The Punisher: Memento Mori
November 19, 2017 6:44 AM - Season 1, Episode 13 - Subscribe

As the authorities close in, an exhausted but unbroken Frank vows to put an end to the war that has consumed his life. (Season Finale)

*Dinah and Lieberman carry a bloody insensible Frank into her place; her father the doctor treats his pneumothorax.
*At his apartment, Billy removes a bullet from his arm, packs up the money in his wall-safe, shoots every agent in his path out to the street, then remotely detonates the building.
*Frank awakes to learn that Billy got away.
*Marion and Hernandez survey Rawlins' mangled corpse at the hideout crime scene.
*Lieberman gives Frank an envelope full of money (which he cyber-stole from bad guys) to make his getaway with. Dinah tells him he should go disappear, and that if she ever sees him again she'll arrest him or shoot him.
*Back at Homeland Security, Marian and Hernandez interview Dinah about abetting Frank's escape. She claims she was taking him into custody when he overpowered her and escaped, which all 3 know is a lie, but Marion agrees that the truth coming out is no good for any of them.
*Lieberman arrives at the safe house where Sarah and the kids are. She's angry at him for leaving them in the dark again, but glad to know Frank is alive.
*Curtis awakes and reaches for the gun beneath his pillow, but Billy is there and has taken it. He gives Curtis his Rationalization Speech Of Evil and threatens to shoot up his good leg until he tells him where Frank is, then ducks before Frank can shoot him from the nearby rooftop, and shoots Curtis in the shoulder. Frank calls Curtis' phone, promises Billy that if he'll let Curtis live Frank will meet him wherever he wants later to finish things. Billy chooses the carousel.
*Flashback to the carousel before the murders, showing Billy, with dramatic irony discussion about betrayal.
*At the safe house, Lieberman plays go fish with the kids, then Sarah pulls him away to the bathroom for a long-awaited quickie.
*At the carousel park, a couple of teenage workers closing up late are interrupted by Billy's arrival.
*Dinah is writing up her report of events, when her phone shows Frank's approach to the carousel (she hid a tracker in his boots, presumably?). She races out to the elevator, ignoring Hernandez.
*Frank approaches the carousel, to find that Billy has made hostages of the teenage employees, who are bound and gagged, and bleeding out, on the carousel horses.
*Frank fires off some explosives, then he and Billy trade gunfire. Frank is shot in the leg, but gets onto the carousel, and shoots Billy through the cheekbone. Billy gets Frank to disarm by threatening to shoot the hostages. Dinah arrives, and Billy shoots her in the head, then Frank charges and they engage in hand to hand combat. Eventually, Frank stabs Billy with a mirror-shard. Billy tells him to go ahead and kill him, but Frank decides to destroy his face instead and make him live with the pain of having everything he cared about taken away. Frank frees the teens, and puts pressure on Dinah's head wound as the police arrive.
*3 days later, a handcuffed Frank is brought to Dinah's hospital bed, where Marion and Hernandez present him with clean slate and the return of his Pete Castiglione identity.
*Billy survived 11 hours of surgery, but they don't know if he will have significant brain impairment or memory loss.
*Frank drives Lieberman home, but won't join him for dinner. Frank attends Curtis' group as a participant for the first time.
posted by oh yeah! (23 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Jessica Jones is still my favourite Netflix/Marvel series, but this was a lot better than I expected. A lot of violence, but less than I was dreading/expecting.
posted by Pendragon at 7:14 AM on November 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


In a lot of ways it's a great companion series to Jessica Jones, with trauma as the connective theme. Jessica Jones did some things better but I felt like this series didn't suffer as badly from the "mid-season lull" that JJ did - David Tennant escaping and getting recaptured what seems like a half-dozen times was a drag.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 7:21 AM on November 19, 2017 [5 favorites]


I was really worried they'd screw this up after reading the thread on the blue about it. I mean, the idea they'd make a show like this and not think about gun control or mass shooting sounded pretty bad. I went ahead and gave it a shot anyway mostly because I loved Bernthal's portrayal of the Punisher so much in Daredevil S2.

I feel like they did a pretty awesome job with this despite what was said in those interviews.

My one note is that the 'gun control' side of the debate is thoroughly strawmanned - they needed to have someone who believed in nonlethal measures and stuck to their principles, unlike the politician who folded. Like... in Daredevil, Frank was a voice for 'let's just kill them' while Matt's whole notion is 'let's not.' Frank needed a similar counterpoint someplace, and nobody like that was ever properly developed. It's true that Micro and Karen both call him out on his bullshit, but it's also true that they're willing to accept his ways after a certain threshold. Curtis is another figure who edges that way, but not enough for my taste.

