The Punisher’s second season won’t be accused of having a breakneck pace, but we’re getting just enough progression to keep things engaging. Fight or Flight firmly rolled out the two main villain structure of the season with the imminent threat of Jigsaw and the current problem of John Pilgrim.
Things got off to a rocky start what with Frank basically playing kidnapper. It’s one thing to have him ticked off at the girl for continually lying after he saved her life, but zip-tying her to a hotel bed and duct taping her mouth had bad kidnapping optics.
Not that it’s all that hard to blame Frank. Rachel (Giorgia Whigham) has been a bit of a snarky ingrate. Frank is rolling with his Pete alias again and has her get the bullet out after he was shot in the ass. The glamorous life of a street vigilante.
Rachel is still playing dumb and hoping Frank falls for her poor student caught in the wrong place at the wrong time routine.
More potential head games are being played out in Billy Russo’s hospital room. Madani is watching him and growing increasingly more infuriated that he’s claiming amnesia. Billy’s therapist Dr. Krista Dumont (Floriana Lima, Supergirl) doesn’t think he’s faking however and wants to help him rebuild the jigsaw puzzle of his mind.
Still no explanation about the mask though. Maybe this is just some psychosomatic deal where his face is fully restored and Billy just wants in on for protection?
Billy keeps claiming his face is hurting and is legitimately getting nightmares about The Punisher skull turning his face to mush. One of the cool things with The Punisher and Daredevil is that the writers spend some time on the villain fallout after their defeat at the hands of the hero.
Madani’s mentor, Rafi, wants her to stop visiting Billy, but it’s her own version of therapy. Billy won’t have the satisfaction of thinking he killed her. Right now, the Madani/Billy subplot is just kind of there, but it’s nice to have a subplot from last season play out again here.
John Pilgrim continues his pursuit of Frank as he’s tracked Beth down to her hospital room. She smartly tells him that Frank said his name was Pete. Technically not a lie as Pilgrim’s geek squad henchman learns via police records. Pilgrim knows there’s more to the situation though it seems like a major reach he would connect the wedding ring to the guy that killed his men. That could have come from anyone at the bar.
Turns out Rachel didn’t lose everything when she ditched the bookbag. Frank finds two rolls of film — who still uses film in 2018? — in her pocket. This must be what Pilgrim is after though it’s still unclear what it contains. Maybe part of my frustration with Rachel is she’s withholding vital plot information, but is being written intentionally vague and unwilling to reveal anything useful.
I did like her line ‘What’s with the new crazy?’ when Frank takes his tire iron to the hotel room closet. Frank knows the deal as Pilgrim’s goons have tracked him down and he was prepping an ambush. Marlena (Teri Reeves), the same squad leader he didn’t kill at the bar is back with reinforcements, but they have an acute vulnerability to a bullet to the head. Frank made a passageway to the adjoining room, which protected them from the ambush.
Marlene is smart enough to go around and nearly gets the drop on Rachel before Frank knocks her out. What is the deal with Teri Reeves’ contract here? Any other character and Frank would have killed her dead twice already! Frank wants answers, but Rachel tries to run off with the van only to get stopped by the cops. Everyone’s off to the local prison.
I appreciated that Sheriff Hardin (Joe Holt) wasn’t made to look like a country bumpkin official. Hardin was skeptical of everyone and also didn’t fall for Rachel’s sob story. But keying in their fingerprints alerted Pilgrim who clearly must have teleported to arrive before the nurse leaves.
Good thing Frank has pals he can count on like Madani to bail him out… Oh wait, Madani wants nothing to do with him now. This doesn’t bode well for this police station’s insurance…
Fight or Flight sticks with the slow and steady approach, but there were some nice character moments and a dash of action to keep things from getting boring.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Netflix