Why did Orange go after Gunner in the first place? Did it not click for him until then that Gunner had shot the video in Afghanistan? Why did he think Frank was involved in making the video if Frank is in the video as the shooter?
I think he was taking the approach of leaving well enough alone provided that nobody was making any noise about what happened. Then the CIA director offered him a promotion provided there were no skeletons in his closet, while the cops were discussing going to look for Gunner, so he tried to get his guys in first to take care of him.
Admittedly, I might be wrong. I can’t even remember what had been established about Frank’s family and their death back in Daredevil season 2.
Only watched the first episode, but that was great. Like some have noted, it’s not exactly full of surprises, but everything about it is so well done. You know what’s coming pretty much every moment, but more in the way of a Greek tragedy - Frank’s tragic fate is pushed along by an unfolding narrative that leaves no room for any other choices.
Liked everything about the episode, not a single misstep to my mind. Which is quite a relief after three shows that were full of them.
I wonder if there’s intent to that? Even in the first episode, there’s a moment where there’s something weird happening in her face, something I couldn’t quite place. I can’t quite remember this, but wasn’t there something in the Ennis books about how his family was actually falling apart and his wife about to leave him?
My reaction to the fight scenes in the last two episodes…
So, I meant to write about this over a week ago, after I finished watching the show and got home, but I… didn’t.
So, some points about The Punisher:
- Jon Bernthal is fantastic. He’s perfect as Frank Castle and easily the best piece of casting in the entire MCU. I had reservations about this show, I think some of them have borne true, but none of them were about Bernthal.
- The rest of the cast is pretty good too! Nobody is overly annoying, not even Sam. Madani, Curtis and Louis are all strong leads/supporting characters in their own plots, and Russo and Rawlins are effective antagonists. And as noted upthread, Karen works quite well as a journalist here. While I liked the shift in her character role in Daredevil series 2, it was not written well, and it’s nice to see that happen here.
- Speaking of which, the pacing works quite well, thanks to formatting the story as a number of crime tales that intersect by means of Castle, with some overlap between them.
- The action scenes are very well done, and there’s two in particular - the colonel’s office on the army base, and the attack on Castle and Micro’s lair - that deserve to be up there with the best fight scenes in Daredevil and Agents of SHIELD.
And the bad:
- The show wants to be about something - PTSD, corruption, the way soldiers are treated when they return from war, gun violence - but it doesn’t really do anything with these themes. The PTSD element is probably the theme that gets explored the most, but for the most part the show is content to shine a light in their general direction, but not explore them.
- When the show was first announced, I questioned its necessity. And of course, no entertainment product is necessary, but a huge part of what made The Punisher work in Daredevil was that he was a transitory figure, someone who entered the characters’ lives. It allowed Castle to remain a force of nature, but here he’s got to carry 13 hours of TV, and as such gets humanised in a way that doesn’t necessarily serve the character in the best light. Now it’s nowhere near as bad as the Thomas Jane Punisher movie, and for the most part Bernthal’s incredible body language sells Castle’s physical discomfort in these scenes, but I have to note that his tender moments with Micro’s family, or he and Micro bonding over dinners and getting drunk are very well written and acted scenes that might not be the best things to have in the show.
- Speaking of Castle’s character, to a degree this story has no journey for him. He starts out having killed ‘everyone’ involved in his family’s murder - except Rawlins is still out there and Castle remembers him. And the show begins with him burning his flak jacket with the signature skull motif, only to spray it on another one towards the end of the series. As a character journey it’s not great, and the symbolism of the first scene is really just messed up by how easily he reclaims his mantle
Overall, I’d put this in the upper tier of Marvel shows, with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter. It’s far from perfect, but it has an awful lot going for it, and it’s an exceptionally enjoyable first series.
I don’t know if Marvel Netflix has the balls for this, but I’d love if over the course of the show Frank becomes the stone cold, barely human monster from Ennis’s MAX series. Right now it’s early days for Frank and he’s still not fully honest with himself about why he’s doing this.
That was one thing I loved in Daredevil, when Matt has Castle on the stand at his murder trial, and he doubles down on claiming that he was sane and willingly did everything and would do it again.
Wasn’t that a deliberate move by Frank so he could get to meet Wilson Fisk in prison because Fisk had sent him a message saying he had information about the men who killed Frank’s family?
I’m assuming that if Frank’s story continues in the Netflix MCU that it will involve Kingpin getting out of prison and back up to no good. Pretty sure also that Kingpin remains the only guy to have ever beaten Frank in a fight.
I’d need to rewatch Daredevil, but I thought that all happened after the Punisher went to prison
I agree with most of what you wrote except for Madani. The actress had the right presence for the role but the character was woefully under-served by the writing. A couple of episodes in and she seemed to forget all about whoever she was trying to get vengeance for from her days in Kandahar. The show had everyone point out how amazing she was at her job and yet she got continually played by Billy at every single turn, to the point that in the finale even with the element of surprise on her side she managed to get shot in the head by him!
Her partner was useless in every single way. The actor seemed to think he was in a Coen Brothers movie.
I get that they wanted to have a strong female character somewhere in the show but they would have been just as well to drop Madani and utilise Karen Page more. She could have quite easily wound up in possession of the execution video and started investigating it herself, eventually helping to get Frank in touch with Malory Archer (or whoever was in charge of the CIA here).
In fact, for all that I disliked Madani I was equally impressed at how much more tolerable Karen was here. The moment where she and Frank said goodbye in the elevator after surviving the hotel fight was outstanding. It was like a sex scene between two fully-clothed people not touching one another or saying anything. I don’t think I could stand it now if the Netflix MCU went in a Born Again direction with her. Maybe that’s what they were aiming for.
Random point but it is funny how these Netflix shows keep adding different radio shows to the mix. A shame that Karen was not on the radio show from Luke Cage so she could bust out a rap about how much she likes the Punisher.
Oh, one more thing. I loved that the final line of dialogue was Frank saying “I’m scared.” That’s right up there with “I am Iron Man” so far as last lines go.
I was thinking more of Amer Rose Rivah’s performance than Madani’s actions in the show, and you’ve definitely got some valid criticsm there. I klnda see her as the sort of person who’s very good in the field, but has been promoted above her competence level after Wolf’s death. The show isn’t explicit about this, but there’s a lot to suggest she’s in over her head as senior agent, and that’s part of why she’s throwing herself into a sprawling investigation.
Also, they had to custom build a shotgun small enough for her to use, which is adorable and hilarious.
So, what are we going for with season 2? In terms of villains, Jigsaw right off the bat? Or should he heal up and come back in season 3? I’m stoked for the inevitable MCU Netflix Bullseye depiction, but I wonder if they’ll save him for DD 3?
That’s really cool.
I liked that character a lot. I don’t know, the soon-to-die partner is such a cliché role, but they made it work by not doing too much with him, not hamming the whole thing up but just playing the character straight.
Thank you. Agreed
I just got Netflix, unfortunately this show can’t be downloaded only streamed. My family doesn’t want to crowd around my phone to watch it so I guess we’ll wait it out!