Posted December 2, 2017 by Jasmin in Reviews

REVIEW: The Punisher S01E02 – Two Dead Men

Episode: S01E02 – Two Dead Men
Directed By: Tom Shankland
Streaming Available: November 17, 2017
Created By: Steve Lightfoot
Based on Characters By: Gerry Conway, John Romita, Sr., Ross Andru
Starring: Jon Bernthal, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ben Barnes, Amber Rose Revah, Paul Schulze, Jason R. Moore, Michael Nathanson, Daniel Webber, Jamie Ray Newman, Deborah Ann Woll

“Once upon a time, in the middle of the night, two dead men they got up to fight, back to back they faced each other, they drew their swords and they shot each other.”

Two Dead Men - Frank and his kids

© Nicole Rivelli /Netflix

Frank Castle is a broken man. He was trained, honed, and utilized perfectly by the government before it all went to hell. “I think that the system let Frank down in a big way,” we hear (much later in the episode) from a former squad mate. That fragment of a man trying to live his second life is what pulls me into The Punisher. It’s easy to write Castle off as some trigger happy washout with a short fuse. But in only two episodes, the series has painted a beautifully messy portrait of a man looking for his humanity.

“Two Dead Men” is where The Punisher reveals the backbone of the season. We get a better look at Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah) and Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), and meet an important new character, Billy Russo (Ben Barnes). Setup to be this season’s antagonist, I love a good bad guy, and am enjoying the smug yet honest vibe I get from Russo.

Two Dead Men - Frank and Micro

© Nicole Rivelli /Netflix

“Hipster” Frank and the cat and mouse game that he and Micro play brings a new dynamic to the show. Frank is a loner, and to see him so rattled by Micro makes me nervous. The surprise here is that Frank isn’t just a one trick pony. He plays it smart, and safe, when he has to be out in the real world. One quirk I enjoy most about the character is his politeness — the “yes ma’am” he uses with waitresses. It’s hard to tell if that’s a Jon Bernthal infusion or not, but “ma’am” is distinctly southern.

Regardless, the way the character can move from polite to volatile is one of my favorite features. It lends itself to the idea that everything about Frank Castle is balancing on the edge of a blade. One wrong move, one bad memory, and he snaps into action, for better or worse.

Two Dead Men - Frank Castle, Karen Page

© Nicole Rivelli /Netflix

His reconnecting with Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) is good to see. Even though Castle made his introduction in Daredevil, Karen is a reminder that this show is part of a bigger picture. Albeit, The Punisher is on the fringes, he’s still got more allies in New York City than he realizes. There’s a contrived moment during their second meeting where she tells him Micro’s real name, David Lieberman. Castle has a mini hissy fit when she asks whether or not he’s going to kill Micro. It just feels out of character for him to feign offense and whine about the question. Aside from that, we’ve got another layer, and essentially another target, for this season.

Of the handful of other faces we’ve met so far, Curtis is by far Frank’s rock. He’s kind, patient, and to a certain degree knows what Frank is going through. The relationship between Curtis and Frank is grounding. A Jiminy Cricket and voice of reason to our unhinged main character. As such, I’m worried about Curtis’ well-being. And just like that, The Punisher has turned me into a paranoid conspiracy theorist. Two episodes in, and I already want Frank to stop getting more people involved in his messy life!

Two Dead Men - Billy Russo, Dinah Madani

© Nicole Rivelli /Netflix

Madani needs more fleshing out. She’s got to have some demons of her own, especially given her connection to Frank’s squad and the death of Ahmad Zubair. There is a great deal of potential with her character, but I hope the writers move away from the cold, damaged woman we’ve seen so far. Her tenacity and take-no-bull attitude, however, are refreshing which is why I want to know more of her back story. Obviously she’s got a major part to play in this clandestine group using soldiers to do their dirty work.

“Two Dead Men” is powerful because of its exposition. There is a body count (of just one), and that fight sequence is brutal and brilliantly filmed. But this episodes shines in its introduction of so many threads for the audience to figure out how they all come together.

The Punisher is now streaming on Netflix.

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Jasmin loves Batman, sci-fi, and movies with lots of explosions. When she’s not writing about geektastic things, she’s probably playing video games or watching sports. Her ultimate goals include traveling the world to watch tennis and working for BioWare to revive the essence of the original Mass Effect Trilogy.