still thinks it doesn’t give Frank the right to do what he did to him…

He forms a few gangs of ex-soldiers and pulls off a few heists, before he pretty much sacrifices them in order to mentally get at Castle before escaping with Dumont, but his lover is nearly killed in a fight with Agent Midani (more on that later) so he loses it completely again. His last moments are an outcry of help towards his old buddies, before he’s mercilessly gunned down by Frank. He doesn’t have an arc, per se, but he is brilliant played, you get a legitimate feeling of instability around him. Seriously, hats off to both Jon Bernthal and Ben Barnes, their complex characters kept the otherwise straight forward plot more engaging.

All that being said, the new character of John Pilgrim was also a fun one to follow. He starts off as just a gifted hitman with a gimmick of being religious, but we soon find out that he was once a white supremacist who found God, but his old skills are being put to use by the Schultz family, who want him to kill all those who have pictures of their son kissing another man, an act that they think would derail his career. They do this by “looking after” his critically ill wife and two young children while he’s away. There are some great scenes, but a particularly brutal bar fight with his old supremacist buddies is definitely the highlight, and possible the best fight in a season full of good ones. Frank eventually finds common ground with him and lets him live and be with his children, after the Punisher kills the Schultz of course…

Other characters of note include Curtis, who still does the nice guy who ends up in bad situations due to his old friends, the aforementioned Amy, who is a convincing street-smart girl in over her head, and NYPD cop Brett Mahoney is still good in a sarcastic side character way (he should have been in the bios section really… oh well, too late now!)

There are plenty of well-choreographed gun fights and fist fights spread throughout the 13 episodes, which does help swallow the rather more basic plot this time round. Alongside the aforementioned fight with Pilgrim and his old gang, a tense showdown in a small-town police station between Frank, Amy and some cops against Pilgrim and a bunch of hitmen was great, and the final brawl between Frank and John was good too.

The Bad:

punisher s2 3

A religious killer is one of the all time classic contradictions!

I have to say I found Midani far less interesting this time round. Sure, she was mentally effected by being shot in the head last season, and seeing how she deals with the effects differently to her nemesis Billy Russo was interesting to a point, she still came off more as annoying than someone I wanted to follow.

Likewise, her eventual rival Dr. Dumont was thoroughly unlikable, though at least that was the idea. She falls in love with the “bad boy she shouldn’t” and ends up breaking the law multiple times without caring… idiot. She has a fear of heights and yet brought a third story apartment, so she deserved to be thrown out of it for being so stupid, frankly.

Overall Thoughts:

punisher s2 4

“So… can I actually heal myself now?”

The Punisher – Season 2 is a good 13 episode story, with plenty of action and great performances from both Jon Bernthal and Ben Barnes as Frank Castle and Billy Russo respectively. Still, I can’t help but be a little disappointed after such a stellar first season that this one is only really good, but it’s better than most of the other Netflix season 2s in the MCU, to be fair! Combining it with Season 1 and Daredevil Season 2 you do get the most comprehensive and detailed look at how Frank Castle become the Punisher ever committed to the screen, and if this is the final season, it deserves great praise for that at least.

4 Star Watch

 

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