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It’s difficult for most shows to maintain their momentum over the course of 13 episodes, and while The Punisher does have moments that feel a bit flat, Jon Bernthal’s performance as Frank Castle aka “The Punisher” is razor sharp and carries the show even at its lowest points. He brings the proper amount of torment and sadness to the role, which is necessary when the guy’s superpowers consist solely of drawing upon years of experience in an under-the-radar military outfit specializing in interrogating, torturing and brutally executing people. He’s the very best at what he does and the show isn’t afraid of showing rather than telling (though it does a bit of that as well), treating viewers to some truly exhilarating firefights and hand-to-hand combat throughout its considerable run time. If you are even mildly offended by gun violence, don’t even bother with this show, but I’m assuming most people fully understand what they are getting into when they read the  show’s title.

Frank is presumed dead when the story begins, working under a different identity at a construction site and wielding Chekhov’s sledgehammer. Suffice to say he is soon pulled back into the world that cast him away, filled with corrupt military figures, politicians and law enforcement. Despite what some other reviewers have said, the show has important things to say about gun violence and the state of our veterans here in the U.S.

The Good:

  • Jon Bernthal was born to play Frank Castle.
  • The firefights are exciting and fun to watch. Poor Frank takes a beating.
  • Excellent sense of drama and melancholy pervading the entire season.
  • Good commentary on our veterans, gun violence and the media.
  • Frank’s final scene.
  • Frank and Micro.

The Bad:

  • Misses a few steps here and there.
  • The show doesn’t quite know what to do with Deborah Wall’s Karen Page.
  • The villain does a bit of a switcheroo 3/4 through, as does the narrative’s confidence.

The Punisher is very entertaining and a solid first season of a show that will likely improve even more as it goes. There’s a lot of great tension and drama here and the show doesn’t get lost in all the violence. It remembers to take the breather and develop characters and their motivations, of which there are many.

And the final scene is perfect, a quieter more poetic moment to put a period at the end of a very long, bloody — but profound — sentence. Highly recommended.

 

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