“The Punisher” Season 1 Episode 9 Recap: Front Toward Enemy

Dinah Madani, like many of us, is still recovering from the events of ‘Cold Steel’. Still deep in mourning, she hasn’t left her bed, let alone been to work, in days. And though her mother approves of Dinah allowing herself to feel grief and heal from the death of her partner, this kind of behavior isn’t like her at all. She’s never been one to sit on the sidelines. But after what happened with Sam, maybe things have changed.

From the next building, Frank and David keep tabs on Dinah, waiting for their opportunity to contact her. David wants to just go for it, but Frank knows better. They’ve got one shot at this, they have to do it right. But before the next move can be planned, an explosion rattles the street. Only a few blocks away, a building has been blown up. And seconds later in the opposite direction, another explosion hits. And then a third. Each bomb was planted in some sort of government building. A Firearms field office, a Federal Courthouse, and the NYPD’s 10th Precinct were all hit, and they were hit by just one person. A former soldier, at that. And yes, we’ve already met him.

As it turns out, the bomb Lewis built was part of a much bigger plan. While the bombs are clearly an act of terrorism, Lewis views it as an actual act of patriotism. And though he’s keeping his identity a secret, he’s chosen to write a letter to someone who he believes is on his side. Who understands his cause. But when Karen Page receives the note, she’s anything but sympathetic. She’s outraged. Ellison convinces her to play this right, giving it to the FBI before they do anything else. Then, with their approval, Karen writes an editorial about why she stands against, not with, the bomber. And that editorial leads to a radio interview, one that only heightens the target on her back.

Frank and David watch the footage of the explosions while waiting for the interview. He wants to make sure Karen doesn’t say anything that could get her killed. It’s clear from Frank’s face that the footage disgusts him.

“There’s nothing in this world I hate as much as a goddamn bomb. Goddamn cowards…they think they’re gonna scare people into making them do what they want. They’re wrong. It just pisses people off, you know, brings ’em together.”

He’s not only disgusted, he looks heartbroken watching the footage. And if you haven’t learned this about Frank Castle yet, you never will. He’s not a bad person. Yes, he kills people, and no, that’s not right. But he has a strong moral compass. If you kill innocent people, you need to be dealt with. You need to be taken out, and Frank has no issue doing it himself. But if you’re innocent, he would die protecting you.

When Karen’s interview comes on, Frank and David listen anxiously as the host, Ricky, introduces Karen and his other guest, Senator Stan Ori, who stands firmly for stricter gun laws. The Senator basically uses his time on air to promote himself and his view point. Unsurprising considering he’s a politician. He assumes Karen will agree with his opinion that American citizens have no need to carry guns, but Frank just shakes his head. You can almost feel the eye roll. “You’re barking up the wrong tree there.”

She asks him if he’s ever felt afraid for his life, been in a situation where a gun can mean the difference between life and death. But Ori won’t budge. And of course, The Punisher comes up. He points out that it’s been less than a year since he was on the streets, causing mass panic for everyone in New York. Karen wastes no time in defending him. It was an entirely different situation. Frank Castle wasn’t targeting innocent people, he was killing murderers and thugs. But then Ori asks the question that I think we’ve all been struggling with.

Where’s the line?

And honestly, it’s a fair question. Frank was on trial for killing 37 people, but Karen still defends him. Frank Castle wasn’t a terrorist, this bomber clearly is.

That particular part of the conversation causes David to look up. “37?” he asks Frank. He nods. “That they know about.”

The Punisher Karen Page Episode 9.jpg
Credit: Netflix

This interview takes a sudden turn when they receive a call from Lewis himself. He speaks directly to Karen, asking why she called him a terrorist, why she wasn’t on his side. And she doesn’t hold back. She calls him a coward, and at this point Frank can’t look away from the radio. Lewis tells her that she’s nothing more than a pawn, and that the war is just beginning. Before he hangs up, he says a Latin phrase said by John Wilkes Booth. “Sic semper tyrannis.” Unluckily for Lewis, this isn’t the first time he’s said the phrase. And Frank remembers that. He searches his brain and remembers hearing a kid say that at one of Curtis’ group meetings. He gives David all the information he has and begs him to find Lewis. David is hesitant, but Frank is nearly beside himself with worry for Karen. This is different than the others times. The anger is there, but his concern for Karen is greater.

But David and Frank aren’t the only ones with a lead. Curtis heard the interview as well. When he doesn’t find Lewis at his house, he goes to O’Connor’s place, hoping that he’ll know where he is. But when he gets to the apartment and gets whiff of the horrible stench inside, he breaks the door open to see what’s going on. And that’s when he discovers O’Connor’s corpse.

