Well folks, it’s that time again! Marvel and Netflix have dropped their next show live and I’m here to recap it for you with verve and sass. So with no further adieu, let’s get started on season 1 of The Punisher!
We open with Frank playing an acoustic guitar, flipping between the past and his young son sitting in his lap, and the present where he sits in the dark trying to remember the tune. After about a minute of this juxtaposition the tune switches to electric as we see Frank Castle, the Punisher, chasing two guys on motorcycles through rural Alabama. They’re shooting at him but he shotguns them both off their bikes. He starts reciting the rhyme from his kids’ favourite book as seen in DD Season 2, and crushes them with his van. We then move to Juarez Mexixo, where the apparently one and only cartel survivor of Frank’s rampages is greeted with a hero’s welcome as people curse Frank’s name and swear this lone cartel survivor is safe from the Punisher in Mexico. He enters a brothel where the working girls offer him a special reward, but Frank, perched across the border in El Paso, takes the guy out with a sniper rifle. DAYUM.
Now we’re finally back in New York at JFK International airport, as a very nervous and very obvious criminal pencil pusher paces in the bathroom, staring at his ticket. He goes into a bathroom to place a call and learns EVERYONE else in his criminal network is dead now, the cartels, the bikers, everyone. Which of course is when Frank shows up to kill him too. He begs for his life because he has a family. Frank replies HE doesn’t anymore and chokes the pissant out while a couple other guys in the bathroom mistake the noises for a gay bathroom hookup in what I guess is supposed to be comic relief. Haw.
Frank burns his skull faced punisher shirt Peter Parker style, assuming his revenge is complete.
The opening credits are bloody awesome. Hands down the best of the Marvel Netflix shows so far. Black & White, watching parts of a gun twirlining poetically and assembling itself, set to very Johnny Cash sounding music. Odd for a killer vigilante from New York I suppose, but the whole sequence has a very cool dark spaghetti western vibe to it, which in it’s own way IS appropriate, as the Punisher is basically a Clint Eastwood revenge Western set in modern day New York anyway.
6 months later we’re on a construction/demolition site, and Frank, now sporting a full beard, is sledghammering a wall. The crew meets a new kid on the crew and takes him up to work, where they pass Frank. The foreman calls him the Gimp, as he’s not right in the head, (yay ablesm! Strike 2). They throw stones at his hardhat and tease him, but Frank just ignores them and continues to smash the wall. He breaks only long enough to eat a sandwich, and then goes right back to hammering, well into the night, screaming as he sees flashes of children giggling on a merry go round. Finally he goes home and look! It’s a realistic New York apartment on a TV show, roughly the size of my kitchen! Frank washes up and has more nightmares about his family, and wakes up every morning from a dream of his wife waking him.
Back at the site the next day Frank get harassed by the foreman and his flunkies, complaining that Frank working so hard cuts into their overtime. He kicks over Frank’s lunchbox and steps on his sandwich, but frank still keeps himself in check. Donny, the new kid, offers Frank half of his sandwich and talks about his Marine dad after seeing bullet scars on Frank and pegging him for an ex soldier. Frank almost seems to be warming up to the kid, even expressing sympathy for him losing his parents, but he starts to have flashbacks to his family again and abruptly leaves, thanking Donny for the sandwich but clarifying he doesn’t want to make any friends.
Frank stands at the doorway hovering at a veteran support group, listening but not joining the circle. A racist white asshole and a couple black guys argue over who the true persecuted minority is, (wypipo tears), while the black man obviously in charge of the support group tries to keep them civil. This guy is Curt and turns out to be an old army buddy of Frank’s. They talk after everyone else leaves, with Curt saying he’d have gladly helped Frank kill all the criminal scumbags who killed Frank’s family if he’d asked, but now that they’re all dead, the only person Frank is punishing is himself.
We skip to an ICE officer arriving at the New York office looking very pissed off. Agent Dinah Madani is angry she’s been transferred back to the US to keep her nose out of investigating the murder if a witness she had promised protection. They don’t say it outright but the inference is that Frank may have killed him and she wants to investigate the possibility Frank Castle isn’t dead. Her new partner is a schlub in the doghouse and her new boss is Obligatory Asshole #12 C. Thomas Howell, here playing ICE Senior Agent Carson Wolf, (a villain name if ever I’ve heard one). He treats her with racist sexist dismissal, which she calls him on badassedly, and refuses to approve her case against a supposedly dead vigilante. Her weaselly new partner tells her to stop rocking the boat.
Back at the construction site, the Foreman and one of his flunkies plan to rob a mafia poker game to get the money to pay off a loan shark, not realizing Frank is sipping coffee literally right behind them. They try to threaten and intimidate him and he no sells, but they’re interrupted by a nasty jobsite injury nearby. One of the foreman’s goons hurt his arm bad, so he pressures Donny into taking that goon’s place in the robbery. Having already bought over $400 in beers the night before desperate to win their approval, Donny lets himself be pressured.
Dinah is at her mother’s drinking wine and complaining about being dragged back to the US to keep her out of the case she was working. Her mom, a psychiatrist, is worried sick she’ll end up dead and butchered if she lifts the wrong rock. Meanwhile the construction crew hit the poker game, but Donny is scared as hell and accidentally drops his wallet, letting the mob guys see his ID. The crew rush back to the site to drown Donny in the cement mixer, and Frank finally stops restraining himself. He BRUTALLY kills the foreman and his thugs, leaving one alive long enough to tell him where the poker game was, saves Donny and leaves him the money to take care of his gramma with, and heads off to butcher all the mobsters right as they’re about to go hunt Donny down. Afterwards a guy in a van jiggers security cam footage of that alley to confirm it was frank. And the man I’m safely going to assume is our MCU Netflix version of Microchip says “Welcome back Frank.”
End of episode.
Tags: Netflix, The Punisher