I’m really liking the unpredictability of The Punisher and the other Netflix Marvel shows.

I’m used to cues and tropes showing me where the plot is going. Those are pretty absent from this show. Generally speaking, that’s a sign of a good show. Unlike most plots on TV, Netflix is taking their time and letting this story develop at its own pace.

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Agent Madani is already up and running


Dinah was left bleeding on the asphalt at the end of the last episode, but she’s already out of the hospital and walking around. She’s covered in extreme bruising from the car crash though.

Micro is is working on some electronics and The Punisher is racking his new weapons on the wall as they yell at each other. Micro is concerned that Frank took an unnecessary risk in saving Agent Madani. Frank just wants Micro to shut up. Frank goes to fix David’s wife’s car.

Castle fixes the car while Leo watches. They chat. Leo forces her mother to invite Castle over for dinner, and Frank accepts as Micro watches on the monitors. This is a recipe for disaster. Frank should be trying to extricate himself from this incredibly complicated situation, not digging himself deeper in.



Dinah keeps her knowledge of Castle’s existence close to the vest


Dinah comes into work, mad that someone (she doesn’t name Frank Castle) “killed” her car. It sounds like a joke, but she is dead serious. Dinah’s boss flips between sympathetic and reproving for her reckless behavior.

Back at home, Dinah gets a call from Billy Russo asking her out, and lets it go to voicemail. She pores over some pictures of Castle, and notices Karen Page sitting beside him in court from his trial in the series Daredevil.

David is back at the hideout, as always. He’s watching the video of Ahmad’s death. Frank gets back from Sarah’s house and pauses the video. It’s a sore spot for him. Micro plays it again, and Frank tells him Gunner Henderson was the whistleblower and recorded the video.David suggests that Gunner may now who Agent Orange is.



Agent Orange is still up to no good


At CIA headquarters, a scarred Agent Orange is lecturing recruits in a classroom. His scar is next to his eye, where Frank hit him once after the disastrous ambush in last episode’s flashback. He tells them some pseudo-inspirational nonsense about the ends justifying the means, and all the horrible things they will do as CIA agents. Not a great speech, in my opinion, but he’s a creepy dude. He ends by saying, “My name is WIlliam Rawlins. Welcome to the CIA.”



Dinah talks to Karen about Castle


Dinah has called Karen Page into Homeland Security offices. Karen asks if it’s related to her car exploding. Dinah seems annoyed. Karen asks if she trusted Wolf, and Dinah says no: he was dirty. Dinah walks around the table and stands over Karen intimidatingly.

Dinah asks about Frank Castle, and Karen says his story is a tragedy. Dinah says it’s too bad he’s dead, because he could be the man she needs to talk to about Ahmad’s death. Karen praises Frank in a sad and defensive tone, and says he was a man “best left alone.” The interview ends there. I think they both knew the other was aware of Castle’s survival.



I don’t like Sam


Dinah calls Sam into her office and tells him to check up on Frank Castle, Gunner Henderson and Edward Drogin among others. She narrowed down the possibilities for soldiers on black ops assignments by process of elimination: those not on missions that she can see, were still on missions somewhere. If they’re not on record, that means they were covert.

Sam refuses, still rattled by the theft of the guns from the other day. He has too much on his plate, in his whiny, passive aggressive opinion. I really don’t like Sam.

Dinah follows him and tells him Frank Castle is alive. Sam doesn’t believe her at first, but then does a complete 180 and believes her whole story. He then tells her that he will tell the investigations committee reviewing their failure if he’s asked a direct question. This guy is terrible! Why does she ever talk to him at all? When he’s not whiny and useless, he’s just plain useless.




Homeland is tapped, or they have a mole


Agent Orange is listening to a tape of Dinah and Sam’s conversation on a laptop, He looks serious and thoughtful as he hears the names on Dinah’s list. He knows how accurate they are.

David checks Karen’s window via a security camera. He tells Frank, “you’ve got mail,” meaning she put white flowers in her window, the prearranged signal between herself and Castle to meet. Castle goes out to meet her down at the waterfront. By the time he gets there, it’s nighttime. Karen tells him about Dinah Madani and that she suspects he’s still alive. He explains he saved her.

Karen is not surprised. She asks about David Lieberman, and Castle replies briefly about him and his family, then gets sad and starts reminiscing about his own family. He says he should have done the same as Micro, and stayed away to keep his family safe.



Karen tries to convince Castle he’s lonely, though we all thought that was obvious


Karen starts crying and tells him his loneliness breaks her heart. She tries to get him to expose the people who are behind Project Cerberus, instead of killing them. He doesn’t agree. And he says that he can’t let her be killed like his family was. He kisses her cheek lightly, then leaves.

Sam and Dinah are being questioned by an investigative committee. Dinah lies about having any suspects, and after hesitating, Sam does too. He explicitly said he wouldn’t, but he did. So unreliable. Now Sam’s more invested in this, and he’s willing to do the work of looking into the names on her list.



Micro and the Punisher are bonding


Micro has found Gunner Henderson, though he’s completely off the grid. No cellphone, no running water, no nothing. The Punisher wants to go there alone, but Micro demands to come along. Now he’s got a taste for the action, he wants to come. Also, he’s been alone for a year, so he’s probably just lonely.

