The Punisher: Gunner review S1 E5

With the reveal of the season’s big bad and a creative shootout in the woods, Gunner fully kept Punisher’s momentum rolling. So far The Punisher has avoided the typical plotting and pacing issues that have hindered most of the Marvel Netflix shows, which is a great sign going forward.

Thanks to hitting the weapons truck, another familiar Punisher visual — the arsenal wall — is nearly complete. I’m curious what the writers have in store with Frank essentially taking Micro’s place with his family. That’s been handled well to this point, but it’s the one area that could get dicey. After some prompting from Leo, Sarah invites Frank over for dinner. This could venture into sitcom territory real quick. And I know he’s acting out because he misses his father, but Zach really is an annoying little jerk.

Madani’s subplot developed some steam this episode. I’m convinced Stein’s role in the show is to be dismissed from rooms when other people want to talk. Stein isn’t keen on keeping Madani’s secret that Castle stole the weapons, but agrees to give her a week before informing the investigators. Amber Rose Revah tends to over enunciate some words making some of Madani’s dialogue hard to make out, but I appreciate she’s avoided making Madani a cliche authority figure after Frank. And good for her for hooking up with Billy. No sense in nobody getting any action in this series.

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Madani wasn’t done making moves as she brought in Karen Page for questioning. This was more a posturing duel between the two to determine how much the other knew. Karen wants Frank to have a vigilante retirement plan. Her investment and concern for Frank seems so much more intense than it ever was for Matt. It’s weird how she could be so dismissive of Matt being Daredevil, but try so hard to save Frank.

The big reveal for Gunner was the the perhaps not so shocking confirmation that Rawlins is the main villain. Since sending Frank, Billy and the squad to the death trap ambush, Rawlins has made his way up the ranks of the CIA. And he’s come away from his shoddy military operations with only the loss of an eye courtesy of Frank.  But with Madani digging around, he’s keeping it on her with bugs in her office.

Rawlins will need to hurry up and clean up his loose ends as Marion James (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) wants to make him her deputy director … provided he doesn’t have any skeletons. Oh, if only you knew Marion.

The Punisher Gunner review - Rawlins

Hoping for a lead to track down Agent Orange, Frank and Micro reconnect with Frank’s old war buddy, Gunner (Jeb Kreager). Typically these kinds of visits don’t end well for the host, but Gunner is prepared and shoots Frank with an arrow. Gunner didn’t know who to trust after catching some of the higher using a dead soldier as a drug mule.

Give Rawlins credit for not wasting time tying up loose ends. He sends a hit squad to take out Gunner although it wasn’t clear how he knew how to find him. Let’s ignore that minor plot hole since it led to a creative firefight with Rawlins’ soldiers’ POV and the horror movie like pop-up deaths when Frank got them.

Micro popped out a drone to help in the fight. This was a nice modern element to add a contemporary flare to this take on The Punisher. And it’s definitely the kind of tool Micro would use to aid Frank.

As a necessary reminder that Frank is not bulletproof, he gets shot and Micro has to save him. He may be tough, but his skin isn’t unbreakable and he can’t summon his chi to stop bullets. Micro might be the one character competent of helping a wounded ally without needing to call Claire. But Micro carrying Frank away meant poor Gunner wasn’t going to get his dying wish of being buried. And even worse (?), Frank missed the Lieberman family dinner.

With the action and intensity, The Punisher is probably best enjoyed with some space between episodes. Binging would be fine, but it lets the moments sink in better to step back. Gunner was the first episode that had me eager to get on to the next one.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Photo Credit: Netflix

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