Marvel's The Punisher Season 1, Episode 1-3 Recap: When Castle Met Micro

This articles absolutely contains spoilers for Marvel's The Punisher Season 1 episodes – 3 AM, Two Dead Men and Kandahar

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Punisher

I'm three episodes into the new Marvel's The Punisher series and it's a good stopping point to talk about the show so far. I was a bit surprised by the opening. It starts off with Frank being Frank and taking out some bad people in violent ways. Exactly what you'd expect. And then it stops. It does this because Frank is done. There are no more people tied to the death of his family. Now, he's a man with nothing to live for and no focus for his rage. He tries to bury himself in routine. Gets a job doing construction… or rather destruction as he sledgehammers walls all day and night. He avoids his fellow workers and pounds until his hands blister and burst. He talks to one friend form the service, an ex-corpsman named Curtis Hoyle who knows he's still alive. Otherwise everyone thinks Frank Castle is dead. We also meet a female agent named Dinah Madani who is home from the Middle East because she pushed too hard on a case and is being buried in a New York office.

Frank is content in living his mudane life until his co-workers get in trouble with the Gnucci family (a mob family from the comics) and Frank has to step in to help the on kid on the crew that seems redeemable. Frank saves the kid, takes out his idiot co-workers that started the problem and the mobsters who would be going after the kid… and ends up back on the radar of Micro who we last saw reference to at the end of Marvel's Daredevil season 2. That was pretty much a set up to introduce all the players including a surprise appearance by C. Thomas Howell as Carson Wolf, Madani's boss and tied to the group that ordered Castle's family killed. It was more than them getting caught up in a mob war, they were targeted to take out Frank because of what he did and saw in Kandahar. Evidence of that is what Micro had on the disc he left Frank in Daredevil.

Madani, who is still trying to work the case that got her sent home, is looking into a group called Anvil and their higher up Billy Russo who server with Frank Castle in Operation Cerebus. All of this dovetails together. We learn that Micro, aka David Leiberman, was 'killed' by Agent Wolf after he tried to released the information he got as an NSA Analyst. Frank finds this with the help of Karen Page, another person who knew Frank was still alive. Russo, Franks best friend, did not and because we know his comic history… that's probably for the best for now. You have multiple story lines going on with Russo chatting up Madani and talking to Curtis who talks to Frank and has his own group of Vets he's trying to help out with Russo's money. One of the vets seems to be extremely on the edge of doing something bad. Page's information leads Frank to Wolf who he ends up questioning in a fun way and then killing, freeing up Madani to take temporary control of the office and for her to pursue the case of the cop that was killed… by Castle in Kandahar as part of Operation: Cerebus.

All of this lead to a fun little dance between Frank and Micro, two extremely paranoid loners trying to find a way to trust each other so they can go after a common enemy.

Three episodes in and this is one of the best Marvel/Netflix series yet. On part with Daredevil season one and Jessica Jones. Jon Bernthal is more than just a psychotic killer. You feel his angst and we get to see the point of no return. What happened to him that flipped the switch from Frank Castle to the Punisher and the men responsible for flipping that switch. This could've been a series that glorified war, guns, etc… and I think a lot of people expected that. But it's not. The only thing it glorifies is the sacrifice that soldiers make. It shines a bright spotlight on the trauma they suffer and how difficult it is to return to a normal life after the rigors of war.

It is violent, but it's violence with consequences. This isn't John Wick where you have a tortured sole who thrived in a rather fun world of tailored suits, fine wine and big guns. This is dark, gritty and unapologetic. Frank served his country and expected to go home and start his second life only to have that taken away from him. They've taken the character that was introduced so well in Daredevil and improved on him, given him far more depth… friends, honor, a life. And they took all that away from him and turned him into a giant missile. And now, after three episodes and the introduction of Micro… that missile now has a guidance system.

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.

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