Frank Castle returns in all his grim and violent splendor
To fans of the Marvel Netflix shows, it came as a big surprise when Netflix announced that they would be cancelling Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Daredevil, due to a massive decrease in viewership last year, according to Screen Rant. Many thought Marvel Netflix originals were coming to an end, which is why it was unexpected to most when Netflix released the second season of Punisher on Jan. 18. With this new addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, viewers are presented with 13 more episodes delving into the war-torn psyche of Frank Castle.
For those who need a refresher, Frank Castle, or “The Punisher,” is a former marine, as well as a member of the Cerberus Squad, a covert special operations task force created by William Rawlins, director of covert operations in the CIA, as part of a plan to smuggle heroin from Kandahar to the United States. Due to problems with Rawlins’s leadership, Castle decided to take his leave and return to his family, only to lose them in a shooting orchestrated by Rawlins in order to prevent Castle from finding out the truth about his smuggling operation. Wanting nothing more then revenge, Castle takes on the mantle of a violent and ruthless vigilante in order to achieve it.
The season starts with the meeting of a new protagonist, Amy Bendix, a cunning grifter who’s caught in a fight that’s completely out of her depth, presenting Castle with a new conflict that demands his brand of violent justice.
Their paths cross with a hitman named John Pilgrim, an ex neo-nazi turned devout Christian who takes orders from powerful people, a nod to one of the Punisher MAX comics’ antagonists, The Mennonite, who was also a religious hitman hired to hunt Castle. His pursuit of the jarhead and Amy leads him to New York, where, just like in The Mennonite, he is subjected to all sorts of temptation, which ultimately leads to his downfall.
And, of course, we see the return of Billy Russo, struggling with amnesia and psychosis following his traumatic disfigurement at the end of season one. In this season, he takes on his colder, darker “Jigsaw” persona from the comics to continue to taunt and toy with Castle.
As far as comparing it to the previous season, there were some major improvements. Firstly, there was the camerawork. In the first season, what bothered a lot of viewers was that there were awkwardly long 30 to 45 second bust shots of certain characters giving their lines in a monologue without anything interesting happening in the background. In the second season, they seemed to have learned from their mistakes and varied the shots during those long monologues. Secondly, there were major improvements in the story as a whole. The first season can be boiled down to a continuation of Castle’s origin story, where he realizes that his mission is not yet complete and goes back to work with the help of Micro, a former NSA agent who shares enemies with our favourite vigilante. However, the second season plays on the aftermath of said mission: what does Castle do now that he got his revenge? Does he move on to live a normal life? Is that even possible for a man like him, so psychologically entrenched in war and violence? This entire season rests upon the fact that there is no Punisher-free life in his future, and he learns to accept it.
Overall, the second season was a successful redemption from the first, giving as much depth to Castle’s character as the villains’, making it a much more interesting tale. Even though it’s a Netflix Original that doesn’t have to stick to the canon story, they made references to both the movie and the comics that definitely did not go unnoticed, making the show richer as a whole.
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