In just a few short days, Netflix will be releasing the second season of its ultra-violent action thriller series The Punisher to the world.
Fans everywhere have been eagerly anticipating the return of Frank Castle and all the baggage that comes with him, and this second season promises more of the greatness that was the definitive live action Punisher. A perfect show that allowed fans to take what they wanted from it. You wanted a blood fuelled revenge plot? You got it. Heavy political intrigue? Knock yourself out. A study of how PTSD affects veterans in different ways? In massive spades. But most of all, it was a near-perfect incarnation of one of the darkest characters Marvel has created.
In that vein, let us take a look at Frank’s five best moments. At least up until now.
Be warned, there be spoilers ahead…
5 – Scared Straight? (S1, E8)
Having found himself a surrogate family with Micro’s (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) estranged wife Sarah and his children, Frank gets a shot at being a dad again to his partner’s young daughter Leo and his struggling son Zach.
When Zach starts carrying around a Marine combat knife to scare the kids that are bullying him, Sarah calls in Frank – who’s still playing the role of Pete Castilioni – to help. Frank goes into full dad mode, trying to talk a little sense into the kid the only way he knows how: by scaring the boy shitless.
But Zach doesn’t react how he, or we, expect. Instead of crying or screaming in fear, Zach dares Frank to hurt him, begs him to do it. Both Zack and Frank break down into a shared father and son moment while Micro looks on from afar. A teachable moment for both the boy and The Punisher.
4 – An Eye for an Eye (S1, E12)
The first of a couple of “just desserts” moments on this list.
Season One’s penultimate episode sees Frank doing the impossible. He’s orchestrated the rescue of Micro’s kidnapped wife and son, reuniting a family that had collapsed more than a year prior. But it came at a price. That price, was Frank.
Now captured by William “Agent Orange” Rawlins (Paul Schulze) and being tortured to near death by friend-turned-enemy Billy Russo (Ben Barnes), things seem to be coming to an end for The Punisher.
But a twist of fate and a plan to get everything on tape gets Frank Castle an opportunity to plunge a hidden blade into Rawlins’ heart; and thus begins one of the most brutal moments in the first season of the comic-book show. Agent Orange beats Castle within an inch of his life, refusing Russo’s request to let him kill the vigilante and instantly regretting it as Castle plays possum and takes control of the beatdown.
Plunging a knife into the rogue spook, over and over again, and unloading a flurry of punches onto the man’s now crumbling face, Punishment is slow and painful for Rawlins as Castle slowly pushes two thumbs as deep into Orange’s eye sockets as he can, sealing his fate.
3 – One Man Army (S1, E10)
There are certain things that fans look forward to with a show like this. One of those is the perfectly choreographed action set pieces that The Punisher deserves; and viewers were not disappointed.
Having cleared out his and Micro’s home-base, The Punisher has booby trapped the place and armed himself to the teeth ready for a war. Russo’s black ops contractors come (heavily armed) looking for Frank, and they most certainly get the worst – read: the best – of him.
Action fans get a bit of everything in this scene too. Starting with a stealthy kill or two from the shadows, The Punisher lets his presence be known in the bloodiest of ways as he sends a decapitated Anvil employee’s head rolling into a crowd of soldiers with a grenade firmly inserted into it! Precision is the name of Frank’s game as he surgically takes out an entire squad with the weapons he’s hidden around the base. Finally interrogating the last of the soldiers after brutally slicing the muscles in the backs of his legs to stop him running away.
Nasty, brutal, outstanding.
2 – One Batch, Two Batch (Daredevil – S2, E4)
The first time we get to see the human side of this particular incarnation of Frank Castle.
Everyone knows the story of The Punisher; the man who lost his family and blames every bad guy he comes across for it. But having already given John Bernthal’s Castle something to make him standout among the field of on-screen Frank Castles; the “One batch, two batch. Penny and dime” catchphrase; we are treated to the heartbreaking origins of the saying.
As Frank explains to Daredevil (Charlie Cox) how he struggled to cope in the civilian world, he tells the tale of his daughter’s favourite story – the fictional “One Batch, Two Batch” – and how she begged him to read it to her. He recalls the last time he told her “maybe tomorrow” as she went to bed and how for all but Frank, tomorrow never came. The story of a man that can’t forgive himself for not only not being able to save his family, but not being there as a dad when he should have been is as harrowing as it is soul crushing.
1 – I Want to Play a Game (S1, E13)
The very second Billy Russo came on screen in the first season’s second episode, The Punisher fans all knew what was coming. We knew who he was and who he would eventually become. Twelve episodes of “Billy the Beaut” later and fans were treated to one of the most spectacular bad guy origins put to screen.
As the season comes to an end, the merry-go-round where Frank’s hell began would serve to do the same for Russo. But even those of us who knew who Billy was, and knew his origins, couldn’t prepare ourselves for what was to come.
As the pair’s overly-macho, assault rifle-flavoured duel comes to an end on the spinning fairground ride, Billy Russo – with a bullet hole in his preciously beautiful face – and Frank face off hand-to-hand. Every second that passes the insanity is turned up. A gun fight becomes a knife fight, a knife fight becomes a fist fight and the beginning of the end is the large shard of glass in Russo’s stomach. The Punisher outdoes himself with Billy’s sentence and repeatedly smashes his face into the decorative mirror at the centre of the ride, following up by scraping the right side of the former special ops soldier’s face down the pane of shattered glass to the musical accompaniment of Russo’s blood-curdling screams of agony.
Just when you think you’ve had enough, the creation of Jigsaw – The Punisher’s biggest and most notorious arch-enemy – is completed as Russo is thrown, face first, into the broken glass over and over again as Frank promises to redefine Billy’s idea of pain.
The Punisher hits its nastiest and, simultaneously, its most satisfying moment with Jigsaw’s inception. And it promises a quest for revenge from Billy in this week’s second season that should leave fans excited and maybe a little scared for what’s coming.
What are your favourite moments from The Punisher S1? Let us know!