Punisher Season 2
***WARNING: This review contains moderate expository spoilers!***
A bloodied Frank Castle is shown erratically and urgently driving a van with a panicky girl (Amy/Rachel) in the passenger seat. They are being chased by one vehicle when another cuts them off from a cross-street. Three armed figures step out, demanding Frank and his passenger get out. He answers by spraying them with an SMG, guns the van in reverse, smashing into the car that was tailing them. Roll the title sequence.
Reverse-wind to an earlier point with Castle settling into a new life on-the-go, a life afforded to him by the government that, in the same breath, pardoned and disavowed him. Of course, trying to find some peace in his life will (ultimately) fail spectacularly, which it does when he steps in to stop some bad guys from doing bad things. This cascades into dire, unforeseen repercussions, which the audience would have no other way. These aforementioned bad guys employ a particularly effective enforcer named John Pilgrim, whose personal story greatly adds to the drama brought on by the already incredible ensemble cast.
A major part of this season revolves around Dinah Madani, Billy Russo, and his rehabilitation psychiatrist, Dr. Krista Dumont. Billy not only survived his final encounter with Frank (as did Madani with Russo), but he becomes mobile again, seemingly only to permanently suffer from long-term memory loss (which makes him quite volitile/unstable). The remainder of the season beautifully and bloodily unfolds what happens when all of these hyper-kinetic worlds collide.
In Frank Castle’s case, it was apparent that building upon the foundation of what they created with season one was a rather joyful and easy task for showrunner Steve Lightfoot. The real challenge lay in setting up the rest of the major players and making the viewer care about them (including Detective Brett Mahoney and Castle’s war-buddy, Curtis Hoyle). The only exception to this was Amy/Rachel’s continuous, mind-bogglingly stupid resistance to accepting Frank’s help. I understand that she’s a tough, mouthy kid, and Frank is a big scary man, but she had just witnessed multiple deaths; dead people that were trying to kill HER, mind. In trying to manufacture tension between Frank and Amy/Rachel, it just made her look insanely ungrateful and incredibly stupid.
On the whole, season two felt like it had more moving parts than the previous, but as the episodes progressed, I was delighted to see that they consistently, and seamlessly, fit. There was no point in this season where I felt restless because the show had reached a plateau, and if it wasn’t for Vincent D’onofrio’s stellar portrayal of Wilson Fisk in season three of Daredevil, I would have placed this season as the crowning achievement in Marvel’s Defenders offerings on Netflix.
Incredible performances and fantastic plot choices kept me on the edge of my seat until the end. Hopefully, the Defenders will be reborn on Hulu.
Punisher Season 2
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Acting - 10/1010/10
Music - 10/1010/10
Production - 10/1010/10
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