THIS EPISODE IS PRETTY SHOCKING. I didn’t expect it to start the way it did, and the way it ends… It’s not predictable, at all. It gets really intense at the end. Dinah learns a new, shocking truth about Ahmad’s death, and Rawlins and Russo come face to face with Frank, and we find out the full extent of David and Frank’s plan to take down Rawlins and Russo.

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Full episode recap


Frank gives his testimony against Russo and Rawlins


Frank Castle is being recorded from across the table. Dinah Madani is interviewing him from off-camera. He confesses to killing Carson Wolf and Colonel Ray Schoonover. He accidentally confesses to killing Morty Bennett, but clarifies he didn’t kill him, he just put him in a position where William Rawlins and Billy Russo killed him.

Frank implicates William Rawlins and Billy Russo in Project Cerberus, the illegal drug-smuggling and intelligence-gathering operation Frank was duped into helping with. Project Cerberus was the reason Frank’s family was killed, and what started this whole mess. Dinah looks ready to gloat, she’s so satisfied, but there’s no one else in the room she can gloat to.


David gets his turn, but is less cooperative than Frank


She then interviews David Lieberman, aka Micro. She starts the interview, but David interrupts her.

“I’m sorry.
Let me just stop you right there, Agent Madani. This isn’t gonna be some by-the-book Q and A, okay? I think, fundamentally, you and I, we want the same things. We want the same people in custody, but that’s not my priority.
My priority is my family.”

David also says he doesn’t believe in justice. This all makes Dinah pretty annoyed, and she looks like a kid and David just took her favorite toy.

“You don’t believe in justice?”

“No, I did. I did. You were it. You and the system. I’ve learned different.”

David ends the interview by saying he won’t testify on tape until she helps get his family back.


Frank and David start their endgame


Dinah interviews Castle again, and he unhesitatingly testifies that his squad abducted, tortured and killed Ahmad Zubair. He explains Rawlins gave the order. Dinah expected that, and asks if Russo pulled the trigger, expecting a yes. Frank says, “No, he did not. I did.”

Dinah is completely shocked. She despises Russo and was ready to blame him for everything. This revelation disorients her. She doesn’t hate Castle. Though she disagrees with his normal solution of murdering everyone against him, she thinks he’s basically doing the right thing.

David and Frank are at the edge of the water. David is extremely stressed, and questioning their plan to get his wife and son back. “They could have us in their crosshairs right now.” Frank calms him, saying “Stick to the plan.” A black van pulls up. Masked men get out and pull the hoods off their two captives, Sarah and Zach. Zach is the first to recognize David, and waves at his father. He’s a pretty young kid. Sarah stares, unbelieving.


Frank and David offer themselves for Sarah and Zach


Both Sarah and Zach are forced to carry gasoline cans, leaving a trail behind them. If Frank or David do anything not agreed upon, they’ll be blown up. Frank reassures David it’s just for show. Russo calls Frank. He’s watching them through the scope of his sniper rifle from far away.

But Russo can’t kill them because of the doomsday switch David installed on his computers. Without his password, they can’t stop the computers from sending the video of Ahmad Zubair’s torture and execution to the world. So Russo and Rawlins need Frank and Lieberman alive, for now.

Sarah and Zach start walking forward, and Frank and David do the same. Sarah reaches out to David, and touches his arm, but David is focused on saving them. “Keep walking. It’s okay. Just keep walking.”


Dinah and Homeland and Frank and Davd’s secret weapon


After they pass each other, sirens wail and a Homeland Security SWAT team rolls up. An all-out firefight erupts. Frank gets knocked out and dragged away by Russo’s guys. One of them sets fire to the gasoline, which spreads towards Sarah and Zach. David takes off his jacket and blocks the flame, rather than run to safety. Russo yells to his men, “I need them both. Get Lieberman!”

They grab David and hustle him away, but he gets shot by a Homeland agent and lies motionless on the ground. Sarah screams. She just found out he was alive.


Russo is very frustrated. They needed David even more than they needed Frank. He breathes deeply and fires on the Homeland vehicles, disabling them as his men make their escape. Sarah is still screaming.


Frank Castle catches up with his old buddy Russo


Frank wakes up in his and David’s old hideout. Russo is quiet and creepy. He asks why Homeland Security was there. Frank shrugs. He offers the theory that David called them behind his back. Frank says it couldn’t be his plan because he doesn’t want them arrested. Frank is tied up in a chair, but he’s completely confident.

“I’m gonna kill you, Bill. I’m gonna watch you die.”

Russo laughs at him, and offers him a choice: how to die. He asks Frank how to get into the computers. Frank tells him to ask David. Russo hesitates, and says “Unfortunately, your geek friend is no longer with us.” This just gives Frank another reason to hate Russo. Like he needed another one.

