Alright, jumping back into the middle episodes of the series, and as often happens with the shows Marvel and Netflix produce, a lot of these episodes feel like they are more bridge/ filler material than the real meat of the story, though there are some kernels of the actual show plot in there to keep us going. And personally, since I find Frank and Micro and the rest so compelling, I’m ok with a few filler plot points, as it does help round out their characters and give us a feel for what they are going through.
If you missed our review of Episodes 1-4, you can catch up here.
Let’s start with the main points from Frank and Micro’s story during these episodes. They reach out to one of Frank’s out squadmates, Gunner, who it turns out was the man who shot the video of the death of Zubair and sent it to the Micro. They find Gunner living in the woods, paranoid about anyone coming to find him. So of course while Frank is visiting him they are attacked by a hit squad sent by Agent Orange (who watches everything from their helmet cameras), and Frank barely escapes with his life, though Gunner is not as lucky. Micro has to turn to Curtis to help fix Frank up, and Curtis is not happy with Micro for dragging Frank back into this life, though he does save Frank’s life and fix his wounds.
When Frank is feeling better there is some plot with him further visiting Micro’s family for various reason, all of which is very sad for Micro (aka David) who wishes he could see his family, the whole thing coming to a head when Frank and his wife have a glass of wine and she kisses Frank. Micro gets brutally drunk, and Frank joins him when he returns to the lair, and they talk about their wives, what they’ve lost, and bond a little right before Micro announces they should go to Madani with everything, the whole thing ending the next morning with Frank’s proclaiming that he has no interest in Micro’s wife, and that they are not going to Madani, because Frank wants his revenge.
Also during this time Micro and Frank begin to hear a radio recording from Frank’s old buddy Billy Russo calling out to Frank if he is still alive, asking for a meeting, which Micro is wary of, and Frank is reluctant to answer. Eventually though, especially after speaking to Curtis who himself spoke to Russo and knows the man just wants to help Frank, Frank decides that he can still trust Billy (who is his closest friend from the squad and someone he still considers to be family), and he meets up with him down by the docks. Billy is pleased that Frank is alive but not too happy to be left out of the loop. He offers Frank a way out, telling him he can get him work in ANVIL, get a new passport, and be out of the country so he will be safe – an offer that Frank is tempted to take. All he has to do is meet Billy down by the docks at the appointed time.
Frank, however, wants his revenge and with intel gotten from Gunner about a certain Colonel Bennett having connections with Agent Orange, he and Micro track down Bennett. Frank infiltrates his army base pretending to be there to assassinate the man, though in reality, he is just there to get close enough for Micro to hack the man’s phone, which will allow them to follow Bennett back to Agent Orange.
For Frank, it is a tough mission as he knows the military men at the base haven’t done anything wrong, so he goes in trying not to kill anyone, which is not his usual MO. And to make matters worse, unbeknownst to Frank, Billy Russo is also in league with Agent Orange, and both men were waiting for Frank at the docks, ostensibly to kill him, which meant Frank was correct in choosing not to take Russo’s offer. And during the raid on Bennett, Russo was leading ANVIL forces to ambush Frank, who he figured would soon go after Bennett, and Frank had to put them down before making his escape, though he had no idea that Billy was their leader. Micro was successful, however, and Frank follows Bennett to a CIA safe house where Bennett, Billy, and Agent Orange (who we now know is named Rawlings) are meeting about what to do about Frank. Rawlings offers to hide Bennet for the foreseeable future. Sadly for Bennett, as soon as he goes to his quarters in the building, he is killed by Billy who does not like loose ends.
As for Rawlings, he is spotted by Frank through his sniper scope, and of course Frank recognizes him, especially since the man now has a milky white eye as a result of the thrashing Frank gave him in Afghanistan. Frank lines up his shot, and kes it. Luckily for Rawlings, the safehouse has bulletproof glass, and he looks up to see the sniper bullet crack the window, but not break through, as the floodlights around the house turn on and guards are sent out to find Frank.
As for Lewis, his symptoms are getting worse, as he digs a hole in his backyard and spends a lot of his time out there, claiming he feels more comfortable outdoors, much to the consternation of his father and Curtis. Also, he gets closer in these episodes to an older Vet named O’Connell, who thinks he knows the way things work for Vets better than Curtis and bad-mouths all of the Vets in the group therapy session for not being as proud as he is for having served and gotten a medal. Curtis warns Lewis against getting close to O’Connell, but it falls on deaf ears. To make matters worse, Curtis also angers Lewis by warning Billy Russo against hiring him for ANVIL, saying Lewis is not stable, making Lewis drop the group sessions entirely.
We next see Lewis and O’Connell petitioning people about stopping gun-control laws outside a courthouse, but when a cop comes by to tell them to stop, O’Connell flees, and Lewis gets into a verbal argument with the officer, resulting with him being arrested. O’Connell is nowhere to be found for bail, but Curtis is there to help Lewis and also inform him that O’Connell is not all he pretends to be, apparently never having served in the manner he claimed to. Lewis goes to confront O’Connell and the two get into an argument with O’Connell pulling a knife on Lewis. It ends with Lewis taking possession of the knife and killing O’Connell, taking out a lot of his pain and frustrations on the lying old man. We sadly see the poor guy take a dark turn, which he cannot quite come to grips with, even when he goes home and his kind father offers him love and support.
Madani keeps busy in these episodes by expanding on her relationship with Billy Russo, who she has no idea is the villain he really is, thinking that he is an old friend of Frank’s that is genuinely concerned about whether his buddy is still alive, especially after he finds paperwork from her investigating Frank. They sleep together, their relationship progresses, and at some point he plants a bug in her office, a bug which allows Rawlings to spy on her and stay one step ahead of her.
Eventually she and Stein figure out there is a bug and decide to use it to their advantage, planting information that they hope will draw out whoever is spying on her by claiming to be meeting with Frank Castle. Of course, Rawlings sends in Billy Russo and a team of agents to kill Frank and anyone he speaks to, but they are ambushed by Homeland Security Agents lying in wait and every one of Billy’s team is killed, except for Billy, who almost escapes but is taken down by Sam Stein. Stein takes his gun and his knife, but is unaware of the hidden knife Billy has holstered literally up his sleeve. When he gets too close, Billy stabs him repeatedly leaving him for dead, and Madani arrives outside just in time to see her partner dying. She still has no idea who is responsible, as Russo was wearing a mask the whole time. And to make things even more sick, in her grief over Sam’s death, she turns to Billy for comfort, and the episode ends with Billy gently scrubbing the blood off her in the tub, pretending to be the kind boyfriend when we all know he’s the killer who could be coming for Madani if she becomes a problem.
Again, building episodes, but there’s a lot of heart here and a lot of interesting philosophical points to be considered, especially in regards to Frank taking lives, the use of guns, treatment of vets, etc. I like that the show has a lot to say, and is taking advantage of their full 13 episodes to say it, as well as tell a compelling story, that may be a taking a while to come together, but you can clearly see all the pieces are starting to get there. Looking forward to seeing where it all is going in the next batch of episodes. See you back here soon!