Curtis is surprisingly calm when he sees Lewis. He’s isn’t afraid of him, he’s afraid for him. He genuinely just wants to help. But Lewis doesn’t want help, he wants to do what he has to as a patriot, taking things into his own hands. And since Curtis won’t leave without him, the only way out is to subdue him. The fight that ensues is seriously intense but in the end, Lewis kicks Curtis’ leg out from under him and beats him with it, nearly smashing his face in. Luckily he stops before anything permanent damage is done, but honestly, it’s a close call.

Meanwhile, David found Lewis’ identity and address, and it’s only seconds before Frank takes off. David tries to stop him, tries to get him to call Curtis or someone first to talk Lewis down, but Frank has no interest in talking to this kid. He knows Lewis won’t listen. When he gets to the house, he doesn’t go in. He just sits in the van, waiting for a sign of activity that never comes. While waiting, he calls Karen and tells her to stay put. She’s currently being questioned by the police thanks to actually speaking with the bomber, and Frank tells her to stay by their side for the next little while. It’s the safest place for her. She begs him to stop and think before he does anything rash but it might be a little too late for that.

Front Toward Enemy
Credit: Netflix

David calls Frank telling him that he tracked Lewis’ phone, along with Curtis’, and it shows both of them at the same address. Frank speeds off, knowing this can’t mean anything good. And he’s right. When he gets to O’Connor’s, he doesn’t find Lewis inside the apartment. He finds Curtis tied to a chair with a bomb strapped to his chest. Frank cleans some of his wounds before they get a call from Lewis himself. Frank picks up the phone.

The most interesting thing about the conversation between Frank and Lewis is that it shows a very different side of Frank. This time it isn’t a guns blazing, take them all down kind of mentality. The anger is still there, but Frank actually tries to talk his way out of this. And I think that has a lot to do with Curtis. He’ll do anything to make sure he comes out of this alive. He tells Lewis that Curtis is the one person on his side, the one person who just wants the best for him. But Lewis isn’t buying it. He wants to work with Frank but he doesn’t know if he can trust him. This is when another one of Frank’s emotional speeches brings us home.

He tells him the story of how Curtis lost his leg. A massive bomb had gone off, killing and injuring many women and children. And Curtis was in the middle of it all, putting them back together, sewing them up seamlessly. It was Frank’s job to watch the perimeter. So when he saw a woman, a pregnant woman walking towards them, he should’ve taken her out. But all he saw when looking at her was his wife, also pregnant at the time. He froze. When she reached the area, she blew herself up, and Curtis lost his leg in the process. Frank dragged him out of there and Curtis kept thanking him for saving his life, but in reality, it wouldn’t have needed saving if he’d done his job. Curtis doesn’t blame him, not at all, but Frank blames himself. You can trust someone, he tells Lewis, and they can still let you down.

Lewis tries to threaten Frank with exposing his identity. The cops are coming, we can hear the sirens, but Frank doesn’t budge. He’s going to cut one of the wires and hope it’s the right one, but is Lewis going to help? Or is he going to kill both of them? Frank asks him, screams at him if that’s the kind of man he is, and that anger, that rage gets through to Lewis. He tells him to cut the white wire before hanging up and taking off.

Curtis tells Frank to get out of there, but if there’s one thing we know about Frank Castle, it’s that he never leaves a man behind. He makes Curtis look at his face, not the bomb, as he cuts the wire…and the bomb doesn’t go off. Lewis wasn’t lying.

Frank Castle Is Alive.jpg
Credit: Netflix

With Curtis (relatively) safe, Frank has to get out of there before the cops arrive. But it’s too late, they’re already here. He manages to escape, knocking out a few officers in the process, but he made a dire mistake when sliding across one of the cop cars. There was a camera that captured his image, and now the whole world has seen it. Everyone now knows that Frank Castle, The Punisher, is alive and in New York City. This changes everything. Ellison is pissed at Karen that she kept this to herself, but how will Sarah and the kids react when they discover the truth?

As for Dinah? She wasn’t elated, but disappointed at the news. It’s going to make her case a lot harder to keep secret now. But luckily she has someone very useful on her side: David. While Frank was dealing with Lewis, David went to a bar he knew she would be at and introduces himself as Micro. He tells her he has all the information he needs to incriminate the man behind Kandahar. And he has a name. But now that the world knows Frank is alive…things just got a little more complicated.

It’s also notable that Dinah still has no idea that Billy Russo is actually working with Rawlins. Billy actually just gained Senator Ori as a client, so it looks like he might be more important than he seemed. We’ll definitely want to keep an eye on Ori.

For more news on The Punisher along with previous episode recaps, visit our official Punisher Page here!

The Punisher Is Currently Streaming On Netflix.

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