Frank asks Russo if he was the one who murdered Frank’s family. Russo looks away, and takes a long time to answer. He says “No. … I told them I’d have no part in it.” But he knew it was going to happen, and did nothing.

Frank is only getting more and more angry. Russo is not making this any better for himself. Russo isn’t getting any happier either. He doesn’t even know for sure what will happen when the countdown hits zero, and he’s completely lost on how to stop it.


David’s dead, again


Dinah and a Homeland agent unzip David’s body bag in a dim hallway. His face is covered in blood. He gasps and opens his eyes. It was all faked. He was wearing a bag of fake blood and was shot with (probably) rubber bullets by a sharpshooter specifically aiming at him. David complains about the body bag, but Dinah tells him “This was your idea.” David demands to be taken to his family, and Dinah agrees.

They’re waiting in a Homeland Security conference room for him to show up. Sarah gets up and walks up to him tearfully. She starts hitting him, feeling betrayed that she watched him die not once, but twice. And that he was gone for a whole year. That’s a long time to think someone is dead only to find out they’re not. David hugs her, and she cries. Zach and Leo walk up and join in the hug.


Agent Orange finally gets what he wants: a chance to break The Punisher


The Punisher ridicules Billy Russo and his love of possessions and worldly things. Russo explains it’s not about the possessions, it’s about the power and security they represent. Frank doesn’t buy it. Russo gets back to the point.

“We’ve both been in rooms like these.
We both know that every man breaks.
Now, give me the passwords and we can call it a day.”

Rawlins swaggers in, theatrically pulling on his torturing gloves. He says,

“Because it will get much more painful if you don’t.”

Frank is delighted to see Rawlins, in murderous kind of way. He makes fun of Russo for obeying Rawlins, which hits a chord in Russo. This was perceptive of Frank. The fact that Rawlins is essentially his superior bothers Russo every time he has to obey an order. We’ve seen that in multiple other episodes.

Rawlins doesn’t waste too much time talking to Frank. He starts hitting him very hard with his reinforced torturing gloves. Frank’s mouth immediately starts bleeding. After several hits, he spits out a tooth. Orange is breathing just as hard Frank, and looks enraged and impotent. Frank says, “You hit like a *****, Rawlins. You hit like a *****.” Rawlins hits him harder, and Frank goes to his happy place, back with his wife. Rawlins keeps hitting him. Even Rawlins is splattered with Frank’s blood.


David gets some time with his family


David is trying to explain why he didn’t tell Sarah he was alive, but just ends up saying, “I am so sorry.” Sarah touches his face and beard, and he clears his throat. “I’ve been in my bathrobe in a basement for a year.” She snorts and laughs “You look like it.”

Sarah asks where Frank is. David says, “Um, he’s where he wants to be.” David says he allowed Frank to sacrifice himself for David’s family, and that he’ll either kill the men torturing him or they’ll kill him first. Sarah hopes Frank kills them. David nods slightly.

Dinah takes David into her office and yells at him. The plan was that Frank lead them back to wherever they would take him with a tracking device in his jacket. But he ripped it off. David has a pretty good guess where they’re holding him, but refuses to tell Dinah, saying he owes Castle, not her.


Frank stops the countdown


Frank is sitting in a chair still, but now the chair is sitting in a pool of Frank’s blood. Hs blood is still dripping onto the floor. The countdown reads 3 hours and 11 minutes. Russo wipes off Frank’s bleeding, swollen lips. I wouldn’t put my hand anywhere near the Punisher’s mouth. He would be happy to bite a finger off. The Punisher groans as Russo talks gently about guilt, Frank’s murdered family and shooting Frank.

Frank starts sobbing for a second, and says “Bill? I’m ready, Bill.” He tells Russo and the two thugs that he needs to unlock the computer himself. They take him to the computer. Rawlins walks in, suspicious. Russo cuts Frank’s right hand free, and The Punisher starts typing. 

Frank types in the password, and scans his eye. The security cameras David installed activate, unknown to anyone but Frank. The computer unlocks, and Frank says “It’s done” and hangs his head. His arm flops to the bottom side of the chair, and slips a small knife from its hiding place.


Agent Orange thought he was going to have a good day


Rawlins walks up and condescendingly puts his hand on Castle’s shoulder. “You know, I’m a little disappointed in you, Castle.” Frank roars and stabs Rawlins in the chest. He falls to the floor on top of Rawlins and bites him like an animal, staring furiously at Russo. Russo beats him off with the butt of his handgun. Rawlins staggers up and kicks Castle unconscious again.

Castle goes to his happy place again, but it’s not so happy to start with. His wife cries, not sure if he would rather be back in Afghanistan or home with her. Frank assures her he won’t deploy again, and his home is with her.

Russo is talking to his programmer, a woman we haven’t seen before. She is deleting everything from David’s computer setup. Russo is satisfied with that, and walks over to where Rawlins is.


