The highly anticipated first season of Marvel’s Netflix series, The Punisher came out this past Friday and we go into a spoiler review to see if it lived up to its title. Before getting into the review, I will note this review contains spoilers, all the wonderful brutal and punishing spoilers.
The Punisher starts off with a bang with Frank Castle (portrayed by Jon Bernthal) finishing off the remaining targets that were responsible for his family’s death. Audiences are quickly shown the style of brutality and violence The Punisher is bringing to the series. Throughout the 13 episodes of the season we see an evolution of Frank Castle from not trusting anyone and wanting to be alone to accepting that can not do everything on his own and allowing trust in his few remaining allies.
I thought the casting for the characters was done very well, each one of the cast brought top effort into their roles and it showed. We see Ebon Moss-Bachrach as David Lieberman aka Micro, who in the comics was a character who supplied equipment to Frank. Now he does somewhat the same in the show but at a higher level and is a pivotal character in the plot line. He is key in bringing Frank back into his Punisher role by revealing his mission to eliminate all responsible parties in his family’s death is not over. He has gone into hiding after faking his death after revealing to a Homeland Security Agent Dinah Madani (portrayed by Amber Rose Revah) and has reached out to Frank Castle to be an ally to uncover the truth so can return to his family. Deborah Ann Woll returns as Karen Page and after having a large role in the Punisher storyline from Daredevil season 2, she is more of a filler character to help the plot move along at points during some episodes. One of the more action-packed episodes “Virtue of the Vicious” we see the most interaction between her and Frank with him rescuing her from an out of control bomber. The main antagonist for the season is Billy Russo, which comic book fans will recognize the character as Jigsaw. Unfortunately, we do not see him as his full villain type of role as Jigsaw and the show was more of a setup for him where at the end Frank has Russo’s face cut up by dragging it through broken glass. Billy Russo is portrayed by Ben Barnes and he does a great job of acting for this part but felt the show did not do his character enough justice. We find out Russo was part of Frank’s team under the covert CIA operations and was a close friend to him and family after those events. Then near middle of the season it is found out he is part of the group that had Frank’s family killed, and attempted to betray Frank after learning he was still alive. The character who I felt deserved more screen time was Curtis Hoyle played by Jason Moore. It is shown early on that he is one of few that know Frank is still alive and attempts to show Frank the light and that he can live a normal life after the horrific events that happened to him. We see him be pivotal in multiple story lines of the season and each time on screen has an emotional impact to the audience.
A critique I would have to say for the season is I felt it was too long, at best the story line could been made into 8 episodes and felt dragged on with the 13-episode length. The episode “Front Toward Enemy” goes completely off the story line in Frank having to track down a young veteran by the name of Lewis Wilson after he set off bombs at the ATF killing civilians. The episode derails the main story line and barely moved the plot along and seemed as a filler episode to meet the 13 episodes deal they have for the show. The way episodes were dragged on, unfortunately felt like they took away from the brilliant action scenes we were given by Frank Castle and company. When there is action, it is high intense gritty and brutal on both sides. There are no boundaries when comes to Frank Castle and his war upon his enemies. Yet you are left feeling like there could been more and saw this was more due to making a 13-episode season. This lead to unnecessary dialogue between characters. One that I felt was over used was what I called “Hideout Dialogue” between Castle and Micro. There were too many times where they would talk at Micro’s hideout about their families or a repeat of what they each had to go through, or what their plan is to be free and live normally.The show early on showed a great scene when they first met and went head to head in their own ways of capturing each other and figuring out if could trust each other.
The ending of the show does lead off to a possible second season of The Punisher. We see that Russo survived the brutal beating he took from Castle and last see him with bandages wrapped around his face, thus giving audiences and fans a tease of Jigsaw to come in a hopeful second season. Castle is still an “at large criminal” but for his efforts against Russo and Anvil, homeland security changed the narrative of the events with Russo, basically giving Castle, a pass and a chance be free for the moment. Castle takes this opportunity to speak his story with Hoyle with other veterans with the season ending of the words “I’m scared” by Castle.
I would give this season a solid 7/10 rating, I did feel it was better then the last couple Marvel Netflix shows this year (Iron Fist and The Defenders) but wanting more in the end. When there was action it was brilliant and what to expect from Frank Castle. The casting was done well for each character and the viewers could relate and attach to them. I feel if there is a second season it would be wise to cut down on episodes to lower filler time and give audiences more of the action we expect from a Punisher show. With Jigsaw looking like to return soon, would be good to see him and Frank go head to head again.
Written by: Devin Roberts
What did you think of the first season of The Punisher? Do you agree or disagree with my rating? Let us know in the comments below and make sure to follow Geek Motivation (@GEEKMOTIVATION) and myself (@therealdevin17) for more MCU related content and news!