I hope they do something more in S2, or wherever Frank appears next. That said, they provide counterpoints at all, which was something.

Plus, some stuff that I found really heartening:

* Frank is not a racist (and aggressively pushes back on it a time or two).

* Frank doesn't try to cover up his own part in what happened in the end. He admits he's the one who fired the killing shot in the tape, and he allows himself to be taken when he could've run.

* I enjoyed the ending, with Frank at the support group trying to process and move past this. I realize something will force him out of retirement again for S2, but the idea that he should want to stop was an important one for me.

* I admit it, I about died when he tied a hand grenade to a severed head. I did want the over the top hyperviolence, and the show did not disappoint.

So this was almost exactly what I wanted out of the show.

In a lot of ways it's a great companion series to Jessica Jones, with trauma as the connective theme.

Agreed. Almost everything here was driven by the different reactions these men had to being used and betrayed: Frank's quest for personal revenge, Bill selling out, Curtis trying to help vets move on, Lewis' terrorism... all those guys were trying to cope with the knowledge that they were disposable, and I found that pretty compelling.

I'd still put this behind JJ, but not far.
posted by mordax at 11:48 AM on November 19, 2017 [7 favorites]


I binged this yesterday, which is the first time I've ever been able to do such a thing with a Netflix Marvel show - even JJ was only two or three episodes at a time - and while it could easily have shaved off a few episodes to great benefit, I think it's probably my favourite of the lot.

The punishment (ha) that Frank takes in his beating scene is a bit ridiculous and his recovery from a punctured lung quite silly. Once again, the long wait for him to appear "in costume", as per DD, was a little cynical. And they didn't get a single drink colour right. And I hated PTSD-Man. But overall, yes, good.
posted by turbid dahlia at 1:43 PM on November 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


"I'm not the one that's been lying all this time!"- the guy who's been lying about drug smuggling and secret murders for all this time.

Much better than I'd expected, a little more glorification of what Frank does than I'd like, but they pulled it off. Count me as excited for a hypothetical season 2, coming to Disney's streaming service in around two years.
posted by fomhar at 2:45 PM on November 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


I thought the scene with Lewis and the cop on the steps of the courthouse was interesting in the context of today's discussion of police violence and authority. Lewis had done his research, knew the law, and the cop wasn't having it. The fact that he survived the encounter is pretty much because he is white. I wish they'd touched on that part a bit more, but I really liked that scene.

In the end I agreed with reviews that said it was a 6 episode show dragged out over 13, but I am actually struggling to name any storyline that should have been cut. I think that Lewis' story was important and needed to stay. I could have done without the FBI drama, but that would have eliminated the only female character who wasn't there to prop up some manpain. I guess each of the main arcs could have been trimmed and still gotten the point across, but overall the structure was pretty good.

I was cringing a lot during the scene where Micro was trying to show Castle his horse parts. Like.. Castle has already seen the dude naked, number one. And number two, literal dick measuring contests just show that Micro doesn't think much of his wife. Which makes the surveillance even skeevier.

Anway. I've watched all of the Marvel shows and I think the limits of crossover characters is starting to show. I'm supposed to believe that Karen Page cries over Frank Castle and sees the good in him but Matt Murdock is basically dead to her because of his antics as Daredevil? Eh. I mean, all will be forgiven after he survives his encounter with Black Sky, but I don't think that the crossover characters are faring all that well in the grand scheme of things.
posted by xyzzy at 4:26 PM on November 19, 2017 [4 favorites]


I agreed with almost everything you said, xyzzy, but I suppose I'll pick at this a moment:

I'm supposed to believe that Karen Page cries over Frank Castle and sees the good in him but Matt Murdock is basically dead to her because of his antics as Daredevil? Eh.

I agree that the crossover limits are starting to show, but I'd argue that Matt Murdock is a more troubled figure than Frank Castle in the MCU, at least for Karen.

Frank's crusade is strictly personal here: he's working through his manpain by murdering his way through a constrained list of people who have inarguably done him wrong. He's also extremely up front about who and what he is, and doesn't ever really try to excuse it - he is, in his own words, 'damned.'

Matt's waging a one-man crusade on the streets at night because he's addicted to the rush. Nobody pushed him into being Daredevil: he wants it. Moreover, he possesses a significant conflict of interest between serving the law as a lawyer and breaking it as a vigilante, something that threatens basically all the good he's ever done if he's unmasked in a big way. Finally, he lied to Karen and Foggy - and left them hanging out to dry during some hard times - which makes the hurt about this personal to Karen.

