Previously on The Punisher, “Two Dead Men”
Frank skips the subtlety while interrogating Micro/David Lieberman (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). Brutal memories of top-secret missions shed light on Frank’s past. – Netflix
29 Days and Counting
Frank reflects on his time in Kandahar as part of a top-secret mission, Operation Cerberus. He and Billy Russo (Ben Barnes) discuss their plans when they get home; Frank is going to see the Boss with his wife and Russo is planning to run through his harem. They are both part of an interrogation which leads to the death of an Afghani police officer on the recording Micro received. Days closer to the end of their tour, they are called to lead a night-ops mission to subdue a target. Frank is hesitant, he detects and ambush but he is instructed by Agent Orange to do as he is told. The resulting attack ends in a blood bath and substantial loss of life. An attack that leads Frank to the point of no return as he is led by anger and goes on his own one man killing spree during the melee. In the end, Agent Orange only cares if the target was killed, this results in a well-placed right-hook from Frank. Russo had tapped out, and asked for a transfer and encouraged Frank to do the same.
Who is the real hostage?
Micro is just trying to clear his name and all he gets for his trouble is to be bound and gagged to a chair while naked in his own bunker. Frank wants to know who sent him? What does he want? He used his background in interrogation to get answers from a man who would have willingly given them clothed and unbound. Micro’s real name is David Lieberman, he was an analyst for the NSA. His job was to sift through to find viable leads and report to the NSA. He hated it, until he actually received something noteworthy, a recording of an Afghani -man being tortured and murdered, by US military. He wanted to dig deeper and his wife suggested he pass the recording onto someone with more clout. He passed the video on to someone else, days later he is hunted down by a group of Federal Agents lead by Agent Wolf (Thomas C Howell) who shot and presumably killed Micro. Micro goes into hiding and in his death, he is labeled a traitor by his own government and the life of his family made hell. He sought Frank out because he needs to find out who set him up, but after Frank revealed his trials in Kandahar, he realized Frank needed his help too.
Curtis and Russo
Russo does have a heart, and he is responsible for keeping Curtis’ (Jason R. Moore) program afloat. They both handled their return to civilian life in very different ways. Curtis has 9-5 selling insurance and offers his free time as a group counselor for vets. Russo is still knee deep in the military even if he is no longer enlisted. He runs a private military contracting agency called ANVIL and occasionally gets talent from Curtis’ group. They both knew Frank and honor him at his grave marker on the anniversary of his death. Russo has too many questions about Frank for my liking and almost trips-up Curtis when they lament about events in Kandahar and how they affected Frank and Russo.
A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing
After receipt of the autopsy report Madani(Amber Rose Revah) and Sam(Michael Nathanson) determine that Wolf’s death was not an accident but a murder and something done by a professional who left no trace. Even though Madani wouldn’t rank Wolf as her favorite person she didn’t wish him dead. As they dig deeper into Wolf’s affairs they discover he had sever offshore accounts in the millions of dollars. What would a Federal agent being doing with offshore accounts let alone those totaling millions?
Madani and Sam Plan a Delicate Operation, Curtis tries to connect with Lewis and Frank encourages Micro to get his hands Dirty. – Netflix
Lewis Walcott (Daniel Warner) is one of the Vets who’s part of Curtis’ group. He has severe PTSD and pulled a weapon on and shot at his father. This leads him to dig a foxhole in his backyard where he currently lives and sleeps. He feels at peace out there. At the behest of Lewis’ father Curtis tries to talk Lewis into returning to group. He is unsuccessful and Lewis has decided to join ANVIL so he can return to Afghanistan. Russo does an excellent job with a ra-ra speech for his new recruits and uses their desire for a sense of belonging and purpose to convince them that working for ANVIL will provide more purpose than living and working as a vet in the US. Curtis uses his influence with Russo to convince him to let Lewis go because he is not the man you want on your six. Russo concedes and Lewis immediately places the blame on Curtis.
The Odd Couple and Mustang Madani
Micro and Frank are…bonding, over family, music and illegal guns being imported by the Greeks and sold to undercover Federal agents. Frank apparently needs weapons…lots of them, an entire box truck of them. Frank gives Micro a speech about dogs and cats and kids and teaching a dog how to fish or something. Basically, he told Micro he needs to quit being passive and start taking action if they are both going to get what they want.
