Things are heating up in this Netflix series.
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Once again, the episode begins with running water, but this time it’s a far cry from Lewis washing his bloody hands and face in the sink. It’s Billy Russo beginning his daily hygiene routine. Russo uses sprays and creams to get his hair just so. He shines his shoes and gets his whole wardrobe exactly right.
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Russo only gets creepier. Just wait until the end of the episode
He walks through the halls of a medical facility and goes into a woman’s room. He talks to her about lamps and sunshine before leaning in and pushing her lips back to look at her teeth. “Good, they’re cleaning your teeth! I pay ‘em extra for that.” He starts talking about Frank. The woman stares at him, unable to speak. He laughs, and stares at her intently, telling her she’s the only one he can be completely honest with. He gives her some water and gets angry when she chokes. “Getting a little lively there, don’t you think?”
He leans over her menacingly. She stares back, her eyes wide with fear and whimpers. He whips back her blanket and reveals the straps restraining her to the bed. They’re very tight; she can barely move at all.
Walking over to a tray on the side of the room, he takes a syringe and injects her with a sizable dose of… something. It’s probably some kind of narcotic, because she immediately loses focus. He says, “I would have given you the world” and takes her hand, rubbing it back and forth. He says, “See you next week, Mom” and walks out of the room with purpose.
David and Frank discover Agent Orange’s true identity: William Rawlins III
David and Frank are in the hideout. I wish they would upgrade; it’s really dingy in there. Micro has used his tech superpowers to take the image of Agent Orange recorded through The Punisher’s scope (wow, that’s awesome. How’d he set that up?) to find and ID Agent Orange.
Micro calls The Punisher over to the computer. Micro’s head is spinning from the discovery. The Punisher is insulted to see that Agent Orange sued his damaged eye to claim he was injured in the line of duty. Micro doesn’t care about that. He knows all about the Rawlins family, and says “The Rawlinses are practically royalty. They’re the power behind the throne. They’re old, old Virginia money. Plantations, shipping and industry, arms.”
Micro is concerned that by accessing his file, he may have unleashed the full force of the CIA on their location. Frank talks him down. He points out that even inside the CIA resources Micro has hacked, there’s no talk of anything involving them or Gunner. He says, “I think that you and me are sitting pretty right now.”
Micro is convinced. But at that moment, Micro’s cameras on his house go out. He gets frantic and actually pushes Frank, yelling at him that he needs to go check on his family, now. The Punisher goes. “Alright, alright!”
Billy has a very dark past
Billy shares his dark childhood with Dinah in a hotel room. The large scars on his shoulder are from when he defended himself against a man who tried to molest him. Billy’s face is angry and sad, but he says he doesn’t care and that even though he was abandoned by his “meth head mother” he was “born in the greatest country in the world.” Dinah is touched that he opened up to her. She asks if he ever looked for his mother, but Billy lies. “Nah.”
The Punisher walks outside David’s home and peers in the back door. Sarah comes out and is startled to see him lurking around. He gives her flowers to apologize for missing dinner the other day, or week; the timeline’s not too clear. She offers him a drink as she did in “The Judas Goat,” and this time he accepts, to her surprise.
She explains that the unplugged router in the middle of the room (luckily it’s visible so Castle didn’t have to ask anything too weird to find out why the cameras went out) is her attempt to punish her son for misbehaving. She’s lonely and desperate to talk to him, or to anyone. Castle gets a little uncomfortable as she leans in closer.
David, back at the hideout, stares at a picturesque, beautifully made sandwich. He flips his burner phone open and closed, very anxious but trying to hold it down.
Dinah and Sam set a trap
Dinah and Sam run through a pre-planned skit in her office for the benefit of whoever is listening on via the bug. (It’s Agent Orange, but they don’t know anything about his involvement in any of this.) Dinah says they have a new lead (not true) and they talk about it, giving information in an attempt to get a lead on Agent Orange. Agent Orange has way, way more experience than them in setting traps, but if he underestimates Dinah and Sam they might get some info from this.
Frank plugs the router back in, figuring he’d “save [Sarah] the trouble.” Sarah talks about her feelings and how she wants to have someone’s hand to hold again. She’s definitely drunk. She goes in for a hug as Frank tries to leave, then kisses him. He pushes her off gently and leaves. Unfortunately he’s plugged the router back in already, and Micro is watching.
When he gets back to the hideout, Micro is passed out on the keyboard, drunk, with the computer paused on the moment Frank and Sarah kissed. He says he doesn’t blame either of them, but takes a big gulp from his glass as he says so.
Agent Orange thinks he’s going to get Frank Castle this time
Russo and Agent Orange meet by the water to discuss Dinah and Sam’s conversation. Orange wants to get involved but Russo is reluctant. He doesn’t want to risk exposure by being caught in the middle of a Homeland operation. But Orange doesn’t want to risk exposure by Frank being caught by Dinah, and he trumps Russo. Russo agrees, but it seems like he doesn’t really have a choice.
Dinah is very well prepared. She sets up a fake tactical plan to put on their system, and only tells her agents the real plan in person and on paper. She plans to show up earlier than on the fake tactical plan to see who shows up looking for Castle.
Micro is still drinking, and The Punisher has joined him. They tell each other the stories of how they met their wives. Frank is trying to make him feel better, but David gets way, way too personal and very insecure. Frank gets very uncomfortable.