In Karen's shoes, I'd probably find it easier to forgive Frank than Matt, if only because Frank's going to run out of names at some point. The 'murder' versus 'not-murder' angle is probably a non-starter for her - Karen's not exactly peace and sunshine after stuff with Wesley and the Kingpin.

(I think this would flip in the opposite direction for Foggy, where the 'murder' thing is absolutely a bright line.)
posted by mordax at 4:52 PM on November 19, 2017 [6 favorites]


Still though, imagining that this is the same world where Thor was going on about how Hulk is 'a friend from work' and Jeff Goldblum is an Elder of the Universe is pretty jarring, same as in the physical comics.
posted by mordax at 5:16 PM on November 19, 2017 [6 favorites]


Frank's crusade is strictly personal here: he's working through his manpain by murdering his way through a constrained list of people who have inarguably done him wrong.
I'd generally agree with this, with one caveat: Frank's decision to step back into the murder spree was triggered by a work colleague getting thrown into a vat of wet concrete. As far as I know, none of those wise guys had anything to do with the murder of his family. He could have just walked away instead of going all Daredevil over it. But Karen doesn't know about that, afaik, so it's not an inconsistency in her character. Rather, its an inconsistency in Frank Castle's depiction as a no-nonsense, single-issue vigilante.
posted by xyzzy at 6:27 PM on November 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


I liked the series overall. I thought it started to drag a bit in the third act, but that's a common complaint.

In the end I agreed with reviews that said it was a 6 episode show dragged out over 13, but I am actually struggling to name any storyline that should have been cut.

For me it's easy: I wish they'd cut out Lewis and Ori, but their purpose in the story was to justify Frank as the hero, so that wasn't going to happen. On one extreme was Lewis, whose arc was poignant at first but then devolved when he became a terrorist who killed indiscriminately with bombs, and bombs are for cowards, as Frank said. On the other extreme was Ori, whose purpose was to make a mockery of gun control advocacy. And in the middle was Frank, the good guy with guns doing what had to be done.

The rest of the series was good, better than I expected. But I thought the way those two characters/caricatures were used was ham-handed and ultimately a cop-out.
posted by homunculus at 6:34 PM on November 19, 2017 [4 favorites]


Still though, imagining that this is the same world where Thor was going on about how Hulk is 'a friend from work' and Jeff Goldblum is an Elder of the Universe is pretty jarring, same as in the physical comics.

I mean, I occasionally think about what would happen if any of the main characters from Avengers or Thor were dropped into the cinematic storylines. With the exception of Jessica Jones, all of those series would be reduced to about a single episode. It does take the impact of the stories away a bit.
posted by happyroach at 10:24 PM on November 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


Finished the series last night. Generally loved it, but I'm pretty in the tank for big Frank. I'm that guy who will try to point out the good points of Punisher: War Zone, for instance. But there was a bunch of stuff I really appreciated about this particular adaptation.

1) The reboot of Jigsaw: I was up to about episode 10 when I remembered why the name "Billy Russo" sounded familiar. I'm not always crazy about supervillains getting reimagined as someone with a personal connection to the protagonist, but it worked for me here. The big reason is that, as someone who finds the rise of private military contractors utterly chilling and a direct threat to the continued health of the rule of law, putting Jigsaw into that world super worked for me. I don't care much for Jigsaw in the comics - he comes off like a Dick Tracy villain and I don't get how Frank hasn't killed him already. I really liked that this show put private military contractors into the role the mafia once served in Punisher stories, and that in this Punisher story, Frank forcing Billy to go on living was the real act of savage cruelty. The personal connection made this make more sense to me than it ever has in the comics.

2) Speaking of improvements this show made on the comics, the ending. Having Frank make an actual try and facing his demons and opening up to the veterans' support group was flat-out subversive. Comics Frank has had his feelings stolen by dozens of reactionary writers with zero actual military experience. TV Frank stands a chance of making it out. I love this ending so much that I almost hope there isn't a season two. I was happy to leave Christian Bale Batman in that cafe. I'd be fine leaving Bernthal Frank in Curtis's care, fighting his real demons and brave enough to admit that it scares him.

3) The emphasis on military trauma in general. I love Daredevil, but I found the struggles of these characters a lot more compelling because there are hell of a lot more people here on Earth-Prime dealing with the aftermath of a pointless war than there are people coping with ninja crime. I think this show dealt with the reality of the modern American veteran experience in a smart, compassionate way. Know what I would really love though? If forty or so years of American history could pass without providing writers with so much material for a Punisher reboot.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:23 PM on November 20, 2017 [9 favorites]


Having Frank make an actual try and facing his demons and opening up to the veterans' support group was flat-out subversive.

