NOTE: This is a spoiler-free advance review of Season 2 of The Punisher. The entire season will be available to stream Friday, January 18th, on Netflix.
The Punisher Season 2 has one thing in common with Season 1: We spend a lot of the season looking at the things Frank Castle is about to do, or even the things he’s doing and thinking FRANK NO, while Frank just goes ahead with what he has to do, almost like staring back at us while screaming FRANK YES.
In that respect, Season 2 is as good as the first one. The action sequences are, if possible, dialed up a notch, and there’s really no time to breathe during the 13 episode season, much less stop. Get ready to binge this, and binge this hard.
On the other hand, as much as we appreciate the new connections Frank makes in Season 2 – the pseudo parental relationship with Georgia Whigham’s character is a definite highlight, with every second these two spend together a second where you wonder if this would have been how Frank would have related to his daughter, Lisa, had she lived – there’s something missing in the way Frank relates even to the people he knows, like Curt or Dinah.
And no, I’m not talking about feeling.
Frank cares. He cares so much it’s almost like he’s going to explode with the force of how much he cares, at times. He cares about the city, he cares about the kid he’s self-appointed himself as protector of, he cares about Curt, he cares about Dinah, and, of course, he cares about Karen.
The problem is that there just isn’t enough Karen – though I will admit what there is of her is oddly satisfying and very emotional, even if it’s not exactly what I would have wished, and there’s also too much Billy.
I know, I know. Jigsaw is THE villain. There was always going to be a lot of Jigsaw.
My problem, however, isn’t with an abundance of Billy as it relates to Frank, or even to Dinah Madani, that was not just necessary, but expected. There’s just way too much of Billy as he relates to other people, especially therapist Krista Dumont, about as bland and uninteresting a character as Marvel TV has ever given us, and entirely too much of the “B” villain no one really cares too much about, and that’s without even going into the silly things like seriously, those are Billy’s scars? Seriously? Because those tiny little lines don’t make Ben Barnes any less attractive, I’m sorry to say.
The end result is a season with some heart, but without the emotional grounding of Season 1, because Frank strongest connections are pushed to the wayside for new ones, and though you can tell the ties that bind him to the people he truly cares about are still there, will probably never break, we don’t get to explore enough of their interactions.
In a way, it almost feels like the season was an attempt to go a different direction before having Frank confront his lingering issues left over after getting his revenge in a potential Season 3, and yet, the cancellation of Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Daredevil makes it very likely this might be the last we see of The Punisher, and if this is the end, well …it’s one that feels like anything but one.
Bottom line? Were I sure we were getting a Season 3, I would probably be looking at what we got in Season 2 with kinder eyes, but with the promise of this being the end, it feels like the show just left a lot of opportunities on the table, and that just breaks my heart.
Frank Castle deserved better, and so did we.
The Punisher will be available to stream January 18th on Netflix.