Note: This article contains spoilers from Episode 2. Check out our recap of Episode 1 here.
Episode 2 of The Punisher opens with a rather sentimental moment, a memory of Frank and his children on their way to see the Statue of Liberty. And just from this brief interaction, it’s clear which of his children he is closest with. He loves his son and he would never choose favourites, but the way he beams at his daughter speaks for itself.
Frank may be the Punisher. But the last thing he ever wanted for his kids was violence. While they’re passing the Statue of Liberty, Frank’s son says that their dad’s leaving them again to go and “kill lots of hajjis”. And as he’s asking how many his dad’s “wasted” so far, Frank grabs him by the jaw, making it clear that sort of attitude is not acceptable. And the things that he’s done are not things to be proud of. His son views him as a hero going off to war. And because we, especially as children, are exposed to violence on film and television at such a young age, we often become desensitized to it, hence his son’s comment. But Frank knows what it means to take a life, and it isn’t something to celebrate. It’s something he wrestled with while serving and something he still wrestles with now. Even though he’s killing bad people, he knows that the act of killing them makes him bad too. But is it something that has to be done? And what is the cost of thinking that way?
These are thoughts that Frank struggles with daily, in this case over breakfast. And it’s while he’s enjoying his eggs that he receives a call from a man named David Lieberman, a man who has been tracking and surveilling Frank for a good amount of time now. Apparently, as David says, Frank isn’t the only ghost in New York.
David also goes by the name Micro, and this isn’t the first time we’ve encountered him. We saw his work, indirectly, back in Season 2 of Daredevil. It was David that left the DVD at Frank’s house, and in this episode we finally found out what was on it. And it’s not good. The video shows Frank’s unit torturing and ultimately killing an investigator named Ahmad Zubair. If you remember from Episode 1, Ahmad was Dinah’s partner. The man who takes the shot and kills Ahmad is wearing a mask, but…doesn’t it look like it could be Frank? If so, we definitely know how Frank and Dinah will cross paths. And at this rate, Dinah is well on her way to discovering the truth.
Dinah’s done her research and discovered that there is someone from Frank’s unit that is still alive, someone that might hold some answers for her. His name is Billy Russo, and he is the head of a private military company called Anvil. After setting up a training exercise with her team at Anvil, she meets Russo in person and tries to uncover some information about the unit, passing it off as “making conversation”. But her boss gives her a warning, seeing right through her act. Russo, on the other hand, is a little more curious. He offers to take her out to drinks where they can talk a little more freely, and she accepts.
Later, at the bar, Russo discovers Dinah’s true intentions. But surprisingly, he completely goes along with it. Quite honestly, I can’t get a read on Russo yet. Watching the trailer, I thought he might be one of the antagonists but now he actually seems…nice? Played by the incredible Ben Barnes, this wouldn’t be the first time he’s portrayed a charming villain, so who knows! Time will tell for sure. What we do know is that he and Frank were best buddies back when they served. According to Russo, no one was as good as Frank.
Meanwhile, Frank isn’t content to let David continue tracking him, so he seeks out none other than Karen Page for help. While Karen’s clearly not happy with Frank, I think it’s more fear that she feels than anything else. She can’t lose somebody else, and she’s scared that Frank’s going to get himself in too deep. But she helps him nonetheless, finding out that David/Micro was deemed a traitor and, according to record, killed when captured. And the one responsible? Carson, Dinah’s boss. So the Punisher decides to pay a little visit to Carson’s house.
He easily breaks in and sneaks up behind Carson. And though no one’s a match for the Punisher, Carson puts up a good fight, doing a decent amount of damage. But Frank is able to knock him out and tie him up, determined to extract some information from him. It isn’t until he gets close enough that Carson can steal his gun that he starts talking, admitting that he was one of the people that set up Frank’s family. Carson only lives a few seconds after revealing his secret, and Frank doesn’t bother to clean up. The house is a bloody and broken mess, as is Carson’s body. And that’s how Homeland Security finds him. This leaves Dinah as acting lead agent, and with new tools at her disposal, there’s little doubt that she’ll start putting together the pieces very quickly.
Carson may be dead, but that didn’t take care of the Micro problem. So Frank decides to make this personal. After some research, he discovers that David has a wife, Sarah, and two kids. When Sarah is pulling into the driveway, Frank throws himself in front of the car and falls to the ground. He quickly uses a blade to cut his temple while she’s getting out of the car, making it look like a serious injury. She helps him inside, apologizing profusely, and after he bandages himself up, they get to talking. They both know loss, and Sarah for one has had no one to talk to. He may be a stranger to her, but in many ways, he knows her better than many others.
We all know that Frank would never hurt Sarah or the kids, David doesn’t. He believes that’s exactly what the Punisher would do. And that’s all Frank needs. A little fear goes a long way. And thanks to that little adventure, Frank now has David in his pocket. The roles have reversed, he’s now trailing David. And that’s how he finds his hideout, appearing out of thin air before knocking him out.
What will the Punisher do next? What are Billy Russo’s true intentions? Will Dinah find the answers she’s looking for? More will be revealed in Episode 3, recap coming soon.
The Punisher Is Currently Streaming On Netflix.