They talk in the car and start eating. David mixes a pouch of tuna salad and hands it to Frank, who’s driving. Then David pulls a foot-long sub sandwich packed with meat from out of nowhere and starts chewing. The Punisher is at the friendliest we’ve seen him with David. He’s relaxed enough to be offended by the fact that David didn’t make him a sandwich.

“Where’d you get that?”

“I made this.”

“What do you mean, you made it? Did you make me one?”

“No. This stuff was all in the fridge, you know?”



Agent Orange gets a medal he’s not allowed to show anyone

Agent Orange is being presented with a medal for his distinguished service. His boss says his sacrifices cost their enemies a great deal. It’s unclear who their enemies are or what they were cost, but apparently Orange is very effective in… whatever he does. Shady, illegal stuff.

Orange is called into his superior’s office. She’s getting promoted, and asks him to be the Deputy Director of the CIA under her. She knows it’s a bad move politically, but he gets stuff done, and she likes that. She asks if he has any skeletons in his closet. He says no without missing a beat.

Frank Castle walks onto Gunner’s property while Micro relaxes with a book by the van. Frank finds and avoids a booby trap and makes it to the cabin without incident. He starts yelling at the cabin, letting him know he means no harm. He gets no response, though there’s smoke coming from the chimney.



Gunner and Frank get off on the wrong foot (translation: Gunner shoots Frank, but it’s no big deal)


Frank turns around and is suddenly shot by an arrow. Another arrow narrowly misses his head. Castle sees Gunner, in full camo and with his face painted stalking him through the trees. Frank steps out from behind cover, and convinces Gunner he’s not one of the bad guys. Gunner casually apologizes for shooting Frank.

Frank asks Gunner why he made the video, and Gunner explains he made friends with a teenager in Kandahar. The kid was killed, and Gunner went to pay his respects at the mortuary.

He was shocked to see their colonel, Colonel Bennett, and Agent Orange stuffing drugs into his body. So he made the video of Ahmad’s death to expose at least some of their wrongdoing.



Agent Orange wants to tie up loose ends


Frank and Gunner (and even David at the edge of the property) hear helicopter rotors beating the air. David grabs his walkie talkie and warns Frank.

Special forces are suddenly racing down the trail to the cabin, Agent Orange watching through their body cams from CIA headquarters. Gunner takes one out with an arrow. Agent Orange implacably switches to another camera on another soldier.

As usual, The Punisher’s injuries don’t slow him down. The soldiers lose track of Gunner and Frank as they top a hill. One goes cautiously around a log, only to trip a trap and be impaled on stakes. The Punisher comes out of nowhere and pushes the stakes in further.

Agent Orange sees Frank on the body cam and is very disturbed. Frank is a problem he was sure was over.

Frank takes the soldier’s gun and fires, taking out the other soldier following. But now they’re out of ammo.



The Punisher’s in his element but slowly losing. Micro uses his spook skills


Frank and Gunner are pinned down by the superior forces. Both are shot: Gunner twice, Frank once. Micro launches a drone and finds them hiding behind a toppled tree. Two soldiers stalk up from the other side of the tree, ready to flank them. Neither Frank nor Gunner have a gun; Frank has a hunting knife and Gunner a single arrow.

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Micro calls on his walkie in the nick of time, warning them exactly when the soldiers would come around the stump, and when the next pair of soldiers would arrive. Gunner and Frank take them out simultaneously and move on. When the next soldiers arrive, Frank takes them out with two shots instantly. Gunner has lost a lot of blood and is looking really bad.



An ambiguous victory


Another couple soldiers walk through the forest, extremely jumpy now that all of their comrades are dead. One of them disappears. The other screams threats at the woods as The Punisher comes up from behind him, where he was buried in deep leaves. He stabs him in the neck, and he dies.

Frank carries Gunner away. After nightfall, both collapse against a log. Gunner makes Frank promise to bury him. Gunner wheezes, and Frank staggers away to get help. He can’t make it.

Micro finds Castle and carries him back to the van. He bandages his wounds and drives away. Castle wakes enough to say, “There might be hope for you yet, Spook.”



Everything that happens between David’s family and Frank is uncomfortable


Needless to say, The Punisher missed his Sunday dinner with David’s family. Turns out he was a little preoccupied with getting shot that day. There’s a scene with Sarah and her kids waiting at a table silently, Castle’s place at the table conspicuously empty. Haha!



Questions raised by this episode


I still don’t know where the plot line with Lewis is going. I thought he would join Anvil, and we’d get to see the inner workings of Anvil through his experience. Even right before Billy Russo kicked him out of the program, I thought he was going to hire him.


What will Agent Orange do now that he knows Castle is alive? I have no idea what resources he has at his disposal, but they’re definitely significant. He found Gunner and deployed a team of special forces on US soil to assassinate Gunner (that’s super illegal, even by CIA standards), all within a day.


Is Gunner dead or alive? If he’s dead, how will Frank fulfill his promise to bury him? Frank is obviously a man who takes his promises seriously, but I don’t see how he could safely go back to Gunner’s property.


When will the obnoxious and annoying Sam Stein die? I was sick of him in the first episode, and he’s not getting less whiny. He’s super needy towards Dinah. I don’t understand their relationship at all. They’re not even equals, let alone friends, but he talks to her like a codependent boyfriend. It’s weird.




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