"I'm scared." was the best line of the season. As a whole I'm not sure how I feel about the series.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:41 AM on November 24, 2017 [3 favorites]


They would have been better off stopping at 12 episodes, this was a weak ending.
My ranking order:
Luke Cage
Jessica Jones / Daredevil (tie)
The Defenders / The Punisher (tie)
Iron Fist (I admit I barely watched any of this)
posted by Bee'sWing at 11:28 AM on November 26, 2017


Guys.

Everybody.

This show made me want to go to a support group.

So I did.

And it was what I needed.
posted by Mogur at 11:35 AM on November 28, 2017 [31 favorites]


My one note is that the 'gun control' side of the debate

Ugggh that was the one part of this series I really hated. "But if you want to ban guns, how will your security guards protect you???" oh please.

Anyway, I quite enjoyed this show. I've not seen any of the other Marvel TV shows - which others are worth watching? I've seen a lot of praise for Jessica Jones. I think the Punisher shows up in Daredevil, right? Does the Daredevil show happen chronologically before The Punisher? (it seemed like at the start of The Punisher people already knew him as "The Punisher").
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:29 AM on December 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Oh wait the other bit I hated was how various cops/Homeland people would go off on their own to search for highly trained Special Forces guys and then get murdered. Also if you're going to ambush unknown bad guys, wear more body armour and have more guys with you, seriously.

re: the fateful mission that Castle thought would be an ambush that was an ambush - do you think Rawlins believed his intel that it was a legit target, or was he aware of the ambush and wanted to kill off some/all of his soldiers as a convenient way of tying up loose ends?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:41 AM on December 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


Anyway, I quite enjoyed this show. I've not seen any of the other Marvel TV shows - which others are worth watching? I've seen a lot of praise for Jessica Jones. I think the Punisher shows up in Daredevil, right? Does the Daredevil show happen chronologically before The Punisher? (it seemed like at the start of The Punisher people already knew him as "The Punisher").

The chronological/broadcast viewing order for the Netflix Marvel series is: Daredevil S1, Jessica Jones S1, Daredevil S2, Luke Cage S1, Iron Fist S1, The Defenders S1, Punisher S1. So, yeah, Frank Castle was introduced in Daredevil S2, that's how he knew Karen. You've spoiled yourself for the plot twist of Schoonover being a bad guy by watching Punisher first, but, Clancy Brown is a bit of a 'Chekov's gun' of genre casting, you're kind of waiting for him to go off once he appears.

Iron Fist was notoriously badly written/directed/conceived, and can easily be skipped, but I've enjoyed all the rest. (The Defenders is not good, but it has some fun team-up moments, a terrific performance from Sigourney Weaver, and if you do become a Daredevil fan it would be necessary viewing before the eventual Daredevil S3.) I've liked Luke Cage and Jessica Jones the best, but I think you should start with Daredevil S1 and go through in the chronological order. There are Fanfare threads for all the seasons, if you have any questions as you're going through.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:03 AM on December 12, 2017 [4 favorites]


JJ is my fav, with Luke Cage a close second. after that although I really liked DD I think S1 of Punisher was stronger over all. I thought it was really well done. I look forward to more of all* of them.

*yeah not the defenders really, much less iron fist. yawn.
posted by supermedusa at 2:50 PM on January 13, 2018


Watched all of JJ, and yeah really good.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:24 PM on January 14, 2018


I quite liked the Billy Russo character arc. I'm a (non-US) vet, and PMC (or mercenaries as I make sure to call them) absolutely make my skin crawl.

And Mogur: Good on you, hope you are doing well!
posted by Harald74 at 5:32 AM on January 15, 2018


Finished binging it tonight. I liked it overall. I also felt like Lewis and Ori could've been cut. I understand they provided extremes as far as comparisons to Frank, but while Lewis was poignant, they did a terrible job with Ori as a strawman for gun-control, and that in turn made Lewis' side too heavy. And then that whole line of "but he was using bombs, not guns!" made me groan.

I actually really wanted Madani to be the one to take down Russo. She technically saved Frank, but I wanted her to fuck up his face just so bad because of how much of a creep he was to her. Like, Russo betrayed both her and Frank, but there's such a more personal context to him washing her of the blood of her partner that he killed.

Sidenote: Why do some of you keep saying they're FBI? They probably said "Homeland" like a dozen times each episode.
posted by numaner at 12:24 AM on March 26, 2018


. Having Frank make an actual try and facing his demons and opening up to the veterans' support group was flat-out subversive.

Yeah, I actually choked up, hard, at that point, because of course what he needs is a fucking support group. Of course he does.
posted by corb at 12:43 PM on December 4, 2018


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