The Punisher 1x11 Review: Die Hard
Written by Felicia D. Henderson
Directed by Kevin Hooks
In the aftermath of all the damage he took rescuing Karen, Frank is more focused on the revelation that Billy betrayed him and his family, so he spends the night brooding over a barrel fire. In the morning, David in his basement and Madani in her office are watching Billy do a TV interview about Frank. Madani chucks a mug at the screen. Frank walks into the basement, looking extremely menacing. He goes into the very gross bathroom and sorta cleans up at one of the very gross sinks. Ooh, this means shirtlessness. I’m not complaining about that.
David comes in to talk to him. Frank is being silently pissed at him. David convinces him to at least let him stitch up the shrapnel wound and the bullet wound. He used to want to be a vet and apparently has experience stitching up small neighborhood animals. He wants Frank to be smart about dealing with Billy. Frank doesn’t want to work with him anymore because he went to Madani behind his back. David tries to act like it’s Frank’s fault he missed out on meeting with Madani because he was obsessed with going after Lewis Wilson. Yeah, Frank’s done.
Sarah, Zach, and Leo watch a news report about Frank Castle. They’re all rather upset about who “Pete” turned out to be, and Zach is back to being a jerk.
Billy comes to the conference room at Homeland Security. She’s surprised he didn’t bring a lawyer. He denies committing the murders she accuses him of while being kinda sleazy on camera. She turns off the camera and offers him a deal. If he gives her everything, maybe he won’t lose everything. She points out that the slower he is to cooperate with her, the more time Frank Castle will have to kill him.
The CIA boss lady Marion is having a nice stroll and a chat with Rawlins. She’s in town for CIA business, but she doesn’t know why he is. He tells her it’s in the CIA’s best interest to keep Frank Castle from giving his information out, even if it means killing him. He just needs access to the CIA’s surveillance network so his outside contractor can do the job.
Frank is spraypainting a new skull vest. Madani is watching the footage from the interview with Billy with Rafi, who isn’t happy about it. Billy gave nothing away and now he could make a personal interest case against her. She’s going to have to give him more than that.
A police officer comes to the Lieberman home. He is very creepy and says that someone from there called the Castle tip line. Yeah, from Zach. *smacks him up the back of his head* He gets steadily creepier, and Sarah manages to gesture for Leo to stay upstairs. The “officer” insists that they come with him. Sarah tries to fight him, but another one gets Zach.
Frank doesn’t seem too concerned if his strategy for taking down Billy and Rawlins gets him killed, so long as it gets them killed first. David is trying to talk him down, and then they notice the footage from his house, with Sarah and Zach getting violently taken away. Frank figures they’ll have tracked the phone Sarah’s been calling, so they’ll be able to find “Pete” at the basement now. Leo got away. Frank calls her. She’s willing to trust him. David has him send her to a park they used to go to after she ditches the battery and SIM card from her phone. Frank wants David to be the one to go to Leo. While he does that, Frank will get Sarah’s location out of whoever comes to the basement, and kill all of them.
Sarah and Zach are tied up in a warehouse. Billy thinks this is a stupid plan and isn’t impressed that Rawlins didn’t know David was still alive. Rawlins wants Billy to go kill Frank and David. Billy doesn’t want to do anything to help Rawlins unless Rawlins is willing to stick his own neck out just as far.
Marion comes to Homeland and meets with Rafi and Madani. They tell her about the illegal assassination and drug trafficking operation run by Rawlins. They’re trying to give her a chance to deal with it between them. She’s angry at their presumption and leaves. Rafi is confident that they can trust her, but she’s going to need more evidence if anything will come of it.
Frank preps more for the coming invasion from Rawlins’s men. He stashes guns all over the place and fills lightbulbs with gunpowder. Then he suits up. At that park, David goes to meet Leo. A very tear-jerking father/daughter reunion ensues.
