The first season of The Punisher ended with blood spilled and vengeance served. Frank Castle discovered his “best friend”, Billy Russo, was behind the death of his family. Billy fooled the many characters he interacted with but finally got what was coming − Punisher style. However, the Punisher has more to punish this time around.
Thank you to Netflix for providing Geeks of Colors screeners for this review!
The new season of The Punisher starts off with Frank surprisingly at peace, but it doesn’t last long. This season is just as agonizing, heartbreaking, and enraging as the last one. Billy is back and that’s not the only thing Frank has on his plate.
As the season unfolds, we see Frank start to draw parallels between Billy and himself, causing him to doubt his intentions as The Punisher. Jon Bernthal gives another astounding performance that really gives insight into how determined Frank is and how loud the voice in his mind is without needing to say a single word. Combined with stellar writing, you never forget that Frank is still very much in mourning and is slowly healing. He’ll probably never be able to stop what he does. But, can you blame him?
Billy Russo survived and is well enough to be a threat, which makes sense when you see how strong and resilient he is. The unstoppable nature within Frank Castle is very much within Billy Russo too. Ben Barnes covers so many physical and emotional states in this role that leaves us frighteningly uncertain on how we should feel about the character and what we want for him on his journey to becoming Jigsaw.
The season borrows the patient/therapist dynamic that was introduced in Daredevil season 3. We saw plenty of Agent Poindexter (Bullseye) using his past therapy sessions as a way to keep him stable, and those scenes provided necessary exposition for the character. In The Punisher it delves deeper with this dynamic and gives us some new insight into a character we know. To say this dynamic shakes things up is a massive understatement. No spoilers though!
Agent Dinah Midani keeps proving herself as a force not to be trifled with. She confronts every character and situation with ferocity, grace, and honor. Amber Rose’s performance leaves little to the imagination as it perfectly expresses what her character is ready to do. Getting shot by her ex after finding out he’s a cold-blooded killer is hard enough, but having him pop-up after a harsh beatdown is just a slap to the face that she will not forgive.
Curtis Hoyle is still the man, so there’s no need to worry about that. But gosh dang it, why can’t Frank just leave him alone? Curt provides the stability and loyalty that all the characters desperately need but only a few have earned.
There are some fresh new faces—Giorgia Whigham as Amy Bendix, Josh Stewart as John Pilgrim, and Floriana Lima as Dr. Krista Dumont—that provide a much-needed change of pace to the show. The old and new cast makes you feel like you know their characters personally and are going through everything they are.
Most of the themes from this season are echoes of the themes from the first. We see mental instabilities, wickedly unhealthy coping mechanisms, broken family dynamics, unexpected affections, and weaponized trauma. Every character has something haunting them that drives their every action, and some are irrevocably doomed by their past — or are bound to repeat it, which is the norm for these Marvel/Netflix shows.
The Punisher season 2 can’t quite shake the sameness, but the excitement and new faces help make it feel fresh and interesting. The action sequences are just as gruesome and on point as the prior season. And, at the center of it all is a tour de force performance from Jon Bernthal playing one of a truly captivating hero.
The Punisher season 2 is an exciting watch and a fascinating deconstruction of the broken hero. The future may be uncertain for, but it keeps getting better and better.
Don’t just take my word for it, check out the new season of The Punisher for yourself on January 18. If you want to get a more visual taste-tester, you can check out the official trailer now!
Nothing but love.