Rawlins has completely lost his mind


Rawlins is busy beating Frank brutally and ranting in an insane, serial-killer way.

This country needs me, Frank. I was the bulwark against our enemies. What I did was greater than you could ever measure! Do you know what you’ve done? …

You are gonna beg to me. Blood loss is gonna make you weak. You’re gonna slip in and out of shock. You will know pain and fear.

Fear, Frank.

Your ribs must be cracked. I’m gonna take all the breath out of your lungs, out of your lungs, until you can barely whisper and the last word out of your mouth is gonna be, ‘Please, please, please.’“

Russo interrupts Rawlins’ mad power trip. He says he’ll execute Frank, and the torture needs to stop. Rawlins disagrees, and his opinion trumps Russo’s. From the ceiling, the security cameras watch everything.


David doesn’t have the stomach to wait while Castle gets tortured


David sits with his sleeping family in the conference room, thinking. He gets up and goes to Dinah’s office. He asks to use her computer, and she moves aside for him. He kneels down and types in her password for her, which is pretty funny. She’s less startled by this than she should be though. I guess she’s hard to surprise at this point.

David explains that the security cameras are recording so that even if Frank couldn’t kill Rawlins and Russo, the recordings would be enough to arrest them and send them away for good. David pulls up the video feeds and watches horrified as Castle gets punched over and over by Rawlins. “We gotta stop this.”

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Russo and Rawlins have a disagreement


Rawlins is still trying to break Frank. Russo stops Rawlins yet again. “This doesn’t serve me.” Rawlins looks completely insane and starts yelling. “You serve me!” He says he kept all the proof he needs to blackmail Russo, all the evidence of payouts and crimes committed for Rawlins’ agenda. Rawlins waxes almost Shakespearean in his rage. Russo is mad, but he gets colder instead of hotter. “I should have let him kill you back in that tent.” Rawlins looks back with his one good eye. “But you didn’t.”

Russo goes behind Frank and puts his gun to his head. Rawlins threatens to burn Russo, then pulls his gun and points it at Russo. Behind Frank’s back, Russo eases a pair of wire cutters up to Frank’s bonds, and snips. He lets his gun down, and walks away.


Rawlins’ day gets worse


Frank is in his happy place again. His wife says, “It’s time. You have to choose.” Rawlins walks up to him and injects him with adrenaline so Frank will be awake when Rawlins’ takes his eye. Frank is still dreaming of his wife, who says, “Come home, Frank.” He takes her hand, and squeezes, but then lets go. He says, “I am home.”

Rawlins pulls back the knife to stab Frank in the eye, but Frank snaps his bonds and stops him. Rawlins is shocked and scared. He stabs Frank in the abdomen, but Frank doesn’t even flinch. He grabs Rawlins by the throat and throws him to the floor. Russo watches it all, saying nothing.

Frank pulls the knife out of himself and stabs Rawlins many, many times in the chest. He punches him and puts his thumbs in both Rawlins’ eyes. Rawlins is very, very dead.


Russo feels very satisfied with himself


Russo watches The Punisher, a gun in his hand. He thinks he’s super smart, pitting two of his enemies against each other.

Russo says admiringly, “I love to watch you work.” and walks away.

Frank calls him back. “I wish I could see your face.”

Russo stops. “What are you talking about?”

Frank spits up blood, unable to get up off the floor. “When you realize –”

“Realize what, Frankie?”

“That you’re done. You lost everything. Everything you give a **** about is gone. Gone.”

Russo doesn’t understand he’s talking about the recording video cameras, which he still hasn’t noticed. But at that moment they both hear Homeland Security burst into the hideout. Russo raises his gun to finish off Frank, but gets shot in the arm and staggers away.

David runs up with Dinah, begging Frank to live. Frank leaves his happy place (which is now empty; his wife is gone for good) for the last time, mumbling “Maria.” He wakes up to David’s face, looks around wildly while choking on his own blood, and says, “Home.”

The Punisher has finally decided he wants to live.


Questions raised by this episode


How can Frank get out of this and beat Russo? He looks like he was ready to bleed out and die at the end of this episode. The only thing that brought him back was his desire to live. Russo did get shot, but it didn’t seem to really slow him down. He certainly wasn’t beat mercilessly for hours by a psychopath with many hours of torturing experience.

What’s Russo going to do now? He was protected by Rawlins, and Rawlins is extremely dead. His company is definitely shot; there’s no way to pretend he’s not a criminal now. He’s lost all his wealth, power and fame. He’s a psychopath backed into a corner. Whatever he does isn’t going to be good.

Who killed Frank’s family? Russo’s claimed innocence seems like a good setup for Season 2. Hard to believe that The Punisher has punished everyone involved. It would be very easy to believe that Project Cerberus was simply part of a larger conspiracy, run by people even higher up.


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