The Punisher: Kandahar
November 17, 2017 2:10 PM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Frank skips the subtlety while interrogating Micro. Brutal memories of top-secret missions shed light on Frank's past.

*Lieberman awakes to find Frank has stripped him and zip-tied him to a chair. The interrogation is interrupted by the sound of a 3-minute countdown; Lieberman says the building is wired to explode if he doesn't enter a code and retinal scan into the computer.
*In flashback, Lieberman tells Sarah about the disc he received, and she tries to dissuade him from breaking the chain of command, but in the end he anonymously emails it to Dinah. Later, while the family is stuck in traffic, he sees Carson and a tactical team approaching and flees, but Carson catches up to him by the riverside, and, while yelling at him to drop his nonexistent gun, shoots him in the chest in front of Sarah. He falls into the river and is presumed dead (but actually the bullet deflected off his cell phone).
*Billy stops by Curtis' meeting room, to give him a donation check for the group. Curtis tells him he should come to group, to encourage the other vets if not for himself, and Billy tells him he should come work for Anvil.
*Frank continues interrogating Lieberman. In flashback, we see 'Agent Orange' and Major Schoonover giving an intro speech to Frank and the other soldiers, now part of Operation Cerberus. Later Frank and Billy talk with another soldier in the bunks.
*At the veteran support group, Lewis talks about a friendly fire incident that was covered up. NRA-vet gives him a pamphlet. Later, he wakes in a panic and fires a gun, just missing his father.
*Back at Lieberman's lair, the code goes off again and Frank calls bullshit on the bomb excuse, as he's searched and found no explosives. Lieberman confesses that if the timer goes off surveillance footage from the lair will be emailed out to the media.
*Back in Kandahar, we see the murder of Ahmad. One of the soldiers expresses his doubts about their mission, but Frank follows orders and removes the bullet from Ahmad's corpse before the burial.
*In the present, Curtis and Billy visit Frank's grave. Billy wishes he'd asked for help, even before what happened to his family. Curtis mentions what Frank said about Kandahar earlier, possibly revealing to Billy that he was in contact with Punisher-Frank.
*Dinah talks with her mom about work. Later, Sam brings Dinah Wolf's bank records, finding he had $30 million hidden in offshore accounts. She asks that he not tell anyone else yet, as she trusts no one.
*At countdown time at Lieberman's, he uses Frank's distraction by routine to inject him with something from his pen, and Frank collapses. When he comes to, Lieberman again tries to convince him to partner up.
*Back in the Kandahar flashback, Frank gets Springsteen tickets from Maria for his upcoming leave. Agent Orange and Schoonover give Frank and Billy a mission briefing. Frank is convinced it's a setup for an ambush, but Orange insists that he knows best. The mission is a slaughter - Schoonover gets his arm blown off, everyone is pinned down, and Frank goes berserker to clear the building for their exit. Back at the medic tent, Orange callously asks if they killed the target, and Frank punches his eye out (or just punches him in the eye with his bloody hands?). Billy tells Frank it's hopeless, that he's transferring out and Frank should too.
*Lieberman tells Frank that there is no record of Operation Cerberus' existence, that it was not congressionally approved, that it was an off the books hit squad. Frank finally agrees they can work together, but that he doesn't want any trials, that he's going to kill everyone responsible. Lieberman is ok with that.
posted by oh yeah! (8 comments total)
I'm having a hard time hooking into anything thematic/quotable for these summaries as compared to previous binges. I think Lieberman is my favorite thing so far though.

(gotta head out shortly for dinner, probably won't get to episode 4 until Saturday morning, so, if anyone else wants to post some more threads tonight, feel free.)
posted by oh yeah! at 2:34 PM on November 17, 2017

On the whole, though, I think it's a better drama series than the others, though it's still the first setting up part of the season (which is the best bit of all of them, apart from Iron Fist). I'm particularly struck by the way that the US' adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan has emotionally and psychologically mutilated all these people. And Bernthal is terrific, I think.
posted by Grangousier at 3:19 PM on November 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

My brother was in Kandahar! He assured us that he was perfectly safe because he knew where all the minefields were. We told him that wasn't reassuring at all.
posted by Mogur at 11:57 AM on November 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

That berserker scene... Castle dishing out every kind of murderous violence he could muster then ending the sequence by literally bashing the audience over the head.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:56 PM on November 18, 2017

This is a little more nuanced than it really needs to be.

I liked the torture soliloquy (destroying routine, the last refuge, after accepting that they will die violently shortly).

Maybe I'm just high but I really liked the camera work - gorgeous background details in every shot, and a lot of intimate angles that makes it feel a lot more like a MCU netflix rather than a big MCU movie.

Huh, David's family wear outside shoes inside during the day (but not at night). In TV in general, I think this is vastly over-represented, no?

Yeah, the berserker choreography!
posted by porpoise at 4:15 PM on November 18, 2017

I was a little nonplussed by the idea the the lowest people on the totem pole in whatever department this is were in charge of investigating the murder of their boss. Seems implausible.
posted by figurant at 9:00 PM on November 18, 2017

I kind of love that Frank seems to know that so many of our patriotic war slogans come from anti-war poems.

Also: I was taken by the "blood on the camera lens" effect we see when they're burying the Kandahar police officer's body has - in all my watching experience - been used during during those visceral, "handy-cam" type shots that have been popular since, what? Private Ryan? The sort that is meant to highlight the immediacy of the violence, I guess? I'm sure I can be proven wrong, but I can't ever think of a time that it's carried over to future scenes, or we see a scene that opens with the blood already spilled.

But - When we're looking up from that grave and see "blood on the lens" effect ... that poor guy was shot hours ago. Where did that blood come from? Him pulling out that bullet from the shoulder. From desecrating a corpse to cover up a crime.

I mean, that blood isn't present in the shots with Frank's buddy: only in Frank's shots.

I can't help but think about Frank digging that grave (hammering that wall) long after everyone else quit. That blood and those callouses we see on Frank's hands in earlier episodes are not just from hammering a concrete wall (as both job and hobby).

I kind of like how blunt-force the metaphors are so far. That's pretty Frank Castle, honestly. Since The Punisher is the most "white right wing" masturbatory Marvel character, I'm glad to see them explicitly setting up angry white nationalist types as unequivocal assholes. I mean, I hope.
posted by absalom at 10:15 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yet, in that final scene where he is literally killing a dozen guys - devolving from automatic weapons, to shotguns, to sidearms, to knives, to rocks - not a single drop of blood on the lens.

Just like in the present storyline, some of the killing weighs heavy on his mind and some of it is morally unambiguous, even as he ignores it's obvious ambiguity. ("They call us the American Taliban," "It's what I would do.")

Then we cut to a scene of one of his squaddies with literal blood on his hands. Visual imagery as blunt force metaphor.
posted by absalom at 10:44 PM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

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