Recap: Marvel’s The Punisher, Season 2, Episodes 1-7

Ever since he first appeared during the second season of Daredevil, former Marine Frank Castle has been delivering his own brand of justice, which may be direct but also very violent. It’s sparked a lot of discussion over whether he is a hero or not.

As far as he’s concerned, he’s just trying to leave his violent past behind after bringing former fellow soldier Billy Russo to justice for his role in Project Cerebus (including drug -running and killing an Afghani police officer) and getting a pardon which was part of the CIA trying to sweep it under the rug. However, two events will upset those plans: Russo escaping and putting his shrink under his thrall, and a young girl with photos many people will stop at nothing to recover.

SPOILERS BELOW

SPOILERS BELOW

The girl above calls herself many names, but her real name is Amy (Giorgia Whigham). Her dilemma is one of the two main subplots of the season. She’s on the run from a persistent and religious hit man named Pilgrim (Josh Stewart) because some incriminating film has fallen in her hands but she doesn’t know what it has. All she knows is Pilgrim killed her friends and she’s just trying to keep alive. She and Frank meet at a roadhouse in Michigan, and it leads to a fight that’s as brutal as the title character.

Through the first half, Amy is treated as a prop more than a girl. The show reveals next to nothing about her, and for a while she’s tied to the bed where Frank can make sure she doesn’t go away. Eventually, she is helpful as a potential sidekick. Besides, she is most the same age as Frank’s daughter had she lived. There’s a lot of potential in making Amy an active part of the plot, but it’s not used very much.

The other subplot is the return of Billy Russo as Jigsaw (Ben Barnes). The show uses him much better. It makes the interesting decision of having him forget what he did last season, but also having nightmares about a skull. He’s even put it in a journal. While he’s getting help from a sympathetic shrink named Krista Dumont (Floriana Lima), Homeland Security agent Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah) has been visiting him quite often, thinking he’s faking it. She also won’t forget he shot her in the head, or that she had to go along with the CIA’s “official” explanation over what he did if it meant Castle getting a pardon.

While Russo wears a mask that symbolizes his inner pain, he won’t be wearing it for long, The scars Frank gave him healed a bit too well, and he still has enough of his charm to be convincing. He’s able to manipulate Dumont into letting him escape, and later live with her as her lover. While some fans complained about how terrible Madani was at her job last season, it’s apparently Dumont’s turn. Despite what Russo does, she somehow thinks that he can be healed, a whole person, while she thinks Frank is a monster. Her attitude is explained later in the season.

Getting back to Pilgrim, he is also similar to Frank and Russo because he is also a soldier who serves someone, but also thinks family is important. He has a very sick wife and two young boys he loves very much, and they pulled him out of a very dark past which included as much violence as Frank and Russo. He is very religious, along with his boss, conservative industrialist Anderson Schultz (Corbin Bernsen). Both use their religion to justify their actions, convinced it will lead to a better future. It’s a pity Schultz basically wants to buy America and decide its future, and will stop at nothing to get those photos.

These three men will move the stories forward, but the show has a problem trying to determine which one should take center stage. The season starts with Pilgrim going after Frank and Amy, even shooting up a small-town sheriff’s office with a lot of help. Frank even calls Madani for help after he’s arrested, and she refuses. Russo’s story is in the background until he escapes in the third episode, which changes everything. She rescues Frank and Amy and brings them to New York. Reluctantly, she will admit it’s to deal with Russo.

Madani has a difficult time escaping the past, especially Russo. She still has nightmares about being shot, and shame because he fooled him so well. Also, they had sex together. That also hurts, especially when she’s interviewed about it by the feds after he’s captured.

The two storylines rarely intersect, although Madani does meet Pilgrim at one point but he’s unfazed. He already knows he’ll never be identified. Aside from his past connections in crime, we don’t know much about him either.

It’s eventually revealed the Russians paid for the photos which include Schultz’s son David kissing a man. Schultz thinks his son would never become President if people knew that. A guy named Poloznev had hoped to blackmail the family with the photos, but he’s advised by Frank to leave town. He tries, because Pilgrim kills him

As for Russo, he wastes no time settling scores, but not with Frank. Russo kills an old baseball coach, then gathers several former vets for a robbery at a check-cashing place.

At this point, Curtis Doyle (Jason R. Moore), who counsels Frank, gathers him and Madani to decide what to do next. Frank says he should just be what he meant to be. However, Madani doesn’t like it when he gets too brutal, especially against one of Russo’s men. He says it’s a war, and she disagrees. However, two wars are about to erupt in New York.

When Frank finally confronts Russo at the end of episode seven, Russo sees the skull shirt on Frank. That is enough to remember who attacked him, if not why. That leads to a major shootout.

Meanwhile, Pilgrim is still out there, serving his Lord (namely Anderson Schultz) so he can see his family again. He’s still trying to find Amy and those photos.

This season is mainly about former brothers in arms who are now in a battle that will create a lot of damage. The other war involves someone who thinks he is a righteous soldier, and has to finish a mission to get his family back. The second half will fill in more information about the main characters, but it will still have the problem of trying to choose which subplot is more important.

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Post Author: David Mello

Worked nearly eleven years at a radio station as a board operator, news reader, and assistant producer for baseball broadcasts. Have been a staff writer for Whedonopolis since July 2008