The Punisher, Slow Starting Thriller

by Alicea Alford – Staff Writer

Avenging the murder of his family, Frank Castle (The Punisher), played by Jon Bernthal, uncovers dark truths about his time served in the Marines as part of project Cerberus in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He hunts down those who ran the project with the help of an unlikely friend, David Lieberman (Micro), played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach. All the while, Homeland Security Agent, Dinah Madani, played by Amber Rose Revah, is searching to solve the murder of her partner in Kandahar.

The episodes seemed to drag on. I found myself checking how much time was left in the episode to know how close it was to ending, every episode. The pace of the show was faster than Iron Fist, but even that is not saying much. The thin plot stretched out over 13 episodes may have not been the best decision, there was more down-time than expected from how the audience saw Castle in season 2 of Daredevil. The slow build is worth it in some respects, there show held more focus on the relationships between characters and their interactions than in found in faster-paced non-stop action.

Relationships, romantic or not, seemed to be the focus of the show when murder and government conspiracy was not. One relationship in particular was wildly out of character for Castle. The will-they-wont-they with Micro’s wife, Sarah, and Castle would never be in the picture. Castle would never think of looking at the person his friend is married to. He has a strong sense of honor and the writing of this relationship just seemed off character-wise.

Aesthetically, the show was pretty to watch. The use of color and camera angles created something more interesting to watch when most of the show was just people talking until the last few episodes. The Punisher fits seamlessly into the other Marvel Netflix shows like Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, The Defenders, etc.

Overall, the slow pace was a set-back but once you look past it the show was great. Billy Russo, played by Ben Barnes, was a major highlight. He perfectly captured what Billy Russo is. How the show set-up him becoming Jigsaw, The Punisher’s archenemy, was perfectly heartbreaking. Russo’s looks are the most important thing to him, and when that is taken away by Castle pushing his face into broken mirrors, it leaves Jigsaw-puzzle like scars. The audience saw Russo as a trustworthy friend to Castle and the shift to enemy was handled well.

Given the thin plot stretched out for 13 episodes, The Punisher is meant to be watched for the characters and fight-scene choreography. It leaves an opening for a second season where Jigsaw will presumably be the main antagonist. If you are looking for a fast-paced, non-stop, action superhero show, this is not it. However, if you are interested in a show that has well developed characters and interesting turns, this is it.

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