Before I get started, just know that I rank this season on the same playing field as Daredevil Season Three. And there will be some spoilers, so let’s get started.
Having just finished my binge of season two, I can truly say that this is what we needed. What we deserved. While I considered season one of The Punisher my second favorite next to Daredevil Season Three, I can definitively say that season two of Frank Castle’s journey was better than season one. I said it. Where season one spent their time fleshing out a storyline, which season two did as well; it shied away from really giving us explosive fight scenes up until the end. Season two did the exact opposite. Every episode was large, badass, and intense sensory overload that pushed the expectations that I believe anyone had. If there was any doubt that Jon Bernthal and his crew can deliver, I surely hope this season squashed any trepidation.
Let me start this review by getting the elephant in the room out of the way. I loved the first episode and I loved seeing Frank at least trying his luck at a somewhat normal life. I believe it was important to show him, even for a brief moment; moving on with Beth, the bartender from the roadside bar. While we see Frank carrying his wedding ring around his neck, I believe that it is realistic to show that a widow, despite how he lost Maria; can move on, but we also saw what we did in season one with David Lieberman’s wife Sarah. Frank is desperate to still have that family connection, which was why he radiated so much for that moment with Beth’s son and why he went on to dedicate himself to helping Amy.
What I liked so much was that Amy and Frank’s relationship was not sunshine and rainbows from the start. There was a tug and pull, and Frank being what he is, a disgruntled man in the face of Amy’s stubbornness. The road getting The Punisher back to New York City was important in really melding Frank and Amy together, where not only did Frank come to care for Amy, but where Amy learned to trust him. Who else was sitting there simply hoping she’d finally learn who he was? And who else absolutely freaked out by that forest scene?
Speaking of which, let’s speak about one of the new characters introduced in season two. John Pilgrim. Played by Josh Stewart. We never really, truly find out John’s past or what made him become the man we see currently, but rather we are given fragments throughout the season. Frankly, John sent shivers down my spine. A religious man, he does not hesitate to act as an instrument for those pulling at his strings and if you are given a choice, I wouldn’t blame anyone for giving him what he wants. While it may seem in the beginning that he is nothing more than a one-dimensional character, we see throughout the season his true nature coming to the surface and the end of his story was surprising, but respectable.
Curtis Hoyle, played by Jason R. Moore; already became a beloved character in season one, but he is ever more present in season two. We are given more of an inside view of his life and his morals. More importantly, it was just good to see him have more screen time. I had read reviews previously that Curtis and Frank spent the season at odds, but I have to disagree. Curtis was by Frank’s side and while he may have disagreed at times and maybe even went down his own path in certain situations, I felt there was no one else Frank could trust better than him. There were times I was scared for Curtis, but spoiler, he’s okay. That’s all that matters in the end.
But, let’s talk about the real player this season. Not just Frank Castle, but his counterpart, Billy Russo. Where in season one, Billy was all about keeping up appearances that are gone in season two. Billy was unhinged, unstable, dangerous, violent, and…tragic at times. The pure confusion that we saw in Ben Barnes’ eyes as he played Billy was unbelievable that someone could be that talented. Seriously, every time Barnes was on screen, he owned it. There is something about Billy Russo and how Barnes plays him that just captures you and I believe that Hollywood may be sleeping on him a bit, but I certainly hope after this season, maybe he will get the proper recognition he deserves. There were some scenes that you truly felt bad for him, but other times you were waiting to see if he was faking his own situation.
There were a few flashbacks between Russo and Frank, which really tugged at the heartstrings. Because they were brothers. Family. And when we meet Billy this season, he has no recollection of his previous betrayal. In his mind, he and Frank are still brothers and he loved the Castle family. This memory is something that never comes back to Russo and I had wished that we could have gotten that, just a little. To really perhaps understand why Russo, and have him explain; why he did what he did. But, as Dinah Madani states at one point, he did it all for money and greed.
Amber Rose Revah gave us a Madani this season who ping-ponged a little. We saw that not only was she caught in between her own inner demons from the trauma she’s experienced from Billy’s deceit and the headshot wound, but also with Frank. At this point, she knows that what needs to be done needs Frank’s touch, but she is a Homeland agent. So, her moral dilemma is brought up quite a bit in the season, but I am satisfied with how she came around in the end.
Another character in the show who needed to come to terms with Frank Castle’s brand of justice was Brett Mahoney. Royce Johnson has been with us since Daredevil season one and while he’s always had minor parts, we really have a more present Mahoney in The Punisher season two and it really made me realize we have missed out throughout the years. I enjoyed every moment he was on screen and appreciated that the writers involved him more; whereas at times other people in Frank’s cloud felt unnecessary in season one, they were essential in season two.
Of course, I have to give a brief mention to Deborah Ann Woll’s Karen Page. After the heartbreaking and powerful performance in season three of Daredevil, I was happy to have her back on my screen. And it, unfortunately, is only in one episode. But, that episode alone gave Kastle fans more than we could have ever hoped for. Whether Frank and Karen could have ever been romantic, it almost doesn’t matter, because their connection is so powerful and so emulating that I was happy to have that. If this is truly the last we see of Karen Page, I’m glad she is back with Nelson & Murdock and on Frank’s side. Can Bernthal and Woll please work together again in the future?
Frank Castle is just the best. Since his introduction in Daredevil season two, he has been the strongest character. His character has never wavered and he has been the pinnacle of reserve. We can see him strong and we see him vulnerable. When Bernthal gives us emotions, he gives us emotions. Frank Castle can be that fighter and he can do what has to be done, but he is not without a heart. He is not without a conscious and while there are times he is regarded as selfish, we see time and time again that Castle does not give a shit about himself, but rather his actions only seem self-centered in the journey to help others.
As you have probably guessed, this season was at an all-time high for me. Hallway scenes? Try Frank’s badass elevator scene. And if you need something that is truly going to mess you up and hurt your heart then the end of episode ten is that. The music selection is excellent; Amy Winehouse and Alice in Chains, it doesn’t get better. There were so many emotional filled scenes and I almost cried when Frank sat beside Maria’s grave, as we see that no matter how much time has gone by, his wife will always be the center point of his heart.
If I have to give one criticism, is that I…simply did not like Krista Dumont. I know there was a lot of controversy surrounding the casting of Floriana Lima in that role and that controversy does not have anything to do with my feelings about her. I’m not sure if maybe I would have liked her better with a different actress or if it was simply because of how crazy the character was, but I was more than happy with her ending, as it was what she deserved. Still, can’t argue whenever they throw in a Billy Russo sex scene. Which, by the way; thank you, Punisher season two, for not only that Frank love scene in the first episode, but also a very nice shot of Bernthal’s…rear end.
With everything that is happening with Netflix, we can assume that this is the last season. I hate thinking this is the last time we will see Bernthal as Frank Castle because he simply radiates as the character. No one can perform The Punisher as powerfully and as strong as Bernthal did. No one would give us the dedication and the performance we have seen. But, much like Daredevil season three, the second season of The Punisher not only leaves it open for another story, but does indeed tie everything up. We have Frank Castle. We have The Punisher. Maybe we will see him again someday, but for now, I am truly happy with the story that has been woven for us. I thank all of the writers and actors for the story they’ve given us. It’s been one hell of a ride.
A girl with too many fandoms to count.