“Front Toward Enemy”
Written by Angela LaManna
Directed by Marc Jobst
Madani is in a miserable funk after her disastrous operation that got another partner killed. Enough days have passed that Sam’s funeral is about to happen (which makes this alleged timeline even more impossible), and Madani is not at all looking forward to having to speak at it. Frank and David are scoping out her place, trying to figure out if she’s dirty or just a trouble magnet before they go talk to her. Then there are explosions in three of the buildings along the street next to their roof. Time for a side plot!
We get some footage of a birthday celebration at an office, but before they can finish singing, the explosion happens. That’s the footage they use on the news story about it. The Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms office, the NYPD 10th, and a courthouse were all hit. Several dead, dozens injured. Lewis sends a letter to Karen at the Bulletin. It seems the cause he’s taken up is that teacher who was being tried for bringing a gun into his classroom, and he’s bombing the local government buildings involved in that particular process. He wants Karen to publish his letter as a call to arms against the government. She and Ellison debate how to approach it. He wants to give it to the FBI, but she wants to publish a reply that denounces it, with her name on it.
Frank and David watch the news coverage about the bombs. Frank is disgusted. He hates bombers. David wants to focus on going to Madani, but Frank thinks it’s a bad idea to try that so soon after the bombings. Rafi visits Madani’s house, and her mom gives them a moment. She still refuses to name the target in that operation or explain the false tactical plan (how would he know it’s false if she’s the only survivor and it definitely happened at the right location?).
Dang, the bombs killed 14 people and injured 37. Karen’s reply to Lewis’s letter is published. She calls him a coward and a terrorist. Frank has the newspaper open in front of him, and he can’t believe she was so brazen about a guy who just killed over a dozen people and then singled her out. Karen does a radio interview with a pro-gun control senator. She makes it clear that she has no sympathy for the bomber’s position. The senator goes off about how citizens don’t need guns, and Karen, a gun-owner, disagrees. The senator tries comparing this bomber with the Punisher, and Karen disagrees with that too. Frank Castle killed murderers and drug dealers. This guy blew up government buildings and killed innocent people.
Lewis calls in to the radio show. He withholds his name. He’s pissed at Karen for denouncing his actions. Karen isn’t backing down. He’s nuts if he thinks killing street level city employees will help his cause against government corruption and oppression. He decides Karen and the senator are on the wrong side of his war. He says “sic semper tyrannus.” Frank recognizes that from the kid at Curtis’s group. Lewis, who drives a cab. He wants David to track him down right the hell now, because this piece of crap doesn’t get to threaten Karen and live.
Curtis tries to get in touch with Lewis and fails, then goes to visit O’Connor. Lewis is there with more bomb equipment. Curtis tries to talk him down, and then Lewis pulls a gun on him. They fight. Curtis would’ve won except for his prosthetic leg.
David succeeds in finding Lewis’s information. Frank isn’t interested in solutions besides hunting him down, and he leaves. He calls Karen from outside Lewis’s house while she’s talking to the FBI. He wants her to stay put until she hears from him. She realizes he knows who the bomber is and she tries to get him to tell her so she can tell the FBI. He’s still not interested. She doesn’t want him killing someone for her.
Madani gets a visit from Billy this time. She wants more distraction sex. He tries to get her to stop blaming herself. She’s also worried about what’ll happen when what she was doing comes out. Wait, she has DNA evidence that Frank Castle is alive, so why would it spell the end of her career for sending a squad to catch people trying to catch him when he’s supposedly dead? Those guys did show up and she has that DNA, both of which prove he’s alive. No, the reason she should be fired is that her tactical plan was complete garbage.
David calls Frank. He’s lost patience with Frank playing it safe about going to Madani, so he’s going to give Frank access to Lewis as a distraction so that he can go to Madani himself. It works. Frank heads off to O’Connor’s house.
Senator Ori is setting up a gala to support the families of the bombing victims. He needs armed security, which is why Billy shows up. Billy considers the bomber a threat to be neutralized, as well as a murdering coward he’d kill in a second. He encourages Ori to see them as insurance. Ori doesn’t want his armed security messing up his image as anti-gun.
