As I type this, there’s no word whether or not Netflix will follow the pattern established last summer of canceling all of their various Marvel-related series with The Punisher.
But season two is out now, so let’s see how that turned out.
Frank Castle starts his new season drifting from place to place, stopping in bars, meeting new people, and basically trying to move on after the events of season one where he learned his longtime friend Billy Russo was partially responsible for the deaths of Frank’s wife and kids. But this is a superhero universe and Frank is a superhero–sort of–so trouble soon finds him in the form of a teenage runaway fleeing for her life from some very scary people, most notably religious fanatic hitman Pilgrim.
And then, back in New York, Billy Russo wakes up an amnesiac with a scarred face. Though held in custody due to actions he can’t remember, he soon escapes and Homeland Security Agent Dinah Madani calls Frank back to the city.
Season one showed Frank and the series itself dealing with the effects of violence on people, and this Castle was as likely to try and prevent violence as gun down criminals. Heck, he was more likely to work to prevent violence than gun down criminals, and that more or less holds true with season two. Frank has a code, and he doesn’t want to see innocent people get hurt.
That said, this show does violence extremely well. The fight sequences, particularly those featuring Frank, Billy, or Pilgrim, are top notch, and among Marvel’s Netflix shows, The Punisher is second to maybe Daredevil in terms of fight choreography. Additionally, Jon Bernthal’s portrayal of Frank often features dialogue shouted more like an animalistic roar than anything else. It would be almost funny coming from a lesser actor, but Bernthal gives his Castle a human side the comic version doesn’t always possess. He’s a friend to the deserving allies he has and a father figure to the lost, and even able to show mercy to those who earn it.
On the other hand, the season does have a villain problem in that there are two that compete for screen time. Billy, now longtime Punisher foe Jigsaw, and Pilgrim don’t join forces and belong in two separate stories. Had the show divided the season roughly in two, handling Jigsaw and Pilgrim separately rather than at the same time, I think it would have turned out a lot better. But it wouldn’t be a Marvel Netflix series without a pacing issue, and some of these plot issues seem to have more about filling in 13 episodes than anything else.
Basically, season two is a pulpy sort of fun with Frank Castle, wearing the skull shirt more, arguably becoming much more of the Punisher character longtime fans have come to recognize than he was before. If this is the last season for the series, it goes out on a final scene that really is the Punisher, and that should be good enough for fans. 8 out of 10 rundown junkyard trailers.
Oh, and while I shouldn’t be too surprised, Russo’s Jigsaw scars weren’t that bad. He had them, but he was still clearly the same guy. Why he got so much mockery for them from various supporting characters I don’t know.