TV Review: ‘The Punisher: The Whirlwind’ (Season 2, Episode 13)

Well, at long last we come to the finale of ‘The Punisher’ Season 2, titled ‘The Whirlwind,’ which is, quite possibly, the finale of the series given how Netflix has been cancelling all of their Marvel shows of late. The title refers to a biblical passage that says “They who sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind,” which of course is a not-so-subtle metaphor for Frank, as he is the “whirlwind” of the finale, destroying the Schultzs who spent the season sowing discord and violence for anyone standing in the way of their agenda.

The episode, of course, picks up where Episode 12 left off with Russo rushing upstairs to kill Madani for what she did to Dumont. Their battle is brief but very intense. Madani gets three bullets into him before Russo takes her down, his hands around her throat as she loses consciousness, for all intents and purposes being choked to death in the minds of most audience members (including me). Almost miraculously, we later see Madani wake up with Mahoney and EMT’s standing over her, and we learn that her bullets must have mortally wounded Russo as his blood is everywhere, but he did flee the building without killing her. The whole experience seems to have been very cathartic for Madani though, as she finally seems at peace with her Russo issues.

Sadly for Billy, he has no one left to turn to after having sent his gang away last episode. So, bag of money in hand, he finds a back alley doctor to remove the bullets and sew him up, demanding the work be done with him conscious as he does not trust the doctor. Of course, the pain is too much and Russo passes out. The doctor steals his money and throws Russo’s body in the dumpster outside where Russo wakes up later, without his money and without any more options.

Frank calls the Schultzes and demands a trade, their son David for Amy, who he thinks Pilgrim has abducted, and though they threaten to kill everyone he has ever met, Frank does not give in. Eventually, he finds Pilgrim’s hideout thanks to a phone call from Amy who has tracked Pilgrim on her own. But in the chaos of the ensuing gunfight between Frank and Pilgrim, Amy DOES get taken by Pilgrim, and when Frank returns to the trailer to get David, he discovers the man is gone. It seems David connected with Curtis, who wants out of the whole messy affair and realizes David is an innocent. Curtis took David to Mahoney to get him safely returned home, and in the process Curtis got Mahoney to forgive his previous incident with him earlier this season.

So Frank tricks Pilgrim into meeting him at the trailer with Amy, and while talking realizes the man is also doing all of this for his family, as the Schultzs are basically holding his son hostage. He manages to convince Schultz to let Amy leave, but once he admits David is not there, they brawl, which is a particularly good fight since the trailer is in a junkyard which has a lot of good fodder for weapons. Eventually, Frank grabs a scuba gas tank, whose weight gives him the upper hand, and he beats Pilgrim into submission, but before he delivers the death blow, Pilgrim asks him not to kill his children when he goes after the Schultzs, which makes Frank hesitate.

As for the Schultzs, they are confronted at their home by Amy for their crimes. When Mrs. Schultz tries to grab a knife to kill Amy, Frank steps into the room and shoots the woman in the head, leaving her slouched on the dining room table in front of her horrified husband, her blood pooling in front of him. Frank and Amy then deliver their demands to Mr. Schultz, revealing a recording of his earlier conversation with Frank on the phone which they threaten to take to every newspaper in New York if he does not kill himself with the gun and the one bullet Frank is leaving behind.

Thus satisfied, Frank and Amy leave the mansion, walking outside as we hear the satisfying boom of the gun, and walking past John Pilgrim, who Frank let live, at the mansion to retrieve his children. It’s a nice character moment for Frank as he clearly realized Pilgrim was just the tool of the Schultzs, and Frank understood that the children were the most important thing for the man, similar to Frank.

Russo meanwhile, made his way to the basement where Curtis held his meetings with the vets and calls Curtis, asking his “brother” to be there with him when he died, and when Curtis seemed hesitant, asked him to at least not call the cops. Frank then arrives in the basement, and for a split second, we think Russo and Frank might reconcile before the latter dies, especially since Russo is so pitiable at that moment. But this is still ‘The Punisher,’ and Russo did kill the man’s family in cold blood, so instead Frank just walks up to him, speaks no words, and shoots him two times to finish the job. Later, Curtis, Mahoney, and Madani examine the scene, agree that the official report will just claim Madani shot Russo 5 times instead of three, and leave things at that.

In the epilogue of the season (series?), Frank says goodbye to Amy as he sends her by bus down to a friend in Florida who can help her attain her dream of being a marine treasure hunter or something, the real point of the scene being the two characters saying a very poignant goodbye, which felt earned as their relationship really carried the season. Months later, Madani now works for the CIA and invites Frank to join her as some kind of assassin for hire (we assume), but he turns her down, saying he already has a job. We then cut to two armed gangs arguing in a warehouse, about to brawl, but are interrupted by the arrival of Frank in the full Punisher costume, trenchcoat and all, ready to go to “work.”

Now that we have gotten to the end of the season, I think ‘The Punisher’ Season 2 has suffered from some of the same issues as ‘Daredevil’ Season 2, in that they had a lot of big ideas, but not a lot of coherence to the multiple plot-lines, which is ironic since it was Frank Castle’s introduction in ‘Daredevil’ Season 2 that really distracted from the main story-line of that season (even if it was arguably the most enjoyable part of that season). Personally, I do not think they went far enough with Billy Russo turning into Jigsaw, and tried too hard to make him a sympathetic character, instead of the true threat he should have been as The Punisher’s arch-nemesis. The closest they came was when he set the trap for Frank and had him believe he killed those women, but that was about it. Not to mention that they just did not do enough with Billy’s facial scars, almost as though they were afraid to mess up Ben Barnes’s “pretty” face, which really takes away from the whole idea of who Jigsaw is in the comics, and why he holds such a grudge against Frank. Regardless, it seems like the far more compelling villain was John Pilgrim, and the better story-line was Amy and the Schultzs. It seems like the writers and the show-runner just did not have enough faith in that story-line, which is why they kept side-lining it, keeping Amy hidden in that trailer for whole episodes at a time, while the ruthless and highly skilled Pilgrim just wandered around New York, looking ineffectual and incompetent.

Despite all that, the amazing visceral action was still there, the show held no punches, and Jon Bernthal is still amazing at playing Frank Castle. I also highly enjoy Amber Rose Revah as Dinah Madani, I mean, in general, the whole cast is great, and the show is still arguably among the top three best Netflix/ Marvel series. I do genuinely hope this is not the last we will see of Bernthal and company in these roles, as there are still so many more stories to tell, but if this is the end for ‘The Punisher,’ at least he went out with a bang, and the final shot was him as a fully realized version of the character.

So that’s it for ‘The Punisher’ Season 2! See you back here later this year for what might be our final Netflix/ Marvel reviews when ‘Jessica Jones’ Season 3 premieres!