Alright, jumping right back in here for the next three episodes of ‘The Punisher’ Season 2, titled ‘One Bad Day,’ ‘My Brother’s Keeper,’ and ‘Fustercluck.’ While the series is definitely heightening the action and the drama with this batch, it did have the feeling of trying to recapture some of the spirit of Season One, especially with the extra attention focused on Russo, the veterans, and Madani’s past with Russo. However, I kind of missed the Amy storyline with John Pilgrim and the photos.
As stated above, Russo is the main focus of these episodes, making plans with the gang to rob a bank and make some cash, knowing he can use their skills and his leadership to get the job done. So they hatch a plan and he begins training the vets in a warehouse where he demands that they all spend the night before the operation, though one vet, Jake, sneaks out due to his meth addiction and need for a fix.
Frank finds himself going after Russo as agreed, working with Curtis to use one of the veterans to find their old comrade. They choose the vet named Jake, as Curtis knows about his addiction which will make him easy to get to. After abducting Jake, they proceed to grill the man for information, by which I mean Frank starts to torture him, which makes both Curtis and Madani, who is supervising the operation, very uncomfortable.
Eventually, they learn about Russo’s plan to use his gang to rob a bank, and Frank and Curtis head to their warehouse HQ to stop them before they begin, arriving too late. So they head to the bank instead, arriving after Russo and the vets have completed the crime successfully, with Frank tricking them into thinking he is Jake by wearing the man’s jacket and mask. Very quickly,though, he pulls both off revealing his face and the bloody Punisher skull vest beneath. This sets Russo’s head spinning as he realizes Frank is the man from his nightmares and must be the one who messed up his face.
As Curtis takes down a sniper Russo set up nearby, Frank chases down Russo through the streets of New York by car. He then takes cover as Russo snaps, gets out of the car with a massive machine gun, and starts to blast everything in his path, venting his anger at Frank. NYPD shows up and Russo flees. Frank barely escapes himself thanks to Curtis’s timely arrival, though they do piss off Mahoney, who had Frank cornered in an alley, but is forced to let him go when Curtis arrives armed and threatens to shoot unless Frank is allowed to leave.
Following that, Frank has a big blow-out with everyone at the trailer, yelling at Amy when she tries to practice her disarming technique on him, and storming off into the rain, where he ends up at the grave of his family, where he spends the night “talking” to his wife. Meanwhile, Curtis Amy and Madani have some bonding moments eating at the trailer, an odd little family brought together by their relationship with Frank.
Russo is severely traumatized by the new knowledge about Frank and demands to know if Dumont knew all along, which she denies. He later visits Madani in her apartment, demanding answers by gunpoint. She tells him everything with an almost sick pleasure, letting him know he sold out all his morals for money, including betraying his “brother” and killing Frank’s family which is why Frank came after him. Russo then kicks off a crime spree with his vets gathering as much money as possible, telling his men he plans to grow to their gang and recruit more vets with the money they are making, clearly making plans for the future, which most likely includes a way to deal with Frank.
Some good news on the John Pilgrim storyline for these episodes is that Pilgrim gets some plot here, beginning to flesh out his backstory, more of his family life (continuing to paint the picture of his two children and dying wife at home), and what made him the deadly religious assassin he is. Sadly for him, he is not moving fast enough in the Castle case, and his boss orders him to put a bounty on Frank Castle and Amy, which finally puts that storyline back in action, as Frank and Amy now have a new problem in New York. A problem which comes into play when Amy, after having been yelled at by Frank and not sure where he disappeared to, decides to get out of town on her own and heads off to find her friend in town who she thinks might be able to help her disappear.
Of course, her friend ends up trying for the bounty, gets in over her head, and Amy has to escape from a group of thugs coming to collect. Luckily for her, Frank had been attacked by a gang trying to collect very recently and warned her about the situation, so when she texted him that something was wrong, he was able to get there VERY quickly (almost too quickly, in my opinion, he’s not the Flash after all). Still, he did not make it to Amy in time to prevent her from getting grabbed and held at gunpoint, but she was finally able to use her disarming technique, and before the guy could even say “you won’t use that” she managed to shoot him down. While it was traumatic for her, Frank was there, even putting two more bullets into the man himself so he could say HE killed the man instead of Amy, slightly easing her conscience.
Aside from that, the episodes also have Curtis summoning the vets that are not currently in Russo’s pocket, and asking for help in tracking down the man, reminding them what Russo is capable of and why he needs to be brought down, which they all agree to help with. John Pilgrim is ordered to make contact with his old associates in New York for help in tracking down Castle and Amy, which makes him uncomfortable, but he still follows orders and eventually learns that he was right, and it was not a good idea. Apparently, he used to be an enforcer of some sort for their gang, and he disappeared while delivering money for them years ago, and they all either thought him dead or in prison somewhere. But now that he is back, they do not care that is a “born again” religious man, they feel he needs to pay for abandoning them and taking their money, and they are ready to beat that payment out of him, a fight which the show cuts away from, clearly waiting till episode 10 to reveal.
Lastly, Russo continues to wrestle with the Frank revelation with Dumont as the show tries to build empathy for the man, but I cannot help but feel like the only reason we MIGHT feel sorry for him is because he does not remember what happened. In the end, though, he is still the same murdering psychopath, so he should not really get any sympathy. Which is also why it is still baffling why Dumont is still helping him, and why she seems to truly love him. I keep waiting for her to show her true colors, but this seems to be it, proving she really is a very disappointing character.
As we approach the final batch of episodes, I cannot help but feel that while Season 2 has been very entertaining, and action-packed with some great character moments so far, it just has not lived up to its predecessor yet, and may have been counting too much on Ben Barnes’ Billy Russo to carry the season, instead of relying on the far more intriguing John Pilgrim. But even in that storyline, which is becoming clearer by the moment, it does seem a little bit disappointing that the whole thing seems to be about a religious couple who happen to be in charge of a conservative church, trying to protect their son’s political career by hiding the fact that he is gay. Not entirely sure that is the best motivation for the mass murders going on here, but we’ll see what happens.
See you back here soon for more reviews!