With two equally strong flashbacks providing essential character development, Kandahar marks the high point of The Punisher’s first quarter of episodes.
Andy Goddard, who’s directed some of the stronger episodes of Daredevil, Luke Cage and even Iron Fist, adds another impressive effort to his resume.
Frank has Micro naked and tied up to a chair in his hideout. Considering Frank’s major trust issues, Micro has to share what led to his predicament and enter a code to keep their location hidden. Micro’s origin story is good stuff. David Lieberman had a boring NSA gig until he came across the video with a hit squad assassinating Zubair. Reporting it to his superiors could lead to the information being buried, but sending it to others could put his family in danger. This created a fascinating dynamic as Frank lost his family and his only ally has lost his family in his own right.
I loved the little nod to Lost’s second season with the characters having to enter the code in every 90 minutes to prevent some unforeseen. Frank’s apprehension with Micro proved warranted, but Micro only knocked him out to prove he’s sincere in wanting to strike up an alliance.
As strong as Micro’s backstory was, Frank’s flashbacks were even more compelling and helped provide more insight on his state of mind.
The Punisher has cleverly been an examination of the impact of war on soldiers more so than just another Marvel vigilante show. It’s hard not to watch Lewis (Daniel Webber) struggle to return to ‘normal’ life after seeing what Frank endured.
Kandahar also provided necessary insight on Billy’s ties to Frank. They headed up a special missions unit headed by Colonel Schoonover (Clancy Brown) and consultant Rawlins (24’s Paul Schulze). Schulze plays a prickly superior better than most giving Rawlins’ aloof demeanor in sending soldiers out an extra level of arrogance.
Billy has been funding Curtis’ veterans support group and the two reminisce about at Frank’s grave site to recognize his birthday. Given the time spent establishing their bond through Kandahar, it’s interesting that Curtis knows Frank is alive instead of Billy.
Madani and Stein didn’t do much this episode as they continue looking into Wolf’s death. They’re not given enough screen time to drag episodes down, but eventually their subplot is going to need to lead somewhere.
Each episode has these video game-esque moments when Frank’s rage meter gets full and he goes into Punisher mode. That’s when Castle goes off and becomes an unstoppable killing machine. These are the most primal, Punisher moments that are incredibly effective in showcasing Frank Castle’s skill in inflicting harm on others. It’s what fans of the character expect and that the show so consistently delivers on these proves why The Punisher is a smashing success.
This episode, it’s when Frank is on the battlefield desperate to keep his men alive. The odds are against him, but when he gets in his zone, he’s unstoppable. This sequence didn’t quite sell the illusion of Frank being in Afghanistan as opposed to a sound stage, but the action was crisp and well arranged once again. Now that he’s finally accepting Micro as an ally, Frank will know exactly where to target his next path of rage.
Kandahar provided excellent character moments while taking the time to firmly establish Frank’s alliance with Micro and Billy.
Rating: 9.7 out of 10
Photo Credit: Netflix