By Dave B.
Frank Castle returns for the second (and likely last) season of The Punisher (Netflix). Season Two finds Castle finally willing to consider opening himself up to the possibility of happiness. But when he spots a girl being hunted by vicious killers, he steps in, throwing his budding prospects for domestic bliss out the window. Thus begins a blood-soaked, emotionally forceful journey that forces Frank to confront both old and new enemies and to come to terms with the reality of who he himself truly is.
The Punisher: Season Two is a masterpiece. Outside of the first 2/3 of the first episode, I loved every second of this season. It’s a symphony of brutality, both physical and emotional. It’s so much better than the first season, it’s as if they’re not even part of the same series. Despite having two primary adversaries, the plot of the second season feels tight. The pacing of the season isn’t always great, but its missteps are few and far between. The soundtrack blew my mind. The perfect song plays in every situation, causing the mood of the show to bury itself within your soul, regardless of if Punisher is dismantling a human into his or her constituent parts or if a “secondary” character is bearing all the scars on their psyche. The fight choreography is unbelievable! And the performances are generally great, with the exception being Jon Berenthal as Castle. He’s merely good, and that’s mostly because this season changes the focus of the show
What makes The Punisher: Season Two amazing is that it takes the focus away from Castle and puts it on everyone around him, which is brilliant and much needed. As a character, Punisher is rather limited because he isn’t supposed to represent a man so much as force of nature. He’s the inevitable result of sin and season two emphasizes that with the introduction of a new villain, John Pilgrim, a devout born-again Christian who is as lethal and as determined to accomplish his God-given mission as Castle is. While this season maintains a lot of the first’s deep consideration to the plight of veterans, it also poses bigger, more existential questions: Who is deserving of love and loyalty? Who is worth saving and redeeming? How can we condemn those who we call upon to dirty their hands so that ours remain clean? Those are the types of questions that a Punisher series should revolve around.
It’s a shame that The Punisher will likely be cancelled after this season because I think that The Punisher: Season Two is the third best season of Marvel/Netflix TV behind the first seasons of "Jessica Jones" and "Daredevil". Pretty much everything about it works. Even it’s flaws (such as the somewhat inconsistent pacing mentioned previously) perfectly reflect the flaws in all of the characters. Perhaps that’s part of why I like it so much: In the other Marvel/Netflix shows, the titular character will be flawed or damaged in some way, but many of the people around them tend to be relatively ok. Not perfect, but often functional. Nobody in this season of The Punisher is remotely ok. They’re all completely broken to their core. And their all someone’s villain and someone else’s hero. Just like in real life. I highly recommend The Punisher: Season Two and I especially want to hear from anyone who thinks the first season is better. I’m interested as to why. To me, season two exemplifies exactly what Punisher is supposed to be.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.