When not digging into Wolf’s past, Dinah Madani is working her way up the ranks of the Department of Homeland Security. She and Sam are leading the team to purchase the guns from the Greeks. The same Greeks Frank and Micro have their sights set to rob that evening. Micro and Frank successfully steal the truck o’ weapons which leads Madani to hop in her late-model Mustang and give chase. She almost lost her life during the chase when she collides with the box truck driven by Micro. Not entirely without empathy Frank pulls her body from the truck and as she eases in and out of consciousness he confirms his identity as Frank Castle and that he did kill Agent Wolf because he was dirty. Ballsy or arrogant, I’m not sure Frank even knows.
After “Pete’s” run-in at the Liebermans, Frank finds himself in a position to keep his reluctant partner’s family very close, like home repairs, making Sunday dinner and Zoe possibly asking him to be her new daddy close. Micro has the entire house under surveillance and he creepily watches each visit. In the end these visits give him real insight on how his family is managing since he’s been presumed dead.
Frank and Micro go looking for answers from a reluctant witness. Madani and Sam learn of a looming Investigation. Rawlins (Agent Orange) sees a ghost.- Netflix
A Persistent Fool
Agent Madani is someone I can empathize with to a certain extent, I prefer to do things on my own terms and independently but I know when to seek help. Madani spends this episode spilling secrets about suspects in crowded hallways and elevators, tells her partner about Frank before they are interrogated, I mean interviewed by the OIG and starts digging into Operation Cerberus. He has a terrible poker face a looked like he was going puke the entire time. She puts herself and Sam at risk. Sleeping with Prince Caspian, okay I’ll give her a break in sleeping with Russo. Did she need an ally in this? Yes. Is she messing up? Maybe.
Agent Bill Rawlins (Paul Schulze) is alive and well and leading the charge at the CIA as a Agent One-Eyed bastard. The sight of him made me ill. He is revered by his peers and even awarded for his service and dedication, an award he cannot keep because well, you know CIA, top-secret, his wife probably thinks he is dog-groomer. He is in line to be promoted to Deputy Director, but the current director wants assurance he doesn’t have any skeletons in the closet. He proceeds to make sure he doesn’t by sending out a team to kill Gunner, who as far as he knows is his last skeleton. During the sweep he finds out Frank is alive and has found Gunner as well. Orange sent out a covert mission to kill Gunner and succeeds but not without losing 8 men in the process. 8 lives for 1 in order to save his career. I am left more disgusted than episode 3.
This trio of episodes were rough, but peppered in some light humor and banter between Frank and Micro. The brutality displayed by Frank during the night fight in Kandahar is unreal. It was as if he was outside of himself for those moments kill after kill, bullet after bullet. And when he returned to himself he was filled with even more rage. Puking blood into a bucket after you watch your commander bleed out on the battlefield had to be more than he could take. So close to returning home to his wife and children and a chance at normalcy. He was forever changed. The episodes showed glimpses into the emotional fallout from Operation Cerberus from the lives of Russo, Gunner and Frank. Three men with 3 different types of trauma.
5 episodes in and I am left with several questions and some speculation:
- When is Madani going to spill the beans to Russo about seeing Frank Castle? She seems like she has loose lips and is going to tell Prince Caspian sooner than later.
- Why does Marvel insist on writing its female law enforcement characters in a way that makes them unlikeable?
- When is Lewis going to try and kill Curtis? Curtis has been the focus of his ire and he feels personally attacked by him. I don’t think Curtis lives to the end of the show I definitely see it at the hands of Lewis, even if accidently.
- Do we have to see Karen Page again? Please say, no.
- When is Frank going to find out that ANVIL is responsible for the death of his family?
I’m hesitant to say it but so far this is the best Netflix Marvel series to date. But time and again these Marvel shows shit the bed after episode 7, then pick back up at 11, I am really hoping this show breaks that formula.
Not a binger? No problem. ProFans Ejiro and Kituria will be reviewing the first season of Punisher a few episodes at a time each week.
The Punisher S1E3-S1E5 Review Score
The Punisher | Starring: Jon Bernthal, Amber Rose Revah, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ben Barnes, Jaime Ray Newman, Jason R. Moore, Deborah Ann Woll, Shohreh Aghdashloo