TV REVIEW: 'The Punisher' (Season 2, Episodes 1-3)

Welcome back, to what will quite possibly end up being my second to last review of a Marvel/ Netflix series, as ‘The Punisher’ Season 2 will all too likely be cancelled in a few weeks (as has been happening across the board to all the Marvel shows on Netflix), leaving ‘Jessica Jones’ Season 3 to be the grand finale of the Marvel shows on the streaming giant. But I digress, we’re here to review the latest escapades of Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle, who is back, and definitely has not lost his touch.

The first three episodes, titled ‘Roadhouse Blues,’ ‘Fight or Flight,’ and ‘Trouble the Water,’ seem to be the first mini-arc of the season, all wrapped around Frank’s exploits in Ohio, where he first encounters the young girl “Rachel” and gets mixed up in her business. The whole arc starts when he stops in a bar and hits it off with a bartender named Beth, she takes a liking to him when he helps her ward off a drunk customer, and they go home together, becoming very intimate, where Frank even tells her about his past and gives her his real name, instead of the “Pete” alias. He even meets her son the next morning (not exactly on purpose) and takes them to breakfast, and when driving out of town makes the decision to come back solely because he likes Beth and her family.

Sadly for Frank, fate is never that kind to him. That very same bar is the meeting place for an odd young woman named Rachel and her contact, who she had called earlier to say she was still alive and had the pictures, unaware her contact was currently bound and being tortured by Josh Stewart’s character, who we will eventually find out is named John Pilgrim. Pilgrim kills Rachel’s contact and sends out goons to kill her and get the pictures, which of course is where Frank comes in, as he happens to be in the bar with Beth when everything goes down.

Keeping it short and simple, a massive bar brawl ensues, Frank opts to save the girl due to old-fashioned notions of chivalry (or so it seems), though in the chaos Beth gets shot, as does her friend the bouncer. Frank grabs Rachel and Beth and flees to the hospital, taking down their pursuers along the way with multiple gunshots and car antics, and drops off Beth before fleeing town with Rachel, who is not too happy to be seemingly kidnapped, never mind the fact that Frank just saved her, she still has no idea who he is. They stop for an uncomfortable night at a hotel, with Frank making Rachel book the room due to his injuries, getting a great comic moment where she has to pay with Frank’s literal blood money, and then Frank convinces Rachel to help treat his wounds, including a gunshot wound to his butt, continuing to remind us of just how graphic this show can be (the first of many cringe-worthy/ “have to look-away” moments this season, when he, and then she, is digging around for the bullet). They are tracked to the hotel by Pilgrim’s associates, and Frank mows them all down, except for one woman he had planned on interrogating, but before he gets the chance the cops show up, and Rachel, Frank and the woman are arrested, setting up the next episode.

The third episode was a stand-off, hold your ground kind of affair, as the Sheriff of the small town is hell-bent on holding Castle, the woman, and Rachel for due-processing, and getting to the bottom of all the dead bodies, but he is coming up against Pilgrim who wants to walk away with all three, and threatens to kill the Sheriff and all his deputies if he does not get what he wants. Frank meanwhile, uses his one phone call to call Dinah Madani back in New York to ask for help, but she tells him he is on his own, as she has her own concerns going on at the moment.