Posted December 8, 2017 by Jasmin in Reviews

REVIEW: The Punisher S01E10 – Virtue of the Vicious

Episode: S01E10 – Virtue of the Vicious
Directed By: Jim O’Hanlon
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

“Virtue of the Vicious” begins as one of those episodes where the same sequence is told from multiple points of view. I hate that kind of repetitive storytelling. I actually walked out of the theater when I saw 2008’s Vantage Point for that exact reason. Before I gave this episode a chance, I had already resigned myself to believing this would be my least favorite of the season. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This 10th episode of The Punisher is the game changer! Everyone’s dirty laundry is aired in “Virtue of the Vicious,” and it makes for one hell of a ride. A unique episode requires a different review, so I’ll go through each segment by point of view.

Mahoney and Russo - Virtue of the Vicious - The Punisher

© Nicole Rivelli /Netflix

Billy Russo is just doing his job

Smug, smarmy Billy isn’t quite able to keep up appearances anymore. The pretty boy lost even more men on Lewis’ kill-spree and his well-laid plans are falling apart. After an impressive song-and-dance with Detective Mahoney (another familiar face from Daredevil), Russo admits that he still calls this a win. The anti-gun senator, with ex-military as his private security, is still alive, and unharmed. Basically it doesn’t matter who died, the objective was accomplished. He’s still got the ice in his veins, I see.

Madani and Rafi - Virtue of the Vicious - The Punisher

© Nicole Rivelli /Netflix

Dinah Madani is not here to play nice

What a turn of events for her first day back at the office. Madani struts back in knowing full well she’s got a lot to answer for, and tells Rafi (Tony Plana) everything that has happened. She fills him in on her knowledge of Castle, and blatantly says she didn’t pass it up the chain because she doesn’t know who to trust. If the Director of Covert Operations at the CIA is dirty, who can blame her for playing it close to the chest?

After boldly being her helping hands in the wake of Stein’s death, Russo revealed too much in “Front Toward Enemy.” She may be distraught, but not so clouded that she didn’t hear him question why Stein was stabbed when he had a gun. Surely that detail would not have been made public when the rest of the team died in a fire fight. She may have known for a while, but when Rafi’s dossier’s on the dead men had an Anvil connection, she knew.

She confronts Billy in the lobby and knows she has him when he feigns anger at her implication that he’s involved. But their confrontation in the stair well was tense. “Virtue of the Vicious” takes the edge off because we know all the characters are alive from the beginning, but seeing it all play out is wild. Billy shot Frank! Granted, he was a trained sniper, and if he really wanted Frank dead, he’d be dead. As Russo, Madani, and Frank stare each other down in the stairwell, each of them has a lot to digest. The gloves have come off, and from here on it, it’s going to be a death match.

Karen Page - Virtue of the Vicious - The Punisher

© Nicole Rivelli /Netflix

Karen Page has no time for hysterics

No one has any secrets left. Madani knows about Russo, and now, so does Frank; the whole world knows Frank is still alive; and everyone can tell there’s something special between Frank and Karen. There’s always been this underlying strength to Karen Page, even from her first appearance in Daredevil. She’s got a big heart, but there’s also a lot of fight and defiance in her. Her combative “interview” with Mahoney sums up just how much she is not a damsel in distress.

Karen and Frank - Virtue of the Vicious - The Punisher

© Nicole Rivelli /Netflix

Telling it like it is about the senator’s cowardice is hilarious because the audience could read him a mile away. She thinks on her feet throughout the whole ordeal, and that’s part of why she makes it out alive. The other part is Frank Castle. And quite unlike Frank, Karen plays along to ensure she makes it out of this alive. There’s no pompous antagonizing of Lewis, no trite comments. She smartly and patiently waits for the right moment to seize her opportunity.

The scene between her and Frank in the elevator is endearing, and is made better because they don’t kiss. I like this potential pair better than Karen and Matt Murdock. Though, I don’t know what it is about unavailable men that she’s so drawn to…

Lewis Wilson - Virtue of the Vicious - The Punisher

© Nicole Rivelli /Netflix

Lewis Wilson is a mess

The one part of this episode that drives me crazy is how calm and collected Lewis is during each person’s story. At the beginning, when he’s just getting to the hotel, Lewis is stone cold. Which is the kind of demeanor that would be required to make it past as many security personnel as he does. His hands aren’t shaking, his voice isn’t quivering, he’s completely aware of his surroundings. The problem here is that for type of person we’ve seen Lewis to be, none of these behaviors match.

Lewis is disconnected, skittish, and unstable. The way he behaves once he’s been cornered in the basement kitchen is how he should behave for the duration of the mission. For him to have been so cool and collected at the beginning then completely fall apart at the end suggests he’s got a personality split. Anyway, I digress…

Lewis and Karen - Virtue of the Vicious - The Punisher

© Nicole Rivelli /Netflix

Lewis is tragic, plain and simple; but his character lost all sympathy with the previous episode. Purest example of someone who fell between the cracks when he returned from war. Despite everyone’s perspective, however, Frank truly was the only person who got through to him. A munitions expert brought down by his own device, it’s kind of poetic. I wish Curtis could have made a breakthrough; I wish his dad could have as well. But for as sad as Lewis’ story is, I’m very glad we’re done with his arc. Good riddance. He beat Curtis with the man’s own prosthetic leg — I can’t forgive that.

For all the far-fetched fluff that filled “Virtue of the Vicious,” the cherry on top is Frank exiting the building via zip line. The writers missed a perfect opportunity for a one-liner after he safely lands on a different building. Then again, I guess “Booyah” is already taken by DC.

The Punisher is now available 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.