Micro is near the breaking point
Micro tries to go back on the one condition they made when they started this together: that everyone involved dies. He tries to call Madani and get Rawlins arrested, but Frank knocks the phone from his hand. Micro takes a drunken swing at The Punisher’s head. Frank ducks and knocks him out, catching him over his shoulder as he falls and carrying him to his bed.
Russo recruits some “outside contractors.” He doesn’t want to use his own guys from Anvil after he lost so many trying to kill Frank on Gunner’s property. The outside contractors are disgraced ex-Anvil who botched a job protecting diplomats when they slaughtered innocent citizens. He offers them $500,000 each if they take the job to kill Frank.
David wakes up with a headache. Frank has made him a meal. He tells him definitively that he is not interested in Sarah. Micro seems to accept that. Unfortunately Sarah calls at that instant to ask ‘Pete’ (Frank’s alias) for help with her son Zach. She found a large knife in his backpack and she’s worried.
The Punisher has an awful idea of what parenting should be
The Punisher talks to Zach alone. The Punisher shares his childhood, saying all he wanted to do as a kid was hurt people. And so he did. Zach looks interested. The Punisher takes the knife and holds it up, as David (still at the hideout) watches through the cameras in the house.
Frank – ahem, ‘Pete’ – talks graphically about killing a man with a knife. Zach watches, fascinated. Frank grabs Zach and yanks him forward, holding the knife to his neck. Frank growls “Cut that little head of yours clean off.” Frank knows David is watching. Obviously he shouldn’t threaten a child, but even enlightened self-interest should stop him from threatening David’s kid. He’s endangering his own mission by endangering his relationship with Micro.
Zach whispers, “Do it. Do it. I wanted the knife because I feel scared, all the time.” Frank apologizes and hugs him. The Punisher needs some therapy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the protagonist of a TV show threaten a child with a knife before. Way too far, Frank.
Russo and his team are closing in, but they’re the ones getting ambushed
Russo and his contractors are getting ready to assassinate Frank during the (fake) Homeland Security operation. Dinah maybe did too good a job faking this mission; I don’t know if she’s prepared to deal with so many, so well armed, or so unscrupulous a group.
They arrive at the building and stalk up the stairwell carefully, checking every corner with their fingers on the triggers. They walk quickly through the abandoned building, which is littered with mannequins and defunct sewing machines.
Suddenly an agent steps out and yells, “Homeland Security, drop your weapons!”
They shoot him in the head.
An all-out firefight erupts between the agents and Russo’s team, who are all wearing masks. Dinah is there with a shotgun, and Sam kills one of the contractors with his handgun. Russo wants out at any cost: he pushes one of his contractors into the line of fire to distract Dinah, who kills him while Russo makes a break for the door.
Russo will escape at any cost, but Sam catches him
He kills several agents on his way out and runs for the stairs. Dinah shoots one of his teammates who followed him just as he got into the stairwell. The man pleads with Russo for help. Russo shoots him in the face instead. Russo really, really doesn’t want to be caught.
Dinah radios for help chasing Russo, and Sam catches up with him as he kills another agent. “Drop it! I said drop it! I’d love the excuse!”
Russo throws his gun away, and gets on his knees as instructed. Sam is very careful and very nervous. He pulls Russo’s knife on his hip out and throws it away before coming around the front. He rips off Russo’s mask and stands dumbfounded when he recognizes Billy Russo. Russo pops his Assassin’s Creed-style knife out of his sleeve and starts stabbing Sam over and over. His last words to Sam are, “Who’s pretty now?” I’m serious. That’s what he says. That’s… That’s a really weird thing to say to someone as they die. It’s in reference to Sam making fun of Russo earlier in Dinah’s office, which Billy apparently heard over the bug, but… man, little Billy is really touchy.
Sam Stein dies
Dinah gets there too late, and sees Sam choking on his own blood. She runs up to him and pushes a jacket up to his neck in a futile attempt to stop the bleeding. She sobs and holds Sam as he dies.
The Punisher is throwing a football back and forth with Zach. Frank turns and sees David standing just out of sight behind a row of leafless bushes. Zach can almost see him. The Punisher throws the ball way, way too far and makes Zach run the other way, then grabs David and pushes him back. “He needs me, Frank.” Frank tells him he’s going to get Zach killed. The Punisher is so serious he says he’ll do anything, even go to Dinah, just to get David to leave before Zach sees him. Poor David turns around and pulls his hood up as he walks away.
In another bloody hands-washing scene, Dinah sits in the tub, Sam’s blood all over her. She quivers in shock. A hand reaches out to turn off the water, and the camera shows Russo as he sponges the blood off her hands and face.
That’s beyond creepy: It’s absolutely chilling.
Questions raised in this episode
Who will be the one who gets to kill Russo? I’d say Frank and Dinah both have a pretty equal claim to being wronged by Billy. He’s super evil, and I’m sure they’ll both want to kill him when they find out about the ways he betrayed them both.
Will The Punisher really give up his claim on killing Agent Orange for the sake of David and his family? He’s certainly been bonding with all of them (Sarah a little too much), and he did agree to call Dinah if necessary. He is a man of his word, but that would be giving up on his whole Punisher credo of killing the bad guys.