Written by Steve Lightfoot
Directed by Stephen Surjik
Madani and David take Frank back to her parents’ house. Her father is a surgeon. Her mom doesn’t think this is a good idea at all. Frank is suffocating from a tension pneumothorax, and Dr. Madani fixes it. Meanwhile, at the ANVIL building, Billy is removing the bullet from his arm and moaning like a wimp about it. He puts a bunch of money in a bag. Homeland security is swarming the building, and he headshots like eight of them on his way out. Then he blows it up and does the Unflinching Walk trope.
The next morning, Frank is awake. He looks like crap, but he’s talking coherently and everything. Madani tells him they lost Billy. Marion and Rafi are both at the basement lair with a cleanup team taking away Rawlins’ body.
David gives Frank an envelope with enough money (stolen from bad guys) to start over. Frank isn’t going anywhere until he’s dealt with Billy. He apologizes to Madani if there was any inconvenience to her family. She wants him to disappear. He heads out. She goes to meet with Marion and Rafi. They have all the evidence they need to pin everything on Rawlins and Billy, but they’re angry with her for letting Frank go. She argues them down. They made this case almost impossible for her to solve or even investigate, and now that she’s pulled it off in spite of that, they owe her. Rafi orders her to go write her report. If she does anything else, she’s fired. David goes to whatever Homeland Security safehouse his family is at. Sarah didn’t appreciate his disappearing again, but she’s glad Frank is alive.
Curtis wakes up to Billy in his apartment, holding his gun. Billy is currently the most wanted man in New York. He asks how long Curtis has known Frank was alive, and he’s not happy at the answer. Hypocritical piece of crap. Curtis makes some coffee and opens his curtains. The only difference Curtis sees between Frank and Billy is that Frank would never betray a brother. Billy is there to make Curtis give Frank up. Yeah, that won’t be necessary. Frank is outside with a sniper rifle. Billy realizes just in time to duck, and he shoots Curtis but only gets his shoulder. Frank calls Curtis, who slides the phone to Billy. Frank wants to do this somewhere else, just the two of them. Billy suggests the carousel, then leaves.
Frank remembers the time he and his family were at the carousel with Billy. His kids called Billy “Uncle Billy.” He was part of the family, but clearly some part of him resented them, because he went stone-faced when they mentioned him being an orphan.
David is playing Go Fish with Leo and Zach. Sarah watches them play, her kids smiling and laughing. She grabs David they go into the bathroom where she surprises him with a snog-attack. They frantically pull each other’s pants off and reconsummate their marriage.
Billy takes two kids working concessions at the park hostage. In her office, Madani is typing up that report, but she’s getting restless. Frank army crawls towards the carousel. Madani gets a ping on her phone pointing to the carousel. Wait, where did that come from? Did Frank send it? Did Billy? Did she just have Frank lojacked or something? When she figures out it’s the same carousel where Frank’s family died, she grabs her gun and heads out, ignoring Rafi trying to call her back. So...did she just throw away her career?
The carousel turns on when Frank gets close. Those two concessions worker kids are tied to a pair of horses, and their wrists are cut. They’re bleeding out. Frank has flashbacks of his family as he approaches. The bleeding kids are there to make Frank sloppy. Frank fires several grenades past Billy, which get him to look the wrong way, and then he rushes in. They trade machine gun fire, and Frank takes one shot to the side. No, the leg. And now he’s tying a tourniquet around it? There’s not even an artery there! That’s a flesh wound!
Madani is at the park now. I guess she was tracking Frank’s phone to make sure he left town. Frank and Billy both hop on the carousel. Billy mouths off for a bit and then they shoot at each other some more. Billy takes one through the cheek. Probably wreaked havoc with his molars, but he only pulls the bullet out of his mouth. Frank took several bullets to the skull vest, but I’m having trouble figuring out if any of them actually got him. Billy shuts down the carousel and threatens to shoot the kids unless Frank shows himself and tosses his gun. He makes the kids beg for Frank to come out and save them. Frank tosses his gun, then his knife.
Madani comes walking along with her gun out. Billy shoots Frank in the vest again. (Oh, wait, I think Frank is staggering when he shoots him in the vest because he’s got broken ribs under there.) Billy talks about attachments being weakness, which is why he never had anybody. Yeah, what about the Castles? Madani comes up and he shoots her in the head. (Again, though, with the lack of close-up to indicate a main character has died.) At least the two-second distraction was enough for Frank to tackle Billy, but come on. Now it’s a brawl, no weapons. Until Billy gets out his knife. , which Frank gets away from him. Billy uses the spring-loaded one to cut right through Frank’s forearm. Owwwwww. Billy kicks Frank into one of the mirrors, then slams him against it, the spring-loaded knife through his shoulder now. Before he can stab him again, Frank shanks Billy in the gut with a large shard of mirror. Which Billy pulls back out. Dangit, why do these fools keep pulling blades out of themselves?! You leave those in until you can get medical attention!