Frank arrives at O’Connor’s. Curtis is unconscious inside, a Claymore strapped to him. He very carefully wakes him up. Curtis can’t believe he got beat by some little Army punk, with his own leg. Frank looks at the bomb. A phone rings, thankfully not the one on the bomb. Scariest phone ring moment. Lewis is across the street, watching O’Connor’s place through a rifle scope. He’s surprised to see Frank Castle alive, but he thinks it makes sense the government pretended he was dead because he was too much of a rallying point for people like Lewis. Frank does not appreciate Lewis identifying with him, and he gets so angry about it that he forgets he’s supposed to be talking him down from killing Curtis.
Madani’s getting ready for Sam’s funeral. She wants to tell the whole truth at it. It’ll be the end of her career, but someone will have to act on what she says. Her mom thinks this is a bad idea, but she’s determined.
Frank doesn’t know enough about demolitions to disarm the bomb. Curtis wants Frank to just leave. That’s not happening. Curtis feels pretty low, like a failure, like everything he tells the guys in group isn’t making a difference. He wishes he’d have died in the last bomb instead of being strapped to this one and feeling helpless again now. Lewis calls again. He wants Frank to work with him. Frank just wants to know how to disarm the bomb. He tells Lewis the story of how Curtis lost his leg. He was patching people up after an IED when a pregnant female bomber came walking towards them. Maria was pregnant back at home, so when Frank looked at her, he saw Maria and he froze instead of shooting her. That got the kid Curtis was helping killed and Curtis’s leg blown off. Frank thinks he ruined Curtis’s life. Lewis tries to get Frank to leave before the police arrive (at which point he will set off the bomb). Frank’s not leaving. Eventually, Lewis folds and tells him to cut the white wire.
Curtis doesn’t want Frank to risk it, but Frank sits down and puts his forehead against Curtis’s and cuts the wire. No explosion! But the police are here. Frank has to flee. He doesn’t make it far enough and has to knock out a couple of cops and steal their cruiser to get away. Madani is at a bar, and David sits next to her. He tells her he can give her everything she needs for her Kandahar case. She is listening. While they talk, we see cops finding the abandoned cruiser. He gives her the name William Rawlins and swears he can prove it, with Frank’s testimony.
Ellison asks Karen if she knew, then turns on the TV, which has the breaking news that Frank Castle is alive. The police dash cam caught his face. It’s on the news at the bar where Madani and David are too. Well that wasn’t what David planned at all. Frank gets back to the basement lair to see his face all over every screen. They think he was working with the bomber.
I don’t even care that the Lewis subplot has nothing to do with the main Rawlins plot. I love this episode. I love David sabotaging his partnership with Frank, I love Frank FREAKING OUT at the idea of Karen in danger, I love Frank sticking with Curtis no matter what, and I love that Frank’s protectiveness of his friends is what gets him exposed, in the same episode where he started out urging patience and caution. This is fantastic.
Things I Either Liked or Which Made My Heart Hurt for Frank Castle
Things I Didn’t Like
I love seeing protective Frank instead of vengeful Frank. Vengeful Frank is unbearably tragic, but protective Frank is someone you can root for without reservations. Especially when the circumstances force him to find other solutions besides shooting the bad guys. It’s also interesting to see how much he hates being compared to Lewis. I’ve seen reviews of this show that claim there actually isn’t much of a difference, but I heartily disagree. Karen said it just right. Lewis has made the entire establishment and anyone who doesn’t oppose it his enemy, but Frank isn’t fighting against a system, he’s bypassing it. He’s fighting specific men he knows have done and gotten away with heinous crimes, in most cases for revenge. He makes a very specific point of not allowing collateral damage, even if it would make things easier for him.
David manipulating Frank so that he can go find Madani on his own is a very interesting move. They’ve built quite a good rapport over the last several episodes, and it’s obvious that David doesn’t feel great about betraying that just to speed up the timeline on getting back to his family.
Poor Curtis. Nothing like having one of your own group members beating you unconscious with your prosthetic leg and strapping a Claymore to you to make you feel like everything you’ve tried to make of yourself since leaving the Navy was worthless. Hopefully knowing he has a friend ready to die for him will help him get past it. Curtis has had a subtle arc of his own over the course of the season. He started off very confident about helping fellow vets, but that has slowly eroded as he failed to help Lewis and Frank got so badly wounded. This is definitely his lowest point. So far. But hopefully things will get much better for him.
Okay I definitely missed the part where Madani was deliberately going to tank her career at Sam’s funeral the first time I watched this. If David had waited any longer, there wouldn’t have been anyone on the case to tell. (That doesn’t make her character arc less frustrating and weird.)
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.