The Punisher S2 = Wow
It’s 4:30am. It’s night shift rotation, but my night off, so I’m trying to stay up late.
I’ve just finished #ThePunisherS2 and holy fucksticks, what a ride. Bernthal and Barnes don’t disappoint, bringing the same raw, balls to the wall portrayals that made S1 so gripping.
There will be some #SPOILERS in the following inane, post-4am ramblings, so that is the warning to those who haven’t seen it.
S1 saw Frank robbed of his family and his memories, struggling to uncover why he’d lost everything and at whose command. Now Billy gets to know exactly how Frank felt. The irony is that Frank ‘wanted’ Billy to live with the ugliness of his soul laid bare, to know the truth every time he looked in a mirror. But in typical Frank fashion, he left Russo so brutalized he had nothing left but pain and fear, and no recollection as to why he was feeling it.
Which, in it’s own way, is also kind of deserving after everything Billy did.
Meanwhile, Frank, or Peter as he ‘supposed’ to be known, legit tried to start over. He even found a woman. For all of one night, granted, but hey, he was straight up with her. But of course, he can’t leave well enough alone. Just add one vulnerable young girl being hunted by assholes and BAM, back in the life.
Just like riding a bicycle.
As the unlikely pair try to find out who is trying to kill her and why, Madani taps Frank to return to NY and play ‘find the guy that screwed me then shot me’. The new and slightly alarming version of ‘hide and seek’. I did appreciate, however, that now our anti-hero is torn between a past that hasn’t died, and the future of a girl that in all probability reminds him of his own daughter.
OH. Speaking of… the scene with Frank trying to relay how old his daughter would be if she were still alive… wow. The emotion. The anguish. Jon Bernthal reaches into your chest with that performance and crushes the feels better than he could with a crowbar or a gun.
There were just some incredible episodes in a stellar season, made great by the performances of all the cast. It was never effects or CGI; it was savage emotional displays that drew you in.
Billy… Where do I even start with Billy and Ben Barnes’ performance. Once a character motivated by greed, Russo is now tormented, broken. Everything Castle wanted him to live with after their last epic encounter is gone, replaced only by fear and the impotent rage that comes from feeling helpless. With no understanding of how he came to be like this, he has to rebuild himself in the reactions of those around him, those he only remembers as being friends or brothers. It’s… disarming to think about, to imagine having wronged so many people you thought you cared for and not knowing why, and that you have to find yourself in the shattered image ‘they’ have of you, from brother, to traitor.
Ignorant as to how he came to have his scars, the episode where it’s revealed to him is soul crushing to Billy. It’s a bittersweet homage to S1 when Frank had to discover that his brother in arms, one he’d welcomed into his family, was the one to betray him and decimate that family. Now Russo is given the same shattering blow, oblivious to everything he did to deserve Frank’s hatred and his scars. He knows only that one of the people he thought loved him is ready to destroy him, and it’s gut wrenching to watch that emotional agony come out via Barnes.
All in all, well worth staying up to 4am to watch it all through. If you’re on the fence about watching the seasons, jump off it and do it.