The Punisher clip

A perfect example of how the show keeps stretching to kill time: in the final episode, after it has been established that his old buddy Billy Russo is really a bad guy, Frank has Billy in his crosshairs with a sniper rifle. Rather than kill Billy once and for all and be done with it, Frank waits, and Billy suggests they meet up later, at a different location, and Frank can try to kill him then. And Frank agrees. Which means we have to wait another half-hour before the same exact scenario presents itself again. It’s maddening – there’s no excuse for something like this beyond an excuse to kill time.

More evidence that the show doesn’t have enough material to fill its runtime: it takes forever to establish that Billy is the show’s main bad guy. Before we get to that, we’re treated to a running plot line about PTSD-sufferer Lewis, who becomes a right wing terrorist hell bent on bringing down the “liberal media” and its enablers. There’s a really tight, interesting story in this scenario: having Frank’s enemy in the show be another vigilante murderer, and having the show deal with the contrasts between the methods of these two characters. Frank thinks what he’s doing is noble and right while Lewis is a nutjob, but when you get down to it, there’s not a whole lot of difference between the two men. That could’ve made for an interesting story! Instead, it’s an afterthought. The Lewis stuff never gets off the ground, and just when it’s starting to heat up, the character blows himself up, and Frank goes back to dealing with Billy Russo.

Which is a damn shame, because Billy Russo is a drab villain. His speciality seems to be whining a lot – even though he’s partially responsible for the death of Frank’s family, he acts genuinely hurt and angry that Frank has been keeping secrets from him. He’s pissed off that Frank faked his death and doesn’t understand why Frank has it in for him. Is he supposed to be deranged, or just stupid? It doesn’t matter, because the show never gives us a reason to care. It spends several episodes trying to establish that Billy is a nice guy, but we see through that instantly. It’s a complete waste of a character over all, and a smarter show would’ve dropped Billy entirely and instead focused on Frank dealing with Lewis, the right wing vigilante.

The Punisher Micro

One and Done

Netflix and Marvel will of course make their own decision, but I implore them: please, no more seasons of The Punisher. Let this be a one and done thing, and move on. The Punisher proves once and for all that the character simply can not carry his own story. While I’d love to see Bernthal play the character again, he should be playing him in a supporting role. If Frank Castle wants to show up on Daredevil or Jessica Jones, by all means, go for it. But the character just can’t survive on his own.

The Marvel Netflix shows have almost all been somewhat disappointing in their own right (save for Jessica Jones), but they’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel with The Punisher. The show isn’t as dire as Iron Fist, simply because Bernthal is so charismatic an actor (while Iron Fist’s Finn Jones is not) that he makes it mostly bearable. But when the season comes to a close, you’re left with an overwhelming feeling of disappointment. It’s a pity, because Bernthal really is excellent in the part.

You’ve likely finished The Punisher if you’re reading this, but if you haven’t yet, I urge you: quit now.

I promise you, no matter how big a fan you are of Marvel properties, there’s nothing this show can really offer you. You can get what it’s trying to sell elsewhere, in much higher quality. Hell, go back and re-watch Daredevil season 2. That alone has a far superior Punisher story than this series. Or go pick up one of Ennis’ Punisher MAX books. Anything would be more rewarding than sitting through 13-hours of this dreary, joyless slog.

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