Friday, December 15, 2017

TV Show Review: The Punisher

Marvel joins once again with Netflix to add to the connected universe with its latest installment. While this show has been light on action, it does have some interesting character development. Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) is presumed dead after the events of the second season of Daredevil that I don't totally remember. I'm hoping to rewatch along with this season one day in the future because I found the show mostly slow and hard to pay attention to this first time around. The Punisher is hiding out as a construction worker channeling his rage into hammering a wall. One thing about this shows that seems to be a consensus is that they should be a lot shorter as it takes a while for anything to happen and the show suffers from a dull middle part where Frank is injured for an entire episode. The Defenders felt nicely paced and not too dull at eight episodes even if it has some of its own flaws. 

Trouble finds Frank as some of his construction coworkers rob a mafia poker game. He now has people to take his anger out on and does not show mercy. A secondary plot develops with Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Rivah), Homeland Security agent, who investigates missing weapons. Frank is forced to re-enter the world when he gets a call from Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), aka David Lieberman who is in possession of an incriminating video of Frank and his fellow soldiers. He hunts down the computer hacker and tortures him into giving up information as he recalls his own memories of the brutal memories he performed while serving with Billy Russo (Ben Barnes) and clashed with Rawlins (Paul Schulze). Russo now works for a private security firm secretly involved with Rawlins who is rising up in politics.

Another subplot develops with a veterans support group run by Curtis Hoyle (Jason R. Moore). A boisterous veteran O'Connor (Delaney Williams) lies about his service and recruits Lewis Walcott (Daniel Webber) to some radical viewpoints. Lewis takes it too far especially after he is harassed by a cop while protesting for his second amendment rights. His anger grows until he starts to set off bombs around the city. Working with Micro but also wanting leverage over him, Frank insinuates himself in the life of David's wife Sarah (Jaime Ray Newman) and their two children. Castle seeks out a former member of his squad but is attacked by private security troops. Frank is injured during this part which leads to that gruesome episode of him being healed with the help of Curtis. Madani starts a relationship with Russo as she continues an investigation with Sam Stein (Michael Nathanson). 

The only character tying this series to the other Marvel is Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) Who is brought into the investigation after Madani spots Castle. Karen knows Frank is still alive but keeps his secret even while she becomes the target of Lewis's deadly demands. There is a cool shootout episode in a hotel as Madani discovers that Russo is part of an evil plot to smuggle heroin and killed her partner. Frank saves Karen, and Lewis blows himself up and the Punisher makes it out alive. Russo tightens the noose on Frank and Micro so there is another cool scene where the Punisher takes down a whole squad that I'll want to see again upon a rewatch.  The final fight comes down to Frank and Russo even though the show takes its time for them to face off. Frank is put through another torture but kills Rawlins before he gives up and joins his dead family. Russo and Castle fight on the merry-go-round with Madani coming in and taking a bullet. The result seems to set up a sequel with Frank set free with a different identity. I hope the second season has more Punisher action.

These Marvel shows suffer from long drawn out plots where a lot of other characters slowly develop and only minor developments come at the end of each episode. There are too many plots to follow and I doubt that I covered them very well. I found a lot of the episodes were dragging along and I wasn't always paying attention. I managed to catch the broad strokes of the show. I did like Rivah as the homeland agent and Bernthal is great as Frank Castle even if the role didn't have much to do in the action department. There were other interesting characters but nothing that really stood out. I enjoy these shows, I just wish they were shorter and had more action.

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