The Punisher – Season 2

You can always burn the place down, if it makes you feel better

Amy Bendix – Season 2: Episode 6 “Nakazat”

I really enjoyed the first season, but the second is just too long and there are too many people involved.  Too many characters, too many writers and too many directors.

Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the incredibly tight Peaky Blinders I just finished watching. Only six episodes a season, with just one writer and one director for all six. Compared to this meandering tale of thirteen episodes written by eight separate people, told by ELEVEN directors managing seven main characters. I didn’t hate it, but it was just too long and had too many characters I didn’t care about.

Watch out for spoilers below.

So, the rest of the article is going to seem like I’m just loading a pile of hate onto this season. I didn’t hate it, it was just so infested with nits that most of the enjoyment got sucked out.

I’m going to start off with the good. Giorgia Whigham as Amy Bendix was great. She’s really the only character the entire season who has an actual arc and Giorgia does a great job with her.

As in the first season Jon Bernthal keeps his character consistent. Frank Castle doesn’t make long speeches, or engage in protracted discussions with the bad guys, he either shoots them, or hits them. He makes The Punisher a real person who I enjoyed watching, more than I enjoyed reading in the comics.

Something that stuck out to me, which may not have for other people, was the similarities between characters in season two and characters from OTHER comic books and movies. Josh Stewart’s sad eyed assassin reminded me WAY too much of Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men. Curtis Hoyle is basically Sam Wilson without the bird suit and Ben Barnes and Floriana Lima as crazy patient and crazy psychiatrist is a complete rip off of the Joker and Harleen Quinzel relationship.

This the face you picture for someone nicknamed “Jigsaw”? Me neither.

Speaking of Ben Barnes, I didn’t need them to bring back Billy Russo right away. Especially given how chaotically his character was written here. He was all over the place with motivations, personality and behavior changing from one episode to the next. Also, his character just doesn’t interest me. Killgore was truly menacing on Jessica Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio made Kingpin a compelling character in Daredevil, and Mahershala Ali was just plain fun to watch as Cottonmouth, but Billy Russo “Jigsaw” held no interest for me. None, and it didn’t help that they couldn’t seem to make up their mind about him. Is he crazy, is he just an asshat, does he want vengeance, is he trying to build a new criminal empire? I lost track of what his motivation was supposed to be.

Another mess is the story, or stories I should say. They took two completely separate storylines and tried to weave them together over 13 episodes. All they succeeded in doing was to have Frank pingpong between bad guys over the course of the season. I think I would have preferred them doing one story at a time.

The main baddies for the season and they are on screen for like five minutes and die at the end? Seriously?

The worst though, the absolute worst is the whole blackmail story. Frank is trying to protect Amy from an assassin who is trying to kill her and recover photos. What I hate most isn’t that we know NOTHING about the man at the centre of the blackmail plot, or that his parents (the people who are really behind all this murder and chaos) only get about 5 minutes screen time. It isn’t that Frank waits until the SIXTH damn episode before developing the film to find out WHY people want to kill Amy, it’s that when they do get to the bottom of it all, they don’t just mail the pictures to every newspaper around. Frank doesn’t care about the blackmail money, and at this point Amy just wants to stay alive. There’s no need for the Punisher to depopulate New York city, just distribute the pictures far and wide. Get rid of the whole reason they are being hunted. They don’t give a flying fig for the senators reputation and once the pictures are in the public, there’s no reason to kill Amy. It’s stupid, the whole plot could have been resolved in the second episode. It’s bad writing.

The good news is that by the time the season is over, Frank Castle is now The Punisher.. He’s gotten to the bottom of the murder of his family, tried to live a normal life only to realize he just likes killing bad guys and is going to make it his new vocation. We can now get on to a better and bigger story for season three.

Except there won’t be a season three. Marvel and Netflix have ended their deal and all the “street level superhero” shows are cancelled. On the plus side, DC is doing some cool things in the TV series department, and I don’t mean the “Arrowverse” I mean Black Lightning and Titans.

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