Invasion time. These guys have a lot of tech and seem better organized than the last batch of ANVIL guys (I’m not sure if these guys are ANVIL or not), but they are not ready to fight Frank Castle on his home turf. He kills three of them without the others even noticing. Also, David has the computers rigged to broadcast the video of Zubair’s death. The squad leader calls it in to Billy, who realizes it was all a trap. Frank tosses a severed head. Two guys go look. A grenade is strapped to it. Boom! Now it’s an all-out fight. Frank kills four or five more. He’s taken a couple of slugs to his vest by now, but no injuries. He kills three more. One of them fires an automatic at Frank’s back. Specifically his back, like an idiot. All the bullets hit the vest. Dang, there are a lot of these guys. Frank blows a few up and grabs another gun. He beats one guy with his own knife. Only two are still (barely) alive now. No sign of Billy. Frank kills another one. The knife fight guy tries to crawl away even though he’s been hamstrung and is bleeding out. Frank questions him. He knows nothing, so he kills him.
He uses the guy’s phone to call Billy, who figures out all his guys are dead when nobody speaks. Billy thinks he’s going to wait it out and he’ll never have to confront Frank in person. Frank tells him everything David has on Billy will go to the feds if anything happens to Sarah and Zach. They agree to a trade. Frank and David for Sarah and Zach.
Marion meets Rawlins out in the city again. She’s pissed. Rawlins blames Billy. He proposes they set him up as their scapegoat so that nothing touches the CIA itself. She’s still furious, but he wants her loyalty and claims it’s in the country’s best interests if his actions don’t damage the agency. She agrees, as long as he resigns. If he doesn’t hold up his end, she’s handing him to Homeland.
David and Leo are waiting for Frank in the van out by the hobo fires from the beginning of the episode. It’s past the rendez-vous. Madani’s the one who shows up. With Frank! Who has decided to trust Madani if David does. He goes around to Leo’s side. She’s upset that he’s known about her dad being alive ever since they met, and she thinks Frank Castle is pretty scary. Aww. Billy finds the countdown at the basement. Very bad news for him.
Okay, so despite the questionable editing decision that made Frank appear to have infinite blood to bleed, this episode is great. I think Rawlins becomes a better villain every time we see him smugly gaming the system, because that’s just so intensely irritating. He thinks he can just use his connections to keep himself out of any amount of trouble, and he doesn’t feel a speck of guilt over anything. He can’t possibly be allowed to keep doing this without consequences. And his and Billy’s alliance is getting some pretty deep cracks in it. They’re both willing to sell each other out. Which one of them goes down for that first? The Liebermans in danger is terrifying, and Frank’s trap for Billy’s men is awesome. Frank putting on the skull vest this time felt much less like the tragic inability to escape his own thirst for vengeance that it was in Daredevil S2, because fighting these guys is a crucial part of saving the Liebermans and stopping Billy and Rawlins from continuing to profit off their corruption and murder. Plus, there’s something immensely satisfying about watching twenty well-equipped and trained men get completely demolished by the one guy they tried to ambush and murder.
Things I Either Liked or Which Made My Heart Hurt for Frank Castle
Things I Didn’t Like
Frank starts out extremely frosty towards David and uninterested in working with him, but that’s too bad, because he already made Protect the Liebermans one of his priority missions, so the second they’re in danger, his issues with David no longer matter. And he’s not just going to keep them alive, he’s going to make sure David doesn’t keep hiding from them a second longer than he has to, because David is too paralyzed by his own emotions to know the best thing to do.
David has become so accustomed to protecting his family with his absence that he can’t recognize the right moments to finally emerge from the shadows. But that’s okay. That’s why he’s got stone cold Frank keeping him grounded.
It seems like the low point of Madani’s credibility was the episode with that stupid sting operation, but she’s been making more sense ever since, so she might come out of the season with a net positive at this rate, if the writers don’t do anything else dumb with her.
Quoth the Raven, "Fair Enough"
1/16/2018 08:02:37 pm
I like the return of the skull vest too. Most other cinematic comic book characters either spend a lot of time creating their personas or emphatically rejecting costumes and titles. For Frank, it just...happened. "Okay, I'm the Punisher now. Hm, this body armor kind of looks like a skull, that's appropriate."
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