Anyway, Frank proceeds to drag Billy’s face across the mirror so hard that it breaks the mirror and cuts Billy’s face beyond recognition. He holds him so he’s looking at his reflection, prepared to slit his throat. Billy wants him to do it at this point. He does not. This is a To The Pain moment. He kicks him into the mirror, then slams him into it once for each member of his family.
Frank unties the two concessions kids and finds Madani, who’s still alive, but bleeding quite a lot from that headshot. He waits with them for the police.
Three days later, at a hospital, Rafi orders Frank uncuffed. Madani has two shiners and a bloody bandage around her head, but she’s going to be okay. Marion and Rafi are letting Frank go. They wiped him from the criminal justice system. He’s free, as Pete Castiglione. They’re doing this partly because it’s what Madani wanted. Billy was in surgery for eleven hours and is in some kind of coma. So yeah, he’ll be coming back as Jigsaw at some point, hopefully not before S3.
The Liebermans are getting set up for what looks like Thanksgiving dinner, but can’t possibly be Thanksgiving because it’s definitely been more than nine days since the events of episode 3, which was set November 15. David goes in for dinner, but Frank does not. He leaves. All is as it should be in the Lieberman home, but Sarah and David are slightly bummed that Frank didn’t stay.
Frank goes to Curtis’s group. He sits in the circle this time, and he talks. He doesn’t know what to do now that his war is over, and he thinks a lack of war might be harder than having one to fight. He respects the other vets in the group for going through this struggle too. He’s scared.
Excellent season finale, despite Madani’s stuff being rather silly again. The showdown with Billy is the more personal one, so it needed to come last. The showdown with Rawlins was about taking down corruption in a government agency and facing the man who ruined Frank and the other Cerberus guys, but fighting Billy is about confronting a traitorous brother-in-arms. I’m really glad Curtis was in this episode too (mainly because he didn’t die in it), because Curtis is everything Billy failed to be, and it’s interesting that even Billy respects that enough not to kill him, even though it’s a major dick move to threaten to shoot up his good leg. I love everything with the Liebermans. They had better all stay safe and together for the entire duration of this series. Frank deciding not to kill Billy was fascinating. On the one hand, it’s going to be much more frustrating for the one guy Frank didn’t kill to come back and wreak havoc as Jigsaw later than it is when Matt’s enemies come back, but on the other, that was somehow more brutal and more satisfying than if he’d just killed him, all while tying into the overarching motif about what you see in the mirror. Billy was way too good at hiding from his filth, but now that he's been very thoroughly smashed into his reflection, it's true to the kind of man he is. More than all the revenge, though, what I love about this entire show is that it delves so deeply into Frank Castle. This isn’t a particularly cathartic quest for revenge. He’s miserable, and revenge isn’t making it better. Friendships with David, Curtis, and Karen, on the other hand, give him a reason to keep going when the revenge ends. I very much hope that S2 will pick up with Frank working hard to be in a better place emotionally. I hope all of these friendships will still be very strong. I hope he won’t be going out and murdering gangsters in his downtime. If he’s going to put the skull vest back on after this, it should be because he needs to protect someone or because someone picks a fight with him. I hope that whatever happens, he manages to keep Pete Castiglione’s record clean so that he doesn’t have to be a fugitive again. I will not be able to handle it if Frank Castle remains broken forever.
Things I Either Liked or Which Made My Heart Hurt for Frank Castle
Things I Didn’t Like
Frank is one of my favorite characters ever, which I did not expect at all. It’s incredible that these writers and Jon Bernthal were able to make that happen. They turned a character infamous for his mercilessness and made him achingly human. It’s awesome to watch him go to town on bad guys, but you hurt for him so deeply and you desperately need him to find some shred of happiness. It would have been so easy to make him completely unsympathetic, but instead you respect him for everything he was and kind of believe in his war even as you want him to be able to stop fighting it. I love that he admits he's scared of having no war to fight, and I really really want him to be able to overcome that fear. Can he please get endless hugs from Karen now? And a dog?
Okay this episode didn’t do Madani any favors. I like her parents better than I like her. Again, though, it feels like bad writing that could’ve been avoided. How hard would it have been to give her a better role in the final fight than showing up and immediately getting shot? Couldn’t she have shot the gun out of Billy’s hand right when he was about to shoot Frank in the face? Then maybe he could’ve stabbed her, just less fatally than he stabbed Sam, and the rest of Frank and Billy’s fight could’ve proceeded as in the episode. And that headshot isn’t just lame for her. It’s lame for Billy too. That’s the second time in this season he’s shot someone nonfatally in the head. Yeah, not sure I believe his claim that he wouldn’t have failed to kill Frank if he’d been one of the shooters in the park.
I really hope the reason Frank declined having dinner with the Liebermans was because he wants to go pull himself together more and not because he thinks he’s a liability to them, because I absolutely need to see him having dinner with them at some point. I can’t wait for more of Frank and David’s bromance, and I think David is another reason whatever Punisher stuff Frank does in S2 can’t just be randomly chasing down and executing bad guys. It needs to be something David can get behind.
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.